Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies

Publication Date



digitization, yearbooks, copyright, privacy


Student yearbooks are distinctive cultural records. For the schools and universities that produced them, yearbooks promoted a shared sense of identity and experience among students and helped create enduring loyalty to the institutions long after the students graduated. For scholars and other users, yearbooks are unique primary sources that provide insight into past eras of local student life and culture. In regards to user engagement and preserving local histories, student yearbooks should be ideal candidates for digitization by libraries and archives. However, yearbooks are challenging digitization projects because they are likely to contain privacy-sensitive photographs and other information as well as potentially copyrighted content created by multiple parties. An understanding of state and federal privacy laws, such as FERPA, and the ethical obligations to preserve the privacy of individuals is essential to addressing multi-layered concerns for digital access. The authors offer guidance for yearbook digitization projects based on their investigation of these issues as part of an initiative to digitize their University and K-12 schools’ collections of yearbooks.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.