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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - December/January 2005
School Records and Censuses: Hidden Genealogical


School records are one of the most under utilized sources of genealogical information.  When you were registered for school at the elementary, junior high (today they call it middle-school), and senior high levels, you were normally required each year to provide some or all of the following pieces of information:

a. Your name
b. Local address and telephone number
c. Date and place of birth
d. Names of parents
e. Emergency contacts
f.  Proof of immunization
g. Other miscellaneous family and personal information

Schools also were normally required to conduct yearly censuses of students, teachers, and support staff.  These figures were used to justify a multitude of legal and financial criteria imposed by the federal, state, and local governments.  School budgets were dependant on these figures being generated on a yearly basis.

School districts mandated that these records be kept for various periods of time.  The time frame depended on state law.  Some schools may still have the records stored on microfilm or microfiche at an off-site facility which is operated by the central school district office or other county agency.  Some of the oldest records may have been donated to the local historical or genealogical society after a period of 50-75 years.  Other records may have been destroyed due to natural disasters, neglect, or accidental discard.

If you can determine the location of a given school that your ancestor attended and the county that it was in, chances are that you may be able to obtain copies of school records.  This same criteria would also apply to colleges, universities, and trade schools.

Bryan L. Mulcahy
Reference Librarian
Fort Myers-Lee County Library
2050 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL  33901-3917
Tel: (239)- 479-4651
Fax: (239)- 479-4634

Return to December/January 2005 Index page


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