Scarborough Historical Society September 2015 Meeting – Yearbooks

I attended the Scarborough Historical Society, where I am a member, meeting the other night. It was really interesting. They had taken Scarborough High School yearbooks over the decades and had individuals from many of those years speak about the advertising and advertisers that bought displays in the yearbooks. Initially, one person talked about the development of school yearbooks from the “Profiles of Part of Class Graduated at Yale College” published in 1806, through the addition of photos into yearbooks because of the letterpress process and halftone printing in the 1880s, to the first few years of yearbooks of Scarborough Maine in the nineteen teens. He spoke about those first advertisers and what happened to the businesses over the hundred years since.

Then, individuals that graduated in 1939, 1945, the mid-1950s, and the 1960s each spoke about their respective yearbook advertisers and what happened to many of the businesses and/or their locations. It was a fascinating talk that gave me pause to think….

Milking machine advertisingThe Kanakadea (1921)
Alfred College, Alfred, NY
Source: Ancestry.Com
I recently found an online yearbook for an ancestor in my Mowbray-Mapes Project. (I’ll be blogging about that find shortly.) I extracted information about the ancestor, photos of him, and clubs he belonged to, but I never considered looking at the advertisers in his yearbook. Who was marketing what to the graduating class? I looked at that yearbook and will definitely will at yearbook advertisers in the future. The advertisers provide an amazing perspective to the life and times.  I’ll consider if the ads intended to sell the company as a place for the graduates to work or did the ads intend to sell to the students and/or their family? Understanding the advertisers in a yearbook understanding the community and the businesses that the young people of the day found important.

Lessons Learned:  

Analyzing the advertising in yearbooks and incorporate into individual’s history as appropriate.

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