Explore the Social Life of Your Ancestors Using Old Newspapers


Are society pages and featurettes reserved only for the debutantes and social elite? Heck no! Try out the following keyword combinations that you can use when searching digitized historical newspapers to find your ancestors' social life.


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Surname + Social Keywords in Newspapers


Our ancestors may have hosted social events at their home or attended entertainments provided by others. Use the newspaper search box to key in your ancestor's surname and a few of these keywords.


[Surname] + Hostess


You can also use variations of the word "host," including hostess, hosted, hosting.


In the featured example from Leicester, England, in 1877 (available on Newspapers.com), Mrs. Bennet hosted an annual dinner at the Swan and Rushes.



[Surname] + Entertained


A variation on the theme of hosting an event is entertaining individuals. This could be a dinner or feature special entertainment, such as a musical or theatrical event.


In this article from Atlanta, Georgia, in 1914, Mrs. Boykin had a special event in honor of Mrs. Charles Matthews of Washington, D.C.


This clipping highlights a few different newspaper research tips. First, search for married women by their husband's names. Secondly, don't limit yourself to the area where you know your ancestor's lived. Explore places they might have visited as well.


[Surname] + Celebrated


Our ancestors loved to celebrate milestones and good fortune. Search for your ancestor's celebratory occasions using this keyword combination.

In this article from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1913, we can read about the birthday party for three-year-old Mary Gray Morton.




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Organization + Social Keywords in Newspapers


You won't always find your ancestor's social schedule in old newspapers by searching for their names. Try the following keyword combinations to see what genealogy golden nuggets you can find about the meetings they attended and the activities their organizations coordinated.


[Organization] + Meeting

[Organization] + Reunion

I've included links to examples found on Newspapers.com.





What Have You Found About Your Ancestor's Social Life?


This list is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can find in newspapers about your ancestor's social life. If you have found other great keywords that we should explore in newspapers, leave a comment and let me know.


More Newspaper Research Tips and Tricks


If you want to continue learning about how to use newspapers in your genealogy research, read or watch the following:

For more about newspaper keyword combinations, check out these articles:



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