Halloween Parties a Hundred Years Ago

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

Friday, October 31, 1913: At last this old house sees a party. It was fun to see the guests arrive. There were gowned in many crazy ways. One fellow wore a skirt with hoops and looked too silly for anything. We also had a clown, a ghost, and a witch. The rest were dressed in any old way. As for the false faces, they were about as ugly as could be. There were twenty-one in all and made quite a merry company.

As it was Halloween, one of the guests caught it. Someone unhitched his buggy and carted it away, but it was found at last.

Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

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

Boo! What a fun party!

Here’s the description of a Halloween party in the October, 1913 issue of McCall’s Magazine:

The house is dark as the guests arrive. A black-robed figure silently opens the door, and mysteriously points them up the staircase, illuminated by a single Jack-o’-Lantern, to a dark room above, where they may remove their wraps. A mysterious something, swathed in a sheet, assists them. . .

As they leave the room voices have dropped to whispers and timid ones stay close together. They follow a series of pointing hands, cut out of black paper, which are indicated by the yellow splotches of candles along the dark hall.

Finally, they come to a large room, dark save for one orange light, where an icy hand takes theirs and leads them to seats. The hand is a glove filled with ice, which the hostess extends. Before the silence becomes oppressive; light appears at the far end of the room behind a sheet. Then begins a shadow pantomime. The real figures are between the light and the sheet, so that the audience sees only their shadows thrown upon the latter.

The pantomime may be anything you choose: not more than four people should be in it, and they will have no end of fun, the week beforehand, working out any scheme they devise.

Some rehearsing will be necessary to regulate the lights, as their distance from the curtain determines whether the shadows will  be large or small. The last picture must show witches with capes and high-pointed caps, singing weird incantations over a caldron. They are still there when the sheet is drawn aside and the guests rush forward, to recognize in one of them their hostess. As the lights are raised, the tension breaks and the merriment runs high.



Halloween Place Cards

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

Thursday, October 30, 1913: Everything is almost ready for the party and I am anticipating the fun we will have.

Halloween place card 2

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

I’m almost as excited as Grandma about the Halloween party she and her sister Ruth were planning.

Were there still a few final touches that needed to be completed? . . . like making place cards?

A hundred years ago, place cards were often made to ensure that just the right people sat next to each other.  The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal included several sample place cards.

Halloween place card 3

Halloween place card 1


Ice Cream Served in Orange Jack-o’-Lantern Shells

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

Wednesday, October 29, 1913: Ditto


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

Grandma and her sister Ruth were getting ready for a Halloween party they are going to host.

What foods were they planning to serve their guests?

The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal had the following suggestion:

Serve ice cream in orange  Jack-o’-lantern shells.


Hundred-Year-Old Halloween Bogeyman Craft

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

Tuesday, October 28, 1913:  Working away as usual.


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

Hmm. . . Grandma wasn’t exactly doing her usual work. She and her sister Ruth were preparing to host a Halloween party. The previous day they sent invitations to friends.

Were they making any Halloween decorations? . . . Maybe the carrot and apple head bogeyman shown in the October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

I’m a bit foggy about why the magazine caption calls the bogeyman a candle holder since I don’t seen any candles in the picture.

The magazine didn’t provide directions for making the bogeyman, and instead said that if you wanted directions for making the “novelties” shown that you should send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Entertainment Editor.

Here’s how I interpreted the picture when I made the bogeyman:

I bought some old-fashioned fat carrots (and some apples) at the farmer’s market.

I carved a jack-o-lantern face on the apple and then cut a round hole about 1-inch in diameter and 1-inch deep in the bottom of the apple.  I dipped the carved face in lemon juice so that it wouldn’t turn brown.

I peeled the carrot and cut the bottom off so that it would sit flat. I then cut away part of the top of the carrot to create narrower piece that could be inserted into the bottom of the apple.  I also cut notches on each side of the carrot for the twig arms.

I then assembled the bogeyman. The “buttons” on the front of the carrot are raisins that I attached using pins.

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 going 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)


Old Halloween Costumes

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

Saturday, October 4, 1913:  Still working for wages.

DSC06562.cropResplendent in a flowing costume of gauzy marquisette studded with stars is the “Queen of the Night.” The dress is the empire design, with a tulle ruffle at the low neck and a drapery of transparent material falling from the shoulders in the back. Paper stars may be bought in various sizes.

Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

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

Grandma was still helping with the corn harvest. As she worked,maybe she dreamed of making an awesome Halloween costume.

Here are some costumes that appeared in the July, 1912 issues of Ladies Home Journal. (The pictures showed patterns that the magazine sold—and they apparently wanted to give people plenty of time to sew the costumes.)

pink.witch.costume.1912Divested of the traditional black garments of the traditional witch, the rosy-hued costume envelopes the make-believe witch in a gown that has the power to charm that may prove irresistible. Black cats cut from black crepe paper are used to ornament a simple shirtwaist dress and a peaked cap with strips of paper or ribbon on the dress.

cowgirl.costume.1912A dashing broncho girl is picturesquely costumed and armed with a deadly weapon and cartridge belt, and holding a lariat with which to bring into submission all potential victims.


DSC06563.crop.2The brilliant colorings suggestive of the aboriginal American’s war dress are strikingly developed in the Indian girl costume. The dress is a one-piece princess design and may be made of russet-brown satin, the conventional trim being either hand-painted or developed with white and colored muslin patches.

Whew, some of these costumes (and the descriptions of them) won’t be considered appropriate today. But  some things never change–it’s interesting how the description of almost every costume indicates that the woman wearing it will be attractive or charming.

Note: I included two of these pictures in my October 31, 2012 post—but they are so good I just had to share them again this year.


100-Year-Old Halloween Costumes

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

Thursday, October 31, 1912:  And this is Halloween. What a pity it is that I’m not out having a good time, and I’ve never had that pleasure either.

Witch (Source: Ladies Home Journal, July, 1912)

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

Poor Grandma—It’s too bad that she missed all the fun. I’d be bummed, too.

Here’s what was happening in nearby Milton on Halloween, 1912:


Young Folks and Old Enjoyed Selves in Various Ways

Streets Were Filled with Merrymakers

Milton was the scene of high carnival last night. Chattering and laughing, it was a merry throng that wandered up and down the length of Broadway and Front last night for hours attired in costumes that represented every character and nation under the sun, and in some costumes that didn’t represent anything in particular. . .

Milton Evening Standard (November 1, 1912)

Recent photo of Broadway and Front Streets, Milton The street is generally very quiet now. Imagine what it was like a hundred years ago with masqueraders parading through the downtown.