I know I’ve been very lax about posting slang–apologies to anyone who misses it. I hope to get back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, I was reading a Horatio Alger book (Do and Dare) for research purposes and came upon this term–walking papers. I’d have thought it had a far more modern origin, but it’s in this book, in the terms that we would use today. The exact sentence: “I lost my situation, father–some meddlesome fellow told my employer that I occasionally played a game of pool and my tailor came to the store and dunned me; so old Boggs gave me a long lecture and my walking papers, and here I am.” The book’s publication date is 1884, but considering there is no italics or quotation marks around it indicating slang, I expect it was used long before that. My estimation, with nothing to back it up save reading a lot of books on slang, is that it was probably in use 10-15 years before at least.