Relive the Past with Digital Des Moines Yearbooks


Hundreds of Des Moines Public High School students are donning their gowns and getting ready to toss their hats into the air this weekend as the class of 2021 graduates. Graduation season is a great time to reminisce on your own high school experience, and if you went to a high school in Des Moines, the library has a great tool to reawaken memories - digitized yearbooks!

Nearly 550 different yearbooks are our website, dating back to 1896. These include yearbooks from East, Hoover, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and South, as well the old Tech and West Highs. Find yourself and your friends, and check out everyone's embarrassing 'doo! 

A couple of staff members that are DMPS grads have offered some memories of their own, and we've found some interesting tidbits from yearbooks' past for you to start exploring with!

Sue, Library Director:

A-L-H-S Go Go Go Go!!

I’m having a blast checking out my Senior yearbook as I get ready for a big reunion this Fall!  Such great times – such great friends.  I’m looking forward to reconnecting with many lost friends and am fortunate that I still see some of them on a regular basis.  If I could do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat and wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, maybe just a couple of things...


Les, Library Assistant:

I graduated from Lincoln High School in the 2000s, and I enjoy going back to look back at my classmates' photos on the yearbook page. It's great to go back in time and remember my senior year.


Fun Yearbook Tidbits:

1993 styles at East

East High Students post as part of a fashion piece

The Quill, 1993 (East High School)
As East High School students came in to the 1992-93 school year, fashion was on their mind. Some of the styles then are back in today, while others might not be recognizable. Guys wore cutoff jeans and tank tops, while girls were putting on short shorts and crop tops in the summer. Once fall came around, rugby shirts and loose fitting jeans were all the rage. Lastly, hats of all kinds were the rage. Guys even kept on their ball caps when they swam! Favorite stores to shop at included County Seat, Merry-Go-Round, and Silverman's - all companies that have since filed for bankruptcy and closed. Von Maur, The Gap, and J.Crew are still in operation though!


Dr. Wetter

Dr. Donald M. Wetter, principal, poses for a photo in his office at Hoover High School

The Husky, 1968 (Hoover High School)

The staff members of The Husky had a unique challenge in 1968 - building Hoover High School's first yearbook from the ground up. The northwest Des Moines high school was brand new, and the yearbook marks some of the unique challenges involved in a high school's first year that are worth reading. The yearbook gives special credit to Hoover's first principal, Dr. Donald M. Wetter, for making sure the school year went smoothly:

During the summer of 1967, there was much speculation about whether Hoover high would be finished in time for the fall term. Amidst the turmoil of the construction... one could always find Dr. Wetter. The man continued working long after the workmen had gone.


ALHS 1973

Lincoln High School in 1973

The Railsplitter, 1973 (Lincoln High School)
The 50-year anniversary of Abraham Lincoln High School was highlighted as the 1973 edition of The Railsplitter rolled off the presses. The yearbook notes that in 1923, that stretch of SW 9th Street was "a narrow road with countryside all around - farm houses, barns, and even a cornfield!" Safe to say that's not true any more. In just fifty years, the school filled up the 20-acre expanse, tripling floor space and adding dozens of sports and extracurricular activities. The school celebrates a 100-year anniversary in just two years, and this edition is a great way to compare and contrast the times once again.


North High's Big Upset

A shocking upset ended five years of football misery at North High in 1983.

The Polar Bear, 1983 (North High School)
Celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. On October 22, 1982, the North High School Polar Bears won their first football game in five years, upsetting 9th-ranked Valley High School 15-7. The 1983 edition of The Polar Bear honors the big win with a full page spread. The description includes a photo of the NHS Vicotry Bell with the caption, "The coaches ring the dusty victory bell, which was dug out of the closet after a five season absence." (It should be noted that the boys' and girls' basketball teams both had winning seasons!)


Chess Club

Roosevelt celebrates its world-class chess club in the 1980s.

The Roosevelt Roundup, 1982
Chess may have hit its peak in the cultural zeitgeist in 1982. Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky to become first American to become chess world champion in nearly 100 years. At a time when more young people then ever were taking up the sport, Roosevelt High School had a world-class high school team. The RHS Chess Club took third place at the National Championship and were in contention until the final round. Quite the achievement for Des Moines!

Published on May 27, 2021
Last Modified July 29, 2021