Many of the interesting and easily read databases for research I suggested in recent blog posts have been from FamilySearch.
Let’s see what other databases I can suggest to you from Ancestry Library Edition during the time you can access it from home until April 30, 2020. A previous database in Ancestry that I mentioned via a blog post was about United States World War II Draft Cards, 1940-1947. For those of you having a personal subscription to Ancestry you have always been able to access the database I mention below but perhaps you have not spent much time using it.
I like databases that have the actual signatures of our ancestors. I also like databases that have pictures of our ancestors. And what better database in Ancestry Library Edition than “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1900-1999” database. Who doesn’t like to see a photo of their ancestor.
For Schaumburg Township District Library cardholders you will first need to access Ancestry Library Edition from our library using the following:
Be prepared to enter in your Schaumburg Township District Library card number and your PIN number. (For users from other libraries, please check with your own library to see if they have activated access to their version of Ancestry Library Edition for you to access from home. Access to this resource must be done via the home library of the cardholder.)
For those of you with a personal subscription to Ancestry.com, this database is also available to you as a routine matter. My suggested tips and other pieces of information about this database can also help those with a personal subscription use this database.
Once into Ancestry Library Edition do the following:
At the top of the Ancestry homepage select “Search” and from the drop-down menu select “Card Catalog”. On the next screen in the “Title” box enter in “school yearbooks” (without quotes). Only 2 items come up. Select “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1900-1999. The database is indicated as having about 678 million records. How nice is that!! Select that database and do your searches only within in to make all of your results related to just that database rather than thousands of other databases within Ancestry.
Here is a description of what the database is all about:
This is an indexed collection of middle school, junior high, high school, and college yearbooks from across the United States.
Yearbooks are one of those home sources, usually found in an attic or basement, which many people don’t think of as a family history source. While yearbooks may not provide information about the vital events that are usually associated with genealogical research, they do provide other information about individuals’ lives. This information helps place people in historical context as well as provides detail that helps turn individuals, sometimes only known by names and dates, into actual people. Here are some examples of how yearbooks may help you in your family history:
- Pinpoints an individual in a particular time and place
- Class lists usually include a photo (See what grandpa looked like as a freshman in high school)
- Interests and hobbies (What activities, sports, and clubs did grandma participate in?)
- Family linkage (Some yearbooks feature siblings at the same school. If not, look for other students with the same last name in other grades – they could be related.)
- History (A history of the school or town may be included in the yearbook. General history such as world events, fads, and pop culture may also be found through studying a yearbook. What was “in”, fashion-wise? What world events concerned and influenced students most?)
28 Jun 2019: Replaced old records with new updated records for most of the books found on the site. Added new records from 150k yearbooks that previously only had images available.
16 Aug 2019: Added 3.8 million new records, as well as 30k new image-only books.
19 Dec 2019: Added 317 million new records from existing books, comprised mostly of records of photos of classes, organizations, clubs, etc.
When using the template search box do not put too much information in right away because if any one piece is incorrect you won’t find what might be in there. Experiment with checking the boxes for “exact” searching for any one term or for all the terms.
The records are from across all states in the United States. You can enter in a first name, last name, birth year and “lived in” location. I was entering in a birth year for test searches of “1890”, surname “rogers” and state of “Illinois” and found 27 hits, many from Northwestern University and University of Chicago.
Use the edit command to go back in and modify your search terms as needed with information that might narrow down the results for you. Also, do not always do “exact” name searching, especially on the “surname”. You may have to do Soundex searching to broaden results that could include your ancestor with a different surname spelling than you expect due to errors in transcription or in the Optical Character Read (OCR) processing that converted a print name to digital name.
If you find images of your ancestors be sure to download the image to your laptop or device for future use in you family tree. Also be sure you capture the “citation” source associated with the image so you have a good trail of where you found your records.
What a wonderful thing to discover especially if your research has already shown the possibility of an ancestor of the correct age for high school or college in a certain locale being found in this database.
For women ancestors you will need to know their maiden name when searching assuming they were not married while attending high school or college. That is just the way it was when you go back in time with these records.
Be aware this database like any other database that involved transcriptions or Optical Read (OCR) methods of digitizing, that search names will also give you “false” positives. I saw photos of who I thought were KIERNA ancestors only to discover that when you look at the photo with printed names below you will discover that something went haywire in the transcription or in the Optical Character Reading (OCR) conversion from print text to digital text. For me the most consistent error I discover is that the actual print name KIERNAN gets converted incorrectly to the digital name KIERNA and shows up in the list of results for me when I search for KIERNA. You may discover over time how your surnames turn up incorrectly in results lists.
This is another easy database to search in which you will find print material that is easily readable. Think how nice it can be to possibly find a picture of an ancestor from a class/school setting for whom you may not have much information.
First rule for this database is … don’t get sidetracked just looking for your own photos or the photos of your friends you grew up with!! I know that is easy to do!! Yes, I am guilty on the image example at the top of this post when I used one of my High School photos as an example of what you can find in this database.
Give this database a chance. Have fun. Easy reading. Lots of data in this one database.
Hope you make lots of discoveries of photos for your ancestors that you never knew about!
Schaumburg Township District Library