New Year’s Calling Cards

An important part of the bygone custom of paying New Year’s calls was the presentation of an appropriate calling or visiting card by the caller to the hostess. Inscribed with the caller’s name and perhaps an accompanying message or greeting, the cards varied in style from season to season. The Lincoln Daily Call of December 19, 1890, noted that a young man “who a week ago was confronted with perplexity over choices of a Christmas present for his lady friend is fretted over what kind of a card he shall have prepared for his round of New Year’s calls.”

The Call went on to inform its young male readers of the appropriate style for that year: “Now as to cards. The most correct form for New Year’s calls, as for all others, . . . has been the simplest. Perfectly plain white cardboard bearing the name in perfectly plain copperplate script is what a gentleman is expected to present.

“For New Year’s, of course, the sizes of the cards and the arrangement of the names-for it is permissible to place the names of a party of callers on a single card-vary from the orthodox forms, but the rule of severe plainness in card and lettering always holds good. If the caller is going by his lonely self, his card should be of the size known to the stationers as ‘No. 10.’-that is, about l_x3 inches. It should bear his name with the prefix ‘Mr.’ in rather heavy-faced but absolutely flourishless letters. It will interest the thrifty to know that 200 of these cards, together with a copper plate from which they were printed, will cost $2.50. But most men will want a sentiment of some kind on their cards. Nine in ten will want ‘A Happy New Year,’ and it is permissible to arrange such words on the card in any manner to suit the individual, even to arching them over the name.

“For parties of callers, the arrangement of names is left by the stationer to the taste of the party members. The cards, of course, are larger, but the pure white and simple script are inevitable. One card for a party of five, which was shown a Call young man, had a name in each corner, one in the center, while the compliments of the season appeared in two lines underneath the lower names.

“‘We are trying our best to cast out the stereotyped phrase,’ said a stationer. ‘I always advise my patrons who have plates made to substitute, “The compliments of 1891,” or something that is not quite so threadbare. I do not find the demand for New Year’s cards very active this year, but the most of it is yet to come. Men generally leave that kind of thing until the last moment and then rush in by the dozen, just like they did before Christmas.'”

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.