Marlborough public library digitizes high school yearbooks

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
The Marlborough Public Library stands near Downtown Marlborough.

By Morgan Hume, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – For students, yearbooks are for signing before summer vacation and looking back at photos from senior prom. For historians, they’re a welcome resource. 

With that in mind, the Marlborough Public Library has found a way to make yearbooks available and accessible to the public. 

High school yearbooks digitized

The Marlborough Public Library recently teamed up with Marlborough High School to send 60 yearbooks to the Boston Public Library. Staff then scanned and uploaded those documents to the web. 

The oldest digitized yearbook dates back to 1927. The most recent is from 2019. The Marlborough Public Library plans to update its website annually to include the newest yearbook.

Photo/courtesy Marlborough Public Library
The 1927 edition of the Marlborough High School yearbook.

“When we thought we wanted to start digitizing some of our resources, we just thought yearbooks would be an awesome first project,” said Marlborough Library Director Margaret Cardello. “It would be something that would be really useful to people.”

Cardello said this project aimed to give people access to more of the library’s materials. The yearbook collection is part of that virtual database, which Cardello said she hopes will continue to grow over time. 

“It’s all about allowing people to have easy access to the materials that they are looking for,” she said. “They don’t have to get in the car and drive to the library.”  

Researching family history during pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Cardello has seen an increasing number of people visit the library to look for yearbooks. Visitors are often interested in researching their own family history and genealogy. They find yearbooks can be a key tool for identifying relatives. 

“Amidst all of the information about COVID-19, more people are doing their family history,” said Cardello. “This is just kind of a fun resource to offer the public for that and just for general browsing.”

For those learning more about their family history, no matter how close or far away they live from Marlborough, traveling is difficult during the pandemic. With online resources like this ready at the click of a button, people can conduct family research safely and easily from home, Cardello notes.

“If you live in California or if you live in Paris, France, and you’re looking for your relatives in Marlborough, you can get at least some information through this resource,” she said. 

Photo/courtesy Marlborough Public Library
The 2019 edition of the Marlborough High School yearbook.

Community reaction is positive

The yearbooks are now available online. And this project has already received a positive reaction from the community. 

Cardello said people are having fun exploring the materials and are glad to see the library’s digital collection expand. 

“Some people are kind of funny in that they are pretending that the last thing they want is their high school yearbook online,” said Cardello. “[But] we had comments from people that looked up their mother’s picture and father’s picture. It’s been a fun thing for people to search.”