Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Back-to-School Sales

Back-to-school shoes (left) and
material to make clothing (above)

Digitized newspapers are a wonderful genealogical resource, and not just for the birth, marriage, and death information they provide. Of course, they carry the local, national, and international news of the day that can contextualize our ancestors' lives, giving us a taste for what they might have talked about it, or what they might have personally experienced. But there's a bonus.

The place to buy your student's books, papers,
pens, pencils, protractor, ruler, etc.
What to pack for lunch? Some potted meat...
Whenever I am researching in online newspapers, my attention is often diverted by the ads. Newspaper advertisements might not provide the life facts or the news that engaged my ancestors, but they enable me to imagine something of their everyday lives--where they shopped, what they ate, the latest clothing styles, the newest "stuff". Ads provide us (literally) with illustrations of ordinary people going about ordinary, daily doings. The Armour's food ad is an example: There's Grandma or Great Aunt Delilah looking for ways to feed her family within a budget. In the absence of actual photographs, or solid facts about how our ancestors negotiated the ups and downs of daily life, illustrated ads can help us imagine their lives. Also, using advertisements as illustrations is a charming way to enliven a family history.
Since it's back-to-school time, I looked for ads that might have interested a mother of school-age children one hundred years ago. These ads appeared in August and September editions of the 1919 Zanesville Times Recorder.
...On fresh bread...
...And a nice "vacuum flask" of milk.

A labor-saving device for Mom so the kids have clean school clothes every week

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