Idea for Family Reunion Fun: Old Time Guessing Games

Introduction: In this article – to prepare for the summer family reunion season – Mary Harrell-Sesniak presents ideas for family fun with old-time guessing games. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.

With the summer family reunion season fast approaching, many of our readers are scouring the Web for ideas. My article The 30 Best Family Reunion Games, Activities, & Ideas, posted five years ago, still gets feedback – but I’d like to suggest some new ideas. How about looking up jokes, tips and other items in old newspapers and having your family guess the answers?

Photo: Pershing family reunion, Idlewild Park, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 8 September 1923
Photo: Pershing family reunion, Idlewild Park, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 8 September 1923. Credit: Eli R. Pershing; Library of Congress.

How to Find Jokes

If you search for the term “jokes” in an online newspaper collection, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, you’ll get many results. Keep an eye out for regularly-appearing jokes columns, then search for that column by name. One that I like was called “Daffydils.” It appeared in many papers from long ago.

Here’s an example of a “Daffydils” column from 1911. I’ve blocked out the responses in red – can you guess what they are? (Answers below.)

An article about jokes, El Paso Herald-Post newspaper article 14 June 1911
El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas), 14 June 1911, page 2

Answers: Sardine can; baseball (base bawl); carfare; Leavenworth; Idaho.

Tip: I save the newspaper articles and, using a graphics program such as Paint, I cover the punch lines. If you want an easier method, print the jokes, cross out the answers and copy new pages for the family reunion!

Household Tips

In another newspaper, I found some long-ago forgotten household tips. I wonder how many of you can guess the answers without looking? (Answers below.)

In 1889, what was the recommendation to mend cracks in the stove? By mixing water with: 1) old bread; 2) ashes and salt; or 3) dirt and coal?

What was the recommendation of where to place scorched garments to remove the stain? By placing the garment where the: 1) sun can shine on it; 2) rain will soak it; or 3) family dog can lick it clean.

An article about household tips, Opelousas Journal newspaper article 9 March 1889
Opelousas Journal (Opelousas, Louisiana), 9 March 1889, page 3

Answers: 2; 1.


Some of my blog articles have fun quizzes that will work well at your family get-together. Go to the GenealogyBank blog and search for “Quiz Sesniak.” Please make sure to tell your attendees the quizzes came from my articles at GenealogyBank – and let me know if they helped with your reunion.

Here are a few of the quizzes I’ve written in the past.

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