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School picture from Westbrookville area circa 1908-1910. Photo from the repertoire of Ralph Freudenberg (1903-1980) and Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963). Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963) has actually been tentatively established as the 2nd person from the left in the bottom row. (Wikimedia Commons)
In addition to being a regular Family Tree Magazine column, photograph Detective was also a long-running blog held on our website through Maureen A. Taylor for numerous years. Here, we’ve an unified some of her best write-ups from the past.

September means schools space in conference for an additional year of reading, writing and also arithmetic. Today’s students discover a lot much more than the simple three subjects. Object taught and also student life bear tiny resemblance to your ancestor’s institution year.

You are watching: How to find old school photos


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Family Tree Magazine
It’s a an excellent thing many families documented school job in pictures. We have the right to compare the pictures of the past with those taken today. There space similarities, the course: A tiny kid going turn off to his very an initial day of grade institution has always been a milestone moment.

You’ll find class portraits. Your great-grandfather could sit in the crowd with an x over his head to determine him, leaving you wondering about the names of various other students. Those photographs call the story of her ancestor’s education.

Turns out an enig school images aren’t the unusual. Here’s one assortment of past Photo Detective blog write-ups featuring students and also teachers:


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These college girl sit top top a action engraved v “Class the 1910.” Anyone recognize the location?
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This picture depicts students at Hendrix university in Conway, Ark. That was discovered in a reader’s grandfather’s collection. That didn’t attend Hendrix, therefore why walk he own the picture?
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Did your ancestor to visit a technical college during world War II?
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Without the caption, you’d think the young girl posed v her mother, not her teacher.

One of my favorites is this small girl and also a mrs in a dotted shirts that dates from roughly 1900. It’s evidence that this small girl attended some sort of institution (of food this might be she piano teacher). Once you’re researching your family members it’s simple to overlook records relating to genealogical childhoods. School documents are a an excellent way to uncover out simply where you got your talent in mathematics or in mine case, my bad handwriting.

3 advice to find Ancestor college Photos

For the very first three years of class school, i went to course in a 19th-century building. A large wide staircase and a great cloak room stick in mine mind. That structure is long gone, changed by a modern-day school. I’ve search for a snapshot of the initial structure to view if my memories that it to compare to how it in reality looked.

Finding pictures of the schools my family attended is a good beginning to knowledge their classroom experience, and also it helps flesh the end my family members story.

Depending top top when and also where they lived, the school can be a one-room schoolhouse or a massive brick-and-mortar city school.


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Nebraska State historical Society,
If her ancestor attended school in Nebraska, counting yourself lucky. The Nebraska State Historical culture added pictures to the American Memory task of the Library that Congress. This one is a sod school, ar 62, 2 miles west the Merna, Custer County, Neb., in 1889.

In this picture, you can see the backwards writing on the bottom edge of the original glass plate.

According come the cataloging record, in 1974, someone identified the teacher in the center as Elsie Thomas who married a Bidgood. One of the girl in the back row, 2nd to the left of the teacher, is Nettie Hannawald. Over there is another photo of Nettie virtual as well.

1. Look at online

Search the Library of conference for images of schools in places your ancestors lived. Select “Photos, Prints, Drawings” from the dropdown food selection at the top, and form search terms such together Merna Nebraska school.

Then increase your search to Google images. A fast search for history of public school style Grand Rapids caused a many hits consisting of an online article and also photo essays for cool Rapids, Michigan.

2. Inspect newspapers

In a town whereby I when lived, one old schoolhouse is currently a bank, however I learned a lot around the building form old newspapers. In the 1930s, some members the the city balked at installing indoor plumbing. The old outhouse was good enough, lock said.

Search newspapers in search of school information:

You could locate information around the institution building.Merit college student lists in the record could cite your relativeThere might be an sculpture or a picture published

3. Ask the locals.

Public libraries and also historical societies regularly have pictures of old college buildings. Examine the library or culture website because that a collection of digital images. Encompass school yearbooks in her search.

Let us understand what you find on our on facebook page!


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“This picture of the Gardenville school in Gardenville, Bucks County, Pa., was taken in 1915. It’s my favorite school photo because of the large American flag. My head grandmother, Helen Ott Michener, is pictured simply to the best of the tree in the ago row. Her brother, my great-uncle Clarence Lincoln Michener, is sit in the former row, 2nd from right.” – Carol Jacobs Norwood

Family history Q&A: Finding college Photographs

Q: I want to uncover school pictures and also other pictures of mine Jackalow family, who came over to Ellis Island in 1914. How deserve to I monitor them down?

A: If you’re in search of school images of your relatives, you very first need to establish where and when they attended school. According to catalen Hinckley’s book Your guide to the federal Census (Betterway Books), us census schedules started reporting college attendance in 1840. The census will provide you with proof her ancestors attended school and also will call you wherein they lived at the time. Part localities additionally took separate college censuses.

In bespeak to start your search for course pictures, call the college district or the details school your relatives attended to watch if that maintains an save or sent its pictures and records to an additional repository. One woman discovered a photograph of she ancestor attached to his college records, so look for much more than portraits. When you’ve uncovered the pictures, continue searching for her ancestor’s school development reports.

You’re trying to find photographs take away in the 20th century, for this reason don’t overlook released yearbooks as a resource. Castle can provide you v a portrait as well as interesting information about your ancestor’s hobbies and also nicknames. Researchers looking for course photos that 19th-century ancestors could get lucky, too: The earliest school pictures day from 1840, once Samuel Morse take it a group portrait that the Yale university graduating class.


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West Night High institution Cincinnati, 379-7714 QC574 WEA 1911, p. 16. Cincinnati historic Society.

Check historical societies because that yearbooks that might contain photos of your ancestors. This photos appeared in a West Night High college yearbook in the Cincinnati historic Society’s collection.

If you’re make the efforts to find general photographs the the Jackalow family, shot contacting various other relatives or in search of the name in online search engines and photo-reunion web page such as DeadFred.com. Posting your request ~ above genealogical post boards can also yield fruitful results.

A version of this article showed up in the December 2002 problem of Family Tree Magazine.

British Schoolboy Uniforms

Just favor the boys and girls at Hogwarts, brother students undertake distinctive uniforms and caps. You have the right to identify the school by the color and design the its outfit, as well as the badges worn top top students’ blazers.

There’s some minor variation in caps depending on which house (a kind of division) a student belonged to, or i m sorry level of institution he to visit (such as grammar school, or what Americans speak to high school). That’s right—the competitive homes of the bother Potter publications are based on the actual thing. In English private schools, students belong come houses and also compete against each other in sports simply as Harry, Hermoine and also Ron do.

Family Tree Magazine leader Catherine Hamilton it is registered this picture of her grandfather John Porter v his schoolmates and tutor.




Hamilton knows that man Porter (1881-1937) attended institution in Manchester, England, and she thinks this photo was taken at Chetham’s college (now Chetham’s institution of Music). This picture was taken in the at an early stage 1890s, based on Porter’s age and also appearance.

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A search for picture of the college using Google picture Search says these boys aren’t students there. Chetham’s is in the history a “bluecoat school.” during Porter’s student days, the school’s pupils wore long, cassock-like blue uniform coats, a tradition dating back centuries.