The spring edition of the PHW printed newsletter was mailed to our members today. You can catch the digital version online here. The newsletter is a roundup of some porch information that did not make it into the live porch presentation earlier this month. As a little bonus content, we can now also answer the question on the history of porch swings received from the audience.
Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of “porch swing” to the late 19th century. From a quick and unscientific search of documents in the 19th century that are available in digital form, the oldest instance found so far of the phrase “porch swing” dates to 1877, when it was referred to in the text The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 74. It is not clear from the snippet view exactly how the porch swing was constructed and when this story took place, but it is noted to have already been “old-fashioned” in style in 1877.
References to porch swings remain scarce until after 1910, which may coincide with the final domination of the word “porch” over other porch word alternatives in America. Most prefabricated wooden porch swings of finished oak were being sold for about $4-5 around 1915-1920 (around $50-60 in today’s terms). Some had drop down arm rests so that the swing could be converted to a bed for sleeping on the porch.