Though another blogger cited the first recorded use of “mail-order bride” in the New York Times in 1929, I’ve found documentation in other newspapers of the phrase in use much earlier. The short snippets of stories illustrating the use of “mail-order bride” in the decades between the Turn of the Century and 1929 illustrate the general acceptance of this phrase in American English prior to 1916 or 1911, earlier than 1906…yes! 1903! (And perhaps even earlier as more historical documentation becomes readily available).
Often, FACT is stranger than FICTION.
Interestingly enough, readers of Mail-Order Bride-themed Historical Romance aren’t likely to find much in the way of FACTS in the fiction we so love to read. But that doesn’t mean the true history behind the popular niche isn’t fascinating to those of us who read and write it. Risks were very well known. Newspaper reporters often were behind advertisements. Boredom lead truly unmarriageable people to engage in entertainment through the mail system and matrimony agencies. Practical jokes accounted for many…considered a gentleman’s sport in the era.