College yearbooks place a person firmly in a time and place with a purpose (hopefully). Margaret Mitchell describes Stuart and Brent Tarleton’s college experiences and that of their older brothers, Boyd and Tom in Gone With the Wind. They kept getting kicked out, pretty soon they were running out of colleges but it wasn’t a problem except for Boyd, who was “kind of set on getting an education,and you two have pulled him out of the University of Virginia and Alabama and South Carolina and now Georgia. He’ll never get finished at this rate.” Following their fictional footsteps through the south and the colleges there, through yearbooks might be a mess. But very telling.
I have the requisite number of yearbooks, three from junior high, three from high school and some from college, a couple of my husband’s from high school and an extra one from college (we went to the same school), and a couple of my parents’ from college. Mocavo has spent a lot of time and effort collecting, digitizing, and indexing various college and high school yearbooks, with the perennial problem with OCR development. The Denver Public Library has a nice collection of yearbooks. Smaller county, city, historical and genealogical society libraries also have good local collections, so if you know where someone went you have the answers in a nutshell. University libraries of course will have collections, and probably always complete collections, of the annuals issued for their own schools and feeder schools. For instance Case Western Reserve University is an amalgamation of Western Reserve College, Case Institute of Technology, Adelbert College, Flora Stone Mather College for Women, Lakeside Hospital Training School for Nurses, Weatherhead School of Management, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and others. The school’s genealogy is as convoluted as many a family. All of those departments, colleges and graduate schools have been represented in various yearbooks and Alumni Bulletins. The best places to research those yearly publications would be the library and archives on campus, the Western Reserve Historical Society Library, and the Cleveland Public Library.