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Cool Things - Halloween Party Invitation

Halloween invitation, 1909.While trick-or-treating is the most popular way to enjoy Halloween today, 100 years ago people celebrated the holiday at theme parties.

This handwritten invitation asks guests to attend a 1909 Halloween party in Manhattan. Parties were jolly gatherings where marshmallow toasting and games were popular activities. Hostesses served Halloween-themed refreshments, and popular decorations included carved pumpkins and corn shocks.

Halloween postcard, 1911.The Iola Daily Register described one party in 1911:

"The home of Miss Ethel Seymour was filled with guests last night when she carried out some unique and entertaining plans for a Hallowe'en gathering. Five rooms were lighted with Jack-o'lanterns and each of them was decorated to represent a witche's [sic] cave. The Hallowe'en idea was also carried out in the supper when individual pumpkin pies and other good things were eaten."

Uncle Sam Halloween costume

On the back of a 1911 postcard (center, left), Margaret May tells her sister of plans to attend two parties. Halloween postcards were very popular in the first few decades of the 20th century. These cards were not meant to be scary. Instead, they showed romantic images of Halloween symbols like witches, ghosts and pumpkins.

Halloween costumes also were part of holiday celebrations after the turn of the 20th century. Everybody dressed as ghosts for a 1911 party in Great Bend, where they shared ghost stories and told fortunes. This Uncle Sam costume (bottom, right) was worn by Henry Jackson to a masquerade party in 1898 (view back of costume).

The invitation, postcard and Uncle Sam costume are in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History.

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Entry: Cool Things - Halloween Party Invitation

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: October 2005

Date Modified: August 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.