By Nancy Calhoun
Books & More
School yearbooks are a favorite item in the Genealogy and Local History Department’s collection at Muskogee Public Library.
Researchers and family members often request the items. Most are interested in seeing photographs of family members.
They can reveal interests, achievements, and activities of the former students. Some even have biographical information such as state of birth, course of study, and club memberships.
In addition to Muskogee high schools, a few books are for junior highs, universities, and county high schools. Universities with a representation include Northeastern, Bacone, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. Area schools include Porter, Fort Gibson, and Oktaha.
It's not unusual to hear comments on either the absence or presence of hair, its color and styling, plus fashions of the time. One grandson was pleased to get a copy of a photograph of his grandmother with dark hair. Since she had grayed prematurely, no one in the family had ever seen her with any color but gray.
Some yearbooks reveal the teacher's institution of higher education. It was customary in early books to include a little poem about each student, following their activities and course of study. Mildred Whistler in the class of 1930 was described as “Sparkling, fresh, fine and true, Her very best she'll always do.”
Alfred Schmitz was praised because “He lends a hand to those who fall, That is why he's liked by all.”
Photographs of school scenes and activities are prolific in the pages. Drawings and designs enhance the pages, the creations of artistic students.
The books have been obtained through purchase and donation.
The collection has almost a complete range of the early years of Muskogee and Central High School, but there are gaps where yearbooks are not available.
The library has the opportunity to participate in a state project where the yearbooks will be digitized.
Some are already available.
The finished product will be available at the library for everyone to use, plus the original yearbooks will be returned to the collection.
Since not all yearbooks are owned, loans are needed of missing years.
The earliest yearbook available is 1912. Muskogee high school yearbooks are needed for any year prior to 1912 and the years: 1915, 1944, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1984, 1987, 1992-1997, 1999-2003, 2005 to present.
Yearbooks are especially needed for Manual High School.
The collection includes publications for Manual School Reunions and the Manual High School history, but it owns no actual yearbooks for Manual High School.
Those willing to loan their yearbooks for this project should contact the Genealogy and Local History Department at Muskogee Public Library, 801 West Okmulgee, 918-682-6657, extension 3. Donations of yearbooks are also welcome.
Nancy Calhoun is in the Genealogy and Local History department of the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657.