One of the more popular resources in the McPherson Room is our collection of McPherson High School Yearbooks, also known as “annuals”. Whether it is in search of fellow classmates, research into sports teams, or simply to take a stroll down memory lane, people always appreciate seeing them.
Building the collection has been a work in progress, and thanks to the generosity of many people over the years, it has grown. It also received a boost from the volumes contained in the Linn Peterson Collection. And Mark Heidebrecht has been indefatigable in his efforts to track down and acquire missing volumes for us. Since the start of World War II, only the year of 1966 is missing from our collection.
As I’ve watched the number of yearbooks in the McPherson Room grow, I noticed something very strange: there is a large gap between the wars. We have the very first MHS annual, published in 1908, as well as 1909, 1910, 1911, and 1913 (during which time it was published as The Kanza or The Kodak.) And then there is nothing until 1943.
Collectors know that, while they may not have certain items in their collections, they at least have seen or heard of their elusive quarry. Such is not the case with those MHS yearbooks. The high school annuals from between the wars seem to have vanished from the earth completely – or never existed in the first place.
After several years of pondering that mystery, I finally decided to pursue it, so I called local historian David Nigh and put the question to him. As it turns out, David had wondered much the same thing – and he had an answer.
The mystery was solved thanks to a clipping from a 1943 MHS High Life clipping which June Anderson found inside her copy of the 1943 yearbook: “For the first time in more than twenty-five years the senior class of McPherson High School is planning to produce an annual.”
During the height of World War II, thirty-one MHS seniors, under the direction of Miss Virginia Lindberg, instructor in mathematics, got organized, went to work, and published a yearbook. And that volume was the very first one known as The Bullpup.
But the mystery isn’t completely solved. The clipping from the High Life is somewhat vague when it mentions the “more than twenty-five years” since an annual had been published. If our early annuals extend only to 1913, then additional yearbooks may have been published in the next several years before the end of World War I.
So here’s our most wanted list for MHS yearbooks: 1912, anything from 1914 to 1918, and 1966. If anyone can put their hands on one or more of these volumes, then you know who to call. The hunt is on! Update: thanks to the generosity of one of our patrons, we now have the 1966 volume.)