05 July 2008

School Records

One of the subjects I lecture and write about is the use of older school records in researching individual, family, and community history. A wealth of information waits in these records. School censuses can help fill in the gaps in federal and state census enumerations. In many cases, these records give detail on an entire family. A record of your ancestor's grades, days in attendance, and even books borrowed from the school library can fill in more on the life story of that person. Details on a teacher's own schooling or rate of pay can often be found.

Historic school records may be found in a variety of places today. They may still be in the actual school or school district offices. Perhaps they have been transferred to a county or state archive or historical facility. Two state archives with a bounty of school records from around their respective states are Minnesota and North Carolina. The Family History Library has not concentrated on filming school records, but some are in the library. The records from a religious or ethnic school may be with an archive for that religion or ethnic group.

Some records are stacked in box after box in warehouses and access is almost impossible. According to the July 1st edition of the Post-Journal, the Jamestown, New York, public schools now has its own archives to preserve such records in a controlled environment. If only more were preserved so well.

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