Contacting Classmates for Your Reunion
Finding classmates is one of the more time-intensive activities for the reunion committee. You will want names, postal addresses and email addresses to contact classmates about any events your class hosts. Be prepared for both — email campaigns and postal mail efforts.
Here are several places where you can look for classmates for whom you do not have contact information. Do remember that not every classmate wants to be found or cares about a reunion, but we believe that you must try to be inclusive.
If there is one piece of advice to give to reunion committees, it is to start maintaining a class member database in excel as soon as you can. Update it as the reunions go by. Pass this date base on to the next person who wants to help maintain it. Once you have it, then read on.
First Step: if you don’t have a data base, start one from yearbook sources. If the reunion committee does not have a copy of the yearbook, here are some resources.
- Morley Library: they have 12 yearbooks between 1955 and 2011. You’ll have to visit in person to view them.
- Classmatescom: they have digital versions of Riverside yearbooks from 1952 to 1987, with a few years missing.
Second step: consider these sites to search for class members.
- List your tentative dates for your reunion with us – the RHS Alumni site. We can post your tentative plans and contact information on our events calendar, and then update the dates/times/places as your plans take shape. But in the meantime, it might be seen by classmates looking for information. The listing will require someone to be the contact person for inquiries.
- Alumniclass.com: this site requires a $30 per year fee or a $75 lifetime membership. But it has lists organized by school and graduating class. We have not investigated it beyond the superficial, but it may be a way to see if other class members registered and are open to receiving information. NOTE: even though this sites sends out information called “Riverside Alumni” it is not this RHS Alumni Association, but simply an aggregator of names/schools from people who register.
- Classmates.com: this other aggregator site is free to register, but there are some additional services for a fee. For free, you can sort by school and graduating year to see if other class members have registered. Depending on what a person reveals in their profile, you can get hints on where they are now, and even send a personal email to them. This site also has digital copies of yearbooks from 1952 to 1987.
- Facebook ads: to our knowledge this has not been tried. But Facebook ads are quite reasonable in cost. You could use them to find classmates and/or encourage them to sign in at your class website (see below).
Third step: check out the list of known RHS alumni and other group web pages and Facebook pages here. Sometimes you can contact a brother/sister/cousin of the person you are looking for to learn more information. These are the ones we know about — if there are others, please contact us so we can list them here.
Fourth Step: if you have a list of graduates, and maybe addresses from previous reunion efforts, there is a final step to try and find their current addresses.
- Whitepages.com. There is a free service but sometimes you cannot get specific information. Their premium service is $20 per month and can be terminated at any time. With the premium service, you can start to find classmates, particularly if they have moved since the last address you have for them. It is helpful to know their spouse’s name or their children’s names, or where they lived once upon a time. It is tedious work but can update a excel data base of class members. Once you find them, send a letter or postcard.
Step Five: create your own website to preserve as much data as you can. The one below is very do-able, but if there are other services, let us know via the contact us link.
- Classcreator.com. This site allows you to create a free site for your class with advertisements, or for a fee, an ad-free site. You do not need to know HTML code or even how to deal with applications like WordPress. It is “click to choose” features and colors, and the instructions for uploading photos and excel data bases are clear and easy. Check out the features by visiting the links for the Class of 1965 or Class of 1968 above. Among the advantages:
- Class members do have to register individually, but there are serious privacy controls that the member can choose for themselves.
- A personal profile of each classmate. You can upload a screen capture of their yearbook photo or allow them to do it. And they can upload current photos and life event descriptions.
- A public and private email system for classmates to contact other classmates.
- An ability to mass email all classmates who have registered an email, or for whom you have email addresses.
- Reunion resources, including
- Event dates, descriptions, fees, menu options, maps, etc.
- A method to connect their credit card system to your bank account. While they charge a fee for each credit card transaction, it does facilitate more class members using credit cards to purchase dinner/reunion tickets. Plus it is credit card compliant in that you never see the credit card information and protects you and the card holder.
- Surveys: an ability to create surveys of the registered classmates.
- An “In Memory” section to honor deceased classmates.
If you know of any other methods to finding classmates, let us know via the contact us link.
Good luck in planning your reunion!!