=253. What Society News Is

The society editor's work concerns itself

with the social and personal news of the city and county in which the

paper is published or from which it draws its patronage. It is almost

entirely local, news of the state or of other cities being of value only

in so far as it affects women and men of one's own town through former

exchanges of courtesy or hospitality, or for similar causes. Nor does it

concern itself with the unconventional, the abnormal. Elopements,

clandestine marriages, unusual engagements, freakish parties, and

similar extraordinary social and personal news do not come within the

sphere of the society editor, but take regular, and usually prominent,

places in the news columns.

=254. Difficulty

The society editor's work is with the conventional

in the local fashionable world, and for this reason probably no other

kind of news demands so consistent care, discrimination, and habitual

restraint. She--the society editor is practically always a woman--must

recognize readily relative social distinctions, to know what names and

functions to feature in her column or section, and to be able to present

the details of those functions acceptably to the various social groups

about which and for which she is writing. The latter requisite in

particular is difficult. For in attempting to give appreciative accounts

of weddings, dances, receptions, she is liable to overstep the narrow

limits of conventional usage and make herself ridiculous by extravagance

of statement; or else, in trying to avoid unnecessary display of

enthusiasm, she is led into use of trite, colorless words and stock

phrases. She must by all means take care not to say that "the handsome

groom wearing the conventional black and the lovely bride arrayed in a

charming creation of white satin consummated their sacred nuptial vows

amid banks of fragrant lilies and beautiful, blushing roses to the

melodious strains of Mendelssohn's entrancing wedding march."

The following stories of engagements, weddings,

dinners, dances, receptions, club meetings, and charity benefits have

been selected at random to show the accepted methods of handling society

write-ups. At the end are added a few personal items--personals, they

are generally termed--and a single "society review." The restraint and

dignity of tone of the stories are worth close study.


Mr. and Mrs. George A. Stewart, of 311 North

Parkside Avenue, announce the engagement of their

daughter, Gladys, to Charles M. Sailor, a son of Mr.

and Mrs. Samuel Sailor, of 25 South Central


The first debutante of the season to become engaged

is Miss Bessie Allen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs.

George Osborne Allen, whose engagement to Harry O.

Best was announced Saturday. Mr. Best is a son of

Mr. and Mrs. George R. Best, of 131 East

Fifty-fourth street. He was graduated from Harvard

in 1913 and is a member of the Knickerbocker Club of

this city, and also of the Balustrol Golf Club. He

is a member of the firm of Best and Flom, 136 Walker

Street. Mr. Best is the third in direct line to bear

his name, being a grandson of the late George R.

Best, one of the most noted architects of this city.

The wedding will take place in the spring.


In the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Tuesday

afternoon at 3:30 will be celebrated the wedding of

Miss Doris Ryer, daughter of Mrs. Fletcher Ryer of

San Francisco, Cal., to Stanhope Wood Nixon, son of

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Nixon. The wedding ceremony will

be witnessed by a large number of relatives and

friends from California and several of the principal

Eastern cities where the families of both the bride

and her fiance are prominent.

Gov. Charles S. Whitman is to act as Miss Ryer's

sponsor and will give her away. Miss Phyllis de

Young, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael H. de Young

of San Francisco, will be the maid of honor and the

bridesmaids will be the Misses Pauline Disston of

Philadelphia, Ray Slater of Boston, Mary Moreland of

Pittsburg, Elizabeth Sands of Newport, Frances Moore

of Washington, and Helen Flake of this city.

Walbridge S. Taft will be the best man. The ushers

will be Henry S. Ladew, Patrick Calhoun, Henry

Rogers Benjamin, Ammi Wright Lancashire, Esmond P.

O'Brien and Hugh D. Cotton.

Following the wedding ceremony there will be a

reception in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton. The

engagement of Miss Ryer and Mr. Nixon was announced

last autumn. The bride-to-be has passed the greater

part of the last two winters in New York with her

mother and during the summer season has been

identified with the colony in Newport, R. I.[38]

[38] New York Sun, January 21, 1917.


Miss Celia Cravis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Myer

Cravis, of 1817 North Thirty-second Street, became

the bride of Harry Cassman, of Atlantic City,

Thursday. The ceremony was performed at 6:30 o'clock

in the evening in the green room of the Adelphi

Hotel by the Rev. Marvin Nathan, assisted by the

Rev. Armin Rosenberg.

The father of the bride gave her in marriage. Her

gown of white satin was given a frosted effect by

crystal bead embroidery and was made with court

train. Her tulle veil was held by a bandeau of

lilies of the valley. A white prayer book was

carried and also a bouquet of orchids, gardenias and

lilies of the valley.

The maid of honor was Miss Katherine Abrahams,

wearing blue satin trimmed with silver. She carried

a double shower bouquet of tea roses and lilies of

the valley, and a yellow ostrich feather fan, the

gift of the bride.

The bridesmaids, Miss Estelle Freeman, Miss Tillie

Greenhouse, Miss Estelle Sacks and Miss Leonore

Printz, were dressed in frocks of different pastel

shades, ranging white, pink, blue and violet. Each

carried a basket of roses and a pink feather fan.

Miss Madeline Cravis and Miss Sylvia Gravan, the

flower girls, wore pink and carried baskets of pink


Herbert W. Salus acted as best man. The ushers were

Lewis E. Stern and Walter Hanstein, of Atlantic

City; I. S. Cravis and Henry Gotlieb.

A reception for about 250 guests followed the

ceremony. After a tour of the South, Mr. and Mrs.

Cassman will be at 217 South Seaside Avenue,

Atlantic City.[39]

[39] Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 17, 1916.


Miss Alice Williams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward

T. Williams, was presented to society yesterday

afternoon at a tea in the home of her parents, 1901

Eighteenth Street. Miss Williams was born in

Shanghai, China, during her father's connection with

the United States legation there, and she has lived

most of her life in the Orient. Mr. Williams was

charge d'affaires of the United States at the time

of the recognition of the new Chinese republic. At

the time of the outbreak of the war in Europe Miss

Williams was a student in Paris. Mr. Williams is now

the head of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs in the

State Department.

Mrs. Williams presented her daughter, with no

assistants save three of her daughter's young

friends, Miss Helen Miller, Miss Virginia Puller and

Miss Ethel Christiensen, who presided in the dining

room. The drawing room and dining room were both

transformed into bowers of blossoms, sent to the

debutante, which were charmingly arranged. Mrs.

Miller wore a graceful gown of black net and lace

over black satin. The debutante wore a becoming

costume of rose silk and silver trimming and carried

sweet peas a portion of the afternoon, and the bunch

of roses sent by Mrs. Lansing, wife of the Secretary

of State, the rest of the time. Miss Miller and Miss

Christiensen were each in white net and tulle and

Miss Puller wore blue and white.[40]

[40] Washington Post, November 26, 1916.

Mrs. Fred Enderly, who has recently returned after a

long absence in the East, was specially honored with

a Halloween birthday dinner given by Mrs. Lottie

Logan, of No. 1532 Ingraham Street Tuesday evening.

The table was in yellow, with a floral center of

chrysanthemums and favors of black cats, diminutive

pumpkin people and other suggestive Halloween

conceits. The guests were whisked up to the

dressing-rooms by a witch, and Mrs. George H.

Rector, attired in somber soothsayer's robes, told

fortunes. Place-cards were written for Mr. and Mrs.

Enderly, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Hart, Mr. and Mrs.

George Rector, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Henderson, Mr. and

Mrs. George McDaniel, Mrs. Fred Detmer, Miss

Wilhelmina Rector, Miss Talcot, Messrs. Mark Ellis,

Jack Bushnell, L. D. Maescher and O. H. Logan.[41]

[41] Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1916.


Mr. and Mrs. Henry V. Black of Broadway, Irvington,

gave a reception this afternoon for their debutante

daughter, Miss Latjerome Black. Receiving with Mrs.

Black were Mrs. P. F. Llewellyn Chambers, Mrs.

Frederick Sayles, Mrs. Charles Coombs, Mrs. Benjamin

Prince, Mrs. Theodosia Bailey, Mrs. Charles Hope,

Miss Caramai Carroll, Miss Dorothy Brown, Mrs.

Robert C. Black and Miss Dorothy Black. Receiving

with Miss Black were the Misses Marion Townsend,

Helen Sayles, Dorothy Clifford, Marion Becker, Helen

Geer, and Genevieve Clendenin. Miss Black wore a

dress of white silk embroidery and pink roses. The

decorations were of autumn leaves and


Among the guests were Dr. and Mrs. Albert Shaw, Mrs.

Edwin Gould, Mrs. Howard Carroll, Mrs. Finley J.

Shepard, Miss Anne Depew Paulding, Mrs. William

Carter, Miss Millette, Mrs. John Luke, Mrs. Adam

Luke, Mrs. H. D. Eastabrook, Mrs. John D. Archbold,

Mrs. Henry Graves, and Dr. and Mrs. D. Russell.[42]

[42] New York Sun, September 24, 1915.


Elaboration of detail marked the oriental ball given

by the Sierra Madre Club at its rooms in the

Investment Building last evening. More than 400

members and guests attended in garb of the Far

East--costumes whose values ran far into the

hundreds. The club rooms were draped in a

bewildering manner with tapestry of the Celestial

Empire and the land of Nippon, and the rugs of

Turkey and Arabia.

It was a most colorful event--sultans robed in many

colors with bejeweled turbans; Chinese mandarins in

long flowing coats; bearded Moors, who danced with

Geisha girls of Japan, gowned in multi-colored

silken kimonos; petite China maids in silken

pantaloons and bobtailed jackets; Salome dancers of

the East, in baggy bloomers and jeweled corsages,

and harem houris in dazzling draperies.

Preceding the dancing, a remarkable dinner,

featuring the choicest foods of the Orient, was

served by attendants wearing the dress of Chinese

coolies. The rare old syrups of the Orient were

enjoyed by the diners, while the fragrant odor of

burning incense lent an air of subtle mysticism.

Among the 400 guests present were:[43]

[43] Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1917.


At this week's meeting of the New England Women's

Press Association, Miss Helen M. Winslow, chairman

of the programme committee, presented Joseph Edgar

Chamberlin of The Transcript, who spoke on "The

Work of Women in Journalism." Mr. Chamberlin gave

many personal reminiscences of women writers whom he

had known in his connection with various

publications. He expressed regret that women are not

doing more in editorial work, as in the earlier

years of their entrance into the newspaper field,

and the belief that it would be of advantage to

journalism and to the public if they gave more

attention to writing of this character rather than

that directed almost exclusively for women's

departments and others of superficial value. Mr.

Chamberlin paid especial compliment to the work of

Margaret Buchanan Sullivan, Jeannette Gilder, Jennie

June Croly and Kate Field. Mr. Chamberlin spoke in

high praise of Miss Cornelia M. Walter (afterward

Mrs. W. B. Richards) who was editor-in-chief and had

full charge of The Transcript from 1842 to 1847.

The executive board voted to co-operate with the

Travelers' Aid Society and Mrs. Ralph M. Kirtland

was elected chairman of the committee to formulate


[44] Boston Transcript, December 9, 1916.


On Thursday afternoon at 4 o'clock Mrs. W. K.

Vanderbilt of 660 Fifth Avenue will open her house

for a benefit entertainment in aid of the Appuiaux

Artistes of France. Viscountess de Rancougne is to

give her talk on the work being done in the French

and Belgian hospitals and in the bombarded towns and

villages, illustrated with colored slides from

photographs taken by herself. An interesting musical

program also has been arranged for the afternoon,

with Miss Callish, Mr. de Warlich, and Carlos

Salzedo appearing. Mrs. Kenneth Frazier of 58 East

Seventy-eighth Street is receiving applications for

tickets at $5 each. On the Executive Committee are

Kenneth Frazier, Ernest Peixotto, Edwin H.

Blashfield, Charles Dana Gibson, Joseph H. Hunt, and

Janet Scudder. Mrs. W. Bourke Cockran, Mrs. Howard

Cushing, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, Mrs. Philip M. Lydig,

Mrs. H. P. Whitney, and Miss Grace Bigelow make up

the committee in charge.[45]

[45] New York Times, February 20, 1916.


Mrs. Robert R. Livingston and her son, Robert R.

Livingston, have returned from a trip to the Pacific

Coast and are at their town house, 11 Washington

Square North, until they open Northwood, the

Livingston estate near Cheviot-on-Hudson. They spent

about six weeks on the coast.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin will return to their

country place at Glen Head, L. I., late in April for

the early summer. They are now occupying Hopelands,

their place at Aiken, S. C.

Mrs. and Mr. Francis de R. Wissmann have returned

from a trip of some weeks to San Francisco and have

been at the Gotham for a few days before opening

Adelslea at Throgs Neck, Westchester, for the


The Rev. Dr. J. Nevett Steele of 122 West

Seventy-sixth Street, vicar of St. Paul's Chapel,

who has been ill with pneumonia since March 13, is

now convalescing and will soon be able to resume his

church duties.

A son was born yesterday to Mr. and Mrs. Theodore

Roosevelt, Jr., at their home, 165 East

Seventy-fourth Street. The child is a grandson of

Col. Theodore Roosevelt and will be named Cornelius

Van Schaick Roosevelt, after his

great-great-grandfather. This is the third child of

Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt. Their first boy, Theodore

Roosevelt, III, was born June 14, 1914. Mrs.

Roosevelt was Miss Eleanor B. Alexander, daughter of

Mrs. Henry Addison Alexander of 1840 Park Avenue.


Never has a Washington season begun so early as this

one. The middle of December finds the White House

dinners in full sway, the President and Mrs. Wilson

having dined with the Vice President and Mrs.

Marshall, and the first state reception of the

season in the White House due in two days.

President and Mrs. Wilson already have had three

large and formal dinner parties, the first one on

December 7, in honor of Mr. Vance McCormick,

chairman of the Democratic national committee; and

on Tuesday of last week they entertained the Vice

President and the members of the cabinet and their

wives, with a number of other distinguished guests

and a few young people. After this dinner a

programme of music was given in the east room and

the evening was a charming success. The First Lady

of the Land never was more lovely than she was on

this occasion. The President's niece, Miss Alice

Wilson, of Baltimore, came over with her father for

the evening. Miss Nataline Dulles, niece of Mrs.

Lansing, made her first appearance at a state

dinner, and Miss Margaret Wilson and Miss Bones were

among the guests. On Thursday evening the visiting

governors, former governors and governors-elect here

for the conference this week, and their wives, were

dined, with an interesting company. Friday evening

the Vice President and Mrs. Marshall gave their

annual dinner to the President and his wife, and had

a senatorial company to meet them.

The debutantes are in the full splendor of their

glory, and the next three weeks will give them a

supreme test of endurance, for luncheons, teas,

dinners and dances not only follow one another

closely, but pile up, with several in a day and not

one to be neglected. There are no diplomatic buds,

no cabinet buds, and few army, navy and

congressional buds. But it is a strong residential

year, with a number of debutantes in the smartest

and most exclusive of the substantial old families.

During the Christmas holidays the buds of the

future, some of a year hence, others of two years,

are vying with the older girls for busy days, and

the social calendar shows scarcely a resting moment

from the day they come home from school until they

rush back to their studies in time to reach the

first recitation class. And as for beauty sleep,

there will be none. There will not be a night during

the Christmas vacation when this younger set will

not be dancing. Time was when dinner parties were

composed of elderly, or at least middle-aged, people

only, but now even the near-debutantes and their

circle have a steady round of "dining out," with no

fear of being considered "along in years," for there

are dinners for all ages.

Washington has given three of her most

distinguished, most beautiful and most popular girls

to foreign lands within two months, two of them

having become princesses and the third a baroness.

The first to wed was Miss Margaret Draper, heiress

to several millions of her father's estate. She is

now Princess Boncompagni of Rome, and her mother is

now just about joining her and the prince in Paris,

the three to proceed to the prince's home in Rome,

where they will spend Christmas together, after

which the prince will return to duty with his


The second of these brides of foreigners was Miss

Catherine Birney, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs.

Theodore V. Birney, who was married December 2 to

Baron von Schoen, of the German embassy staff, and

is just back now from the wedding trip. They

returned for the marriage of Miss Catherine Britton

to the Prince zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfuerst, of the

Austro-Hungarian embassy staff. Baron and Baroness

von Schoen will spend Christmas with the latter's

sister, with whom she has made her home since the

death of her parents, and then they will proceed to

Mexico, whence the baron has been transferred.

The marriage of Miss Britton and Prince zu Hohenlohe

was not unexpected, but the wedding date was hurried

about three months, the prince becoming an impatient

wooer. He was assigned to duty at the

Austro-Hungarian consulate in the summer and agreed

to remain away for a year. He stood it as long as he

could, and then returned to claim his bride. The

consent of the prince's family has not been

forthcoming, but the marriage has the sanction of

the embassy, presumably by order of the new emperor,

and it was a happy wedding scene. The bride is one

of the famous beauties of Washington society. She

was never lovelier than in her singularly simple

wedding gown of satin with pearl trimmings, tulle

sleeves, and enormous wedding veil.

Society is dancing its way through the season. The

fever is making inroads even upon the incessant

auction-bridge playing, and he or she who neither

dances nor plays auction has a dull time of it.

Washington society is rather methodical in its

dancing. Monday nights are given up to the

subscription dances at the Playhouse, and another

set at the Willard. Tuesday night the army dances

are given at the Playhouse. On Wednesdays are the

regular Chevy Chase Club dinner dances, and on

Thursdays are those at the Navy Club. On Friday

nights, beginning on January 5, will be the ten

subscription dances at the Willard, and on Saturday

nights there are dances everywhere. The private

dances are scattered all through, afternoons and

evenings, until there is scarcely a date left vacant

on the calendar until Ash Wednesday.[46]

[46] Washington Post, December 17, 1916.

=256. Clubs

The particular attention of the prospective society

editor may be called to club news. The work in literature, education,

community betterment, general social relief, and kindred subjects now

being undertaken by women's clubs is sometimes phenomenal and offers to

live society editors a vast undeveloped field for constructive news. Too

frequently the society page is filled with dull six-point routine,

forbidding in style and still more forbidding in content, when it might

be made alive with buoyancy and interest by added attention to new

studies and interests in the women's clubs. What the women are doing in

their study of the garbage question, in their campaigns against flies,

in their efforts to provide comforts for unprivileged slum

children,--such topics, properly featured and given attractive

individual heads, may be made interesting to a large percentage of the

intelligent women in the community and may be made instrumental in

building up a strong, constructive department in the paper.

=257. Typographical Style

The prospective society editor will find it

well, however, to study and to follow at first the typographical style

of the society column in her paper. Some newspapers run each wedding,

engagement, or social affair under a separate head. Others group all

society stories under the general head of Society, indicating the

different social functions, no matter how long the write-ups, only by

new paragraphs. Sometimes this necessitates paragraphs a half-column

long. In preparing lists of names in society reports, the editor should

group like names and titles together. That is, she should group together

the married couples, then the married women whose names appear alone,

then the unmarried women, and finally the men. An illustration is the


Among the several hundred guests were Mr. and Mrs.

S. Bryce Wing, Mr. and Mrs. Felix D. Doubleday, Mr.

and Mrs. Lewis Gouvernour Morris....

Among the debutantes and other young women present

were Misses Gretchen Blaine Damrosch, Priscilla

Peabody, Irene Langhorne Gibson, Rosalie G.


The young men present included Messrs. Lester

Armour, Edward M. McIlvaine, Jr., Edgar Allan Poe,

William Carrington Stettinius, Nelson Doubleday,

Herbert Pulitzer....

=258. Spurious Announcements

A word may be said in conclusion about

getting society news. One of the first precautions to a prospective

society editor is not to accept announcements of engagements,

marriages, and births of children from any others than the immediate

persons concerned. In particular, one should beware of such news given

by telephone. Too many so-called practical jokes are attempted in this

way on sensitive lovers and young married couples. Many newspapers have

printed forms for announcements of engagements and weddings. These are

mailed directly to the families concerned and require their signatures.

=259. Sources for Society News

In cases of important news, such as

weddings and charity benefits, the editor generally has little

difficulty in obtaining all the facts needed. Some social leaders are

naturally good about giving one details of their parties. Others,

however, shun publicity even to the extent of denying prospective

luncheons, dinners, and card parties--particularly if they are

small--after all plans have been made, and the details may be had only

after they know the reporter has definite facts. To get these first

facts is often one's hardest task. Frequently one can acquire the

friendly acquaintance of some one in society who likes to have her name

appear with the real leaders. Men, too,--even husbands,--often are not

so reticent about their immediate social affairs and are glad to give

pretty society editors advance tips of coming events. But the best

sources are the caterers, the florists, and the hair-dressing parlors.

The caterers are engaged weeks in advance. The florists provide the

decorations. And the hair-dressing parlors are hotbeds of gossip. By

visiting or calling regularly at these places one generally can keep

abreast of all the society news in town. But always when getting news

from such sources--or from any other for that matter--one must be sure

of the absolute accuracy of all addresses, names, and initials. If one

is not careful,--well, only one who has seen an irate mother talk to the

city editor before the ink on the home edition is dry can appreciate the

trouble that will probably result.

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