Back To School in Family History !!
Pencils sharpened, backpacks on, university campuses full – it is officially back to school time!
But what does school have anything to do with family history research? As it turns out – school records can be a valuable tool for any genie stuck in a family tree rut.
An article in “Business, Institution, and Organization Records” by Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL, and Ann Carter Fleming, CG, CGL in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy details the benefits of school records in genealogy :
“The records of schools, colleges, and universities in the United States have gradually developed into valuable sources of genealogical information. School records provide a more personal glimpse of our ancestors than many other types of records. They are available from the 1700s until current day and include everything from elementary education through college, professional school, military academy, or special education training. Any of these facilities may have records that provide information about your ancestor. Among the types of school records available are report cards, class photos, class lists, administrator’s records, and rosters of teachers. As with most other records in the United States, school records became more comprehensive after the turn of the twentieth century.”
Some helpful school record attributes to look out for:
Private schools will often have more detailed records and most likely include financial and parental information. You can also look out for additional family and friend names through guarantor information or emergency contacts.
Schools for the blind, boys only or girls only schools, or schools based on ethnicity (most likely to be found pre de-segregation) can also help zero in on a family niche and eliminate other factors in sleuthing down your particular ancestor
School Rosters / Student Lists
School rosters can sometimes be found in public libraries as well as the history of the school
Report cards can help any genie glean a lot of personal information about their ancestor. Notes from teachers, information about performance and behavior can be interesting and insightful.