10 Reasons Why Alumni Records are a Gold Mine for Genealogists

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Maybe it’s just me, but I have never heard anyone write or talk about using Alumni Records in their genealogy research. I use them personally, and have discovered mountains of information in these gems.

I contend that alumni records are part directories, part newspapers and magazines, part biographies, part obituaries, part yearbooks, part vital records, etc. You get the idea. If you are seeking genealogy clues, these “records’ are full of them. All of the information is derivative, but it can provide leads for you to search for  original documents. And if you are documenting a person’s family story, well, there’s a ton of that kind of information too.

Take a look at two pages from an Alumni Bulletin from Abbott Academy in Amherst, Massachusetts, from the mid-1960’s. The amount of genealogical and family history information on just this one page is amazing!

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So what am I including in Alumni Records?

  • Alumni directories
  • Alumni registers
  • Alumni newsletters, bulletins, newspapers, and magazines
  • Commencement programs

And what information is available in them?

  • Graduation dates and degree(s) received
  • Current photos and/or those of their family
  • Current address lists
  • Where are they now and what are they doing?
  • Obituaries and “In Memoriam”
  • Marriages
  • Children born to the alumnus
  • Deaths in their family
  • Life achievements and awards
  • Interesting stories about the alumnus and their family

The message here is to research these genealogical gold mines.  You’ll be glad you did!


Stay Tuned! The Ancestor Hunt is working on links to free collections for alumni related documents and materials.

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