First, I would like to offer a correction to information stated in Tammy Tran’s article “The 411 on the Yearbook,” published in the Oct. 7 issue. The Ariel has not been published since the establishment of Lawrence. The first class of Lawrentians graduated in 1857, and the first yearbook was assembled nearly 40 years later, in 1893. As a special publication commemorating the World’s Fair in Chicago, it was titled “The Lawrence Columbian Souvenir.”
The Ariel was first published in 1897. So the tradition of an annual student yearbook here at Lawrence really only dates back to the turn of the century. But we have a full collection of these volumes in the library, and the collection represents a very rich source of historical information on student life at Lawrence. I would encourage anyone who is curious to come and peruse them on the periodicals floor or in the Archives.
Second, I would like to add my two cents on the matter of continuing some kind of yearbook, whether in traditional or digital format. The Archives receives 30 to 40 reference requests each month, many of which come from family history researchers who are interested in learning about their relatives who had attended Lawrence. The yearbooks provide our best, and often only, sources of information for these kinds of questions.
It may be hard to imagine your own children or grandchildren seeking information on your time at Lawrence many years in the future, but I offer this simply as an another perspective. More broadly, a yearbook or something like it is your chance to leave a footprint in the story of student life at Lawrence over time. For those of you who might be weighing whether or not to participate in the production of a yearbook, I encourage you to think about not only the preservation of your own memories, but of our institutional memory as well.