52 Documents in 52 Weeks #40: School Certificates

School records are often difficult to find. That may sound odd since you may be the proud owner of a pile of modern-day school records – report cards, awards, certificates and the like.

However, finding ancestral school records, aside from the yearbooks which are beginning to proliferate (and I mean that in a good way), school documents which name teachers, student report cards and school leaving certificates might not even exist anymore.

In my own collection, I have the school attendance certificate for my grandfather, George Sabo:


George Sabo’s School Attendance Certificate, 1907

I believe this might be the end of his academic career, as he was finishing 8th grade. I have no information as to whether he ever went to high school, but given the family’s economic circumstances, George probably went to work in a factory.

This certificate provides tons of information – his name, where he went to school, his birth date, father’s name and current address. Miss Seabrook was the principal of School #2.

Just because school records are difficult to find, don’t overlook this resource. Ancestry has a collection of Connecticut school age certificates from 1904-1911. Here is one for Maria Filomena Fancinelli:


Maria Filomena Fancinelli, 1907
Source: Ancestry

FamilySearch has Clay County, Minnesota school census records, 1909-1962 in browsable format. Here is a sample page:


Clay County, MN, District 1, 1912
Source: FamilySearch

Occasionally, I’ve run across short lists of students from the early 1800s.

If you want to locate early school records for one of your ancestors, use the search words school, student, census, certificate in various combinations for your location of interest and be sure to browse collections in the catalogs of major genealogical websites.

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