Posted By: Nolan Altman
What picture comes to mind when you think about your grandparents? Your parents? For your entire life, you’ve known them as adults, doing adult things. But we forget that they were and teens and young adults too! Finding a picture and / or information about your grandparents or parents from their formative years can be a very rewarding addition to anyone’s family history research.
High school, college and other miscellaneous school yearbooks or class lists can be an interesting source of genealogical information and photographs. You might find out that your relative participated in sports, scholastic teams, won academic awards, was a class officer, etc. Maybe your relative’s subsequent vocation or avocation goes back to when they were a member of the Biology Club, Drama Club, or school orchestra? Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to add a picture of Grandma Ruth when she was a member of her school chorus?
The JGSLI Board decided that it would be a valuable service to its members if we could inventory yearbooks in our members’ personal libraries and make that information available for genealogical look-ups. JGSLI commenced its Yearbook Project in June of 2006 with the goal of acting as an intermediary to match researchers with yearbook owners.
During the last year, we have been able to match up dozens of researchers with yearbook owners. Since our list of yearbooks is made public on our website (http://www.jgsli.org/yearbook_project.htm), we have received inquiries from not only our members, but non-members as well. We realize that since our membership’s yearbooks are from the New York City / Long Island area, the information in those books could be of interest to researchers from around the country.
The interest from non-members outside of the NYC / LI area gave us the idea of expanding our project to inventory yearbooks from other local JGSs, other genealogical groups and other interested individuals. A number of non-member researchers have inquired if they could list their books on our site as well.
JGSLI does not own, nor do we physically custody the yearbooks listed on our site. The books are in the personal libraries of those that are making them available for genealogical look-ups. JGSLI will act as the “matchmaker” between the owner of the information and the researcher. When a request comes to us, using the email address on our site (firstname.lastname@example.org), we will reply to the researcher and forward the request to the owner of the book by using a blind cc. It is up to the owner of the material to comply with the request. (People signing up for the program do so with the understanding that there will be requests. See Owner’s Role below.)
The owner of the material submits a signed JGSLI Yearbook Project Form which they can download from our site at http://www.jgsli.org/Yearbook_Form.pdf The agreement states in part, “Submitting a listing means that you have volunteered to be contacted by email and are willing to provide information, a photocopy, or scan for the researcher. JGSLI is only making the information available to researchers. Owners of the books are responsible for following up with the request.”
Researchers can contact us through the email address listed on our site (email@example.com). We would appreciate if requesters of information also become providers of information to help fellow researchers.
How You Can Help
We know that genealogists who are familiar with JewishGen or those that are members of other IAJGS member societies and their families and friends can be an important source of yearbooks and we would be very grateful for your help to grow our database. Due to the success and smooth operation of the project as it currently exists, and since we have been receiving requests from non-members for information as well as interest on how to list their own yearbooks on our site, the JGSLI Board has decided to reach out to other sources. Our longer term goal is to approach other genealogical societies and interested individuals in an effort to expand the inventory of yearbooks available and to facilitate matches to researchers and family members.
We would appreciate if you would consider helping us by allowing us to include your yearbooks in our listing so our database will be more valuable to researchers. For any additional information, please contact me at: (firstname.lastname@example.org).