tips, ideas and advice- Yearbooks
The yearbook, updated
by Camille Minichino
Imagine being able to rewrite your yearbook. Remember those vague references to “sure to do well in the future” and “the swellest guy I know”? Here's how to tell your classmates exactly how successful you've become.
Better still, take on the task of preparing an updated yearbook for all your classmates. It's easier than it sounds. For one thing, you don't have to beg local merchants for ads, or fit it in between algebra problems, for another.
A few reunions ago, I volunteered to create yearbooks. The class was small, fewer than 100 people, so I could produce and bind the books myself. If you're dealing with a larger class, you’ll want to investigate the cost of having them printed and bound at a copy shop and present a budget request to the reunion committee. Or, if you can afford to, present it as a gift to your class.
A yearbook works equally well for a family, school or military reunion.
Preparing a yearbook is a perfect project for someone who lives far from the reunion and might have a hard time dealing with tasks that require a physical presence, such as decorating or catering arrangements. Also, you can do this on your own time. These are the steps.
Collect the information.
We include more information than the typical yearbook contains so it's more efficient to prepare a questionnaire or form. If you're not on the committee, ask to include your page with their first mailing.
Career (50 words):
Most proud of:
Fondest high-school (or college, or family) memory:
Plans for the future:
Many people my age are not enamored of computers so I offer a phone interview as an alternative to writing or emailing. I make an appointment, then have the questionnaire handy and lead the person through the form.
Design the book.
The first book I did, 20 years ago for my high school class, was simple: 8 1/2" x 11" sheets, text only, three entries to a page, double-sided, stapled together. Basic as it was, the book was a big hit. Classmates finally had an organized “catch-up” document plus contact information for long-lost friends and teammates.
With more time and equipment, I’ve gotten a little fancier. I make card-stock covers and put the whole document together with a mock-spiral binding machine. Check binding services at your copy place.
You may decide on a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" “half-size” book. This means laying out the document in landscape mode and folding the printed sheets in half. This is easier to manage as a hand-out at the reunion. The disadvantage is that it's a trickier layout job. For example, the left-hand side of one sheet might be page six, while the right-hand side is page 63, and you won't be able to accommodate last-minute insertions as easily as with straight, one-up, full-size (8 1/2" x 11") sheets.
There are many options for design, some more time-consuming than others.
1. Jazz up the book with photos.
2. Write an introductory letter to share the pleasures and pains of producing the book and thank those who helped and cooperated.
3. Prepare a table of contents.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Biographies of Classmates, arranged alphabetically
(Your Reunion Name Here) Trivia Quiz
4. Use a traditional yearbook design. If you have access to a scanner, place original yearbook photos beside each entry and intersperse a few pages with photo-montages. Or ask for current photos in the initial request for information. Specify the format and hold fast to the guidelines.
5. Use a page-per-person format. If the group is small enough, everyone can have his/her own page, including family pictures and more “brag points.” This makes layout simpler, but can be overwhelming for large groups.
6. Prepare interesting covers. If you have internet access, copy updated photos of school buildings. Find attention-grabbing surprises. I was able to find an image of a large, unwieldy 1960s computer, the same brand that was in the basement of my graduate school building. I used it for the back cover of a book I distributed at the most recent reunion of my department. For the front, I scanned a postcard of the campus quadrangle.
Have fun. Make the project fun by including surprises. Here are some ideas.
1. Make up a fictitious classmate and offer a prize to the first person to notice. This custom started when I faced the problem of two college classmates who married, then had an unfriendly divorce. Her maiden name came just before his name alphabetically and she didn't want to be next to him in the book! I created a fictitious classmate, writing from the state prison, whose name fell between theirs.
2. Create a trivia game. Quizzes are great icebreakers to get people talking. Some may not even have known each other in school. Be sure to take the answer sheet to the party!
In our graduation year:
1. Who was governor of our state?
2. What was the population of our city?
3. Which subway (bus) stop was closest to the school?
4. Who was homeroom teacher in 102?
5. What was Coach Miller's nickname?
FAMILY REUNION QUIZ
1. Who is the youngest cousin?
2. Who had the most attendants at his/her wedding?
3. Who was the first to graduate high school?
4. What street was Aunt Jean and Uncle Frank's first apartment on?
5. How did cousin Yolanda meet her husband Arnold?
6. What color was Uncle Mike's first car?
7.What was the main course at Mildred and John's wedding dinner?
3. If you have contemporary photos of classmates, teachers, family members, create a visual quiz. Arrange current photos of selected people on a single page, with no names. Ask attendees to identify the people.
4. Prepare an entertainment quiz.
During our high school years:
1. What celebrity weddings took place?
2. Name three date movies.
3. Which TV show was most popular?
4. What was the name of the school play?
5. Name three songs on the Hit Parade.
6. What was the number one song when we were seniors?
Be ready for gratitude.
Don't be surprised at how well the book is received, even if you've chosen the simplest format. Your classmates will be thrilled and you'll have earned their sincere gratitude.
About the author
Camille Minichino is a science editor, freelance writer, novelist, and active reunion volunteer. Her new tenth novel, Mayhem in Miniature is from Penguin Press. She lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Where is that yearbook?
Dee Shanholtz wrote, "I lost my high school Class of 1976 yearbook. Do you have any idea where I might find a replacement?"
Check your library, call the school. Find out who the publisher is and contact them directly.
Paula Sheagley found that photographers in her area purchase several copies of each yearbook. Her former reunion planning company once bought a huge selection of yearbooks from a photographer who was retiring. He told them he bought copies of the yearbook because he did so many of the Senior pictures. Many high schools have multiple "extra" copies of yearbooks in their yearbook departments and they often donated them to give away at reunion.
Looking for an old yearbook?
So are lots of others. This is from a Dear Abby “discussion” recently in response to someone looking for an old high school annual/yearbook. Given the response, this is clearly something that interests lots of people. These are some suggestions for places to find old yearbooks. Put an ad in the paper where the high school is/was located. Old yearbooks can be found on eBay where there is a large selection under the “yearbook” category, also under “annuals.” Contact the local library. Old annuals are occasionally donated and sold at book sales by Friends of the Library. Staff will alert whoever sorts donations to keep an eye out. Other places to look are historical societies, antique/collectibles stores, Craigslist and alumni associations.
These are even more resources to search. Ancestry collects yearbooks for references. Send donations to Ancestry Yearbook Donations, 4800 North 360 West, Provo UT 84604.
Other websites that collect yearbooks, or gather information on where to find them are www.yearbookgenealogy.com, www.e-yearbook.com/, www.oldschoolyearbooks.com.
Do you hold someone's missing link?
Information in old yearbooks might be someone else's genealogical link to finding a grandparent, aunt, uncle or lost friend. If you dusted off old yearbooks to look up school friends and acquaintances, how about transcribing genealogical data to help create a database for RootsWeb User-contributed databases? Your data will be made searchable where others can easily find it.
Type data into whatever word-processing program you normally use (Word, Word Perfect, Works, even Windows Wordpad). Do it in consistent, labeled fields. See guidelines, tutorial, and examples of data formats for user-contributed data at http://userdb.rootsweb.com/guidelines.html.Transcription can be as simple as listing the school, year, country, county/town/city, state or region, last name (surname) and first (given) name and any other pertinent information about each individual.
Submit your database(s) to http://userdb.rootsweb.com/submit/.
Found in RootsWeb Review: RootsWeb's Weekly E-zine, Vol. 7, No. 34.
After life of a yearbook
The yearbook was an important part of high school and continues to hold important places in our hearts and lives long after their origin.
Before reunions, it’s not only fun, but very practical to peruse yearbooks to jog memories and be reminded of faces and names long forgotten. You’ll feel significantly confident at your reunion if you’ve studied the yearbook ahead of time. Actually it’s a lot more fun, if you get together with classmates and review the books before the reunion.
Many classes use your graduation pictures on name tags that may generate memories at placing the young face right next to your present countenance.
At reunions, displaying yearbooks is an opportunity for classmates to start conversations generated from reminders in the books. Some reunions make and present a slide show from old photos in yearbooks.
Jordan’s yearbook project greatly appreciated
State Rep. Stan Jordan grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and graduated from Andrew Jackson High in 1955. Jordan has almost every Jackson yearbook from 1928 to 1960. He takes time each day to look at obituaries in the Florida Times-Union. If there is someone who graduated from Jackson, Jordan looks through the yearbooks, finds that person’s senior picture, makes colored copies of the page and sends it with a letter to the family.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be neat to get that person’s yearbook picture from when they were 17 or 18 years old, write a letter to the family and deliver it to the funeral home?” said Jordan. “Families really appreciate it.”
The letter, printed on Jordan’s letterhead, expresses his condolences and tells the family that he too graduated from Jackson. If there was information in the yearbook about the person, Jordan writes about that in the letter. He encloses a copy of the cover of the yearbook, the page their senior picture is on and any pages their picture is on, if they were in clubs.
Jordan said he has enjoyed looking through yearbooks, as they bring back memories for him as well. He writes about four or five of these letters a month and in the last 18 months he has written 80.
From a story by Caroline Gabsewics in the Jacksonville Daily Record, Jacksonville, Florida.
Yearbooks in data
Classmates.com 2006 Reunion Poll findings among attendees include:
- 75% want to reconnect with an old friend
- 32% will flip through yearbooks before the reunion
At the 75th anniversary celebration of West High School in Madison, Wisconsin, an anniversary quilt displaying a collage of yearbook covers was presented and a video entitled “Generations of Excellence” shows alumni how West High has evolved over the years.
From a story by Cristina Daglas in The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin.