top of page
  • Writer's pictureFamily History Fanatics

Explore the Social Life of Your Ancestors Using Old Newspapers

Vintage Group of Girls Walking Down Busy Street

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.

VIDEO: Searching for your Ancestor's Social Life in Newspapers

Watch this video.

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, Mrs. Bennet hosted an annual dinner at the Swan and Rushes.

Mrs. Bennet from Leicester, England hosted a dinner in 1877

[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.

Newspaper clipping for a B M Boykin entertaining in 1914

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.

Newspaper clipping for a birthday party in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1913

↪️ Are you looking for more genealogy resources?

Grab your copy of this FREE Genealogy Research Guide:

Fingers typing on keyboard with title 10 Online Genealogy Resources You Have to Try

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

Newspaper clips with title Society News for Your Ancestors

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:

Note: To leave a comment, you will be asked to sign in with your Facebook or Google Account. This action will help reduce spam comments on our site. I hope you'll understand.

bottom of page