Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Searching for Fun Facts and Finding Jumbo

This week's #52Ancestors genealogy prompt from Amy Johnson Crow is "fun facts."

Looking for a fun new tidbit about my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), I did a quick online search with his full name in quotes and the name of his alma mater, Tufts. Ed remembered his years at Tufts with obvious affection when reminiscing many decades later. Now I wondered what a fresh search might uncover.

The 1925 Jumbo Book

Up popped a digital copy of The 1925 Jumbo Book, Tuft's yearbook. 

I actually have Ed's bound yearbook safely stored in an archival box, ready for the next generation and beyond.

But the digitized version is a valuable find because Tufts has made this downloadable by anyone, anywhere, any time. 

It's been scanned by professionals and it's easily searchable for names and activities. 

The digitized version can be read and annotated over and over again, saving the printed copy from wear and tear.

For instance, here's the page devoted to the roster of Zeta Psi fraternity. I clipped it digitally from the downloaded yearbook.

Then I highlighted Ed's name at the bottom.

Never would I write in the original! Yet the digitized version is incredibly convenient for my family history projects.

Why Jumbo?

Why was the yearbook called the Jumbo Book? The story, according to Tufts:

Master showman P.T. Barnum was a Tufts trustee and benefactor. In the 1880s, his circus toured with a huge elephant named Jumbo, standing nearly 12 feet tall and weighing six tons. 

Jumbo died in 1885, and a few years later, Barnum donated the elephant's hide to Tufts. He intended it to be the centerpiece of a Barnum natural history museum to be built on campus. 

Over time, Jumbo became a kind of good luck charm. He has served as mascot for the Tufts sports teams, as well as lending his name to the yearbook and other campus publications. He's even gone high tech: JumboSearch is the Tufts library's search system. 

Jumbo fun--one reason I enjoy the #52Ancestors challenge!


  1. A fun fact, indeed! Not only is Jumbo the school mascot, the athletic teams are the Jumbos. Are the women's teams the Lady Jumbos? (I'll Google it...)

    1. Yes, ladies' teams also carry the Jumbo name!

  2. My very smart cousin went to Tuffs. Wonder if we could nick name her granddaughter Jumbo......