Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Social Media

An interesting thing has happened in the last few years: the explosion of social networking and social media. We have been able to be constantly updated about the activities of our friends and relatives like never before…but it’s only a 21st Century manifestation of our tendency to spy on each other.
In historical newspapers, many of which are available at Ancestry.com, you will often find a column labeled “Personal” or “Society” or equivalent, in which many events, trivial and otherwise, are recorded forever about the lives of our ancestors. Here are links to two examples from 1912, one hundred years ago next month (subscription to Ancestry required):

Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press, 3 January 1912, “Personal Pickups”

The Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, 1 January 1912, “Personal” on column 4 (also see the “Social Calendar”)

 

 

 

Translated to Facebook or Twitter parlance, they don’t seem too far out of place!
“In Milwaukee today!” – @Jbitter1912
“It’s a girl!!” – @MrandMrsJosephMeyer1912
“Love spending time with family!” – @MissLucileMooneyofGlenbeulah1912
“back in madison for another semester” – @HerbertMaurer1912
“Back east for 2 months it will be awesome!” – @MissMarySinclair1912
“Bridge party Thursday” – Mrs. John F. Torrence
(Will you be attending? [ ] Accept [X] Ignore)

You can learn all kinds of stuff, even if a lot of it is simply announcements of who is in town and who is visiting who. You could learn birthdates, a maiden name, a person’s hometown, whether a relative was still living by a certain date, and so on.
There are hundreds of thousands of newspaper images online, and on microfilm in local libraries. Don’t forget about this valuable resource!

8 Comments

Monika 

Yes, I LOVE going through old newspapers. They have helped me immensely in adding highlights and data to my genealogy. But, one of my favorite articles I came across for one of my husband’s ancestors was in the LYNDEN TRIBUNE of September 12, 1918, on paqe 1. Now remember this made FRONT PAGE NEWS!!! The article reads: “C.F. Worthen has some Barred Rock pullets who have laid eggs at the age of 4 and a half months. He believes this is a record for the breed!” Oh, for the good old days! :-)

June 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Rosario 

Interesting comparison

June 3, 2012 at 3:51 am
Lindy Parrish 

My mom wrote a column in the early 1950′s called “Sidewalk Talk” published in the Crowley Daily Signal in Crowley, Louisiana. After she died some of her things were discarded, and sadly, copies of these columns were included in the refuse. Otherwise, I would gladly send them in to Ancestry for the enjoyment of many, including and especially me!

June 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm
Truthteller 

Are you kidding me? This is so “hide the ball.” You really kicked the pooch into the toilet on the census records for 1940. Admit defeat.

June 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm
Guy Manningham 

I guess people back then were self-indulged narcissitic attention fiends just as they are today. I wonder if there were any mirror pictures of guys showing their abs and girls posing with their “ducky face” on.

June 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm
Rosario 

Great article !

June 28, 2012 at 1:33 am
Joseph 

Very useful information. Thanks

August 10, 2012 at 7:55 am
Eleonore 

My mom wrote a column in the early 1950′s called “Sidewalk Talk” published in the Crowley Daily Signal in Crowley, Louisiana. After she died some of her things were discarded, and sadly, copies of these columns were included in the refuse. Otherwise, I would gladly send them in to Ancestry for the enjoyment of many

April 27, 2013 at 11:22 am