Wait – They Said That in 1795?

It’s a phrase we hear all the time – “give us a call” – but I wasn’t expecting to see it in a Connecticut newspaper published in 1795.

An article about a dry goods store, Farmers Chronicle newspaper article 28 December 1795
Source: GenealogyBank, Farmers Chronicle (Danbury, Connecticut), 28 December 1795, page 4

“Give us a call” is a phrase we’ve heard all our lives, indicating that the hearer should call us on the phone. Today we might say “Text us,” “Ping me,” or “Keep in touch.”

Clearly in 1795 “give us a call” meant to literally call on someone, to stop by and visit. When visiting, people often brought calling cards with their name and perhaps contact information. You see advertisements by printers offering to print these early business cards with simply a person’s name on them.

An article about visiting cards, Le Whig de St Landry newspaper article 5 December 1844
Source: GenealogyBank, Le Whig de St Landry (Opelousas, Louisiana), 5 December 1844, page 3

By 1854 the “carte de visite,” with a photograph mounted on a card stock, was patented.

The more things change – the more they stay the same.

Old newspapers, such as those in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, tell us not only the stories of our ancestors’ lives, but the everyday words they spoke.

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