Preserving History, One Book at a Time
DUBUQUE- Last year a local man made an unusual find at a flea market. Gary Krieg found three Dubuque Senior High School yearbooks from the 1930s. This purchase inspired him to collect as many yearbooks from Senior High as he could find.
He’s searched the internet, shopped at pawn shops and consignment stores, and has even reached out to the school to find his yearbooks. To date, Krieg has gathered nearly 70 books dating back to 1913.
“If I didn’t collect them, who would?” he says. “They could have been thrown in a recycling bin… or ended up in a shredder being destroyed. I’m trying to preserve them.”
Though Krieg has not met most of the people in the books, he’s determined to get to learn their stories.
“What really excites me is when I get a book and it says the original owner’s name,” he explains. ” I go on the internet and find out who this person was… where the students went after graduation. It feels very important to me… you’re keeping this person’s name alive a little bit.”
Dan Johnson, current principal of Dubuque Senior High School, says that he appreciates the work of hobbyist historians like Krieg.
“They’re collecting the story of Senior high school… I’m very excited about that,” commented Johnson. “I’m thankful for our amateur historians. I think they’re a healthy part of any community.”
With a new set of renovations to the school completed, this community support means more than ever to Johnson.
“We are the oldest high school in the area… We are Dubuque Senior High School. Of the three high schools we have in town… we are the only school that has Dubuque officially in its name, and we represent the entire community. Seeing individuals who are proud of our community… I’m almost overwhelmed by it.”
The high school has a collection of yearbooks for their records. Some excess books are available for sale to the public, including collectors like Gary Krieg.
“That’s part of our history. It’s never going to be lived again, but it’s there in these books. I want Dubuque to always remember these books are here.”