Ancestry Yearbooks

Ancestry has been running commercials for their yearbook collection. I thought that it was time for me to go back and look through them again. I think the last time I did a search on their collection was a year and a half ago. I wish there was a way to do a search of just the yearbooks added after a certain day so I did not have to look at pictures that I already saved to my collection.

I did find quite a few new yearbook pictures of distant cousins. One of those cousins became a teacher and besides his yearbook pictures when he was a student there are at least 20 pictures of him as a teacher. One yearbook page from the  mid 1930s is a group picture that has my uncle in it. But the names are listed alphabetically and I’m not sure which of the boys he is. The best find was a picture of my mother and her basketball team from her Junior year. I have her Senior yearbook which includes another picture of the basketball team but I’m glad to see a year earlier.

One search for my mother came up with a listing showing her middle name as “sitting.” That came from the the the next row listed after my mother’s name. Then there are problems caused from the Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR misses some names. It just is impossible to scan yearbooks and get every letter 100% correct. “Roy” could end up as “Hoy,” “Fay,” “Rov,” etc. You can imagine the mistakes there could be in longer names

Then there is that nice picture me. It is my Junior college picture. Ancestry says it is from State University of New York at Morrisviile. They got that wrong. I graduated from State University of New York at Alfred. Ancestry isn’t the only one to get things wrong. The yearbook had my major wrong. I graduated with a degree in Engineering Science.

Because OCR could miss someone, you can also browse through the yearbooks. You pick, State, then City, then School and you will get a listing of years that are available. I looked a few school districts and it appears that the Ancestry collection is heavy on the 1940s – 1970s even though they say their collection goes back to 1900.

Ancestry says they have more than 324,000 yearbooks. That is a lot! I wonder where they got all of those yearbooks. Some schools have scanned their own old yearbooks but not that many. I noticed that some of the yearbooks had writing in them so they didn’t get them from the publishers. Maybe they are buying used yearbooks on eBay or other online sellers.

If you have an Ancestry subscription, it might be a good time to go back and see what new pictures you can find.