The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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“Man With Glass Eye Seeks Woman With Glass Eye”: New York’s personal ads

March 12, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

About this Event

Historian Francesca Beauman, author of Matrimony, Inc.: from personal ads to swiping right, a story of America looking for love (2020), explores the history of personal ads in New York.

One Thursday morning in 1861, a woman named Ethel placed an ad for a husband in the New York Herald. She explained that she was “compelled to adopt this mode of opening a correspondence owing to the strict surveillance under which she is placed at home.” The successful candidate needed to be under twenty-five and “possess a fine intellectual countenance, be of an agreeable disposition, and above all have a love of a mustache.” Clearly, if you’ve ever used a dating app or website, then you have more in common than you know with nineteenth century New Yorkers.

Whilst researching her latest book, Beauman has uncovered hundreds of never-before-seen personal ads, which together offer startlingly fresh insight into American life as the population grew and the cities expanded. In this talk, she will share some of her favorites from the past 250 years or so, along the way helping to answer the age-old question: what do men and women look for in each other? And how has this changed (or not!) over the past 250 years?


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March 12, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm