Whether referred to as “Correspondence Courtship” or “Epistolary Courtship”, part of the natural course of 19th century courting included letter-writing. Victorian-era couples could express tender sentiments in letters more easily (often) than in person. Many couples didn’t have the opportunity to spend time together, face-to-face, for too many miles separated them. Coming to know one another, and fall in love, through letter-writing was a standard practice. Results varied from blissful conjugal felicity (a frequently used term of the American Victorian era) to sensational disasters.
Interestingly enough, the term “Correspondence Courtship” (or very similar phrasing) appeared much more frequently and earlier than did the phrase “Mail-Order Bride”.
Flourishing in Our Midst are “Matrimonial Agencies” Which Seem to Need Attention:
Trysting Places for fools, Old and Young Which Can Be Dispensed With.
One Institution Investigated, the Vile Character of Which its Proprietors Do Not Deny.
The original newspaper article appeared in The Inter Ocean Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, 28 August 1887.
A murderer finds his victims through a matrimonial bureau; and two wealthy (and married) women entrap unsuspecting swains into expensive courtships, engagements, marriage– or close enough– broken hearts and shattered illusions.
Part 5: Chicago’s 100 Matrimonial Agencies–all shut down by one Police Detective, Clifton Wooldridge.
ONE HUNDRED FALSE Matrimonial Agencies in Chicago at the Turn of the Century?
Note the two new crime method additions (as addressed in my series of Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS, Parts 1-5 so far): stock matrimonial letters and stock matrimonial photographs– more than one million, each.