Each month the managers of the subject departments at Pratt review the number of times the web the pages linked to their sites are viewed. In the Maryland Department popular pages include our guides on genealogy or searching the history of a house. Makes sense. These are topics included in the collection that are always being used. There is however, one page that turns up as one of the top five without fail. Is it the War of 1812? The directory of historic Maryland newspapers? Edgar Allan Poe?
Guess again—it's yearbooks. That’s right. During the first eight months of 2012 the Maryland yearbooks page has received more than 2700 views, an average of roughly 335 per month.
In the past there had been some use the small collection of yearbooks in the Maryland Department. People generally want to view their relatives or perhaps their own graduation picture. It’s great fun just to look at the hairdos and clothes from your high school or college era not to mention the quotes and messages written in the books. But they can be used for other research too.
The late mayor and governor, William Donald Schaefer.
From the 1942 University of Baltimore yearbook, The Reporter.
We recently had an out-of-state customer who was adopted at birth call to see if we had a yearbook photo of the man she had identified as her birth father—a Johns Hopkins graduate. Also, a British writer emailed looking for a photo of a lacrosse coach who taught at the University of Baltimore in the 1940’s and 1950’s. No problem—we had the yearbooks for both.
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, 1972
About fifteen years ago that we began soliciting for donations of yearbooks to broaden the range of schools and time periods. Donations have poured in fairly steadily for some years. Most times people give them to the Library when they’re downsizing or cleaning the attic but of late we have a few customers who are on the lookout for old yearbooks to give to the Library.
We have done our best to spread the word across the state—we need your old yearbooks! Our appeal has resulted in much better geographic coverage than our original Baltimore-centered yearbooks. We now maintain more than 1200 high school and college yearbooks that date from 1878 and cover Cambridge to Oakland and Westminster to La Plata.
We’re always looking to add new yearbooks. You may contact the Maryland Department if you are interested in helping the collection grow.
Next time you receive an advertisement online to find your classmates or buy an old yearbook, give us a try first. Our holdings list is always up to date and easy to use.