Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We need your help to save some important documents about the history of Madison Central High School

If you've attended a high school class reunion, you may have a document similar to the one pictured here. It's probably full of names and addresses, as well as updates submitted by classmates, and lists of the missing and the deceased.

You may call these documents yearbooks or memory books. Another name for them is paper ephemera, but I'm not certain that's an entirely accurate description. Ephemera are items of short-lived interest or usefulness, things you probably throw away when an updated version arrives (telephone books) or your circumstanes change (cute little Valentine's Day cards from first grade classmates whose names you no longer remember and all those extra wedding invitations).

But even when paper ephemera no longer seems meaningful to you, it may be well be a valuable resource for historians and have meaning for future generations.

Yesterday, while I was researching Central's history at the Wisconsin Historical Society library, I discovered that among its holdings are four yearbooks from Madison Central High School reunions:

Class of 1939 - 50th reunion
Class of 1943 - 45th reunion
Class of 1943 - 50th reunion
Class of 1948 - 45th reunion
While I didn't have time yesterday to look at these reunion yearbooks, you can be certain I'll do so the next time I visit the WHS library. However, I'd like to be able to see more yearbooks from more classes -- and I'm certain I'm not the only researcher who believes these are important historical documents.

If you're downsizing, cleaning out your desk, or just doing some spring cleaning and you find your copy of one of these reunion books, please contact me and I'll make certain it finds a good home. And don't think you don't need to either hang onto your copy or help it find a good home because someone else in your class has already done so. Maybe they haven't -- and besides there are other organizations that would also like to have copies of these yearbooks, including the Dane County Historical Society.

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