Lose weight. Stop smoking. No doubt admirable goals for the New Year, but not as inventive as the resolutions your (great-great) grandparents made, Olga Khazan reminds us in The Atlantic.
In the old days, people were more apt to resolve to be virtuous, she notes.
In 1890, a writer in a New Zealand newspaper resolved “to be good,” “to act proper” through the New Year.
A postcard from 1915 suggests that resolutions should revolve around cultivating cheerfulness and thriftiness.
From 1927 comes some practical advice: Vote for “the candidate who insults the other fellow least,” John Erskine resolved in The Century Magazine.
Sometimes resolutions were meant to promote virtue in others. In 1936, Chester C. Washington of the Pittsburgh Courier beseeched the Center Avenue YMCA to resolve to allow dancing in the gym after basketball games so “young folks” could get “clean recreation.”