"They Say," The Boston Advocate, Dec 4, 1886

Dublin Core


"They Say," The Boston Advocate, Dec 4, 1886


Lewis, Lillian Alberta ( (pseudonym: Bert Islew), 1861-?
Black Periodicals
Social Events--Misc.
Manners / Etiquette
Citation of Anonymous Source


Example of Lillian A. Lewis' society news column "They Say," written under her pseudonym "Bert Islew" for The Boston Advocate (and distinghuished as such from reprints from other publications through the sub-heading "specially reported for the Advocate"). "They Say" offers a wide variety of information loosely tied together by similar themes or similar expressions. Lewis' writing is thus less concerned with potentially scandalous content that might be shared under the veil of anonymity suggested by "They Say." Instead, her column offers a contemplation on all the possible information shared via hearsay, gossip, or common sense via the repetation of "they say ... that." Many of these listed items are humorous in tone ("they say that people are saying the most ridiculous things that you ever heard") or written tongue in cheeck ("... that every family should possess a copy of the ADVOCATE next week"). Lewis/Islew, however, also includes references to weddings and other social events among prominent families, to the travels and state of health of authors and politicians, and to fashion and fashionable places.

News about social events are also included in The Boston Advocate via regular features like "Bridgeport Gleanings," in which readers are informed about church meetings and political appointments in the respective towns, but also about the vacation destination and receptions of prominent members of these communities.

The Boston Advocate (1885–19??) was a Black-owned newspaper, published every Saturday, and "Devoted to the interests of the colored people of the United States and Canada."


My Heritage (via Boston Public Library)


Lewis, Lillian Alberta ( (pseudonym: Bert Islew), 1861-?





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Secondary Texts: Comments

Garland Penn describes Lillian A. Lewis in The African American Press and Its Editors as the key selling point of The Boston Advocate: "Shortly after [graduating high school], she began newspaper work, and contributed special articles to The Boston Advocate. The Advocate, at that time, was the victim of much adverse criticism, and was rapidly losing ground with its Boston readers. Miss Lewis at once perceived the cause, and immediately set about to meet the exigency, if possible. Her aim was to edit a column of matter that would take with all classes and all ages, and the result was the"They say" column, which has for about two years become proverbial with readers of The Advocate, At first the paragraphs were short, crisp, and breezy; but later on Miss Lewis began to add comments and criticisms on what "they say," which was a happy thought, and made the column more attractive than before. The Advocate soon began to regain its former popularity, and subscribers increased, until to-day there is scarcely a colored family of intelligence in Boston that does not read The Advocate and Bert Islew's gossip."

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Lewis, Lillian Alberta ( (pseudonym: Bert Islew), 1861-?, “"They Say," The Boston Advocate, Dec 4, 1886,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed May 19, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/990.

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