21 February 2011

vintage yearbook photos


The other day, my sister posted something ridiculous on my Facebook wall:  pictures of our parents from their college yearbooks.

She said she'd discovered that our alma mater, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has archived its yearbooks online. From 1890 to 1978. I began looking through them for a laugh....but I was amazed by the beautiful layout of these volumes.

First of all, as much as I love vintage photos of any kind, it was uniquely fascinating to see students from forty years ago walking all the same paths I  have walked.

Second, these yearbooks contain so much more than cheesy portraits. They're filled with quality color film, all creating a time capsule of college life at that time. On campus:  rallies, parties, festivals and protests. In the town:  shops that don't exist anymore, extinct fashion trends clothing the co-eds, and alien beer labels on the cans. There are even snapshots of the surrounding counties, capturing a moment in Southern history: the faces of the rural countryside, the urban changes sweeping the state from the western blue-tinged mountains to the sandy eastern shores.

All in all, not too terribly much has changed about my beloved university. The spirit and the heart of the school are the same. But there's so much attention to detail, history, and love for the craft of documentation to be found in these old tomes. There's so much joy, passion and laughter emanating from every picture that despite the social upheavals of those decades, I can't help occasionally longing that I could have attended school back then!

Here are my favorite snapshots from the 1960s and 1970s issues of UNC's Yackety Yack yearbook.

(Apparently along with sections entitled "Organizations," "Academics," and "Greek Life," there used to be a yearbook chapter called "Beauty" full of pictures like those below....not sure what to make of that.)

(So many awesome musical acts played at UNC in the Sixties and Seventies...there are yearbook pictures of THE KINKS, The Supremes, The Byrds, John Denver, and many more....reason no. 289 I wish I could take a time travel trip to the past!)


All images courtesy of, and all rights reserved by, the North Carolina Collection.

(If you've come across any other great online college photo archives, I'd love to know about them!)



  1. oh goodness...a "beauty" section? i love it. all of these photos seems so genuine - i guess it's the saturated photos. makes me miss my high school yearbook editor-in-chief days...almost. :)

  2. Oh my goodness! Just found your post via Miss Moss...as a former UNC grad myself, I can't even describe the pleasure of these photos. Great post, so happy to have found your blog!

  3. http://diglib.auburn.edu/collections/gloms/

    we had a beauty section, too!

    and just in the 73-74 academic year: elton john, crosby [no stills] and nash [no young], america, ELVIS, santana.

    AND a streaking "section".

    my mind is seriously blown.

  4. Also a UNC alum and am loving this! Thanks for sharing!

  5. this is just AMAZING. I have been lusting over these archives for the past couple of hours.

    you probably have seen this already, but just in case:



    from the book "take ivy."

  6. Jessie - I agree. And sometimes it's so crazy to fathom that these colorful beauties are but film photos, with no Photoshop alterations like those used today!

    Holli - Thank you so much, and I'm so happy to meet a fellow alum too! :)

    Christine - Oh my goodness...thank you!!!! Auburn's yearbooks are fricking gorgeous as well! And I love that they're up through the '80s and '90s...I can't wait to spend a few more hours of guilty pleasure looking through those archives.

    Abby - I'm so glad, thanks for stopping by! p.s. Just saw you're in Charlottesville - that's where I grew up!

    Jane - I actually had not seen seen those, and I LOVE them. Men dressed so amazingly back then...swoon. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Beautiful beautiful beautiful!