#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Social

Today, many of us use social media to share details about our lives – celebrations, announcements, tragedies, or even just a good joke.

A hundred years ago, newspapers provided social media. I must admit, I never thought I’d find my relatives regularly mentioned in newspaper columns. I thought I’d find obituaries, wedding announcements, and birth announcements. I was flabbergasted to see some of the things that got printed in the paper “in the olden days.”

This tiny snippet tells that my Pap-pa, Hoyt Cook, had a dinner date with fellow teacher Homer Lambert and two young ladies. This was part of a column on happenings in the Bay Springs community in the northern part of Escambia County, Florida, published in the Sunday paper on January 24, 1932. That was nearly a year and a half before Hoyt married my Mam-ma.

Hattie and Louise Hahn were my great-grandaunts. Hattie was born in 1875, Louisa in around 1877. Somehow they both ended up in the fourth grade at the same time. I wonder if they competed to see who could get the best grades. It seems all the students in Miss Clubbs’ class did very well.

It’s definitely worth finding out where the local papers for your relatives’ communities are archived online. Several Pensacola, Florida, and Baldwin County, Alabama, papers are available at newspapers.com, so my subscription there has been well worth it. I’m fortunate that my mother has been paying for it as Christmas and birthday gifts for the past several years.

Sometimes, you may even get lucky and find a photo:

My Uncle Steve, aka Charles Hahn, was in a high school play. (Pensacola News Journal, 3 February 1957)

I feel bad for the genealogists of the future, because I don’t know what’s going to happen to the online-only ways we share community and personal events nowadays. Some people are even foregoing published obituaries in favor of online notices at the funeral home; I sure hope those will be preserved for future generations of family historians.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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4 Responses to #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Social

  1. Pat Lowe says:

    Great sleuthing to find these treasured tidbits! Did you put them on familysearch yet?

    • Taminar says:

      I haven’t put all of the newspaper articles, but I have added some to profiles. And sometimes I see something interesting on a page that’s not even about my ancestor, but it so intrigues me that I’ll find the profile or make one and add it there for another genealogist to find.
      #RabbitHole

  2. Marian Wood says:

    Even visits from out of town relatives were big news in small towns, back in the ole days!

  3. Eilene Lyon says:

    I also worry about all the lost communications due to online technology. I’ve found old newspapers to be an absolute treasure trove of family history.

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