A Century of Class Photos

Senior portraits, group photos and the ever-popular candid snapshot-- yearbooks are as much a part of American high school culture as Friday night football and the prom. Our September exhibit pays homage to nearly a century of the yearbook tradition at Worthington Schools.

For insight into the changing culture of high school, there is no better place to look than the high school yearbook. The precursor of the tradition dates to the 1860s, when Boston photographer George K. Warren used a new method of producing many copies from a single negative to sell student portraits to college students. Students would then have their classmates' images bound into albums.

Although Worthington schools graduated its first class of seniors in 1880, the earliest known yearbook dates from 1920. Worthington High School yearbooks in the 1920s and in 1930 were titled "The Oracle," with publication lapsing from 1931-1941. The 1942 yearbook introduced the title of "The Cardinal" as a nod to the school mascot. Yearbooks from these decades are slim, minimalist affairs, owing to Worthington's smaller population and the shortage of resources during the Great Depression and World War II. The 1945 edition, in particular, reflects wartime scarcity in its typewritten pages and in-house design.

The 1950s yearbooks, on the other hand, are extravagant by comparison and show a community experiencing rapid growth. The Packard Annex, which served as the high school from 1916 to 1952, was replaced by a much larger facility-- now Thomas Worthington High School-- to accommodate the boom in families. The Packard Annex is now the site of the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center.

As with the rest of the country, the 1960s and '70s swept through Worthington, bringing about dramatic change in everything from hairstyles to cultural mores. 1970 was a banner year at Worthington High School; not only did the students form a race relations club and observe the first-ever Earth Day, they celebrated the end of the school dress code, allowing girls to wear pants and boys to sport long sideburns.

In more recent decades, school yearbooks have moved from black-and-white to all-color, and their designs and layout are created digitally rather than by hand. In Worthington, continued growth of the community is evident in the addition of a second high school, Worthington Kilbourne High School. WKHS's first yearbook, published in 1992, was the aptly titled "The Sentinel '92: First Impressions."

Whether you're looking for your own class photo, trying to remember the name of that girl in your 9th grade science class or simply wanting to revisit hairstyles from bygone decades, the Worthington schools yearbooks offer endless browsing fun.