by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff
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.