Throwback Thursday: Senior Class Wills

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Another school year is coming to a close, and with it, another group of students will soon be graduated. Here at the Willennar Genealogy Center, our collection of DeKalb County yearbooks hold several decades’ worth of these students’ senior photos, favorite quotes, and dreams and predictions for the future.

Some of them also hold a somewhat lesser-known tradition: the senior class will, a document listing all of the things the graduating students wished to leave behind, often to their younger classmates. These “bequests” ranged from classroom items to things that couldn’t actually be given away, such as physical characteristics, talents, weaknesses, etc.

Student wills could be sweet and sentimental (or even a little bit serious) but most often, they were pretty lighthearted and humorous, with the occasional inside joke or two.

For example, the “class will” often opened with some form of parodied legal speech, such as this excerpt from the 1941 issue of the Rosebud, the Waterloo High School yearbook:

Waterloo Senior Will - Class of 1941

Senior wills seem to have been particularly popular in DeKalb County schools from the 1920s through the 1940s, though they’ve been featured in yearbooks from other decades as well.

Below are some senior-will excerpts (along with photos of the students who wrote them) from the high schools at Garrett, Butler, Waterloo, and Spencerville.

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Want to see more local history? Click here to browse our online photo database or visit the official Genealogy Center Facebook page.

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About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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