Friday, July 1, 2016

Victorian America's Sense of Humor

I enjoy researching every detail of Victorian American life--and not only for accuracy in the fiction I write. I find myself fascinated by the history itself. One tidbit brought to my attention of late in newspapers all over the United States is the inclusion of short humorous jokes or puns, sometimes known as quips.

I'll share a few, referencing the newspaper's name and date published. All newspaper clippings are courtesy of (a subscription service). 


The Wilkes-Barre News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1902. (Technically 1 year too late to be considered truly Victorian; Queen Victoria died in January, 1901.)

The Kansas City Gazette on March 11, 1894.

Because the following quip is just too darling to miss, and because the scanned image is difficult to read, I'll provide a transcription:
A young man wrote to a girl: "Your loveliness has inspired me to ask you to become my wife." She read it "loneliness," and got so everlastingly mad that she refused him by return mail.
Las Cruces Sun-News of Las Cruces, New Mexico, on March 31, 1893.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on April 21, 1857.

Salt Lake City Tribune of Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 15, 1891.

The following quip listing mocks sentences poorly formed, thus humorous simply for their structure.
Kearney Daily Hub of Kearney, Nebraska on May 28, 1892.

San Francisco Chronicle of San Francisco, California, on December 29, 1888.   
I hope you enjoyed this selection of quips from Victorian American newspapers from California to Pennsylvania, New Mexico to Nebraska. I hope this sampling of humor from days gone by underscores that some things--our enjoyment of a pun, for example--never change.


Hi! I'm Kristin Holt.
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down to mid to lower) about the nineteenth century American west–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Americana Sweethearts (first Friday of each month) and Romancing the Genres (third Tuesday of each Month).

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.


  1. I loved these articles!! Especially the misarrangements.

    1. Thanks, Kathryn--
      I found the disarrangements particularly amusing too. Thanks for reading!

  2. These are always some of my favorite reads when I'm researching people and events from history. Thanks for the fun reads. Angela/Doris