How Do You Look Up Free Online Yearbooks?
By Joanna Polisena
Updated August 29, 2017
If you want to look up old classmates or return to the good ol' days you spent in high school or college, you may be able to find your yearbooks online for free. When you know where to look, you can find pictures of your parents or grandparents (with hairstyles you would never wear, of course) or your own band photograph. Of course, not all yearbooks are available online, so you may need to reach out to old classmates. They may have taken digital photos of your analog days of old.
Your first stop in this search should be one of the dedicated yearbook directories online. Sites host hundreds of yearbooks for schools and colleges around the country. You can search or browse for your school free on This Old Yearbook, but this site links out to pages on other sites. One of those sites, Time Capsule Yearbooks, lists only three photographs for each book they want to sell, so you’re not likely to find the photograph you want. Other links do provide images of the full yearbook. Mocavo, a genealogy website, allows you to search or browse its yearbook directory for free, showing thumbnail images of yearbook pages. However, when you click a page to enlarge it, you’ll need to register for a free 14-day trial and then pay for access once that period ends.
Your yearbook may not be available in one of those directories. In which case, you can try general Internet searches. Start with a search for your school’s name and the word “yearbook.” If you want a quick view of available yearbook pages, you can try a Google Image search. Click a page thumbnail to enlarge it, and then click it again to visit its website. When a broad Internet search isn’t returning the results you need, you can try searches on other websites. For example, Genealogy Buff is a user-supported database of various historical documents including yearbooks. You can also search the Internet Archive for yearbooks. Some schools registered on Skalooza provide access to digital yearbooks, as well.
Visit your school district’s website to see if it provides digital copies of older yearbooks. For example, East Bridgewater High School in Massachusetts and the Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles both provide a directory of old and recent yearbooks for viewing. You can also look up local alumni association and historical society websites to see if they have any yearbooks posted. Don’t forget to check local libraries.
When all else fails, you can turn to your social networks for free online yearbooks. First, check Classmates.com, a site designed to connect you with old classmates. Classmates provides access to hundreds of yearbooks with your free registration and an option to order reprints. You can also track down old classmates on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or other social networking sites and see if any have yearbook scans posted. On Facebook, for example, there are many groups and pages devoted to alumni from schools for different decades. Maybe someone will be willing to get one online for you. Search for school, city and alumni groups and pages. They may already have yearbooks posted.
Joanna Polisena has been writing professionally since obtaining a high school mentorship at her hometown's city newspaper. Her work has appeared in daily newspapers, an employment agency's monthly newsletter and various corporate multimedia productions. She earned an AA in letters, arts and sciences from Pennsylvania State University.