Dating And Love In The 1800’s

In the 1800’s Courting wasn’t something young people did merely for a good time; it was a serious family business proposition. Surprisingly, the main players in the marriage process often weren’t just the bride and groom; they were the parents of the bride and groom.

Courting was rooted in the era of arranged marriages, though the couple and their feelings often played an important role. Still, families often met to discuss how this marriage would benefit not only the bride and groom, but the respective clans. The point is, a marriage is a joining of two families as well as two young people.

After the Civil War, an elaborate system of rules governing courting emerged. On a woman’s invitation, men conducted formal “calls” to her home, during which couples might converse, read aloud, play parlor games, or give a piano recital. Parents gave their children privacy to court alone, often removing themselves from the parlor, trusting that decorum would prevent improper behavior.

Advertising for Love: A Personal Ad From The 1800’s

Matrimonial. The world is so full of poetry, beauty, and glory, and I have no one to share it with me; no one to read with me my Shakespeare and Milton, to enjoy with me nature, art, letters, society; I seek, therefore, my other and better half, my complement and peer, equal, though not like; myself a New-Englander by birth, of liberal culture and pursuits, of about 35 years of age, a gentleman and a Christian in my aspirations. Ladies so minded will please address Mr. CHRISTOPHER LEIGHTON, Box No. 144 Times Office. ~Too bad Mr Leighton is long dead…I wonder if he found what he was looking for?

A portrait of a Vermont military couple, pictured in the 3rd Vermont regiment uniform.- Vermont Historical Society

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    It was a more formal time…perhaps better civilized in some forms and society.
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