8 Things You Can Find Out About Your Ancestors in the Local Newspaper’s Society Pages

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Even though you might not think of your ancestors as “society page” types, the newspaper society pages didn’t just cover the “muckety mucks.”

Parties, engagements, trips to resorts in the summer – all were covered in the Society pages. Who was a guest at whose home, and who traveled to see whom. And many more interesting stories.

How about who won the latest bridge tournament, or who won the blue ribbon at the county fair?

You would be amazed at all the things that were covered and what these articles can do for filling in your family tree and learning about your ancestors life stories. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Did your ancestors get married? Then maybe, just maybe there was an article in the paper. Maybe a photo of the bride and groom, or just the bride? And there were the names of the best man and the maid of honor and all the attendants, and the names of the brides parents, as well as the grooms. Lots of names and maybe a mention of a brother or sister that you didn’t know about!

  • Did your ancestors get engaged? Well, an article in the paper might include a party in their honor at the home of the bride’s parents. Now you know their address, or even the parents names if you didn’t know them before. Maybe the name of the groom’s parents that you didn’t know before either.

  • How about games? I have an ancestor that was written up in the paper so much about his bridge playing results that it appeared that he didn’t have a job!

  • In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it was commonplace in some locations to list all the resorts that folks traveled to – in order to beat the heat since there was no air conditioning. And my ancestors weren’t rich but some of them got out of town for a bit in the summertime. And their names were in the listing of all the people who attended the cooler resort areas. And who they traveled with – a previously unknown ancestor’s relative perhaps?

  • Did your ancestors attend parties? Sure they did. And there are tons of articles about many different kinds of parties and luncheons; and celebrations of all types of special occasions, including 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries. A clue to their wedding date?

  • Did your ancestors visit relatives and friends? Yep – they did. And the papers wrote about it – in the Society section. And guess what – sometimes the relationships between the guest and the host and hostess were mentioned. Another way to determine who was related to who. And very often, out-of-town visitors were mentioned (and maybe noting the town that they came from)!

  • What about church (or synagogue)? Did they attend?  Churches were huge gathering places for your ancestors and there were all kinds of community activities and “do good” committees that were associated with the church. And your ancestors were part of them. You can look it up – in the Society page.

  • How about the county or state fair? Did your ancestor enter their prize winning blueberry pie? Or how about one of my ancestors submissions – what he called his “tropical sauce”? Wonder what was in that?

Yes – there is a massive amount of information to be reaped from the Society page. Sometimes they were called the Women’s page as well – but they all include a ton of information about our ancestors’ exploits – all which help us fill in the life stories of our ancestors – and maybe even give us a date or a name that we are looking for.

Yes – you can look it up………. in the Society page. They are in old newspapers everywhere!

What interesting tidbit have you found about your ancestors in the Society page? Please let us know in the comments below.

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3 Comments

  1. Things found in the society pages: Who attended my grandmother’s 6th birthday party – a list of cousins and a couple of friends. “Luncheon was served the little guests and many games were enjoyed by all.”

  2. Trying to determine the familial (or other) relationships between guests, hosts, attendees at various functions is one of my very favorite things to “excavate” local news for. And love it when you find “out of town” family who comes a-visitin’ – then you know know what state, region or where in the world to go looking for more family next!

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