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Old Maids Day

There seems to be a holiday or special day to recognize just about anything – so here is one ‘Old Maids Day’ on June 4th.  Where did this particular day get started, well in the United States.

So what is an ‘Old Maid’ to have a such a distinctive day?  Many of your ancestors, especially females would readily known what an old maid was and some may have been one themselves. It was actually a bit of a degrading term applied to any single female.  A similar term was ‘spinster’, a women who had never married. For centuries women were expected to marry and have children.

There have been many over the decades who never married for various reasons. During periods of war when thousands of soldiers were killed, there were less single men for the women to select from. Another reason for not marrying included setting very high standards that very few males could achieve.  Some women had a low esteem of themselves and felt no one wanted them as a mate. Yet one of the very common reasons some ladies remained unmarried was because they cared for an elderly parent, had to raise younger siblings or the children of a deceased sibling. They took on a full-time responsibly in a home as a caretaker or the aunt raising her sister’s children, all very common situations.

The tradition of recognizing ‘Old Maids Day’ may have started in the United States after 1945 and the Second World War when so many fellows never returned home.  Small towns began holding special community dances and events and welcoming any of the neighboring returning soldiers so individuals had a better opportunity to meet.  Yet there were similar Old Maids Day in Paris, France in late 1919 after the end of World War I. The same situation existed where many ladies lost out on any future marriage because of so many men killed during the war.

With the 21st century and the years leading up to it, things have changed greatly for single ladies. Having a career, their own home and even children without a husband has become very acceptable. So that the June 4th Old Maids Day is looked at as a celebration, a party or a great time to get-together with friends for all the single ladies, saying that their lives can be just as fulfilling and meaningful whether married or not.

So take some time and look back over your ancestors and see how many were never married.  It is sometimes a bit surprising to see the numbers. That also goes for males, who were referred to a ‘bachelors’ and for whom it was not a degrading term.

Checking my Groff lineage with eight siblings born between 1855 and 1872, there were two that never married, one male and one female. Those would make interesting relatives to investigate further especially because they would not have any direct descendants. You more than likely have a similar situation in your family tree. Find their obituary, any newspaper articles, family photos, probate records or Wills.  Because they did not have a spouse or children there is information to be learned about their lives and property.

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