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!

Learn more about WWII Victory Gardens by searching Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

Memorial Day 1945

On May 30, 1945, the United States celebrated a Memorial Day full of conflicting emotions. The euphoria over the recently declared Allied victory in Europe brought hope to this war-beleaguered nation. There was also optimism that the war in Japan was winding down, bringing an end to WWII.

Fort Lauderdale Daily News – May 30, 1945

On the other hand, millions mourned their war dead, many soldiers were still missing or being held POW, and the country was reeling from the sudden death of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt weeks earlier. Let’s take a look at some historic newspaper clippings from Memorial Day 1945 to see how Americans honored their veterans.

Tucson, Arizona: Four-year-old Betty Jo Pacheco laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Pvt. Robert M. Pacheco, who was killed three months earlier in Germany. She was surrounded by veterans of four wars, including 105-year-old Civil War veteran Francis Mengoz.

Arizona Daily Star – May 31, 1945

Wilmington, Delaware: Memorial Day headlines brought happy news to Delawareans when The News Journal reported that seven POWs from Delaware had just been freed.

Munich, Germany: In Munich, American flags flew as soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division gathered at Konigsplatz to hear Memorial Day remarks from American military leaders. The square was the scene of an elite military parade several years earlier for Hitler and Mussolini.

Columbus, Indiana: Even with the war winding down, some were still being called to serve. On May 30, 1945, the Columbus Herald reported that William H. Burton had just been drafted into the Navy. The father of five served six months before being discharged.

Okinawa, Japan: There was intense fighting on Okinawa, and Marines from the First Marine Division moved towards Shuri ridge. Richard P. Ross, who had been aboard the USS Oklahoma when she sank at Pearl Harbor, braved sniper fire and hoisted a flag above a medieval fortress called Shuri Castle

San Pedro, California: In California, the San Pedro News-Pilot published a photograph of the fresh graves around the world and spoke of the millions of heartsick Americans. The paper noted that even though it was a holiday, work continued in war plants and government offices.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Capt. Joseph T. Marnell, serving in a medical detachment, sent a letter to his wife back home. It was printed on Adolf Hitler’s stationery and read, “You can see by this very personal stationery that conditions have improved some. I picked this up in Adolf’s private apartment in Munich when we arrived recently.”

Chicago Tribune – May 28, 1945

Rochester, New York: Sgt. James Ecksten, who had just been discharged from the war, rode alongside his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran William A. Hard, in the Memorial Day parade.

To see more headlines from Memorial Day 1945, search Newspapers.com today!

Share using:

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!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

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!

And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

April 22, 2020, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Inspired by the anti-war movement of the 1960s, this now-global effort was first introduced by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Nelson encouraged teach-ins on school campuses in the wake of rising awareness about pollution and its effect on public health and the planet, and millions of Americans joined in for the cause with classes, demonstrations, and projects.

“Good Earth: Across country, millions plead that it be rescued” Thu, Apr 23, 1970 – Page 1 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com

The first Earth Day drastically raised public interest in conserving the environment and reducing pollutants. It’s considered to have begun the modern environmental movement. As the clipping below states, it is now the largest civic observance in the world.

Earth Day world's largest civic observance, new global theme each year provides focusEarth Day world’s largest civic observance, new global theme each year provides focus Sat, Apr 13, 2013 – C1 · Fort Collins Coloradoan (Fort Collins, Colorado) · Newspapers.com

Now a global effort each April, Earth Day is given a focused theme. The theme for 2020 is “climate action,” with a focus on digital involvement. Have you participated in observances before? How do you join in?

Find more clippings and history about Earth Day through the years with a search on Newspapers.com.

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

Otis H. Burton was born in Bangor, Maine in 1837. As a young man, he decided to move west and seek his fortune. He ended up in Missouri where he fell in love with an accomplished young woman named Susan Mary Payne. Before he had a chance to profess his love to her, she moved to another state. They soon lost touch.  

About this time, the Civil War broke out and Otis enlisted in the 25th Missouri Regiment of the Union Army. While serving in the war, he was severely wounded and not expected to survive. He wrote a farewell letter to his mother but against all odds, he eventually recovered. After feeling well enough to rejoin his regiment, Otis joined them on a mission to transport supplies across the plains. During the journey, a band of Native Americans attacked the party, killing everyone in the company except for Otis, who received severe wounds.

Otis was taken prisoner and led back to the tribe’s mountain home in the Southwest. He gradually recovered from his wounds, adapted to his new surroundings, and started to gain the trust of his captors. All the while he was looking for an opportunity to escape.

One day, after about six months in captivity, tribe members returned to camp with several stolen ponies. Otis observed the horses and noticed one that was of a high breed and showed promise for speed and endurance. Otis cared for the horse, petting and feeding the animal. Eventually, they allowed him to ride the horse.

During one ride, Otis ventured out further than usual. Seizing the opportunity, he took off at top speed, riding furiously with his captors in close pursuit. Finally evading them, Otis rode hard for three days before finally clearing hostile territory.

In the distance, Otis saw smoke rising from the chimney of a small house. He shouted for joy, glad to finally be free. He approached the house and made his way to the door. After knocking, the door opened and there stood Susan Mary Payne, his love from Missouri. After the initial shock, Susan shared her story. She had married a Confederate officer, Joseph L. Robey, who was killed during the war. She was now living alone. Otis shared his story and the two happily reunited. They started to rebuild the relationship began so many years earlier in Missouri.  

In 1870, Otis and Susan married and lived out their lives in Texas. Otis passed away in 1898. To see more stories like this, search Newspapers.com today!

Share using:

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!

Find more rationing recipes by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

The Leap Year Privilege

It’s 2020, which means another Leap Year is upon us once again! For an event that only shows up once every four(ish) years, traditions associated with it are fairly scattered and inconsistent. But if any one tradition is firmly tied to Leap Year, it’s that of women proposing.

Here’s some history on how that might have come to be.

Up To The GirlsUp To The Girls Sat, Jan 2, 1904 – 2 · The Topeka Daily Herald (Topeka, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

St. Bridget’s Request

Legend says that St. Bridget, back in the 5th century, had some thoughts on proposals that led to the tradition as we know it today. The clipping below shares one version of what happened.

One version of the St. Patrick and St. Bridget origin of Leap Year proposalsOne version of the St. Patrick and St. Bridget origin of Leap Year proposals Mon, Feb 27, 1928 – 4 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

What’s a single young man to do if he must say no to a proposal? Give the young lady an apology gift, of course. The payment of a silk dress is a common recurring part of the proposal tradition.

Queen Margaret

The idea of a payment for spurned proposals is reinforced in this next part of Leap Year lore. As the story goes, in the year 1288, Queen Margaret of Scotland made it law that a man who dared turn down a perfectly good proposal without proof that he was already otherwise spoken for must pay—quite literally.

Queen Margaret's 1288 law, according to legendQueen Margaret’s 1288 law, according to legend Sat, Dec 30, 1967 – 15 · Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Yet, despite the very specific year of 1288 and decades of dedicated historian research, no such law has ever been proven to exist. Not only that, but the actual Queen Margaret on whom this legend is based was born in 1283, making her 5 years old at the time of the law. So this bit of Leap Year history is almost certainly nothing more than a fun bit of mythical trivia.

The Scarlet Petticoat

Perhaps as a reaction to all of these rules for the proposee, a more recent bit of lore adds a restriction for the ladies. Sure, a man must still pay for refusing, but the whole transaction could be nullified for the lack of a bright red petticoat.

Absence of a red petticoat cleared a man of paying a leap day proposal fineAbsence of a red petticoat cleared a man of paying a leap day proposal fine Thu, Jan 14, 1960 – 1 · The Brockway Record (Brockway, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Leap Year Critics

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this tradition based on open season-style female proposals has often been derided in articles, cartoons, post cards and more over the decades. Men were considered, generally, to not be fans of the whole idea. Cartoonist Al Capp even played off the whole idea in his comic Li’l Abner, leading to the creation of Sadie Hawkins Day.

Many women looked down on it as well, thinking it made girls unbecomingly bold to the point of being embarrassing for all involved.

Some find Leap Years Some find Leap Years “Make a Girl Bolder Than Is Becoming” Mon, Mar 21, 1904 – 5 · Buffalo Courier (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.com

Now, as gender roles shift and progress, the idea of the “Leap Year Girl” doing things she could never otherwise do is fading into the past. Who knows but that the tradition will continue to change with it?

Find more clippings about Leap Year and the “Ladies’ Privilege” with a search on Newspapers.com. And follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more historical content!

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

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


Discover more clippings about bachelor girls on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

Weather Predictions: Not Just for Groundhogs

Groundhog Day 2020 is just around the corner (on February 2nd, for those curious). With it comes the usual hullabaloo surrounding the noble groundhog and his mystical weather predictions. But while groundhogs are firmly established as the main prognosticators in U.S. culture, they are fairly new to the centuries-old prediction game.

Gus Ground Hog, Weather ProphetGus Ground Hog, Weather Prophet Tue, Feb 2, 1937 – 2 · () · Newspapers.com

Before Groundhogs, there were…

BADGERS OF YORE

Badgers to GroundhogsBadgers to Groundhogs Thu, Feb 12, 1931 – Page 8 · The Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Groundhogs only have their current job thanks to their predecessors: badgers. It was only because groundhogs were more easily found in the United States that the groundhog entered the shadow-seeing spotlight.

BEARS OF ALL SORTS

Bears have also had their fair share of predicting the weather. How that worked, exactly, is unclear. It seems unlikely that crowds of people were standing around waiting for a bear to emerge as is done with the groundhog today.

Bear as weather prognosticatorBear as weather prognosticator Fri, Feb 2, 1923 – 2 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

This next clipping takes an entirely different direction. Shadows are cast aside in favor of a furrier approach. Unfortunately for Snow Star, the prognosticating zoo bear, her thin winter coat gave an unreliable prediction.

Prognosticating Bear may be fired for inaccurate weather forecastPrognosticating Bear may be fired for inaccurate weather forecast Thu, Jan 16, 1964 – 3 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

The Woolly Bear—a much different kind of bear—had its day in the sun when scientists looked to the caterpillars’ coloring for answers.

The Woolly Bear weather predictorsThe Woolly Bear weather predictors Tue, Oct 11, 1983 – 34 · Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

SAME DOUBTS AS GROUNDHOGS

Science-based or not, the thickness and color of an animal’s (or insect’s) fur is about as convincing for some as the sight of a groundhog’s shadow.

Animals Animals “predicting” weather with winter coats Sun, Dec 24, 1916 – 62 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.com

Whether you stand by the predictions of shadows and fur, or find it all a “fairy story” like the zoo head quoted above, the prediction tradition still holds strong.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Find more on the traditions of Groundhog Day and the history of animal prognosticators with a search on Newspapers.com.

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using: