Yearbooks are an integral piece of the work that is done in the Northwest Room. Each year we receive innumerable requests from people visiting in-person and on the phone (sometimes from another country!) requesting scans from the yearbook collection -- for all sorts of reasons.
Most people are looking to learn more about their family's history; the Nesika goes back to 1909, so there are generations of Everett families in them.
Sometimes yearbook photos can be used as identification, so people and their family members contact the Northwest Room for copies.
One afternoon Northwest Room staff helped locate photos of someone’s birth mother whose face the person had never seen.
Other than being useful for personal reasons, the Nesikas tell a lot about how the people of Everett grew and changed as a community. Readers can see slow shifts in clothing or hair styles and the types of activities that were popular with students.
Student writing and artwork included in the Nesikas show popular trends and current events that were important to each class.
Some of the history recorded in yearbooks can be sad or uncomfortable. The early Nesika series went silent in 1917; when it returned in 1919 it included a memorial for students and graduates who lost their lives in the First World War. Other pages in the 1919 Nesika included long lists of those who served and survived.
Some yearbooks include events, jokes, or ads that would be considered racially or ethnically insensitive today. The jarring nature of how deeply-ingrained prejudices were in the past helps remind readers of how far society has come, and how it continues to move forward.
Readers can also learn about the history of Everett’s businesses. Starting in the 1920s the yearbook staff sold advertising slots. Many of the large employers in the area, such as iron works, mills, and packing companies, posted a lot of ads - possibly to reach students about to graduate and look for jobs.
Whether you want to learn more about a family member or just enjoy some vintage artwork, you can spend hours discovering new things in the pages of the Nesika.
The Northwest Room staff hopes that this collection will help readers make a personal connection with local history for years to come.