A New Leaf for the New Year

 The young woman in John Nelson’s photograph seems about to turn a page, a figure of speech signifying a new start at the beginning of a new year. NSHS RG3542.PH:067-01

The young woman in John Nelson’s photograph seems about to turn a page, a figure of speech signifying a new start at the beginning of a new year. NSHS RG3542.PH:067-01

An old stack of discarded reporters’ assignment books provided the Omaha Daily Bee with the topic for a New Year’s Day column in 1900. An assignment book was once used by city editors to indicate which reporters were to cover specific events. Browsing through assignment books from past years, said the Bee, “is like reading history. Brief though the mention may be, therein is recorded all of the principal happenings that have occurred in Omaha and suburbs for a quarter of a century.” A voluminous mass of minor happenings were recorded as well.  

The Bee further noted the habit of many city editors to write on the last page of the assignment book at the end of the year: “‘Everybody turn over a new leaf,’ or something similar, and the same often is found on the first page of the new year book.” Read more excerpts from the Bee’s article in a Timeline column on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. 

Learn about another New Year’s custom, that of paying calls to friends and associates, from Omahans Joseph Barker and Clement Chase on the NSHS website. Barker described his New Year’s Day activities in an 1869 letter to his parents in England, while Chase recalled the custom in the pages of the Omaha Excelsior in 1916. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications

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