If you’re like me, you have a whole collection of school papers. They belong to a variety of people and are a complete mess!
You may not feel this is very important to genealogy. It’s only a bunch of your old school stuff after all! Each document whether past or present adds to the family picture.
I decided to turn our school papers into a project. I organized all the school papers my siblings and I had accumulated. Then I gave each of them their stuff as a Christmas gift.
This was a massive undertaking. First thing to do was to root out the papers. They were in the garage, the shed, the closet, the hope chest, and so forth. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt!
Next, I had to sort it all. I had a folder for each sibling. As there was five of us, I had a stack of papers rivaling a paper factory. I sorted all the paperwork by person. Then I separated it by category. I had report cards, certificates, special club cards, etc. Once that was done, I checked to see if anything was missing. I was most concerned about the report cards and wanted to make sure there was at least one for every year.
After the sorting was done, I had to decide on the presentation. How did I want to organize all this stuff? I decided on simple 3 punch presentation folders (the type with a clear cover). I created a section for each school year and then put all the paper work in section by year. I didn’t really want to punch holes in their records. Some of the papers were faded or torn. I decided to get some sheet protectors and put each years records in a protector.
When the project was done, I handed them out on Christmas Eve. I didn’t realize just how much history this little group of people had. We had a great time discussing teachers and grades. We got a big laugh out of one bossy sibling’s “works well with others” comments and another sibling who somehow didn’t write a book report for the entire 5th grade! You really learn alot about a person when you see all the records together in a collection. You find out who participated in school activities and who didn’t, who was good at what, when someone was ill, and what years they really excelled.
You may not have such a big pool of school records to work from. That’s okay! Remember that you and your family are part of the family history. Reviewing your own records, those of your siblings, and those of your other relatives is as much a part of genealogy as finding death records. You may just be lucky enough to find your grandparents or an Aunt or Uncle’s. The joy is in the details and school records are full to the brim with them!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com