Vegetables & Victory: Why Gardening Was So Popular in WWII America

Wed, Feb 17, 1943 – 5 · The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, South Carolina) · Newspapers.com


Would you “garden for victory?” During World War II, Americans were encouraged to grow vegetable gardens to help with the home-front war effort. These “Victory Gardens” flourished around the country during the war years, providing an estimated 40 percent of the fresh vegetables Americans ate.

Curious about these gardens? We looked through WWII-era papers on Newspapers.com to learn more about wartime Victory Gardens in the United States!

Victory Gardens before WWII

America’s World War II Victory Gardens were actually a revival of a World War I gardening effort supported by the U.S. government. Starting in 1917, the government had successfully encouraged Americans to grow vegetables at home to free up food for soldiers and allies overseas. When the war ended, however, many people no longer saw a reason to maintain their gardens.

Thu, Jun 6, 1918 – Page 2 · San Bernardino News (San Bernardino, California) · Newspapers.com


But when war broke out again in Europe in 1939, some Americans began to predict there would again be a need for more vegetable gardens, even though the United States hadn’t officially entered the war yet. Interest in wartime gardens began to grow, despite some opposing arguments that they were unnecessary and potentially harmful to farmers’ livelihoods.  

Revival of Victory Gardens

Then, with the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the beginning of food rationing shortly afterward, war gardens began taking off in the United States. 1942 saw a sharp increase in the number of newspaper articles about growing wartime gardens—usually called Victory Gardens but also sometimes referred to as “war gardens” or “gardens for defense.”

Many of the newspaper gardening articles from the spring of 1942 focused on the need for efficiency. Numerous articles emphasized that Americans should avoid repeating the “mistakes” of World War I, when people were so enthusiastic about war gardens that they tore up lawns and parks to put in vegetable gardens without considering factors like soil quality. Some articles even discouraged inexperienced gardeners from planting Victory Gardens altogether to avoid inefficiency and waste.

Sun, Jan 18, 1942 – 43 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com


Victory Gardens Reach their Peak

But as World War II lengthened, even amateur gardeners were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens, and 1943 and 1944 saw home vegetable gardens reach their peak popularity.

During this time, Victory Gardens were often portrayed as a patriotic duty. Americans were told that growing a vegetable garden would help free up food for soldiers, and that eating local produce would reduce the strain on America’s transportation network. In many cases, Victory Gardens served as morale boosters as well, helping home gardeners feel they were contributing to the war effort.

Tue, Mar 30, 1943 – Page 6 · McComb Daily Journal (McComb, Mississippi) · Newspapers.com


As Victory Gardens grew in popularity, cities and states created their own committees and initiatives to support local gardening efforts, which were now actively encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and President Roosevelt. Some cities offered lower water rates for Victory Gardens, while other communities sponsored Victory Garden contests.

Newspapers published a huge amount of gardening content during these years—from how-to guides, to garden diagrams, to planting schedules. Newspapers also published helpful columns about how to can and preserve Victory Garden produce, and the Boston Globe even offered to test people’s garden soil for free. Inevitably, wartime gardening made its way into newspaper ads as well—with Victory Garden imagery and slogans being used to sell products from seeds to beer.

Wed, Mar 31, 1943 – 4 · Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Of course, not everyone had room to grow a backyard garden. City dwellers grew gardens where they could, from window boxes to rooftops. Other Victory Gardens were grown at schools and workplaces, or in community plots established both in and outside of cities. Some newspapers even pitched in to try to help people find places to plant gardens by publishing surveys to identify unused plots.

Victory Gardens’ Decline

1945 was the beginning of the end for Victory Gardens. With the war winding down, fewer people saw a need for home gardens, even though the government was still encouraging people to plant them. And once the war ended, Americans planted even fewer Victory Gardens in 1946 and 1947.

But wartime gardens had produced very real results. In 1942 there had been an estimated 16 million Victory Gardens in the United States; by 1944, this number had grown to 20 million. And these home gardens had produced a huge amount of food each year—roughly 8 million tons, or more than 40 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables eaten by Americans.

Sun, Apr 11, 1943 – Page 15 · Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) · Newspapers.com


Do you have any memories or family stories about Victory Gardens? Share them with us in the comments!

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Spring Cleaning Used to be Unavoidable—Here’s Why

Sun, Mar 22, 1931 – 3 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


Do you feel the call of spring cleaning when the weather starts to warm up? While today it’s largely personal preference whether we spring clean or not, it was a practical necessity up until about 100 years ago.

Why Was Spring Cleaning Necessary?

Until the 20th century, homes in the United States were typically heated with wood or coal during the winter, and candles and oil lamps were used to light rooms at night—all of which left soot and smoke coating walls, windows, and other surfaces. Few roads were paved back then, so dirt, manure, and other detritus would get tracked indoors. Bugs and vermin were a problem in many homes as well.

Families did their best to keep their homes clean during the winter months, but cold temperatures and bad weather prevented a thorough cleaning, since many cleaning methods necessitated taking furnishings, carpets, and bedding outdoors. So when spring came with its sunshine and warmer weather, it was time to clean the home of the accumulated winter grime.

Sun, Mar 26, 1905 – Page 59 · Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com


Depending on the area of the country, spring cleaning was typically done during April or May, when the weather was warm enough that the family would no longer need a sooty fire or stove to heat their home. The weather also needed to be pleasant enough that household furnishings could be shifted outdoors to be cleaned and windows opened to air out the home.

What Did Spring Cleaning Involve?

Spring cleaning in past centuries was labor intensive, and the task fell almost exclusively to women—who either did the cleaning themselves or (income permitting) oversaw the work of others. The children of the house were often also pressed into service, but husbands were not usually involved due to traditional gender roles.

Common spring cleaning tasks of the time included:

These spring cleaning tips we found in 19th-century papers on Newspapers.com give a sense of what the process was like during that era:

Sat, Jun 12, 1869 – 4 · New England Farmer (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com
Sat, May 13, 1871 – 3 · Aurora of the Valley (Newbury, Vermont) · Newspapers.com
Thu, May 23, 1872 – 6 · The Clinton Public (Clinton, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


Why Did Spring Cleaning Change?

In the late 19th century and early 20th, spring cleaning began to change. The invention of modern appliances—notably the vacuum cleaner—and mass-produced cleaning products made routine cleaning easier. And the widespread adoption of electricity, gas furnaces, central air, and paved roads greatly reduced the indoor dirt and grime that had made a thorough spring cleaning so essential.

By the mid-20th century, spring cleaning had become more of a tradition than a necessity in the U.S.—a reality that was reflected in a number of newspaper columns that questioned the need for an annual spring cleaning.

Thu, May 16, 1940 – 2 · The Gotebo Record (Gotebo, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


Today, spring cleaning remains a part of American culture, with a 2019 survey revealing that 77 percent of Americans commit to spring cleaning every year. Are you one of them? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more about spring cleaning history by searching Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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7 Incredible V-E Day Front Pages from WWII America

On May 7–9, 1945, exultant crowds poured into streets across many Allied nations to celebrate the news of Germany’s surrender and the Allied victory in Europe. For the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, we used Newspapers.com to discover how this landmark moment was covered by papers in the United States. Keep reading to see some of these incredible front pages!

May 7, 1945

News about the end of the European war broke in the U.S. on Monday, the 7th. So in many of the papers from that day, news of the German surrender and the end of the war in Europe were understandably the biggest headlines.

Mon, May 7, 1945 – Page 1 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com
Mon, May 7, 1945 – 1 · Monrovia News-Post (Monrovia, California) · Newspapers.com


However, although Americans heard about the surrender on the 7th, V-E Day wouldn’t officially be held be until the next day (the 8th) in order to coordinate with other Allied nations. So stories of President Truman postponing V-E Day were also major news on the 7th.

Mon, May 7, 1945 – 1 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


May 8, 1945

Since the biggest news had broken on the 7th, front pages from the 8th often reiterated victory news and proclaimed that it was V-E Day.

Tue, May 8, 1945 – 1 · Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) · Newspapers.com
Tue, May 8, 1945 – 1 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Another common headline from the 8th was about President Truman’s V-E Day speech, which emphasized that although Germany had surrendered, the war with Japan was far from over.

Tue, May 8, 1945 – Page 1 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com
Tue, May 8, 1945 – Page 1 · Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) · Newspapers.com


Want to see more news about V-E Day in 1945? Visit our V-E Day Topic Page or search Newspapers.com to see how papers across the United States, England, Canada, and Australia covered it!

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Recipes & Rationing: How WWII Changed the Way Americans Cooked

Mon, May 15, 1944 – 10 · The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com


WWII Food Rationing Begins

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States instituted rationing. Sugar was the first food item to be rationed (starting in May 1942), but coffee, processed and canned foods, meat, cheese, and butter, oils, and fats were also rationed at various times between 1942 and 1945.

To buy rationed food items, families needed to present their grocer with the correct stamps from their government-issued rationing books—in addition to paying the cost of the product. But having enough rationing stamps didn’t guarantee they would be able to purchase an item, since local and national shortages limited availability of certain foods.

Newspapers Become a Rationing Resource

With the changes in food availability, newspapers were an important resource for home cooks as they tried to navigate the new culinary landscape. Americans turned to their local papers to find the current rationing schedules, which showed when certain foods would be rationed and how many (and what kind) of stamps were needed to buy them.

Sat, Jul 15, 1944 – Page 5 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


Newspapers also published a wide variety of tips for cooking under rationing. They published column after column about how cook with reduced amounts of rationed ingredients and educated readers about which ingredients could be used as substitutes. Honey and corn syrup, for instance, were commonly suggested replacements for sugar.

Wartime Recipes in the Paper

But where newspapers really shone during rationing was as a source of recipes. Although newspapers had a long history of publishing recipes before World War II, during the war they focused on helping Americans cook according to what foods were available. Newspapers printed recipes that used smaller amounts of rationed ingredients, for example, as well as ones that incorporated local and in-season products. Recipes published during this time often also focused on dishes that were cost effective (since some food prices increased) and nutritious (because rationing often meant a change in diet).

Thu, Sep 30, 1943 – 12 · Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Wartime recipes were in high demand, so many newspapers asked readers to send in their favorite recipes or even held contests for the best wartime dishes. Food companies jumped on the bandwagon as well, publishing ads that included rationing recipes using their products.

Recipe Examples

Food rationing was such a part of American life during World War II that it’s easy to find wartime recipes and tips in newspapers from that period.

This roll recipe from 1942, for example, calls attention to their reduced amount of sugar.

Sun, May 31, 1942 – Page 14 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


In 1943, this cake recipe eliminated sugar altogether and used corn syrup as a sweetener instead.

Fri, Aug 20, 1943 – Page 14 · The Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) · Newspapers.com


This “chiliburger” recipe helped make the most of rationed meat.

Fri, Oct 2, 1942 – 15 · The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com


And this jam recipe from Hawaii emphasizes the importance of using local produce during wartime.

Thu, Jun 25, 1942 – 7 · Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii) · Newspapers.com


If you’re interested in more rationing recipes, take a look at these examples:

Do you have any family recipes from World War II or stories of life under rationing? Share them with us in the comments. And let us know if you try any of the recipes!

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10 Words to Master When Researching Women in Newspapers

Researching your female ancestors is often tricky, but historical newspapers can help you break through those frustrating brick walls. So we’re launching a 3-part series on how to do newspaper research into the women in your family tree.

Last week, we shared our top search tips for finding your female ancestor in the papers on Newspapers.com. In this final post, we’ll be focusing on some vocabulary that you’re likely to come across while researching your female relatives.

Fri, Dec 8, 1911 – 1 · The McLouth Times (McLouth, Kansas) · Newspapers.com


Have you ever been reading about a female ancestor in the newspaper and seen them called a “relict”? Learning words like this can help us wring every last bit of information from a newspaper piece we find about our relative.

Brush up on 10 genealogy vocab words you might encounter while researching your female ancestors!

  1. Consort: Spouse.
  2. Dower: A widow’s legal share of her deceased husband’s estate.
  3. Executrix: A woman appointed by the deceased to carry out the terms, directions, and requests in a will. The feminine version of “executor.”
  4. Goodwife. A title (similar to Mrs.) used before the surname of a married woman. Or, the female head of a household.
  5. Granddame/grande dame: Grandmother. Or, an influential or prestigious woman, often elderly.
  6. Matron: A married woman, often of a mature age.
  7. Nee/née: “Born.” Used to indicate a woman’s maiden name.
  8. Relict: Widow.
  9. Spinster: An unmarried woman, often older than what is considered the usual marriage age.
  10. Testatrix: A woman who has written a will. The feminine version of “testator.”

Got any more genealogy vocab words you think might be helpful? Share them with us in the comments!

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Top 5 Tips for Finding Your Female Ancestor in the Newspaper

Researching your female ancestors is often tricky, but historical newspapers can help you break through those frustrating brick walls. So we’re launching a 3-part series on how to do newspaper research into the women in your family tree.

Last week, we suggested 10 newspaper sections for finding information about the women in your family tree. In this second post, we’ll be sharing our top search tips for finding your female ancestor in the papers on Newspapers.com.

Sun, Jul 4, 1915 – Page 11 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · Newspapers.com


Anyone who’s tried to research a female ancestor in the newspaper learns quickly that it’s often much more difficult than simply looking for the woman’s legal name. We wish it were that easy! But the way women were written about in old newspapers can prove a challenge to those of us doing family history today. Even though Newpspapers.com has amazing search and filtering capabilities, you have to search for the right keywords to turn up matches for the woman you’re looking for.

But don’t despair! We’ve got 5 top tips to increase your chances of finding your female ancestor on Newspapers.com!

1. Search for every variation of her name.

And we mean every variation. The name recorded on a census or other government record may or may not be the name used in the newspaper. And even if it was, the newspaper may have misspelled it!

Start off by searching for the woman’s legal name, but also try alternative spellings, nicknames, name abbreviations, initials, common misspellings, married name, maiden name, middle name . . . all of them. If she has a relatively uncommon last name, try searching by surname alone. And if she had a step-father, try searching with his last name as well, even if she didn’t legally adopt it.

Once you’ve found a name that returns the search results you want, it’s tempting to stop there. But don’t forget to go back and search the other variations! Your female ancestor may have been referred to in more than one way in the paper.

And be sure to keep a running list of what names you’ve searched for so you don’t repeat or forget searches!

Mary Avaline Conner appears in a newspaper as “Avie Conner”Mary Avaline Conner appears in a newspaper as “Avie Conner” Thu, Aug 2, 1888 – Page 3 · Medicine Lodge Cresset (Medicine Lodge, Kansas) · Newspapers.com


2. Search by her husband’s or male relatives’ names.

Because of societal expectations and traditions, married women were often written about in historical newspapers using their husband’s name (e.g., Mrs. John B. Smith) or husband’s initials (Mrs. J. B. Smith). So if the female ancestor you’re looking for was married, try searching for her husband’s name. And if she was married more than once, search for the names of all her husbands.

You should also search using the name of her father, brothers, or other close male relatives. You might find her referenced in newspaper pieces as so-and-so’s daughter, sister, or mother. Plus, looking for her father gives you the added benefit of perhaps being able to learn about your female ancestor’s childhood. Was her father in a major accident when she was a child? That would’ve shaped the life of her and her family.

Obituary in which the woman is referred to by her husband’s nameObituary in which the woman is referred to by her husband’s name Mon, May 21, 1906 – Page 9 · The Scranton Truth (Scranton, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


3. Research your non-direct ancestors.

When doing family history research, it can be easy to get caught up in only researching our direct ancestors. But when researching women in the newspaper, it can pay off to research people even in our non-direct (collateral) lines.

If you’re researching your great-grandmother, for example, don’t only look for her name in the paper; look for her siblings as well. Because even though her siblings aren’t your own direct ancestors, they were all closely related to your great-grandma, and information about her can turn up in articles about any of them.

4. Search by Address

At various points in the past, some newspapers included the address or street name of the person they were writing about. So if you know the address where your female ancestor was living, try a search using the address or street name, rather than a person’s name.  

Even if you don’t find your own ancestor mentioned, you might find something about a neighbor that helps you learn about your own family. For example, a newspaper piece about a next-door neighbor’s party may reveal that their neighbor (your ancestor!) couldn’t make it because they were in the hospital.

Plus, it never hurts to gain a better understanding of what the neighborhood where your ancestor was living was like. You may even discover information about the family that lived in the house before or after your ancestor that sheds some light on your own relatives.

Example of newspaper photo with address in the captionExample of newspaper photo with address in the caption Sat, Mar 10, 1928 – Page 6 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


5. Save your searches

Once you’ve found a search on Newspapers.com that returns results about your female ancestor, hit the “Save/Notify” button. Not only will this save the search so you can come back to it later, but it will also automatically notify you whenever Newspapers.com adds newspaper content that has matches for your search.

READ MORE: Learn how to save your search

Even if you can’t find a search that returns matches for the person you’re looking for, you’ll still want to save the search. This way, you’ll be notified if content is ever added to our site that does have a match.

If you prefer to check back on a search yourself, rather than being automatically notified, be sure to sort your search results by “Date Added.” By doing this, you’ll see new matches first, rather than older ones you may have already looked at.


We hope these tips give you some new ways to find information about your relatives! Come back next week to learn some common terms you might come across when doing newspaper research into your female ancestors.

Got any search tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments!

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10 Best Newspaper Sections for Researching Your Female Ancestors

Researching your female ancestors is often tricky, but historical newspapers can help you break through those frustrating brick walls. So we’re launching a 3-part series on how to do newspaper research into the women in your family tree. This is the first post in the series.

Sun, Feb 7, 1909 – Page 39 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


You can find women mentioned in just about any section of historical newspapers—from big front-page headlines to small back-page classifieds. But the way women have historically been perceived and written about means there are some newspaper sections that are particularly valuable for research into our female ancestors.

Here are 10 of our favorite newspaper sections for uncovering information about the lives of women:

1. Birth Announcements. Finding the newspaper birth announcement for your female ancestor can reveal information like her birthdate, birth location, maiden name, and parents’ (and even grandparents’) names. Depending on the time period, you might even find her baby photo!

But don’t stop at just the woman’s birth announcement—look for the birth announcements for all her children and even grandchildren. Each announcement may reveal something new, such as where the family was living during that particular year.

2. Engagement & Wedding Announcements. If your female ancestor was married, a newspaper announcement for her engagement or wedding can help you discover quite a bit about her. Things you might learn include the wedding date and place, bride’s and groom’s names, parents’ names, family religion, members of the wedding party, wedding guests, name of the minister, where the couple planned to live, description of bride’s dress, and details of the ceremony/reception/shower. There could even be a photo of her in her wedding dress! If the family was relatively prominent in the community, the engagement or wedding announcement can be quite long and disclose a lot of information about the woman’s life.

As with birth announcements, you should also look for the engagement and wedding announcements for a woman’s children, as these might share information about her as the mother of the bride or groom.

Sat, Jul 14, 1934 – Page 8 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


3. Divorce Proceedings. As much as we hope our ancestors had happy marriages, this was not always the case. Newspaper accounts of divorces can help you learn her husband’s name, when they were married, when they were divorced, were they were living, and sometimes the details of what the marriage was like. Some high-profile divorces even got full-length articles written about the proceedings.

4. Obituaries. Finding an obituary for any ancestor is like hitting the jackpot, but they’re especially priceless for the women in your family tree. While the length of obituaries varies widely, you can often learn things like death date and place, birth date and place, occupation/interests, past places of residence, notable accomplishments, names and place of residence of close family, mortuary/cemetery used, burial date, and cause of death. If you’re lucky, a photo of the woman is sometimes included!

Don’t forget to search for the obituaries of anyone closely related to your female ancestor—such as parents, husbands, siblings, and children. Any of these obituaries might reveal information about the woman you are researching.

READ MORE: Learn more about newspaper obituaries

5. Anniversary Party & Family Reunion Recaps. If you’re trying to figure out how and if your female ancestor is related to another family, newspaper write-ups about wedding anniversary parties and family reunions can be a major help. These types of newspaper content often included lists of family and friends who attended the event, which can help you straighten out your family tree—and maybe even help you find a few new names as well.

You may also learn information like her husband’s name, the date and location of the marriage, how many children and grandchildren she had, and where she was living.

Family reunion photo with info about those picturedFamily reunion photo with info about those pictured Thu, Sep 13, 1917 – Page 5 · Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


6. Local News-In-Brief Columns. A staple of small- and mid-sized towns starting around the 1880s, these local columns captured the doings of local residents—including illnesses, injuries, vacations, guests, anniversaries, birthdays, business ventures, and surprising events. If you’re lucky enough to find a female relative mentioned in one of these columns, you might discover where she went to visit a relative, who she spent holidays with, when she was admitted to the hospital, and more.

And we can’t stress it enough—be sure to look for her relatives and spouse too. A piece about the woman’s brother might not mention her by name, but it might say he’s visiting his sister in a such-and-such a town, which then lets you know where she was living!

READ MORE: Learn about the history of News-In-Brief Columns

7. Club, Organization & Church News. Did your female ancestor belong to a club, organization, or church? Many women did, and the newspaper is a great place to learn about the activities your relative was involved in.

Even if you only find your ancestor mentioned on a membership roster or in a list of event attendees, you can search the newspaper for more news of that club or organization to learn the types of activities your relative may have participated in. And if there’s a group photo included of an event or meeting, don’t forget to check it for your ancestor’s face, even if they aren’t mentioned in the caption.

Women's fencing class photo with list of membersWomen’s fencing class photo with list of members Wed, Jul 2, 1902 – Page 1 · The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


8. Recipe & Household Hint Sections. If the female relative you’re researching was a good cook or housekeeper extraordinaire, you just might find a recipe or housekeeping tip that she submitted to her local newspaper. How amazing would it be to find a recipe from your ancestor in the newspaper that you then can try making?

9. Classifieds. Was your female relative selling something? Trying to buy something? Looking for work? Hiring household help? Renting a room? Looking for a lost item? Trying to gain new customers for a business? Find out in the classified section!

10. Police Blotters & Criminal Trial Accounts. We may be dismayed to discover that a woman in our family tree committed a crime or was arrested, but these unfortunate situations can actually provide us with all kinds of information about the woman. Newspaper criminal accounts can reveal where the woman was living, her age, family members’ names, and more. The article can also give us some insight into the kind of life she was living at the time.

Sat, Apr 24, 1886 – Page 6 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com


We hope these suggestions gave you some new ideas of newspaper sections you can mine for information about your female relatives! Come back next week to learn our top search tips for finding your female ancestors in the newspaper.

Got any tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments!

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How Victorian “Bachelor Girls” Revolutionized America’s View of Single Women

Members of a 1900 Kansas Bachelor Girls ClubMembers of a 1900 Kansas Bachelor Girls Club Tue, Aug 7, 1900 – 8 · The Sterling Kansas Bulletin (Sterling, Kansas) · Newspapers.com


If you were a single woman living 100 years ago, would you rather have been called an “old maid” or a “bachelor girl”?

Growing Opportunities for Women

In the late 19th century, a cultural shift was taking place among young American women. Empowered by growing educational and career opportunities, women increasingly saw marriage as one option rather than the only option for their futures.

They more and more often attended college instead of marrying immediately, creating a growing force of university-educated women seeking careers—not just “jobs”—in fields that had previously been unavailable to them. Though their opportunities were still far more limited than men’s, women began to work as stenographers, typists, secretaries, department store workers, academics, doctors, nurses, writers, artists, journalists, and more.

Professions of New York bachelor girls, 1894Professions of New York bachelor girls, 1894 Sun, Jan 7, 1894 – 13 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) · Newspapers.com


And not only did these single women go to universities and support themselves financially, they also often lived in towns and cities away from the family home. Depending on their circumstances, some lived in homes of their own, while others lived with roommates or in boarding houses specifically for women.

No More “Old Maids”

This shift started to change the way people thought about single women. For most of American history, single women had been seen as “old maids” or “spinsters,” pitiable women who lived off the kindness and condescension of their family members.

But the changing prospects for women in the late 19th century created the more modern “bachelor girl”—independent, educated, cultured, and fashionable. As it slowly became less shameful for a woman to be single past a “marriable age,” some women even publicly celebrated their single status by joining “bachelor girls clubs.”

No more old maids, 1890No more old maids, 1890 Sun, Oct 12, 1890 – 10 · The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com


Even the name “bachelor girl” indicated their growing independence, as did other terms in use like “bachelor woman” and “bachelor maid.” Use of the term “bachelor”—a term typically used for men—reflected the perception that this new generation of single women had some of the freedom previously enjoyed only by their male counterparts.

Not a One-Size-Fits-All

Of course, there was no one-size-fits-all “bachelor girl.” Not every unmarried woman was single because she wanted to be. And while some women declined marriage altogether, others were simply delaying it by a few years. Additionally, some of those the world saw as “bachelor girls” were likely privately in committed relationships—just with other women, rather than men.

Bachelor girl photo, 1902Bachelor girl photo, 1902 Sun, Nov 2, 1902 – 6 · The Buffalo Times (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.com


Plus, the “bachelor girl” lifestyle of the time was largely (though not exclusively) a privilege of middle- or upper-class white women. Those of other socio-economic classes and ethnicities did not always have the same opportunities as their wealthier and whiter counterparts.

Society’s View

Still, there was a fascination in American society with the lives of these independent single women. Throughout the late 19th century and early 20th, there were numerous newspaper features and columns about the “bachelor girl.” While some of this newspaper coverage gave a realistic view of the lives of these women, far more painted what was surely an overly glamorous and stereotyped picture of their lifestyle.

1903 feature article about the bachelor girl lifestyle1903 feature article about the bachelor girl lifestyle Sun, Aug 30, 1903 – Page 42 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


But while it may have entertained Americans to read about bachelor girls in the newspaper, many in wider society did not support this new lifestyle for unmarried women. Most people still subscribed to the traditional view that a woman’s place was in the home. They rejected the idea that a woman could find lasting meaning in a career, arguing that her only “real” fulfillment could come from being a wife and mother. Bachelor girls challenged the existing social conventions too much to receive immediate widespread acceptance.

Anti-bachelor girl opinion from 1902Anti-bachelor girl opinion from 1902 Fri, May 2, 1902 – Page 10 · The Commoner (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com


A Modern Perspective

Though the idea of the “bachelor girl” took off around the 1880s, it was most popular in newspapers from about 1900 through the end of World War I. But it remained prevalent in various iterations in the papers until around the 1960s, when progress in the women’s rights movement made it less novel for women to support themselves and live independently.

Today, the idea of the “bachelor girl” may seem antiquated and quaint, given the strides women have made in the century since. But they were quite revolutionary in their time, making it fascinating to look back on newspaper clippings about their efforts to gain more educational, financial, and social independence for women.  

Sun, Jun 28, 1896 – Page 13 · San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com


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7 Vintage Cookie Recipes to Make the Holidays Sweeter

Fri, Dec 11, 1925 – 5 · Tulare Advance-Register (Tulare, California) · Newspapers.com


Whether you’re filling your Christmas cookie jar or hosting for Hanukkah, give your holidays a vintage flair with these mouthwatering cookie recipes from our newspaper archives.

Beneath the original newspaper recipes, we’ve written them out in a way that’s a bit easier to follow. Click on any of the images to see the clipping on Newspapers.com.

[Note: In old recipes, a “moderate oven” means 350–375 degrees Fahrenheit.]

Sugar Plum Crispies – from 1949

1949: Sugar Plum Crispies recipes1949: Sugar Plum Crispies recipes Thu, Dec 1, 1949 – 34 · The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup chopped raisins
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

Directions:

  1. Combine shortening, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, and water and beat thoroughly.
  2. Sift flour and soda together. Add to first mixture with oats, raisins, and nuts, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Drop from tablespoon on greased baking sheets. Stamp dough thin with a glass covered with a damp cloth.
  4. Bake in moderate oven 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from pan at once. Makes 2 ½ dozen.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – from 1936

1936: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe1936: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe Fri, Dec 18, 1936 – Page 32 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 squares chocolate, melted
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

Frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp peppermint flavoring, or ½ cup crushed peppermint stick candy

Directions:

  1. Cream butter with brown sugar. Add sour cream and egg. Beat well. Add melted chocolate.
  2. Sift flour with soda and baking powder, then add to first mixture.
  3. Bake on greased baking sheet for 12 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  4. When frosting will hold its shape, spread on warm cookies.

Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies – from 1958

1958: Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies recipe1958: Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies recipe Thu, Dec 4, 1958 – Page 24 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 cup ground Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening; gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in egg, orange rind and juice, and nuts.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in almond flavoring. Chill several hours.
  3. Roll out 1/8-inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into dreidel shape using a paper pattern or cut into desired shapes with 2-inch cookie cutter.
  4. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Snowball Cookies – from 1940

1940: Snowball Cookies recipe1940: Snowball Cookies recipe Thu, Jun 27, 1940 – Page 23 · The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 6 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Cream butter until very light and fluffy. Beat in the milk or cream a little at a time until it is all taken up by the butter. Add vanilla.
  2. Sift flour, then measure. Resift with confectioners’ sugar and add a little at a time to the butter. Add pecans.
  3. Roll very small bits of dough, about 1 teaspoonful for each cookie, between palms of hands to form small balls.
  4. Place on floured baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F) until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar while they are still warm. Yield: 6 dozen small cookies.

Gingerbread Men – from 1920

1920: Gingerbread Men recipe1920: Gingerbread Men recipe Sun, Dec 5, 1920 – 15 · The Enid Daily Eagle (Enid, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup shortening, melted

Directions:

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger together.
  2. Mix molasses, sugar, egg, and melted shortening together. Add the dry ingredients to make soft dough.
  3. Shape in form of little men, animals, or plain cookies on greased pan. Bake in moderate oven 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: The men can be made by forcing the dough through a pastry bag or cornucopia made with plain letter paper. Use tops of cloves, currants, or rice for making the faces and buttons. For colored coats, use colored icing.

Christmas Wreaths – from 1948

1948: Christmas Wreaths recipe1948: Christmas Wreaths recipe Fri, Dec 17, 1948 – Page 12 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter and shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • Pistachio nuts, crushed
  • Red and green maraschino cherries

Directions:

  1. Cream butter/shortening; add sugar and cream well.
  2. Add egg yolks beaten until thick; then add lemon juice and rind. Add one egg white beaten until stiff and dry.
  3. Fold in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
  4. Roll thin and cut with doughnut cutter. Beat other egg white slightly and brush over tops.
  5. Place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with crushed nuts. Place red and green maraschino cherries to represent holly wreaths.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F until delicately browned.

Fruit Cake Cookies – from 1938

1938: Fruit Cake Cookies recipe1938: Fruit Cake Cookies recipe Sat, Nov 26, 1938 – 14 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup each raisins, walnuts, and candied cherries
  • ½ cup candied pineapple
  • ¼ cup citron

Directions:

  1. Cream together sugar and shortening; beat eggs in, one at a time.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk.
  3. Chop fruit, nuts, and citron and mix well in mixture.
  4. Drop by teaspoon on greased tin and bake in moderate oven.

Note: Pineapple and citron may be omitted if desired. These cookies will keep for months.

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How World War II Changed Thanksgiving 75 Years Ago

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – 1 · The News-Review (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


November 1944 found the United States celebrating its third Thanksgiving since entering World War II. And the war certainly wasn’t taking a break for the holiday, with Americans opening their newspapers Thanksgiving morning to headlines like “50,000 Nazis Trapped on Rhine” and “Germans Fire Rocket Bombs at U.S. Army.”

Two Thanksgivings

But the war wasn’t the only conflict brewing on Thanksgiving 75 years ago; there was also a ruckus much closer to home

The date of Thanksgiving was causing a stir in the U.S.—the result of federal legislation passed in 1941 declaring that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the fourth Thursday rather than the traditional last Thursday. So while 1944 saw the majority of Americans celebrating Thanksgiving on the 23rd, a few states were still holding on to custom and celebrating on the 30th.

LEARN MORE: Read our post about the fight over the date of Thanksgiving

Other beloved traditions had to change as well on that Thanksgiving. There had been no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1941, for example, since the company had donated the rubber in its famous balloons to the war effort. And Thanksgiving Day football games were played in far fewer places around the nation due to the number of men serving in the military.

Thanksgiving at Home

But then as now, Thanksgiving dinner was the main event of the day, and the war’s effects were seen even at the dinner table. 

By 1944, millions of American men and women were serving in the armed forces domestically or overseas, leaving empty spaces at the holiday table in many homes. In cities near military bases, some of these empty chairs were filled by servicemen and women who had been invited to share a homecooked meal for the holidays with a local family. In other homes, Thanksgiving dinner was held earlier or later than usual to accommodate family members who were working the holiday in factories and other war industries.

“Let Us Give Thanks,” by African American cartoonist Wilbert Holloway Sat, Nov 25, 1944 – Page 6 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Even traveling to the homes of distant family members or friends for Thanksgiving dinner was curtailed, since gasoline and tires were rationed and bus and train travel were discouraged to open up seats for servicemen and women on furlough.

The Thanksgiving Menu

When it came to the Thanksgiving menu, the war’s influence was seen yet again—this time in the form of food rationing.

By 1944, Americans had been through two previous Thanksgivings under rationing. Sugar was still rationed that year, as were cheese, butter and margarine, and canned fruit—creating a challenge for home cooks hoping to make favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

But Americans had reason to be grateful, as fewer food items than before were being rationed in the United States by November 1944. Lard, shortening, and coffee were no longer rationed, for example, and items such as red meat and processed foods were experiencing a temporary reprieve.

Still, Thanksgiving dinner in 1944 required more planning ahead than in the pre-war years. Those who had heeded the government’s call to grow Victory Gardens could cook Thanksgiving dishes with the produce they had canned or preserved. Other Americans made sure to save up rationing stamps to purchase ingredients for their Thanksgiving meal—aided by newspaper rationing calendars that listed which rationing stamps could be used when and for what products.

Entry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendarEntry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendar Fri, Nov 24, 1944 – 24 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


The Turkey Challenge

But even food items that weren’t rationed could still be scarce. Such was the case in 1944 with the Thanksgiving centerpiece—turkey. Due to the military’s huge demand for turkey for the troops, the bird was hard to buy in some parts of the country—unless a person was willing to turn to the black market.

Spices and other imported food items also could be difficult to find because the war affected shipping. And non-local produce was limited too in some locations due to the effect of gasoline rationing on trucking.

With this changing availability of food on the minds of many, newspapers published articles about which items were expected to be available for Thanksgiving that year. And Thanksgiving recipes using alternative ingredients became a popular feature in many newspaper food sections.

A Spirit of Sacrifice

Despite the challenges and changes that Thanksgiving 1944 presented to Americans on the home front, people were generally willing to sacrifice for the war effort—especially when they considered how much their servicemen and women were sacrificing overseas.

One newspaper editorial published on Thanksgiving reflected on this spirit of sacrifice, remarking:

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – Page 18 · Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


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