A Century Ago Today…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

World War I, also known as The Great War, raged through Europe from 1914 to 1918, ending in November of 1918.  Thus, at the start of 1918, newspapers like the Middletown Transcript of January 5, 1918 reported on the war, peace proposals, government takeover of the railroads, shipbuilding, income taxes to support the war effort, and conservation and rationing of food and supplies.  Those were the main headlines, but some of the smaller articles reported on things such as a prisoner exchange between Germany and France, a munition train that blew up, an American pilot stationed in France who was shot down behind German lines, and other, more local and personal stories of the war.  Stories like these – and others in this particular issue – cover not only stories from the front lines, but also give a glimpse into the daily life and support from the home front.

Find out more by searching Chronicling America and searching Delaware papers, 1914-1918.

 

Christmas Legends According to 1897 Delaware

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

Merry Christmas from the DDNP!

The Delaware Gazette and State Journal on December 23, 1897 provides a comprehensive overview of Christmas lore.  One particular article describes not only the Christian origins of Christmas, but also how Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus) came to be.  It describes traditional Christmas dinners for the late 19th century, which consisted of pheasant and boar’s head stuffed with an orange and explains how the pheasant was eventually replaced with the goose, a precursor to the current American turkey tradition. As for decorations, the article describes the “heathenish” origins of mistletoe and yule logs and how they came to be Christianized.

Christmas has deep roots as a time for generosity. As described in this same article, kings, squires, and peasants sat down together to feast. As seen in the image above, clothing was also a reason for the season. This particular white gown is described as “extremely fashionable this season” as well as “graceful and smart.”

Traditions, food, friends, family, and fashion are still important part of life for Delawareans today.

Enjoy reading the over 10K pages about historic Delaware Christmas traditions on Chronicling America!

 

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

In the same way Halloween parties were a popular social event at the end of October, Christmas dances and Christmas balls were popular throughout December in late 19th century Delaware. The Middletown Transcript of December 30, 1893 describes a ball held at the Middletown Opera House, where 125 dancers attended.  The article further describes the dresses worn by attendees down to the material of the dresses worn by the women.  The event had live music performed by the Albert’s Orchestra of Wilmington.

The December 30, 1900 edition of The Sun also mentions two holiday social dance events.  One was in Newark at Caskey Hall, and the other was a masquerade ball in Odd Fellow’s Hall in Hockessin.  Both events are described as being well-attended.

Other references to seasonal dances include the first grand annual ball of the Fame Active Association at Webster’s Dancing Academy in the December 22, 1876 edition of The Morning Herald, which continued until at least 1890 when it was mentioned in the January 1, 1891 edition of the Delaware Gazette and State Journal.

For more information about historic Delaware Christmas traditions and celebrations, search Chronicling America:

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

 

Christmas Stories of Historic DE

 by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

Season’s Greetings!

Christmas stories seem to have generated a genre of their own.  Before the internet and mass market paperback publishing, there was publishing in newspapers. The Wilmingtonian issue of December 24th, 1887 is one such example.  This particular issue contains several short stories, both fictional and anecdotal, either depicting a Christmas miracle or relating a tale of the comparatively recently-ended Civil War.

This trend continued throughout the years, and in other papers, as evidenced by the Middletown Transcript of December 23, 1922, which includes a story about a young lady named Regina attempts to acquire a Christmas tree from a supposedly abandoned lot after the tree she had ordered failed to arrive in time for Christmas Eve.  A gentleman named David stops her, says the lot is his, and they find they both have a need to provide a Christmas tree for their young charges…

Find more Christmas stories from historic Delaware newspapers by searching “Christmas” on Chronicling America:
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?state=Delaware

Happy DDNP Thanksgiving!

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Middletown Transcript, November 25, 1922 depicts an early twentieth-century concept of Thanksgiving. Pumpkins, baskets, corn, and cold-weather references all hold true for our more modern celebration of this holiday.

Likewise, the Delaware City Press, November 21, 1913 has similar scenes of harvest, including the main course at most Thanksgiving feasts even today: turkey!

These historic Delaware newspapers do not only tell the story of the first Thanksgiving. Many of the local gossip or personal columns detail which families are traveling to spend Thanksgiving with distant relatives and which families are hosting distant relatives for Thanksgiving here in Delaware. Thanksgiving was a well-traveled holiday a century ago just as it is today!

 

To search more Delaware newspapers for Thanksgiving stories, visit the Chronicling America database.

Historical Armistice Day

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

Armistice Day, November 11th, was originally intended to celebrate the end of the War to End All Wars, known currently as World War I, while honoring the veterans of that war.

The first such celebration in Newark, Delaware, unfortunately, was a bit of a wash. Literally. According to The Newark Post of November 12, 1919, the weather did not cooperate and the rain forced the organizers to cancel the parade scheduled for that day, hinting that it would be rescheduled.

Most Americans today will recognize November 11th as Veteran’s Day. However, it wasn’t until 1954 that Armistice Day was changed to “Veteran’s Day” by President Eisenhower. This decision came in aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, with the intention of honoring all veterans. Nevertheless, The Middletown Transcript of November 18, 1922 shows that living veterans of any war participated in the day’s events long before the change was made.

External source: US Department of Veterans Affairs

Fall Back Controversy

Have you felt a bit differently for the past two days? 

Most Americans, with the exception of a handful of states and territories, turned their clocks back one hour Sunday morning, November 5, 2017. Although we awaken to a brighter morning, this time of year takes one hour of daylight away from our already shortening evenings. Some people like the extra hour of sleep in the mornings while others grumble about the inconvenience of an earlier sunset during this annual disruption.

Daylight savings time (DST) dates back to 1918, and the disagreement about its usefulness is not a new topic of discussion in Delaware. In one article from the Newark Post from June 7, 1922, New Castle County residents claimed DST was a great disservice to farmers and “detrimental to the health and happiness of children.” Nevertheless, DST continues in Delaware to this day, and the grumblings continue.

For more stories on historical stories of the beginnings of DST, visit Chronicling America.

Women’s Suffrage – 1914

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

The Newark Post, on November 11, 1914 contained an editorial, detailing the positive political and social results of allowing women to vote. Among the improvements were an increase in the age at which children could legally work, reducing gambling, expanding pension programs, and so on. As shown in the snippet of an article here, women voters, and thus women active in politics, may have started many of the labor benefits we enjoy today.

The article also mentions the struggle for suffrage and equality in other states, such as California, decrying equality a “menace” and Ohio claiming that only ten percent of women wanted the right to vote, when the statistics presented showed a much higher, majority of women wanting the right to make their voices heard in politics.

Read more about the history of women’s suffrage in newspapers from across the country in Chronicling America.

Halloween Parties!

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The tradition of holding and attending Halloween parties is one that goes back at least a century. The Middletown Transcript, one of the papers from Delaware that has been digitized as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project and can be found and searched on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site, reports regularly on the more popular parties, which included dancing, bobbing for apples, and costume contests where people were so well disguised that fellow townspeople could not recognize their neighbors until they unmasked themselves.

There was also a plethora of creative costumes depicting more abstract concepts. Examples can be seen in this article from The Middletown Transcript, November 10, 1910, page 3.

The same issue of The Middletown Transcript mentions several other parties. One social had a theme of witches, where guests arrived to a decorated house, directed to “go up,” and were greeted by people costumed as witches who then told “fortunes,” and held drawing contests.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs or drawings of these events, even in articles in the early 1900s. Nevertheless, the journalists reporting on these social events seem to provide detailed descriptions of the attendees, their costumes, and the decorations. It is rather impressive how many Halloween traditions have continued for over a century, if not longer.

Happy Microfilm Day!

We just received our batch of microfilm for our 2017/2019 grant cycle — 84 reels of Evening Journal (1888-1922).

The next cycle begins…

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The Delaware Digital Newspaper Project (DDNP) is funded through a major grant provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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