Hundred-Year-Old Halloween Party Invitiations

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, October 27, 1913:  At last and for the first time Ruth is going to pay back some of the entertaining she owes. She is going to give a Halloween Masquerade party. I suggested it over a month ago. I almost gave the thing up last week, but now the invitations are out and I’m fixing things up to beat the kill.


“Invitations written on post cards decorated with button-face freaks Iike those shown will be unique.”

Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What fun! Grandma and her sister Ruth were doing to have a Halloween party.

The October, 1913 issue of both Ladies Home Journal and McCall’s Magazine included directions for Halloween parties.  As Grandma and Ruth prepare for their party over the next few days, I’ll share what the magazines said.

Today, I’m sharing the instructions for making invitations. The direction in Ladies Home Journal are above. Here are the directions in McCalls:

Buy a ten-cent package of black-witch silhouettes, or cut them out yourself, and paste it in the lower corner of the invitation.  Across the top write the following:

Attend, attend, attend:

Lend an ear!

The witches are back,

They’re all come here!

They buried them deep,

But they won’t be still

On All Saints’ Eve,

When the winds blow chill.

They’ll meet you here.

At the hour of eight

Come, see queer things

And learn your fate.

On the reverse side of the card the address is written.

Incidentally, the poem from which the above verses are parodies is entitled “The Broomstick Train” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

McCall’s Magazine (October, 1913)


26 Responses

  1. I am really finding all the Halloween posts intriguing and especially this one with its 100 year memories. Halloween, trick and treating, at least is new in the U.K. In my girlhood hardly ever mentioned, so I am learning lots of new things!

  2. Sounds like it’s going to be an exciting party!

  3. I am glad grandma had something she is looking forward to.

  4. Hi. Thanks for the reference to ‘The Broomstick Train’. I am going to go and find that poem! I wonder if Helena will describe her costume??? Jane

  5. Wouldn’t it be fun to duplicate their party from 100 years ago – today?

  6. oooooh – I hope Helena shares about this party! What she wore, who went, etc…

  7. Very cool! We ladies just love our magazines or Pinterest!

  8. “I’m fixing things up to beat the kill”…..I’ve never heard that one before :D I wonder what she’ll wear? The pumpkin faces on that vintage card are absolutely maniacal, eeeeek.

    • The phrase sounds unusual to me–but I feel like I’ve heard it before somewhere in my past. Maybe it is an old Pennsylvania Dutch phrase.

  9. We do not celebrate Halloween over here in Australia and I always love hearing about the stories from over there. I look forward to hear about what actually transpires.

    • Interesting. . . Until I read your comment and another comment from someone in the U.K., I hadn’t realized that Halloween isn’t celebrated in many areas of the world.

  10. A party?! Oh, boy! Hope they all have fun and that Helena tells us about it!

  11. Because you brighten my day I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award.
    Thanks for making the world a brighter place!

  12. “Fixing things up to beat the kill” – now there’s an expression I’ve never heard before!

  13. Love your blog! What a great idea!

  14. “To beat the kill?” Doesn’t come up in any search. Obviously it means “with speed:… Could it be a hunting metaphor? Running faster than the prey? Both “beat” and “kill” have hunting definitions in my 1913 dictionary, as in beating the bushes to rouse game, and the kill being the animal being chased with the intention of killing. I’ve heard “to beat the devil” and “to beat the band,” Both meaning, to outdo the usual in speed and energy.

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