Yearbooks: Embarrassing or Awesome?

The Davenport Community School System has three high schools.  The original Davenport High School took up residence in its current Main Street campus in 1904.  It was renamed Central High School after West High was built on West Locust in 1960.  Twenty-five years later, North High School opened on West 53rd Street.

 And while we are missing a few years here and there, our library boasts a collection of yearbooks from these schools from 1916 to the present.*  That’s a lot of books.

Our patrons have used these books to search for old friends and relatives, prepare for reunions, complete homework assignments, reminisce about the glory days, and to find images of their loved ones to blow up for birthday and retirement parties.  Kids in particular like to look up their parents and grandparents and, well, snicker.

But yearbooks are far more than senior photos and candid shots.

Unlike some histories that were written decades after the events they list, yearbooks were created to be personal reminders of a single year in time—primary resources and freeze frames not only of young people about to be launched into adulthood, but of the local, national, and world events that formed them.

There are questionable fashions in these books, to be sure, and interesting nicknames and inside jokes, but as one moves from the oldest to the more current, one can see the definitions of youth and education changing, as well as the social mores and opinions of each succeeding class of graduates.

So whether you’re looking for memories, history, or humor, our collection of high school yearbooks are a fascinating, if occasionally embarrassing, look into the past.

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