The Art of Courtship: Vintage wisdom relayed from the mid-nineteenth century to a newspaperman thirty years later (in 1887) sheds light on choosing a wife, beginning a courtship, different types of girls (shy, coquette [flirt], “vidders” [widows], and old maids, etc.). Victorian attitudes are prevalent, including the general idea that the sick and infirm aren’t suitable to marriage (think of the children!). Everything you wished your great-great grandpa had told you about courting… and more.
It’s Valentine’s Day! Millennials (and old folks like me) understand society’s expectations of how committed couples acknowledge Valentine’s, and how expression of love is done (or we believe should be done). But what about our Victorian ancestors?
How did Victorian Americans say “I love you”? …Or, did they?
Did advice of the era shed light on such matters?
Two contrasting newspaper articles: August 30, 1860 (Altoona, PA) and August 30, 1876 (Fort Scott, KS), show both the apparently high fidelity of marriage…and the lowest of regard of the institution. Both–published on August 30th (157 years ago today, and 141 years ago today)–illustrate a slice of life from the mid- to late-Victorian Era United States. To amateur historians like me (and many readers of western historical romance fiction), newspaper articles like these allow us to draw conclusions based on the readings. What do you think of these two examples of marriage in 19th century America?
Victorian-era expectations regarding women’s province (the home), placed responsibility for happiness, economy (and perceived respectability),Â and her husband’s “comfort” at home, wholly within her reach–and the consequences (good and bad) entirely on her shoulders. This vintage newspaper article, “Truths for Wives”, is a classical example of pervasive attitudes in the nineteenth century. While starkly dissimilar to today’s societal expectations, this short article from 1860 sheds much light on Victorian expectations–including winning and keeping a husband’s love.
My 5-star review of a relatable, understandable history book, explaining why and how people married–from the most ancient of earth’s societies–to today. Coontz not only presents the facts in an entertaining, meaningful manner, but she draws conclusions only a historical of her caliber can, making the reading (or listening) experience ever so much more informative and helpful. Whether you’re fascinated on a purely intellectual level, love history, or are researching when and how marriage became a matter of choice between the couple (and only the couple) involved…I recommend this title!