LOUISIANA, Mo. -- Louisiana High School alumni now have an opportunity to reminisce on their high school days by checking out an online collection of the school's yearbook, Alamo.
The Louisiana Alumni and Friends Association recently had the yearbook from 1924 and those from 1946 through 2015 scanned and put on the association's website -- LouisianaAlumniAssociation.org -- for alumni, family and friends to view.
"We took on this project as a service to alumni," association member Mike Pratt said. "People are interested in looking at pictures from the past, and there are many people who never bought their high school yearbook. This is a great opportunity for them to finally look at it."
The alumni association was founded in 2008, and the idea for digitizing the yearbooks started in 2010.
Members initially tried scanning the yearbooks they had at home, but with each yearbook having between 100 and 120 pages, it was a lot of work.
"It took many, many hours just to do one year," Pratt said.
He took over the project from association member Clay Logan in 2016 and began researching where the association could find copies of old yearbooks.
Pratt learned that Irene Steers had willed her vast collection of yearbooks to her grandson, Louisiana alumnus Darrell McElfresh, who agreed to loan the yearbooks for the project. Louisiana High School yearbook adviser Becky Wood Henderson loaned the yearbooks from 2011 through 2015.
Up next was finding a company to scan the yearbooks.
Pratt ended up partnering with Oklahoma Correctional Industries, an agency established by the Oklahoma Legislature to convert paper records to digital format. The organization provides job training for low-risk inmates and has scanned yearbooks for schools across the U.S. for free. It took Oklahoma Correctional Industries about 10 weeks to scan all of Louisiana's yearbooks.
"Not only did they scan everything for free, but they also paid shipping for both ways," Pratt said. "That was three boxes of yearbooks weighing about 70 pounds apiece. They said it would take them a little longer than normal because of the quantity, but we weren't concerned with that because they were going to get it done way faster than any of us could do it."
The scans and yearbooks were sent back to Pratt in late July, and since then, he has been putting each image online.
"It's a time-consuming process because it takes about 15 hours for one (scanned) yearbook to be uploaded," he said. "So far, about 65 out of 70 are uploaded. Since we've begun uploading them, traffic to our website has increased 25-fold."
Once the digitized yearbook project is complete, the association will focus attention to other projects, such as locating alumni with whom the association has had no contact and building its collection of old high school photos and other memorabilia.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of alumni or have photographs that might help preserve Louisiana High School history should contact Pratt at 314-609-9821 or LHSAlumniLouisianaMO@gmail.com.