Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back To School

Today many students in our North Carolina head back to school.  That got me to thinking about using school records to tell our ancestors' stories. While not a record source I use regularly, school records can provide important information on our ancestors and those around them.

Yearbooks:  I first wrote the Cluster Springs High School yearbook here. The ads in the back provide a glimpse into the economy of the community.  While we may find photographs of our ancestors in a yearbook, you are also likely to find photographs of your collateral lines as well.  In smaller farming communities such as Cluster Springs, Va, families often lived close by each other.  Knowing surnames common to an area can prove useful in research as well.  When attempting to break through the genealogical brick wall, researching those around your ancestor can provide the clues you need.

Report Cards:  Report cards can tell us what type of student our ancestor was.  We can learn their strengths  and weaknesses.  In this example physiology and history were definitely not Aunt Elma's best subjects.

Now look at the bottom of this report card.  Her father B H Talbott [Boss Henry Talbott] has signed the card.  You can find  parent and/or guardian names listed on report cards as well as their signature.  Recognizing an ancestor's signature can be helpful when analyzing other documents relating to them.

Location of an ancestor can also be determined by their report card.  This report card shows that Elma Talbott was in South Boston [VA] in 1930-1931 at Lawson School.  Research on the school can help pinpoint an area close to where Elma lived.

Certificates:  Like report cards, certificates earned at school place your ancestor in a time and a place.

If you are fortunate to school records for your ancestor, I encourage you to pull them out and give them a second look.  Look beyond the grades and see who or what else you can find.

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