Early in the century, the column carried letters debating women's right to vote and the threat bicycle riding posed to American womanhood.
The "Housekeeper's Column" eventually merged with "Everybody's Column," and in 1922 "Confidential Chat" became its official title.
More than a century before people with shared concerns could connect in cyberspace, they could communicate through daily newspapers.
Appearing under different names over the years, the column that became "Confidential Chat" was a regular and popular feature of debuted in 1872, it faced an uphill battle to win readers away from the city's many other newspapers.
The editors decided to expand their readership by including stories they thought would appeal to women, a growing market in Victorian-era publishing.
In May of 1884, the first "Housekeeper's Column" appeared with menu suggestions and fashion tips written by staff.
At the same time, the hired Estelle Hatch to expand the "Housekeeper's Column" into the first regular column focusing on women's affairs in any American newspaper.
Hatch also printed letters from readers who used pseudonyms such as "Dorchester Dottie," "Fireman's Wife," and "Chere Julie." The early ones offered recipes and housekeeping suggestions but soon Hatch was receiving and printing requests for guidance on domestic concerns ranging from child rearing to gardening to handcrafts.
While most contributors sent in questions and advice on domestic topics, they also used the column to express their ideas on local issues and current events.
In a 1955 promotional brochure that captures perfectly the expectations of middle class women Betty Freidan called "the feminine mystique," the claimed that "Chat" discussed "everything of interest to women: food, housekeeping, clothes, children, in-laws, babies, gardens, love, marriage, interior decorating, and a thousand and one other subjects which intrigue the female mind and occupy the female time."Because the "Confidential Chat" archive represents over a century's worth of letters written by ordinary women, the column is a rich source for social historians.