A valuable resource for genealogists, which is often overlooked, are school records. These can include year books, enrollment papers, attendance rolls, report cards, student newspapers and annual reports.
Yearbooks can help estimate ages and most will have pictures of the students. Often, several children from your family may be in the same book. Enrollment papers or cards usually include the child’s name, age or birthdate, grade, address and parent name. Using this information, you can make a pretty good family profile. Attendance rolls, or censuses, contain almost the same information with the addition of recording the days attended.
Report cards usually have a parent’s signature, grade and age. It is interesting to note the different types of classes each grade requires. Student newspapers include accomplishments, contests, sports, elections and information on teachers. Annual reports are created by the district superintendents and given to the board of education. Any honors, perfect attendance, lists of graduates, certificates awarded or teacher assignments are reported here.
Locating these records can be as easy as looking in your closet or boxes of old papers. Ask your older relatives if they kept anything from their school days. The school, school board or the district may have copies of these records available as might public libraries.
Historical and genealogical societies may have school records in their collections. Many universities and local colleges have a special collections area where school records may reside. They may also have Alumni Associations that keep biographies and updates on their graduates. State Libraries and Archives frequently collect school records as school boards deposit the records when their storage facilities fill or when the records age out. In this wonderful electronic age, many of these records are in online databases. One of the most notable collections is at Ancestry.com. Use the card catalog to find what school records are available in the area you are researching. You can also do a Google search using the exact terms mentioned above and include the county or school district name in the search.
Some excellent articles on school records are at: