Monday, January 24, 2011

Status updates from the past or how Grandmother beat Zuckerberg to the punch

I've just realized that my grandmother was way, way ahead of her time. Were she living today she'd be one of Facebook's biggest fans. Mark me with a little gobsmacked emoticon. She always seemed pretty Victorian to me. But no...

I was looking for articles about my grandfather for a short biographical sketch. While checking east Tennessee newspapers for baseball stories or clothing ads (found both) I found a clipping about my mother in the Kingsport News announcing her hiring as a science teacher at Rogersville High School. I knew she'd taught there briefly, always maintaining that even that brief stint had been punishment enough for the students.

Ever thorough, I decided to do a quick check to see if there were any other mentions of her. I should have known. She was, after all, from the same family that announced a 12 year old's birthday party in the local paper. Let it be clear that Mother was not sending out monthly press releases of her activities. That honor belonged to her mother, Iva Williams Sawyer.

I found this ...

And then the earth shaking news she spent Christmas at home...
Her students likely went into mourning...
I'm certain she was thrilled to have her bout with mono published...
Then there was this...

She was a jetsetter (prop setter more likely)..
And finally, this...


Mother did not return to Rogersville in the fall and vanished from the pages of the Kingsport Times & Times News. I suspect, however, were I to review the Morristown papers she was featured there on a regular basis until she escaped to Washington, DC. Anonymity must have been bliss.

I ought, I'm sure, to be proud that Iva was so forward thinking. Privacy, shmivacy - the social network reigned supreme. Move over Zuckerberg. Iva was there first.

Sources: The Kingsport Times (Kingsport, Tennessee) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
Original data: The Kingsport Times. Kingsport, TN, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper. Kingsport Times News (Kingsport, Tennessee) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Kingsport Times News. Kingsport, Tennessee, United States Of America. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.


  1. I'm smiling -- a lot. Those old newspapers always amaze me when I read what they considered to be "news". I have a post where a relative went to Cincinnati to look at the newest fashions.

  2. I'm a laughing. Your poor mother, what she had to endure, but maybe it was expected and accepted, who knows. Nice way to begin a Monday, with a post like this.

  3. I love these old newspaper snippets. I have perused hundreds of old newspaper editions from my hometown and found similar articles. My relatives may not have been famous or prosperous, but, hey, they made the news!

  4. It hasn't been that long (just a few years) since our local paper stopped publishing this kind of info. They had columns for each section of the county. My "city" friends used to read my hometown paper for laughs. They couldn't believe where someone had Sunday dinner or who went out of town shopping was in the paper.

  5. And my teenage boys think I'm an embarrasement to them! LOL!!! They would die if I posted their comings and goings in the local newspaper! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Had a good laugh. There were one or two in my extended family that were the "reporters" of their era. Frankly, I bless them as they have given me some much needed info as the the wheres and wherefore's of family at the turn of the last century.

  7. She'd be a definite Facebook junkie. :) I love those old small town newspapers that reported when someone sneezed. I just wish that more of them were available online. I have quite a few that I'm hoping will pop up pretty soon so that I can do the same thing - follow them in their day to day lives. :)

  8. Finding newspaper articles is a favorite of mine. It give such personality to our ancestors. These snippets are wonderful.
    When I searched for myself I found almost fifty articles. Now my descendants will be able to find a listing of my attendance at church youth group meetings -yawn.

  9. What a hoot! Those read very much like the smaller town newspapers that my ancestors read...

    I mean, how else were you supposed to keep up with your neighbors? It would have been rude to go looking in the windows...

  10. Loved this! Just like our home town newspaper - the Baylor County Banner - used to be. All sorts of tidbits about who visited whom. Almost as good as the party line.


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