On today's podcast, we address the subject of Courting, as experienced by our ancestors. The following show notes are designed to provide you the resources we used to help us come up with our information.
I have to comment on this photo. I've had this
Valentine since I was about 4 years old. Now
it's hard to read it, but it says "To Jean" and it's
from "Aunt Mamie" who is, according to the
card, asking me to be her "beau" (bow - as in
cello bow, ha ha). Anyway, just seems like a strange
thing to send to a little girl. However, Aunt Mamie
was a strange one.
When I discussed the etymology of the word "court," I quoted the origin from one of my favorite books on the topic (of etymology, not courting): Robert K. Barnhart, Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, NY: Chambers Harrap Publishers, Ltd., 2003, p. 228. I used the edition that can still be purchased here, on Amazon. If you have any curiosity about phrase origins, this is a great one to add to your library. I know it's not cheap (and you may be able to find less expensive editions with a little sleuthing), but keep in mind that there are over 1200 pages of information. Another one I use a lot is by Garrison: Garrison, Webb B., Why You Say It: The Fascinating Stories behind over 700 Everyday Words and Phrases, New York: Abingdon Press, 1955. The one I grabbed for our podcast discussion is dated 1955, but it has been updated a number of times and can be found in a 2010 edition on Amazon; I have the new version as well but there were no differences in the particular phrases I checked. I have to say that the new version(s) are much easier to use and the categories more up to date (phrases are separated into different sections by type of word origin).
Some of our discussion went to the protocol of dating. You can find some of the things we discussed in the book Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, pp 155-157. I used the 1996 version which runs anywhere from about $40 to over $100. There is a newer version, some copies costing even more. Again, I am just checking these on Amazon.
I mentioned the "calling" or "visiting" cards that our ancestors used. Here is a copy of the one belonging to my grandaunt, Charlotte Peege Hollander (who used her maiden name in her occupation as a singer).
To read about all those abbreviations and the calling card code, check The Art of Manliness website. Just know that women used these cards as well.
We also discussed the evolution of courting behaviors and some of the things we mentioned came from a favorite book of ours: McCutcheon, Marc. Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students, & Historians. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1993, 2001. My copy is the 2001 version and it is reprinted frequently, so you can find copies of it for all price ranges. Shop around before over-spending (you should be able to find a copy, albeit possibly used, for around $30). If you do any writing about that time period, it is really a great resource. A similar one is Taylor, Dale. Everyday Life in Colonial America: From 1607-1783. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997. I found a copy on line for only $9.00 (not sure how used it is, but sometimes that is not a big deal for folks). It has also gone through some reprintings, but in these books, unless there was a major blunder in an earlier copy, there aren't like to be many alterations so an older copy usually will suffice.
So there you have it, the primary sources we used to compile the information on this latest podcast (which should be accessible in the post just below this one).
--Jean Wilcox Hibben