Yearbooks: Worth keeping or clutter?

About once a month, a reader writes to us asking what to do with his or her large stash of yearbooks. Whenever this question comes to me, I’m always at a loss for what kind of advice to give. I have all of my old yearbooks — a spiral bound paper one from elementary school, two paper ones stapled together from middle school, four traditional ones from high school, and two traditional ones from college — and my husband has five of his. They take up a cube on our bookshelf and sit beneath our reference books.

In a way, I think of these books as reference materials. If a person I don’t remember makes a request to connect to me on Facebook or LinkedIn, and the request states that I went to school with the person, I’ll head to my yearbooks hoping that a picture of the person will spark my memory. I also look through the portraits before heading to class reunions, but those are pretty much the only times I look at them.

However, the idea of getting rid of them sort of makes me nauseated. Maybe a part of me is fearful that one day I’ll lose my memory and need them to recreate my past? Maybe I hope that my children will be interested in them and want to better understand who I was when I was their age? Even though I can’t exactly identify why I keep them, I have carved out a place for them in my home.

My advice is that if you want to keep them, then it’s okay to keep them. Store them in a place that is safe (not in a cardboard box in a mildewy basement) and scan any pages that you would be crushed to lose if your home were destroyed by a natural disaster. Remember to backup your hard drive at an off-site location so that you won’t lose your data in an emergency.

If you don’t have any desire to keep them, then scan individual pages you want to keep digitally and recycle the books. You might e-mail your former classmates and see if any of them are interested in the books if you don’t want to toss them straight into the recycling bin. You also could contact your school’s historical society and see if they would want them, or if a current journalism teacher at the school might have use for them.

How have you handled your yearbooks? Do you have additional advice for what to do with yearbooks? Your ideas are welcome in the comments.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

76 Comments for “Yearbooks: Worth keeping or clutter?”

  1. posted by Miguel de Luis on

    An idea that comes immediately to my mind is scrap-booking. Take the photographs you want to keep and make a Childhood memories. Then you need not to worry much about the rest.

    Plus, you can always scan what you want, print and scrap-book.

  2. posted by Linda on

    I agree with the suggestion of seeing if your old school would like to have your yearbooks. My father died when I was three and I always craved any information about him that I could get. A few years ago I wrote the librarian at St. Louis University where he graduated asking for any information she might have about him. I was thinking about transcripts, etc. Imagine my delight when I received from her a 1935 yearbook that included candid photos and comments about my father that I had never seen before. She was able to send that yearbook because someone who needed it no longer had sent it back to the University.

  3. posted by working toward minimalism one day at a time on

    Such a timely post of me – I am a part of a multi-family yard sale this coming weekend and in cleaning my house, sorting my clutter and possessions over the last couple weeks, I came across a stack of old year books. Like Erin, I had elementary books (2), middle school books (2), high school (5), and college (8 – more on why this many later). First, I went to private school from 4th – 12th grade so all 9 of my books from that time were hard bound and included K-12. I found I had no need for the 4th – 7th grade years but didn’t want to do away with my class or some other pictures from the 70+ pages, so I cut out what I wanted and placed these pages/pictures into my neatly prepared “school days” scrapbook and recycled the rest of the book. I have the 8-12th grade books in a proper container stored in my attic. Now – why I had 8 college books…my husband and I met in college so we each had 4 books from our time there. I was a year ahead of him in school so we each had 1 book the other didn’t have. When it came to those, I contacted the alumni association at my alma mater and asked if the school would like to have 3 yearbooks from certain years (89-91) since they were duplicates in our house and to me were unnecessary clutter. To my delight, I returned those books to my college and in return they sent me a couple of school items some I could use (I kept), others I couldn’t (I discarded or donated) – again though since I had stated the my husband and I were both alums they sent duplicates of these items – I remember 4 luggage tags and 2 scarves and there were 2 other things I don’t remember (guess now you know what I kept!). I shared 2 tags and 1 scarf with a friend who is also an alum of the school.

    Anyway – about the yearbooks – I did not feel one bit of guilt in cutting up and tossing the 4 books I “destroyed” (as one friend put it) but I did keep momentos from those books. One day I might do the same to the 8th-10th grade years, but the 11th and 12th grade years will be mine, in tact, forever because even though I hated high school, those 2 years were the most fun of that time in my life.

    as my name says working toward minimalism one day at a time and enjoying the journey!

  4. posted by Matt Hooper on

    When I first moved out of my parents’ house about 12 years ago I left my year books behind. I told my parents that when I get a bigger place then I would collect them. They are still there and I don’t want to just throw them out. I now live on the other side of the world from where my parents live and they occasionally ask me what I want to do with them. I am thinking about getting them sent to a service that will scan them and send me digital files of each page. I could store them digitally and recycle the books. All my yearbooks have written comments from my classmates that don’t really need to be archived in libraries. I am voting for the scan and recycle method.

  5. posted by Michele on

    That’s a great photo, Erin.

    I keep my old yearbooks and my old datebooks and calendars. I guess I’ve been accumulating them for almost 20 years. In the grand scheme of things, they don’t actually take up a lot of space. The yearbooks are, what, half folio size, and the calendars, though they vary, are generally the size of a Time magazine or a half-filled manila folder.

    I like to know that I have a record of the trips I’ve taken, the goals I’ve accomplished, and the obstacles I’ve overcome over the years. And I do go back and look things up from time to time.

    As I say, I don’t think they take up too much space, so I don’t mind stowing them in a cabinet where I can get to them infrequently as I feel I need to.

  6. posted by Lazygal on

    I have more yearbooks than years I was in school because I work in schools – I have 14 from the years I’ve been a school librarian. I’ve kept those and a few memorabila items but not much else from or about “my kids”. The school I attended for high school is starting to scan/digitize all our old yearbooks, and when those are up and searchable, I’ll probably get rid of my hardcopies. And I’ll wait until all my schools (attended and not) do the same.

    Luckily, I have a spare shelf in my non-moldy basement to hold them on until that day.

  7. posted by ErinM on

    Between my husband and me, I have a knee-high stack of yearbooks — and I mean a stack! They are literally stacked in the corner of our “book nook,” and because most of them are tradional, weighty tomes, they are sturdy enough hold a reading lamp.

    I’m in favor of keeping them, for two reasons:

    (1) My niece recently started at my old junior high school, and she has gotten a kick out of seeing photos of me in those familiar surroundings; seeing how young her teachers used to be, etc.

    (2) Some years back I inherited yearbooks from my grandmother’s high school days — the 1920s! They’re not only valuable for sentimental reasons, but they’re fascinating for a glimpse into a bygone era.

  8. posted by Nicole on

    Echoing Erin M.’s sentiment, I loved looking through my mother’s yearbooks when I was younger. I hope our kids will enjoy learning a little more about their parents as “real” people when they get older.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Michele — You caught me!! That is my dreadful senior photo πŸ™‚ Oh .. the early 1990s … big hair, big clothing, and photos taken out in the “wild.” I’m laying on a sandbar in the middle of a river for this one. So, so funny. I hope everyone enjoys the laugh!!

  10. posted by Jill on

    I plan on keeping all my old yearbooks until infinity! They mean a lot to me because I was always on the yearbook staff – from elementary school all the way through college. In fact, working on the yearbook staff in college was a major source of income for me back then. I’ve always been sentimental about yearbooks and I urge anyone that feels like tossing them to at least contact the schools and see if they have a need for them. Most schools keep at least one copy from every year and are often missing some.

  11. posted by Brenna Kater, the Ocean Skater on

    I loved looking at my parent’s yearbooks when I was a kid, so I’m definitely keeping mine. Of course, I only have 3, and they’re small, so it’s not that big of a deal πŸ™‚

  12. posted by ellebee on

    As a former yearbook staffer, I am very biased in this category … I have a ton of my own yearbooks since it represents years of hard work and long, long hours. Plus I have other schools’ books since I now help with scholastic journalism groups.

    I do agree they take up space and the bigger ones are insanely heavy. While I personally couldn’t get rid of my books, I understand wanting to … so I definitely recommend giving them back to the schools if you can. When I was on staff, we often had people calling in requesting a past book, and sometimes our own library was incomplete. If you have signatures in them, just tear out those pages … it’s much better to send those books to the schools than to recycling.

    Another alternative is to donate them to this awesome bookstore I found online that has a growing collection of books, using them for geneology amongst other reference needs:

  13. posted by brooklynchick on

    I love looking at them every few years, especially with the few people from high school I am still friends with.

    If nothing else, THEY can be a great read on a bad day – my worst day at 36 is 100 times better than my best day at 16!!!!!!!

  14. posted by Sarah on

    I absolutely adore looking through my grandfather’s yearbook. My grandfather went to an engineering high school, and it’s fascinating to see how much different life was in the 1930s. We also have a copy of Young Hustler magazine (a magazine for paper boys), the cover of which features my grandfather and his brother. They had sold a lot of magazines and newspapers! It jogged my grandfather’s memories of those days, and we learned all about how he would ride for 10 and 20 miles on his bike for deliveries, how a certain restaurant would feed him, etc.
    I do like the idea of digitizing my books. Thinking about how much I value those items of my grandfather’s, I may just keep my senior yearbooks from college and high school.

  15. posted by Sally on

    I tossed mine during a purge a couple of years ago. It was completely liberating and I’ve not regretted it for a moment.

    Those junior and senior high annuals were memorializing some of the most painful years of my life. Keeping them around was bad feng shui. The one college yearbook I had went, too, because it was so big and impersonal. (Plus, they’d airbrushed my photo to the point it didn’t really look like me.)

  16. posted by Love to open up space in my life on

    Thank you for this article πŸ™‚ Timing is everything..I am however one that I think I will be getting rid of my yearbooks. I had a rough time growing up and honestly don’t really remember a lot of the people I went to school with. I have since left the City and Country I grew up in and now choose to move on allowing new wonderful memories to enter. For me it’s kind of like keeping pictures of old boyfriends – it was fun/or not but time to move on.

  17. posted by dholaday on

    I’m definitely hanging on to my yearbooks. It’s fun to relive the past occassionally. This might sound silly, but I’ve actually used them recently to refresh my memory on who has requested to become my friend on Facebook.

  18. posted by OogieM on

    I’ve managed to misplace my high school yearbooks. And now that I moved back to the town I really need them. I have a few from my parents that I treasure. I’d save them carefully in a nice archive quality storage box and just wait. You’ll love them and need them eventually and if you don’t your descendants doing genealogy will.

  19. posted by Elizabeth on

    Public libraries often have collections of yearbooks from local schools (including colleges). Sadly, they are often stolen or cut up by people who can’t be bothered to make a photocopy, so many libraries keep multiple copies. Please call first, though, to make sure your donation can be accepted.

  20. posted by tabatha on

    i only have one year book. we were pretty poor so the only one i have is my yearbook from my senior year in high school. and even that one doesn’t mean all that much to me. i didn’t have many friends at my school, most of my friends went to other schools. so i had a bunch of people i didn’t know that well sign my year book that doesn’t even have my picture in it b/c i couldn’t afford senior pictures. but i keep it b/c its the only one i had. i did find the two from my middle school years at the goodwill when i was working there and i bought those, but they didn’t mean as much b/c they hadn’t been signed by the few friends i had. plus i didn’t participate in a lot of school activities so its not like i had a lot of memories from that time anyway.

  21. posted by Jenn on

    In my quest to declutter, I have gotten rid of a lot of things that I thought I would never be able to let go of and the yearbooks stay, no question about it. It’s nice to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come. Considering they take up less than 4 inches on a bookshelf, it’s no big deal for them to stay.

  22. posted by DJ on

    My yearbooks spent years in a box in my parents’ garage, along with most of my other childhood and teenage belongings.

    Shortly after I graduated from college my mother went on a cleaning and decluttering mission. She called to tell me that if I didn’t come home that weekend to retrieve my boxes, she would take them to the dump.

    I jumped at the chance to rid myself of these useless belongings for free. What a deal… she would haul them herself to the dump at no cost to me? Woo-hoo!

    She immediately backtracked, aghast that I would discard my yearbooks and ‘memories,’ but I held firm.

    I’ve never missed them, not in the nearly 25 years since.

    My husband was appalled that I no longer have my yearbooks, since he treasures his from kindergarten through senior year of college. But that’s great… he WANTS to keep his, and why not? Every now and again, he pulls them out and gets a charge out of looking at old photos. But I’ve never felt that nostalgic about my school years.

  23. posted by Squawkfox on

    I love my yearbooks. They are books documenting my past. They show me how far I have traveled and remind me how far I have come. I could never part with them. To unclutter, there are less important materials to part with.

  24. posted by Laura on

    When my daughter brought home her senior year yearbook last May, I was astounded at how similar the cover was to my yearbook 29 years (!) ago. I found mine in a box in my garage (I live in the desert, so it’s okay) and we both got such a kick out of going through it and looking at the hair, clothing and fads of 1979. Later on, I found her reading through the writings, from “Nice knowing you” to “I will never love anyone the way I love you” (well, that boyfriend didn’t last!). We spent many hours talking about growing up, what is important vs. what is not, and I think she discovered that her mom really was once a teenager. Strangely, I think it has brought us closer, now that she is away at college.

    So, obviously, I am keeping my yearbooks. Two more kids to go!

  25. posted by Robbi on

    I have six yearbooks (junior high and high school). I keep them in the attic inside this plastic file box with a handle (called a “small mobile file box, legal size”). The file box is plastic in case of leaks, and is about a quarter of the size of a traditional banker’s box. The lid has a couple of built in storage compartments so I threw in the graduation tassels into the lid. I never look at them, but I enjoyed looking at my parents’ yearbooks, so am saving them for my kids. Just be sure to measure your yearbooks before you buy the box to make sure they will fit. I bought the smallest possible box so it’s a snug fit, which is what I wanted, for less of a “footprint”.

  26. posted by Michelle on

    Oh, this has ignited some guilt in me–my yearbooks and other memorabilia are all in one moving box that’s still at my parents’ house.

    It might be different if I lived in an honest-to-goodness house, but I have lived in cities ever since I left home, and my tight living quarters have made it difficult to justify asking for the memorabilia box back.

    Now, 12 years after I packed up that box, I wonder if it’s really necessary to keep it.

  27. posted by Silke on

    5 years ago my mom’s house burned down with all the items in the attic – that included all my yearbooks. On the one hand I regret it, particularly if I want to see pictures of close friends or want to go down memory lane. I now go to school friends and classmates to look at their copies. On the other hand, I couldn’t imagine having room for all my yearbooks now though. All in all, I think I wish I still had them.

  28. posted by Greg on

    I am not sure what happened to all of mine – I guess decluttered over the years. I have just one left – my senior year at High School. It has come in handy before
    reunions or when I have read a name in the newspaper and wonder if I went to school with that person!

  29. posted by sky on

    When I cleaned out my childhood stuff, I only kept one high school yearbook and my favorite things. I have no regrets dumping the other yearbooks.
    Can’t keep it all!

  30. posted by mamabigdog on

    There’s something about the suggestion that one should consider yearbooks as “clutter” and that all such clutter must be purged that makes me want to stop reading this site out of frustration and annoyance.

    My points:

    – One person’s clutter is another person’s treasure. Please don’t judge others who choose to keep physical remembrances of their past, even if you consider it silly and quaint.

    – There is something to be said for keeping such items for future generations of your family to connect to their past. Yearbooks can be an excellent reminder to those of us “of a certain age”, of fun stories our kids want to hear when they drag these books out on occasion.

    – This post reveals a certain faction of the “live with less” community who takes decluttering to a competitive, holier-than-thou place. It’s like judging who is a better parent- “I do x,y,z, therefore I am superior to you as a declutterer/parent/person, etc.” In this scenario, the person who gets rid of everything with zero regrets is the “winner”, while the rest of us are simply poseurs for keeping our sentimental yearbooks.

    Yes, I am in favor of decluttering. Yes, I could do better at it. Yes, I am keeping my 6 yearbooks. I do not think these statements are at odds with each other.

  31. posted by momofthree on

    My hubby and I have all our school yearbooks in the same bookcase as all our family scrapbooks. Getting rid of them just would be like throwing away our past.
    When the time comes to really get rid of them, (upon the death of either one of us), we are going to give them back to the schools we attended.
    We have been told by school library friends that the current crop of students LOVE to look at the old yearbooks and HOWL with laughter over the mode of fashions of the time. Think baby blue eye shadow, frosted lipstick, and beehive hair, 1980’s big hair, and you get the idea.
    Tossing them just seems to be a waste, never mind taking up space in a landfill.
    Donate back to the school gets my vote.

  32. posted by infmom on

    If you don’t want them, put them up for sale on eBay! There will be people out there who got rid of their yearbooks and will jump at the chance to buy yours to replace them. (My son’s yearbook got stolen before he even got it home and I searched eBay for a couple years to find him another one.) I now have yearbooks from all the high schools I went to except one, and I keep hoping I’ll find that one. Anyone know where to get a 1968 yearbook from E.C. Glass high school in Lynchburg, Virginia? πŸ™‚

  33. posted by Erin Doland on

    @mamabigdog — Did you read the post or just the headline? If you read the post, then you saw that I didn’t judge anyone. Not a single negative thing is said in this post. In fact, if you read the post, then you saw that I still keep my yearbooks. Please, if you’re going to comment, read the post.

  34. posted by Laura on

    Give them to your library!!!! They will be glad to get them, especially if they have a geneaology dept!!!

  35. posted by Mary on

    I certainly don’t object to anyone keeping their yearbooks, but like Sally who posted up above I didn’t enjoy high school and have no desire to be reminded of it. In fact this very day I decluttered 1973… my grade 10 yearbook had somehow survived earlier purges. My university didn’t have yearbooks as far as I know, so I don’t have to worry about them.

  36. posted by delphine on

    I actually love looking at my dad’s old yearbooks (I’m in college now). He graduated high school from a small school in New England somewhere around ’72 and his yearbook is hilarious to look at.

  37. posted by Harris on

    Mamabigdog-SIMMER DOWN!
    Be nice to Erin or go away.

  38. posted by katiedid on will be happy to get old yearbooks which are then scanned and available on their genealogy website (probably for a fee).

    The address for donations:

    Ancestry Yearbook Donations
    4800 North 360 West
    Provo, UT 84604

  39. posted by ari_1965 on

    I just moved to a new house. When I was packing up the stuff in the garage, I looked at my yearbooks on the shelf (yep, they never made it into the old house during the three years I lived there), and thought, “Who needs this crap?” And I threw them out.

    I mean, I’m 43 now. I don’t even remember who most of the people are who wrote in my yearbooks. And even the ones I do remember wrote profound things like “Best Friends 4Ever!!!” Yeah, I need to hold that yearbook close to me and let my mind wander down memory lane. PU

    I’m sorry I kept them so long and schlepped them from house to house.

  40. posted by Carol on

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for posting since I was one of the people who wrote in asking what to do with my old yearbooks.

    I still have no idea what to do, but hearing from people who kept theirs and from people who gotten rid of their yearbooks makes me feel better. Just knowing that whatever I decide isn’t necessarily the “wrong” choice helps me deal with my clutter.

  41. posted by Freemont on

    For those who have access to a table saw and a scanner (preferably fast and double-sided). If you fasten your yearbook shut and carefully saw off the spine of your yearbook, you can get every page individually loose and in tact. Then you can scan the whole thing and make it into a PDF file to store on your computer.

    I’ve done this with books many times, and I used my old yearbooks as practice- it’s a great way to get rid of books that your library doesn’t stock, while still hanging onto the information.

  42. posted by Doreen on

    Oh Erin, that pic is tame compared to the big hair 80’s of this Jersey girl!

  43. posted by Another Deb on

    Don’t just throw them away. Someone, somewhere wants them. I used to love looking through my dad’s high school yearbook more than my own. He went to the same school I did and some of the teachers were still there 15-18 years later! I will pass mine on to nephews or nieces, or to the school itself.

    Now that I am getting interested in genealogy, the yearbooks that are scanned online are of great interest to me!

  44. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    Like so many other keep-or-not decisions, this one is extremely personal.

    With my yearbooks, I tore out the few pages that meant something to me, and got rid of the rest. I’ve never regretted it for a second. (I don’t have children, so I didn’t need to factor that into my decision-making.)

    On the other hand, I was on the staff of my high school’s literary magazine, and those magazines are definite keepers!

  45. posted by Mindy on

    If I could have used them for target practice, I would’ve. But it was faster just to throw them out.
    (I was not a fan of school…bullies are the worst, they really ruined it for me!)

  46. posted by catherine on

    I am decluttering in preparation for an overseas move, and I threw mine out, after scanning in all the photos that I (or my three friends) were in. The photos now live on my flickr account where lots more of my friends can see them.

    It was a small high school and I just didn’t really have anything in common with most of the girls there. I don’t regret chucking them.

  47. posted by Megan on

    Were you a dork in high school? Hmm… if you don’t have the yearbook anymore, nobody can prove it!

    The yearbook from my sophomore year is mysteriously MIA. Oh, yeah, I was totally cool then. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

  48. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    Erin, as a graduate of the early 90s, I just have to say, I love the photo. Man it takes me back πŸ™‚

  49. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    I agree – you have to keep them! Having recently used Facebook to contact old high school friends, it’s a necessity! Not only that, but I want the “pleasure” of showing my children what I looked like in the 80s (shudder).

  50. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I agree with Tabitha!
    You’ve got to use your yearbooks to verify all the Facebook contacts.
    Also, they come in handy for when your children are planning the “80’s retro dance” at their high school

  51. posted by Jessica on

    I burned mine. High school wasn’t a happy time for me, and I’m still in touch with the few people I would ever want to talk to again.

    After 14 years, I hadn’t had the urge to look through those yearbooks and they were all musty. Good riddance! I did my (former) wedding album the same night. I only wish I’d done it sooner.

  52. posted by Leslie on

    I have 4 yearbooks from my high school years and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. One of my old high school friends and I got together a few months ago and spent a couple happy hours going through yearbooks and talking about all our memories and what those people are doing now (she’s much better at keeping in touch than I am, so now I’m all caught up!).

    I also had great fun going through yearbooks at the public library of my mom’s hometown finding her yearbooks and those of my grandparents. And I made some copies for my genealogy file. Like the commenter who had so much fun sharing yearbooks with her daughter, I think it’s a great way to connect between generations.

  53. posted by Nana on

    Recently opened a box of books that had been carefully taped and moved for 30 years or so. I found a 1958 yearbook, the day I got information about the 50th reunion of that class at my alma mater. [I’m a tad younger.] So I sent it along to the school…some of those women may not have seen it in many years, and the school can add it to their archive.

  54. posted by Anita on

    My husband and I each kept just one of our yearbooks… But we lost them in a tornado last May 4th (Greensburg, Kansas)
    A tornado is a great way to get rid of clutter, but I wouldn’t recommend it!

  55. posted by OogieM on

    I am curious at the ages of the folks who have gotten rid of their vs the folks who keep them. I would have easily trashed min 15 years ago as junk and clutter.

    I know I didn’t I remember packing them up to save but I can’t find them. We’ve done major house remodeling and I think they are in the batch of stuff that is still being sorted out to come back into the house. I sure hope so!

    All I can say to those who decided to trash them, wait until you are 60 or 70 and I bet you wish you had them back πŸ˜‰

  56. posted by arden on

    I would like to get rid of my high school books (from 40 years ago) but the stuff written in them by all my friends is so embarrassing that I wouldn’t want anyone to see it, much less have it in a library or school archive. My daughter gets a kick out of the big poufy hair and pencil skirts. They are huge because I am a boomer, after all.

    I loved and still have my Dad’s yearbooks from the late 30’s which are adorable, very small and have wonderful photos of the girls’ formals. I would pore over them as a kid. He was a BMOC in a very small class and I was one of 750, so maybe the size of them is so appealing.

    I guess I’ll let my daughter get rid of them.

  57. posted by Dasha on

    My fiance and I met in HS – so we are keeping both of our yearbooks in part for the novelty of having two identical ones. Unfortunately, the only time we’ve looked at them since the end of HS was on two occassions when our classmates died.

  58. posted by consumer_q on

    NPR had a newsbit not too long ago on the usefulness of yearbooks in the social networking age:

    Personally, I do not like people submitting information on my behalf (e.g., yearbooks) to the ancestry organizations. The information always ends up at the LDS headquarters where it will be used to baptize me for my ‘own good’. Thanks, but no thanks.

  59. posted by Scotto on

    I was happy to toss them along with a lot of other junk about year after graduating from college. It was part of clean break with my old self and of living in yesterday. A symbolic act, for sure, maybe even overly dramatic, but it did the trick. From the moment they hit the dumpster floor, I felt compelled to create my new life, one lived by my values, with friends of my choosing, and one I would be completely responsible for. It has been great. No regrets.

  60. posted by Jennifer on

    Ask a library in the school’s area if they want them. My library has a genealogy department that collects old yearbooks from schools in the county and surrounding counties. People like to come in and look at them.

  61. posted by Robert on

    I still have my high school yearbooks from the late 1980s, and I’ve considered scanning them and making them available to my former classmates, who recently held a 20th year reunion (I did not attend).

    College was completely different: We didn’t have a yearbook, and the school had stacks of older yearbooks that they couldn’t even give away. Trivia: Until the early ’80s, the yearbook had been called The Swastika.

  62. posted by Michelle Sparks on

    I never saved any yearbooks and I have never missed them. Those who can’t bear to part with them might consider cutting out pages and photos that are important to them and put them in a scrapbook.

  63. posted by Sue on

    I think it depends on how much school was a part of your life. My older daughter, who had somewhat unremarkable school years & has many personal photos of the friends she still gets together with, opted not to even purchase her yearbooks. On the other hand, my younger daughter, who was President of the NHS, in many clubs, swim team, etc., purchased hers, which had pictures of her activities & groups in many parts of the books. Neither of them has regretted her choice.

  64. posted by Jon on

    Yearbooks are such a fabulous source of history and nostalgia. If you are determined to not keep them any longer I suggest you get the books professionally scanned (no rinky-dink scanning at low resolutions and images that are not squared). is one place to consider. Then check around to see if you can donate your books to a local library or historical society.

  65. posted by Julia on

    I had yearbooks from my parents high school, from my own high schools in two different cities and college. It took a few emails but lo and behold, the state historical societies took some, the local libraries with a historical acquisition department took the others. They had collections of them and were pleased to get them. I was relieved, because I did not want to throw away those nicely bound records.

  66. posted by Keri on

    I have some I think I will get rid of from elementary/middle school. Those years were not good years for me; I was bullied and had only a few friends. Why would I want to look at the ugly mugs of those people that bullied and tormented me? My best friend from that time is on my MySpace list, so I can see her now. I couldn’t even guess how many years it’s been since I flipped through them, so clearly they’re not something I want to revisit.

    High school, on the other hand, was great, and things kept getting better as the years went by. The pictures aren’t worth nearly as much as the messages my friends left. I will keep those and probably pop them out at my next reunion (which I look forward to going to).

    I think I already got rid of my one college year book. I was the only one of my friends who graduated and I became a commuter student after my first year, so not only are there no pictures of my friends in there, but there are no pictures of me, because I never went to have my picture taken. Not that it matters; I didn’t go to pick up my last three anyways. Also not good times to remember.

    I’m not going to have any kids anyways, so it’s not like I have someone to pass them down to.

  67. posted by Marie on

    My yearbooks are part of my resume, since I’m a writer and editor. Every other page has an article I wrote (small staff) so I can’t see ever chucking them, even though they aren’t nostalgic.

  68. posted by Sharon on

    I actually scanned some pages in my computer and then used them in making a couple of scrapbooks of the decade. I did a 1960’s decade and a couple scrapbooks for the 1970’s decade. I did a lot of research on the Internet to get the big news stories of the time, the TV shows, books, music, sports events, housing, decor, fashion, hairstyles, fads, cars, etc. And I used photos, ephemera (draft card, etc) stuff of my family from those times and the yearbook scans to put us in the middle of it all. I had hairstyles like that. I wore clothes like that. I had a purse like that. I listened to that music, I went to see that movie, I had that car, etc. My family enjoyed looking through them and the next generation have learned about those decades and see the old fogey family members in them when we were young and their age. It was a lot of work but very enjoyable. They aren’t looking through a photo album and laughing at my funny hairstyle or my stupid looking clothes. This way they see it was in style at the time. It puts us in perspective. But I didn’t tear my yearbooks up to do it. I still have them and I will keep them.

  69. posted by Red on

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m reading through your archived content (because I’m a new reader), and I’m glad you touched on this topic.

    I’ve recently began trying to unclutter my 650-square-foot apartment, and my large stack of yearbooks in the closet have become a source of discord. I have yearbooks from every year of schooling but kindergarten. But I never look at them. I have used them – like you said – as a reference for those rare times that an old friend tries to get in contact. But I think maybe the only useful ones – for the reference purpose – would be the high school yearbooks. Now I think I’ll scan the important pages – that people signed – of those yearbooks and then call up the schools to see if they have use for them. (It really makes me sick to think of the money my parents spent on my yearbooks considering that I feel no emotional attachment to them.)

  70. posted by Joe L-E on

    I actually use my college yearbooks as a monitor stand so that it is at the same level as laptop, which is on a standard stand. It’s nice because it keeps them out of an old box or in a basement, and they also serve a purpose!

  71. posted by Rita Sclavunos on

    I agree with the suggestions to donate the yearbooks to libraries, or to places for genelogical purposes. Another good use for them is as research for costume design or fashion design students. My yearbook from the later 1970’s is very useful for this, especially to young students who only have vague ideas of what people actually wore, how they did their hair and make-up. For design research, the actual images from the period are always better than fantasized fashion illustrations.

  72. posted by abby on

    I say pick at least a few of them and keep them AS IS.

    Digital scans are useful, but not as cool as holding an old yearbook in your hands.

    I found a 1930s yearbook of a relative last year. Digital can NEVER replace flipping page by page of that old yearbook that the relative has had for decades, and whose hands have flipped through the pages, too.

    Even if you don’t want them all, pick a few. One day, you or your grandkids will appreciate having a few of them… in a HARD COPY. Digital can’t touch that.

  73. posted by Susan on

    I donated 2 high school and 3 college yearbooks to the Enoch Pratt Free Library in my home state of Maryland. They have a collection of year books from Maryland secondary schools and colleges and they did not have the ones for the years/schools I sent to them. It was a great relief to ship these to a better ‘forever home.’

  74. posted by Megan on

    I tossed all but one of mine in the recycling at least 10 years ago with not a single regret! I saved one that a friend had written throughout. However, it is not something I would want to share with my own kids. It was a fun year, but there are many moments looking back now that are not proud memories. Thankfully her writing is atrocious, so without the memories to clue you in, others might not be able to read it!

  75. posted by Brigitte Todd on

    Did you know that there are scanned versions of yearbooks online? Knowing that I decided to get rid of mine. (And I make the same suggestion to my clients). On the rare occasion I need to reference it I can always go online . One site is

  76. posted by Becky on

    After realizing I was only keeping mine out of guilt, and that I did not care to go back and remember those times, I saved one photo and then threw the books in the garbage. Since yearbooks are now available online, I’m sure if my kids are feeling curious they can always look me up there.

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