Society pages in historical newspapers were the equivalent of today’s social media. They reported on social events, family news, birthday parties, anniversaries, and more! Don’t forget to explore the society pages when researching your ancestors in the newspapers. You might discover wonderful gems that provide color, context, and insight into your ancestors’ daily lives.
Society pages appeared as early as the 1830s and were prevalent in many papers by the 1880s. Your ancestor didn’t need to be famous or wealthy to appear on the society page (though that helped). Instead, newspapers reported on everyday citizens and events in their lives.
Moves and Relocations: Did your ancestors move from one state to another? You may be able to discover what prompted the relocation by reading the society pages. In this clipping, Joe Grubbs left Kansas for California in 1887, hoping to find a more agreeable climate.
Family Reunions: Society pages often reported on family reunions. In 1909, the Pierson family held a reunion in Delaware, and 325 family members attended. This article named each person and how they were related. What a treasure! Sometimes newspapers published family photographs. Check out this beautiful five-generation portrait from the Church family reunion in 1917.
Illness: If your ancestor suffered from an illness, you might discover details in the society pages.
Birthdays and Anniversaries: Society pages reported on special events like birthday parties or anniversaries. In this example, the paper recorded each guest that attended Joseph Denny’s 18th birthday party in 1887. Chances are some of the participants are other relatives, and the guest list can provide new clues for exploration.
Significant anniversaries often appeared in the society pages. The Des Moines Register regularly highlighted anniversaries for couples married over 50 years. This couple’s anniversary announcement lists the names of their children. As was common at the time, their daughters are referred to by their husbands’ names. This information provides new genealogical research clues.
These are just a few examples of what you might find in the society pages; there is much more to discover. Explore the society pages in your ancestors’ hometown papers for unique details and fun finds. Search Newspapers.com™ today!