Fall Back Into 1972 With Alamance County Yearbooks

A black-and-white photograph of an adult smiling at the camera while bending over to smell a flower growing on a long vine.
Nita Onufrak. From the 1972 edition of the Yell-O-Jak (Gibsonville High School).

A recent batch of yearbooks from Alamance County Public Libraries gives a special look into the life of high school students in the area in the early 1970s—especially 1972, a year with four yearbooks from across the county. The four high schools with editions from this year—Western High School, Hugh M. Cummings High School, Walter M. Williams High School, and Gibsonville High School—show a distinctive time in both student life and yearbook editing.

It may help to take a moment for context: 1972 was a big year for national an international news—against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, there was also the Watergate scandal, the launch of Apollo 16, and Bloody Sunday. Meanwhile, high school students were still dealing with the classic problems of being a teenager (trying out for sports, forming relationships, staying out of the principal’s office, etc.). Apparently, these elements combine to form one of the most exciting times to be a high school yearbook editor.

Two high school students side by side, smiling at the camera. The person on the left is wearing a white dress, and the other is wearing a light suit and tie.
Joyce Warren and Alfred Garland. From the 1972 edition of the Doe-Wah-Jack (Walter M. Williams High School).

In addition to the embrace of hyphenated yearbook titles, 1972 was a year of dramatic openings, bold new fonts, collages, and—you guessed it—the mandatory iteration of the hit folk song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” But compared to yearbooks of past decades, 1972 has a lot to offer in terms of student photography, which is probably part of the reason that they are so fun to look at.

You can see the full batch of yearbooks here. You can also browse our entire collection of high school yearbooks by location, school, and year in our North Carolina Yearbooks collection. To see more materials from Alamance County Public Libraries, you can visit their partner page and their website.

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