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Since the mid-19th century, Halloween has been a beloved and anticipated calendar date for millions of Americans.

However, what is most loved about the holiday has changed drastically over the decades, even just in Lancaster County.

With the help of Newspapers.com, we dug up Halloween costumes, ads and other spooky ephemera dating back to 1897 to showcase the evolution of All Hallow's Eve.

(Local archives dating to 1796 on Newspapers.com are included in a subscription to LancasterOnline. Click here for more information on how to subscribe.)


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1897

Though a scant few mentions of Halloween appear before this particular listing, this excerpt from 1897 focuses heavily on the amount of pranks played on unsuspecting townsfolk. The European traditions of throwing cabbage and corn at doors was still very much alive, as was the timeless custom of ding dong ditching.


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1909

One of the Halloween traditions that didn't quite make it to the present day was the veritable possum feast. It's difficult to say if it was much of a Halloween "tradition" at all, though it was much generally a more common feast all year 'round in the 18th and 19th centuries.


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1949

While Halloween parties were given many inches of space in newspapers past, most of the mentions were simply that a party happened and specific people attended. As pictures became more commonplace in the newspaper, we're given a glimpse of how those parties looked. In this photo from 1949, teenagers set up a creepy looking spider prior to a YWCA Halloween party.


As with all newspaper promotions, seasonal or otherwise, Halloween advertisements have closely mirrored the evolution of the paper itself. What begins with crude text and cartoons gradually blossoms into glossy photographs and less overall text. It's clear also that, as pop culture figures from movies and television have taken up more space in the collective conscious of the country, costumes like Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker have just as much saying power as, say, "Wooden Soldier" or "Carnival Girl," as an ad from 1925 offers.


Of course, as much as things change, some traditions are hard to break - as evidenced by pictures in the gallery above showcasing children in pumpkin costumes in both 1957 and 1987.

Have other Halloween memories or photos? Share them in the comments below.

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