Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yearbooks: the lineage

A call from a patron today sent me on a hunt for a copy of the 1954 yearbook from the School of Dentistry (then called the University of Oregon Dental School). While many academic institutions call a rose a rose and title their annual student memorials as "yearbooks," others like to be more creative. Our own Dental School is a case in point. Of the issues currently held, titles include:

Dentalium (1921)
Datter (1922-1943)
Articulator (1944-45)
Impressions (1955-1974)
Jaws (1976)
Exposures (1977)
UOHSC School of Dentistry [yearbook] (1978-1981)
OHSU School of Dentistry [yearbook] (1982- )

You may have noticed that this list contains a conspicuous gap between 1945 and 1955. In this decade after the Dental School formally joined the Oregon State System of Higher Education, we have only the University of Oregon's yearbook, the Oregana, as a source for graduating class pictures. Luckily, we do have the 1954 Oregana, and so can satisfy the patron's request.

School yearbooks are an interesting genre, not only for their contents, but also in terms of the history of their adoption and development. In our own collections, you can move from a scrapbook of student and faculty photos from Johns Hopkins dating from 1903-04, to the 1939 "yearbook" from the Medical School--which was created by class member Dan Labby as a way to fund his medical education, a personal scrapbook of his school years mass produced and sold to classmates--to the 2006 School of Medicine yearbook, with its photos of students on hikes, at parties, and (occasionally) in more formal poses.

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the evolution of the yearbook can tell us a great deal about the evolution of medical education, the relationship between students and faculty, and the psychology of students. I'm not the first one to find this subject of interest, I'm sure; there are books on the history of scrapbooking (such as The scrapbook in American life by Susan Tucker et alii) and books on portrait photography in science and medicine (such as Defining features : scientific and medical portraits, 1660-2000 by Ludmilla Jordanova). But no one seems to have put the two together into an analysis of school yearbooks and changes in medical/dental/nursing education. Note to thesis students without topics: I think there's a paper to be written here....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found a site that has hundreds (maybe thousands) of yearbooks online-> http://www.e-yearbook.com

Some are professional schools too...