All 67 editions of the Ralston High School yearbook are now digitized and are available to the public.
Behind the project was RHS teacher Kelley Lange.
Lange said she started the project when she took over as the yearbook adviser and realized that RHS did not have a complete set of yearbooks in its archives.
RHS and the Frank and Velma Johnson Ralston Archives Museum were both missing some copies, but the Ralston Public Schools district office has one of every book.
“If those additions didn’t exist in our corporate office, we might not have a complete archive,” Lange said.
The school only had one copy of some of the yearbooks.
“Something needed to be done proactively to make sure that we could preserve the history of our school and our community,” Lange said.
She said the public interest surrounding the yearbooks stems from people’s fond RHS memories and common ground between generations.
“I think people often look back fondly at those times, because they were a little more carefree, they maybe ran a little bit wilder and they had fewer responsibilities,” Lange said.
She said a lot of people want to see yearbooks because they remember teachers who were influential in their lives and helped set them on their path.
The cost to digitize the yearbooks in-house would have been too expensive Lange said; she opted to farm out the work to a third-party company in New York to complete the process.
Lange would box up and send the yearbooks to the scanning company and fundraised from the public.
She said without the fundraising and the work of the third-party company, it would have taken her one to two years to finish the project herself.
There was some slowdown on the scanning company’s side of things when the coronavirus hit.
Operating procedures had to be altered and the physical books are still in New York.
The digital yearbooks are on the Ralston foundation page under an alumni section at ralstonschoolsfoundation.org/digital-yearbooks.
Yearbook pages are in a PDF format that are searchable and the pages will turn on the screen like a real book.
After the yearbooks are scanned, the public can pay for the scanning company to print a replica of the yearbook to have a physical copy.
The available archives will be a decade behind, Lange said, so that students still have an incentive to buy the physical book.