Bored with Quarantine? Fun ‘Look Up Quotes’ Game to Play

Introduction: In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak suggests a game to shake the quarantine blues: finding quotes in historical newspapers. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.

By now you’re probably bored with your quarantine routine.

I know I am!

That’s why I’m going to share some fun “look-up” activities to exit that feeling of blasé and ennui we all have from being cooped up. These ideas are fun to share with friends or to teach students from home.

Photo: Neil Armstrong on the Moon, taken by Buzz Aldrin, 20 July 1969
Photo: Neil Armstrong on the Moon, taken by Buzz Aldrin, 20 July 1969. Credit: NASA/Buzz Aldrin; Wikimedia Commons.

This game requires searching for quotes in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and saving to your folder. Pick a theme and see how many quotes your quarantine friends or family can find.

I’ve set some rules for this trivia challenge, but you are welcome to modify them as you choose.


Set the clock for 30 minutes and score 10 points per quote. If two people find the same quote, add 5 points to the person who finds the earliest example. Subtract 5 points if the quote was published posthumously (after death.)

Here are some suggested themes.


“What a wonderful change a few short years have wrought! I left Maryland a slave, I return to her a freeman!”

An article about Frederick Douglass, Evening Bulletin newspaper article 23 November 1864
Evening Bulletin (Providence, Rhode Island), 23 November 1864, page 4

First Ladies

So much attention is paid to presidential quotes, but little to their significant others. Although a little challenging to find, see how many quotes by first ladies you can find.

“There are six little Roosevelts and it costs a great deal to educate and clothe them properly.”

An article about the Roosevelts, Topeka State Journal newspaper article 21 June 1900
Topeka State Journal (Topeka, Kansas), 21 June 1900, page 4

If you like this idea, add these topics to the mix:

  • advice columnists
  • comics
  • fashion designers
  • inventors
  • pop and movie stars
  • religious leaders
  • quotes by your ancestral family members!
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Who Said This?

A variation on the theme would be to find quotes and see how fast your friends can identify who said them! Rules: Score 10 points a quote. Add a bonus of 2 points for each subsequent quote found by one of these people.

“Ah; if we could recall our hasty words, so as to take away their power to do harm, what a blessed thing it would be!”

An article about Mary Todd Lincoln, Lowell Daily Citizen and News newspaper article 24 May 1861
Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, Massachusetts), 24 May 1861, page 1

“We have too many managers and not enough leaders.” Managers manipulate numbers. Leaders know their job is to unite fellow humans for cooperative effort.

An article about Grace Hopper, Jersey Journal newspaper article 19 February 1990
Jersey Journal (Jesey City, New Jersey), 19 February 1990, page 16

Famous Headlines

Why not have fun looking up headlines, not only from the nation’s largest newspapers, but also from your hometown? That way you can read the news the way your ancestors did – and it can become a fun and educational way to teach your children who are currently studying history from home!

There are so many iconic examples, from lunar landings to scandals to wars and celebrity news. Or you could have fun looking up the headlines on the day you and your family members were born. After you’ve found your immediate family, work your way backward – as family historians do – to find headlines published on the birthday of grandparents, great grandparents, etc.

An article about Apollo 11, Evening Star newspaper article 21 July 1969
Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 21 July 1969, page 5

If you have enjoyed these activities – or have variations to share – please leave me a comment!

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