Wednesday, June 3, 2009

School Records

It is graduation time for high school seniors. A significant amount of a person’s first eighteen years is spent in school and graduation is a moment to be savored. Congratulations to all those who have endured and graduated from your high school - no matter the year! We applaud you!

There are many records that are created and kept about your educational experience.

Do you have a copy of your high school transcripts? Did you know you can obtain a copy of your parents’ and grandparents’ school records? How about your elementary school records?

If the high school still exists, then all you have to do is contact the high school office and request a copy of the transcripts. If the high school is no longer in operation, you need to contact the school district offices and ask where the records have been archived.

Sometimes, you will be told that they have been destroyed. Don’t believe it. Be persistent in finding where they have been stored/archived. I know one school district that sends all of their records to be archived at the state archives. Another school district has all their records stored in an insulated shed (not a very good way to preserve such valuable records). Others have them at their district office or at their ESD offices.

High school transcripts have valuable information that helps you get to know your ancestors in their younger years. You can learn about them from the choices of classes, grades, attendance, staff remarks and other bits of information you can find on transcripts. Pictures are often part of the record.

Yearbooks are another incredible resource that you won’t want to leave untapped. They can be found most often in the high school library. They can also sometimes be located in the local library or the local genealogical society’s library. Yearbooks are a treasure trove that brings to life the era in which your ancestor lived.

Another great source for learning about school years is newspapers. Scholarships, awards, projects and special days for the local school are common entries in local papers. You’ll want to call the newspaper and find where they have back issues. These are kept on microfilm and date back to the early to mid 1800s.

After a great deal of ‘persistence’ I was able to locate all my elementary school records in the state archives. I found recorded information on every school day of my first grade to my eighth grade. The bonus was to find my siblings records as well. The record contained our home address, phone number, parents’ names and occupations and the daily record the teacher kept.

Schools also have to take a census periodically. Some states require yearly census and some less often. School census records each family with children who attend school and include names, ages, birthdates and other family information. These, too, are available….but you must be persistent in finding their whereabouts.

School reunion committees can be contacted by information obtained from the school or district office. Reunion committees often have the most recent information on classmates. Marriages, deaths, post-school pictures and last known addresses can be made available to you by the committee chairman.

Enjoy gathering your own and other family member’s school records. It is fun to discover forgotten memories of childhood.

1 comment:

  1. Please look with a kind eye upon records from our youth. We were not at our best as adolescents. Our failing grades do not indicate that we grew up to be losers in life. The brain of a teenager is not fully developed. The comments in a high school yearbook should be taken with a grain of salt.