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The yearbook for the First Graduating Class

Around the turn of the 20th century yearbooks started popping up across America. It is said that an early example was published in 1878 by Union College, which belonged to the first graduating class.  This yearbook was called "Uriah." From then to now, a lot of things have changed, and if you're about to create your yearbook, a lot of questions about this tradition may came to your mind. Do you want to know more? Keep reading this article!

An alumni magazine was created shortly after

The first high school yearbook appeared in 1885. Unlike the first college yearbook, this first edition was published one year before the first graduating class walked. The first edition of St. Albans' alumni magazine included a few short biographies along with some senior groups photos.

As far as we know, between 1885 and 1910 no other schools produced annuals, as there was not a lot of technology available like today, when anybody can easily make their own yearbook...

School Old Times

The college yearbook from Colby University

The first college yearbook in America was created in 1885 by students at Colby University. This first edition included photographs and full student biographies, including hometowns and colleges attended before Colby. The book was published annually until 1913 when World War I intervened. In 1920 it began again but only lasted a few more years because of financial difficulties on campus after the war ended.

Yearbooks used to be a lot more simple

These first books were not like modern-day yearbooks with their oh-so-fabulous photos, creative layouts, or even current information (not to mention expensive). Instead, they were generally more like scrapbooks with pasted-in photos, articles about the students and faculty, and advertisements.

Yearbooks in the early 1900s...

In the early 1900s, when yearbooks were beginning to become popular with high schools, they consisted of a kind of "snapshot" of the class. The book was more like a scrapbook than anything else. There were no group photos and only a few individual ones. Oftentimes these books would include a roll call of sorts to raise money for that year's publication. To get their picture in the annual you had to pay a fee! If you wanted your family or friends' names included in the book, you had to buy so many pages for them as well.   

...looked much different from today's yearly highlights.

Over the following decades yearbooks kept changing. A lot of publications tried including sports teams, professional clubs, or other school groups, but this ended up being too expensive for many schools. By the 1970s most schools had dropped including these types of things in their yearbook and instead focused on individual photos and activities around campus...

...and are now back where they started

The modern-day yearbook is several steps back from where it started at Union College in 1878--it's more like the first college yearbook that was published by Colby University students in 1885! Like those first books, current-day are made primarily by students.


Empty Classroom


The importance of Yearbooks

These books document what has happened at a school year by year and provide insight into the different activities that took place. They also provide evidence of how much things have changed or stayed the same throughout time for both schools and students. These yearly reviews remain very important today as we look back on memories from our senior year while preparing for our future after high school. Giovanni Montalvo has made a very cool video that talks about his experience with yearbooks and why they are so important to help him tell people who he is. It's a light, quick watch, hit play!


Yearbooks are all about documenting your school's memories.

Studies have shown that many graduates enjoy looking back at their yearbook, not only while reminiscing but also when applying to college or jobs. They use these books as a way to remember what they were like in high school and who influenced them during that time. Thus, schools should continue producing the best yearbooks possible.


Graduation Day


Digital yearbooks and online yearbooks

In the twenty-first century, school yearbooks can now be delivered in a variety of ways. For example, some schools have switched from paper to digital versions that include all the same information as a print book but with added capabilities. Digital apps for smartphones and tablets make it possible to flip through the pages quickly and create a custom viewing experience...

The future of these publications is uncertain

Digital yearbooks allow students to "flip" through pages on their mobile devices - do you think this will replace printed yearbooks? Or will they co-exist for years to come? Some schools, like Union College in New York, have given up on printed books entirely and instead focus exclusively on an online publication. These sites contain all the information from the printed version including photos and articles but add other interactive elements like polls, quizzes, and videos.

We believe in the mix of the two versions

What do you think about yearbooks? Do you like the paper kind, digital kind, or both equally? My Social Book turns pictures into a yearbook with thousands of memories from your high school, college, or university years. Everything you registered on Facebook, Instagram, or Google Photos gets automatically laid out in a printed keepsake.

What would happen if there would be a hacker attack on the university's servers, or if they simply would stop hosting your beloved digital yearbook? You'd be left with no memories of your precious years whatsoever. That's why we think that having a printed yearbook safe in your home is a great option!


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