The fascinating aspect of this ever-evolving science is just that: it is evolving. And fresh ways of discovering ancestors are revealed daily, leading me into the academic subject of the day: school records.
As a member of the Oklahoma Genealogical Society, I received an update this week on the newest addition to the society's reference guide; the listing of archived school records for all 77 Oklahoma Counties. Compulsory public education in Oklahoma was mandated in 1907 to collect yearly census records of their students making note of several identifiers of interest to the genealogist: birth date, place of birth, tribe, disability and parent's names.
With the announcement from OGS, I began to explore the whole subject of utilizing archived school census records for research. To my surprise, I discovered that numerous other state archives and genealogical societies are making school census records available. With just a quick Google search, websites from Tennessee, Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona and Mississippi popped up with either archived school records that are indexed or digitalized. And Access Genealogy is a great source for searching for school records from every state.
The availability of school census records (sometimes called Scholastic Census) is primarily a resource for 20th century records, as most of the states began collecting school census in the early 1900's. But as I gleaned some of the above sites, a few have records as far back as 1850. And when exploring the subject of researching school records, other areas of exploration looked interesting such as reunion records, alumni association lists and yearbooks. If such records are not located on-line, a quick call to the local school board in the county you are researching, may bring results.
Which leads me into the frightful, nail-biting subject of yearbook pictures! Ancestry.com and several Rootsweb sites, began digitalizing school yearbooks a few years ago. Just today, I quickly pulled up my parent's yearbook on Ancestry. Of course as the interest increases, more yearbooks will become obtainable for download; providing an additional tool for research. Which means there will come a time in which all of our school yearbook pictures will be searchable on-line!
So, the lesson that can be learned from today's lecture is two-fold: The researcher in genealogy has numerous tools available for discovering their ancestors, including the increasingly popular school census records; and, we will never escape our dreadful 7th grade pictures of pimples, braces and bad hairdos!
Keep searching for answers,