"The Best Years of Our Lives," "2 Sweet 2-B 4-Gotten," "The Way We Were"

These are just some of the phrases that we use to describe the way we remember our school years. There are people and events that we all probably want to remember, and maybe some that we’d just as soon forget. Some of our memories are made possible—even inescapable—by the school yearbooks that we left behind.

Those yearbooks document many things: our classmates and instructors; the buildings where we studied; the social, academic, professional, and athletic organizations and activities in which we participated; the sponsors who supported us; and the wider communities in which we and our schools existed. Some yearbooks do their jobs more creatively, more artistically, or more professionally than others, but they all compress into a couple of hundred pages or so a collection of memories that will be with us forever.

Not all of us, of course, have saved all of our yearbooks. Some of us may regret that we’ve let those memories slip away from our lives. Have no fear, though! The Louisiana Division of New Orleans Public Library is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available as many Louisiana school yearbooks as possible. We now have an extensive collection of nearly 1300 volumes from elementary, middle, and secondary schools; junior and community colleges; and traditional four-year colleges and universities from around the state of Louisiana. We’re always trying to fill holes in the collection, and we welcome donations of titles and volumes not currently on our shelves.

This exhibit comprises a small selection from among the college and university yearbooks in the Louisiana Division’s collection. We chose them to demonstrate the wide variety of memories that school yearbooks keep alive for us all. Interesting, too, is how yearbooks have changed as production methods evolved – from the woodcuts of turn-of-the-century volumes to the elaborately enhanced graphics of today’s annuals. We’ve included some famous faces, some memorable events, some worthy examples of photography and design, and at least a few pages that just seemed too good not to share with the rest of Louisiana. We hope you enjoy the trip back in time!


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