Genealogy Research Challenge: Find These Historical New Year’s Resolutions

Introduction: In this first of a two-part article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak challenges her readers to find New Year’s resolutions of yesteryear in old newspapers. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.

As my blog articles over the years have shown, newspaper research is a key element of genealogy. For my first blog article of the New Year, I thought we could play a little game. I’ll present a historical resolution from a newspaper and you, the readers, will search to find the answers.

It will be similar to the example shown below. I’ll suggest a historical resolution like this one:

In 1935, what did actor Wallace Beery suggest would be a good resolution for his wife?

By searching through old newspapers, you can find the answer in the Seattle Daily Times:

“Wallace Beery hopes his wife resolves not to feed him anything but regulation dishes during the coming year. Wally declares he likes only plain foods, and strange concoctions from cookbooks cause rebellion in his ‘tummy’ when they are first introduced.”

A cartoon about Wallace Beery's resolution, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 29 December 1935
Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 29 December 1935, page 39

The Rules

Search only GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, to sharpen your newspaper research skills. Do not search the web or you are disqualified. Give yourself a point for each correct answer and bonus points for speed. Let us know in the comments section below how you did!

  • 2 minutes or less – 10 points
  • 4 minutes or less – 8 points
  • 6 minutes or less – 6 points
  • 8 minutes or less – 4 points
  • 10 minutes or less – 2 points
  • 11-15 minutes – 0 points
  • More than 15 minutes – subtract 2 points!

It’s Like a Treasure Hunt: Find These Resolutions:

  • 1854: Which newspaper’s resolution was: “We not only believe that we can make the best paper in New England, but we mean to do it.”
  • 1868: During the height of the anti-drinking movement, an Eastern Temperance exchange suggested that a supporter should devote as much cause to Temperance as was formerly spent on a specific type of alcohol. Which one was it?
  • 1881: A joke published this year suggested that a wife who “never fails to meet you at the door with a kiss” might be doing this for another reason. What was it?
  • 1887: Fill in the blank for this resolution by Henry George: “What the working people want is not more work, but more things with __________ __________.”
  • 1895: Journalists often joked about resolutions and what was trendy. One writer suggested that the new woman of that year might resolve to not wear patched __________.
  • 1906: The Greensboro Loan and Trust Company officers suggested in an advertisement what they considered to be a sensible resolution for the New Year. It was “Resolve to be better off at the end of next year than you are now.” What was the interest rate they paid on accounts?
  • 1909: A well-known actor, William Faversham, wrote that the one resolution for the New Year that all actors should make was to __________ __________.
  • 1921: An anonymous writer said: “A good resolution is of no use unless it’s backed by a __________ __________.”
  • 1928: William F. Thompson of the Clement-Walsh Players resolved to not work more than __________ __________ this year.”
  • 1930: What was John J. Pershing’s four-word resolution for the New Year? __________ __________ __________ __________.”

Just for fun, I’m not going to publish the answers today. Check tomorrow’s blog article to discover the correct answers!

Your Score:

Total correct (1 point each) ___________
Time Bonus or Subtraction: ___________
Total score: ___________

An article about New Year's resolutions, Plaindealer newspaper article 1 January 1943
Plaindealer (Kansas City, Kansas), 1 January 1943, page 7

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