Scandalous! Victorian Era Craigslist Ads

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If you’ll bear with us, we’d like to make one more romance related note, and then hopefully we can move on.  We direct you to Pam Epstein‘s Op-Ed in the New York Times, featuring some of her research into 19th century personal ads.

Anyone young enough to have only investigated the wide world of personal connections through Craigslist might be surprised to know that the “missed connection” is not a construction of the technologically modern world.

If the young lady wearing the pink dress, spotted fur cape and muff, had light hair, light complexion and blue eyes, who was in company with a lady dressed in black, that I passed about 5 o’clock on Friday evening in South Seventh Street, between First and Second, Williamsburg, L.I., will address a line to Waldo, Williamsburg Post Office, she will make the acquaintance of a fine young man.

Feb. 16, 1879

Unrealistically high expectations for prospective partners is also old hat:

A young lady of 18, wealthy, pretty and agreeable, wants a husband. Not finding any one of her acquaintance who suits her, she has concluded to take this method of discovering one. The happy gentleman must be wealthy, stylish, handsome and fascinating. None other need apply. Address within three days, giving name and full particulars, and enclosing carte de visite, Carrie Howard, Station D, New York.

June 5, 1863

Epstein’s brief NYT Op-Ed contains only five ads, but many more can be found at her blog, Advertising for Love, including this gem: “I would give a regular old fashioned whipping; write me.  Address Needful, box 9, 1,026 31 av.”  A brief perusal of her entries reveals no one mandating “No daguerreotype, no reply,” so at least our generation has that original invention to its name.

New York Times article here.


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