Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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A Visual Dive Into Yearbooks from the 1960s and 1970s

As we continue working from home at DigitalNC, we’re putting our efforts into areas different than our normal day-to-day. Sometimes, you find yourself sucked into things that would be glossed over if not for this change. I found myself absorbed in yearbooks, specifically from the 1960-70s.

While updating metadata on yearbooks, I began to visually notice differences by the decade. There was an obvious break in the standard presentation starting in the 60s. One of the big differences in the 1960s and 70s yearbooks was that they deviated from the conventional by utilizing monochromatic color and blank space to create areas of interest.

Other eras did not benefit from the same camera technology, but these 60s and 70s students utilized the fast-acting updates to great effect. Candid photographs became popular and were integrated into the aesthetics of yearbooks. Often, the layout created a mood through the arrangement of pictures, explaining the story visually.

 

Unlike their predecessors, 60s and 70s yearbooks used less text to review the academic year and instead opted for explanations via visual Rorschach tests. Attitudes of two-page spreads were up for interpretation from the pairing of photo and text.

But the biggest impression I was left with from looking at these yearbooks was how much creativity was squeezed into every page. Students obviously relished the chance to showcase their own versions of life on the many campuses of North Carolina.

As I keep scrolling through the yearbooks, I’m sure I’ll find more to enjoy. If you would like to start your own treasure hunt, you can click here for all 8,000 (and counting) yearbooks, or, if you enjoyed these decades and want more, click here to start with only the yearbooks from the 1960s and 1970s.


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