“You’re a swell gal.” “Have a great summer!” “C-ya next year!”
Yearbook messages certainly have changed throughout the years, but one thing hasn’t: How priceless it is to own a yearbook.
In honor of National Yearbook Week 2021, let’s explore a little history of school yearbooks and why they’re still important—even in the digital age.
The History of the School Yearbook
For students on the East Coast in the 17th century, a “yearbook” was no more than a scrapbook holding things like dried flowers, hair clippings, newspaper articles, and other mementos. Classmates would then write poems or memories in each other’s books.
Then in 1806, Yale created an official printed yearbook. It included information about the school year, students, faculty, and even silhouettes of the students (as permanent photographs weren’t invented yet).
Flash forward to the 1940s when yearbooks were filled with notes and signatures, which often included the word “swell.” From there, with each passing decade, yearbook signatures captured the lingo of the times. These days, students are signing more lengthy and heartfelt notes to offset the often fleeting nature of their interactions on social media.
Why School Yearbooks Are Important
No matter the time period, yearbooks remain a great way to capture moments in time forever. There are so many benefits for schools to continue creating them and for students to continue getting them.
1. They Capture History
So much happens in a single school year that there’s no way anyone could possibly remember it all. Yearbooks help us remember our classmates, school events, athletic achievements, and trends of the time.
2. They Foster School Involvement
Yearbook committees are an excellent way for both students and faculty to come together and create something meaningful. This helps students develop their sense of responsibility as well as collaboration and organizational skills.
3. They Encourage Social Interaction
The last week of school is all about signing yearbooks. Students are often motivated even to approach others who they didn’t know very well that year. This may help spawn new friendships or, at the very least, help students with interpersonal skills and remember more classmates than just their close friends.
4. They Last Forever
While there’s no doubt there are cutting-edge tools to create digital yearbooks, a printed version will always stand the test of time. With technology always quickly evolving, you never know if your digital yearbook will still be accessible in 20 years.
5. They Provide Decades of Entertainment
Pulling out yearbooks with your old friends years after you graduate is guaranteed to be a good time. Reading your notes and signatures alone can provide hours of fun. And then there’s looking at the news and current events section, which will help you remember what the world was like as you were coming of age. And of course, you will get a good laugh over your hair and outfits—what were you thinking?
Yearbooks are the perfect way to keep your school memories and nostalgia alive. And hey, maybe years from now, it’ll motivate you to look up an old classmate and reconnect.