Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Interesting Clippings #10: Personal Ads and Mail-Order Brides

The cliche of putting an ad in the newspaper to find a partner in life has a long history, except in history people seemed to cut to the chase and put out ads for a spouse, aka mail-order bride.

Recently, while nursing a cold, I was watching Ripper Street on BBC, an excellent show about the police department in the East End which dealt with the Jack the Ripper murders set after the murders ended. It's highly fictionalized but also highly entertaining with excellent characters and for those in the US, it is being aired on BBC America so get watching! Anyway, the latest episode dealt with a human trafficking in which young, destitute women were targeted through a newspaper ad of a gentleman supposedly looking for a wife and companion. It got me thinking about what sort of personal ads I could find for my Interesting Clippings feature.

The Evening World, New York,
N.Y. October 19, 1894
Chronicling America
To the right is a clipping of widower Col. Thomas Ruggles 1894 ad in The Evening World, a New York City newspaper, in which he is seeking a wife. It appears despite numerous attempts, he can't find a northern woman to his liking who is willing to join him in the south. With the Civil War not before, there was still a lot of anti-northern sentiment in the south. The reason Ruggles was looking for a northern wife was because he himself was a Yankee, presumably stationed in the south at the time, and so probably most southern woman would not have been willing to marry him.

Despite sounding rather lonely and anxious for a new wife, he also sounds a little picky as he ruled out the few responses he had which weren't from "Bowery girls" (Bowery being a low-end area of NYC at the time) for having seen too many "frosty winters" (too old, I presume) or sounding too "high-toned" for suggesting a different location to meet. The audacity! What amuses me most is the fact that he changed his name in the personal ad to "Thomas Rich" - perhaps he thought women were put off by "Ruggles" - maybe because it sounds a bit silly? Or maybe he just thought the "Rich" would be a reflection of his financial status and attract women?

No comments:

Post a Comment