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Tag Archives: high school

- Those Who Served, Those Who Fell: War and the Yearbook


Fare Fac Sampler, 1943, Fairfax High School, Fairfax, VA. https://archive.org/details/farefacsampler1943fair_0

As the holiday season comes and goes, our thoughts turn to those who are away from home and those who will never see home again. Through my work with the Virginia Yearbooks Digitization Project, I found that many students during times of war, both in the armed services and support services, were recognized and remembered in their local school yearbooks. So far, I have only uncovered yearbooks referring to WWII, despite browsing through others looking for similar tributes during WWI and the Korean or Vietnam wars. Due to copyright law, this project only includes yearbooks up until 1977.  If our readers have examples from other wars, we would love to see them!

It has been heartwarming and heartbreaking to read the homages of students to their fellow classmates and friends on the covers, dedication pages, or other yearbook sections. Those young students obviously thought it was important to pay their respects to their peers. For example, one digitized yearbook from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Apprentice Program depicts an era in Virginia when many young men from the Tidewater region either served in the military or worked at the shipyard. The yearbook dedication reads, “To the all important role played by the shipbuilder in the fight for our American way of life, we humbly dedicate the 1942 Binnacle.” An opening page … read more »

- The Art of the Annual: The Virginia Yearbook Digitization Project


The 1972 Missile, Petersburg High School, Petersburg, VA, Petersburg Public Library System Collection https://archive.org/details/missilethe1972pete

In 2015, I started the Library’s yearbook digitization project to scan yearbooks from all around Virginia on behalf of public libraries. Thanks to funds from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), we have been able to digitize and provide access to 2,308 yearbooks published though 1977, the year that copyright law impacts use. So far, 35 local libraries have contributed their yearbooks, with more in process. There is no set end date for this project; it will continue as long as IMLS funding supports it and there are willing participants.

While working with the yearbooks from the Library of Virginia collection, I began to notice the artistic elements of the yearbooks. Some of the earlier yearbooks, created between 1920 and 1940, were elaborately designed with embossed covers. Some were done in a mimeographed style or had handwritten headers. Others had fancy themed borders printed on each page. Beginning around 1950 until our stop date of 1977, the yearbooks became plainer and less crafted.

I was curious why earlier ones had more intricate and detailed designs, so I did some research. An article in NPR’s ‘The Picture Show’ called “For All You Graduates: A History Of Yearbooks” () gives some explanation:

George K. Warren (1832–1884) was an early American photographer working and living in the Boston area when the daguerreotype fell out of

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- Friday Night Lights ca. 1900.

Front of broadside advertising high school football circa 1900s-1930s.

After a new courthouse was built in Lunenburg County in 2006, Circuit Court Clerk Gordon Erby asked the Library of Virginia’s Local Records staff to help identify what remained in the record room of the old courthouse.  

I found this broadside  − advertising a game between the Maroon Wave of Victoria High School and the team from Courtland High School − while processing the papers left there by John L. Yates, who served as clerk for 56 years, from 1878 to 1934. The year is not specified but, judging from the month and day, the game probably took place between the early 1900’s and 1930’s. Victoria, which grew up around the railroad, is one of two larger towns within Lunenburg County, the other being Kenbridge. Courtland High School may have been located in the town of Courtland in nearby Southampton County.

Yates left desks and drawers in the old courthouse stuffed with correspondence, personal financial records, and other pieces of ephemera. He or someone in his office used the backside of this poster as scratch paper for a running total of figures written in pencil.  His papers comprise nearly 4.5 cubic feet and are open to the public. A portion are processed but most remain unprocessed.

Lunenburg County had several high schools before consolidation in 1969 and its students are now served by Central … read more »