Facebook 1920s Style

Facebook:  It's a relatively new thing, right?  A 21st century sensation.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

When I did my Fiction Pulitzer Project (where I read as many of the winners that I could find electronically), the first book I read was by Ernest Poole (have you ever heard of him?  I hadn't!  Shame on me!).  He won the very first Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1918 (at that time the category was known as Pulitzer Prize for Novel) and his book was His Family.  The story of a widower and how he relates to his family stunned me with how relevant it was to current times. (How could life in the early 1900s have ANYTHING to do with life in the 2000s?)   Things may have changed, but they also have stayed the same.  

Case in point, Roger the main character, owns a clipping service and by the end of the novel is making more money than he thought because everyone wants their clippings.  (For those of you who are too young; when you got your name in the paper, you'd "clip" it out and save it.  There were many businesses that offered the service for papers and magazines and eventually offered recording services for radio and television.) Everyone wants to see their name in the papers.  Everyone wanted to be seen on the society page.  Maybe there wasn't any Facebook, but social media most certainly did exist.

That has become more apparent to me recently when we went through the old trunk in the basement.  Quick nutshell/background story:  Family night in town means no homework, no meetings, etc.  My son requested that we open an old trunk in the basement (we live in what used to be my maternal grandparents home) and see what treasures could be found.  We didn't get through everything (there was A LOT neatly packed up). There were photos that I took out to be scanned (some of which were more than 100 years old) and envelopes that were marked "memories and clippings."

And what you've seen above are samples of what my grandmother kept.  (And I scanned.)   
Now my grandparents were relatively "average" people.  (Or so I suspect.)  I think you might consider them to be upper middle class (back when such a thing existed), but they were by no means wealthy. The town that they lived in for most of their married life (and where my family continues to live) is a suburb of NYC, but is not all that big or well known.  Yet they managed to get into the paper. (I'm assuming this was from the "society" pages...or as we might call it "old school" social media.)

Social media has existed since...well forever.  Not just in the form of the society pages; birth announcements, engagement announcements, etc.  Maybe not everyone was getting their names and news into the worldwide or national press, but local publications were always the place to find this sort of things.  (How many of us are old enough to remember "Baby Books" where important records of your life were kept?  In addition to report cards and other documents there were always newspaper articles announcing your greatest achievements...or at least the ones that your parents deemed great!) Then in was paper, today it may be the internet or a combination of the two.  

We have ALWAYS been social animals and no matter what the method of delivery might be. And I suspect we always will be.  So go out and share this post with all your friends; and keep MY name in the social media


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