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A Very Special Ad

Friday, March 12, 2010

In honor of the fact that I've now posted about 200 entries (more or less), I thought I might blog about an ad that I found which is very special. As you have probably figured out by now, a lot of the ads I use for my dissertation come from the New York Herald, a paper that is now defunct. Its very first issue was in May of 1835, and only six months later this ad appeared:

Husband Wanted - A young lady about 21 years of age - pleasing manners and accomplished - is anxious to change her condition and would like to have a husband sometime before the 1st of January next. She has a little fortune - not much - is well connected - and has every requisite to make any gentleman of congenial habits happy in the married state. She would prefer a husband not over thirty-five - but would not refuse even forty. Fortune is not so much of an object. A letter addressed to Maria and left at the Herald office will be noticed. oct 29-4t*

I have no idea what that "-4t*" means or even if I'm reading that right. Weird.

Isn't that neat? Because matrimonial ads weren't actually that common at this time. In the 1830s they were certainly around, but not in any large number. I don't even start my dissertation for several decades after this because there's so little material before the late 1850s/early 1860s.

Now what's especially cool is that two weeks later, the Herald printed a little puff piece about how the editor (and owner and publisher) was randomly invited to a small family gathering by people he didn't know...only to discover it was Maria's wedding to a man she'd met through her ad! Very charming. I'm sure there were some matrimonials in the Herald between this one and the 1850s - I haven't looked very hard because, as I said, my dissertation starts later. But I do know that, according to that little article, this was the very first one the paper ever printed.

Which is what makes it special.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


Bianca C March 12, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

Holy SH! Two weeks later?1?!!?!?!? What a very interesting story. I wonder how that all worked out - was he the only one she met? Were there several candidates?

Wow. So mindblowing that one.

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