Collections and Resources, Digital Library, North Carolina Collection, Special Collections, UNC History

Digitized UNC Yearbooks Bring University’s History to the Web

Senior portrait of Thomas Wolfe, from the 1920 Yackety Yack. Wolfe's classmates voted him "Best Writer" and "Most Original"

Senior portrait of Thomas Wolfe, from the 1920 Yackety Yack. Wolfe's classmates voted him "Best Writer" and "Most Original"

Aug. 18, 2010: Updated with new URLs for the yearbooks and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

A slice of UNC history is now online with digitized student yearbooks from 1890 through 1966 and early issues of the Carolina Alumni Review.

The Hellenian and Yackety Yack yearbooks provide a rich resource for learning about student life in the past, said Nick Graham, program coordinator of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center based at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

The center digitized the yearbooks and published them to the Web as part of a yearbook digitization project that currently also includes Appalachian State University, Elon University, and Elizabeth City State University.

Graham said that the historic yearbooks provide an interesting window on student life over the years, including the ways that attitudes and fashions evolved.

The online yearbooks contain senior photographs of some of UNC’s best-known alumni, including writer Thomas Wolfe (class of 1920), journalist Charles Kuralt (1955), retiring UNC President Erskine Bowles (1967), and sports broadcaster Woody Durham (1963).

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is a new program based in the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library. The center works with cultural heritage institutions throughout the state to digitize and share their historic materials online.

The North Carolina Collection has additionally digitized the first twelve volumes of the Carolina Alumni Review, covering the years 1912-1924.

The yearbooks and alumni magazines were digitized using one of the three high-speed “Scribe” scanners in the Carolina Digital Library and Archives in Wilson Library. Each Scribe is capable of digitizing approximately 3,000 pages of text per day.

For information about the yearbook digitization project, contact Graham: or (919) 962-9590.

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13 Responses to “Digitized UNC Yearbooks Bring University’s History to the Web”

  1. I’m so glad to finally see this announcement! This is going to be such an incredible resource to historians and family researchers everywhere. By following the RSS feed at the Internet Archive I saw that this was going on and shared this on the blog of the NCGenWeb Project a few weeks ago, and have been updating our links just about every day. Not only for UNC yearbooks, but for the other yearbooks you’re adding as well –

    I would love to know if there are any plans to index the students who were in the yearbooks? I’m working on one but don’t want to recreate the wheel if there are already existing plans or existing resources if already available. Thanks.


    Posted by Taneya | February 17, 2010, 6:19 pm
  2. Taneya:

    This is an excellent question. There are not any plans right now to create a list of the names of all of the students who appear in the yearbooks — our main focus, for now, is simply making these volumes available online. However, each volume is searchable by keyword, which is a big help if you’re looking for a specific person in a large yearbook.

    I’m so glad to hear you’ve discovered and are using the yearbooks. If you have any questions or thoughts as you use these online, please let us know.

    Nick Graham
    Program Coordinator, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center

    Posted by Nick Graham | February 18, 2010, 2:16 pm
  3. This is fantastic! thanks to everyone involved in getting this wonderful resource up. Can’t wait for the next 44 years to be there. 🙂

    Posted by KJ | March 2, 2010, 3:57 pm
  4. Will you be posting more yearbooks from the 70s and 80s eventually?

    Posted by michelle | March 10, 2010, 10:28 pm
  5. Michelle:

    Good question. Lots of people have asked about this. Due to a change in the copyright status of the yearbooks after 1966, we only digitized the Yackety Yacks up to that date. I agree that it would be great to include more recent yearbooks (my favorite is the 1982 volume, which has fantastic pictures of the celebration after the Tar Heels won the national championship). We are planning to discuss this with the Yackety Yack, and I hope we can find a way to publish the post-1966 yearbooks online. If it works out, we’ll announce our plans on this blog.


    Nick Graham
    Program Coordinator, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center

    Posted by Nick Graham | March 11, 2010, 8:48 am
  6. Nick,

    This is very cool stuff. Do you think yearbooks might eventually follow the trend that diplomas might possibly be taking on (100% digital)?


    Posted by Tony | July 15, 2010, 11:31 am
  7. Any news update on post ’66 Yackety Yacks being included?

    Posted by John | August 19, 2011, 10:37 pm
  8. Yackety Yacks now online through 1989: Enjoy!
    Judy Panitch
    Director of Library Communications

    Posted by Library Staff | August 22, 2011, 1:50 pm


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