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Back To School: Types of School Records - Part 2

School records come in a variety of forms. Not all supply detailed information. Some present just vital statistics while others delve into the behavior and activities of students.


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School records come in a variety of forms. Not all supply detailed information. Some present just vital statistics while others delve into the behavior and activities of students.

The most basic of all school records is the enrollment card. To complete these, parents have to provide both their names and the names of their children, often including the mother's maiden name, plus their address and contact information. Some school districts require each student's date of birth, previous education and location, and medical and inoculation history. These cards form the heart of every student's academic profile.

After enrollment, schools keep a record of a student's academic performance, updated annually.

It's in this file that teacher's record a student's final grades for the year, which cumulatively create the student record. You can obtain copies or transcripts if these student records for all levels of education. Colleges and universities request them all the time, as do employers seeking to verify the credentials of prospective employees. These provide insight into a student's courses of study, academic majors and achievements, and grades.

Many beginning genealogists overlook school yearbooks as a source of valuable information.

High schools, colleges, universities, military schools and academies, and private schools all produce these annuals and have for decades. Today, elementary and middle schools are following suit. Student portraits and candid shots taken in class and at extracurricular activities are particularly insightful. You can also find important details about a student, such as a nickname and even how the student got it.

Alumni associations often produce brochures and newsletters that communicate stories about the school and about alumni and their activities and achievements. A study of alumni directories can provide the addresses of a student over time if he or she remained in contact with the school. Typically, these directories indicate the year of a students' graduation and provide current addresses for them. Sometimes, they note previous residences, additional education, careers, and maiden and children's names. Divisions or colleges within a university often produce their own directories. Some associations maintain an index of alumni names and the issue of the publication where you can find them mentioned. You can find a complete collection of an alumni association's directories at the association's headquarters or in the school library.

A yearbook can also be a valuable clue in determining whether your ancestor belonged to a fraternity or sorority. These organizations maintain membership records at both the college and national level. Checking with the fraternity or sorority at the school may provide interesting details about your ancestor's residency. Check with the fraternity or sorority to determine if it publishes directories and newsletters for its members, and ask where to locate the archive.

Class members or alumni associations organize and sponsor class reunions. The most important are for the tenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth, and fiftieth anniversaries. Reunion registrants' names may be included in commemorative reunion booklets, along with short biographical sketches containing names of spouses and children, place of residence, type of employment, memberships, achievements, and other details. Copies of these materials often find their way to the alumni association and the school library or archives.

Scrapbooks often contain not only report cards and annual student school portraits, but also artwork, essays, and awards for academic achievement. Some family members may have inherited these, so it pays to ask at a family reunion or by posting a message on a family Web site. You'll also find scrapbooks in some archives and libraries.

Typical board of education records include proceedings of the board; annual reports of superintendents, including faculty names and salaries; textbooks used in schools; statistical charts; and names of graduates. They may also include employment records of teachers, including addresses and credentials.

From school histories and class lists to the more personal yearbooks and old report cards, school records can help you learn more about your ancestors and the times in which they lived.

Source Information: Everyday Genealogy, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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