In the days before the internet, newspapers were the answer to keeping people connected. Online dating has its origins here, in the stark black and white print of advertisements from hopeful singles looking for a match.

Here’s the rub, though. Much like online dating in its early days, ads meant to track down a spouse were looked down on as cheap and ridiculous, or sometimes even disreputable and scandalous.

A New Crusade

But that didn’t stop hundreds of people from sending their information (anonymously) to papers and matrimonial bureaus to be printed and eventually perused by like-minded souls. Those interested could then send in a response, and a correspondence would begin.

Something New Under the Sun

Matrimonial Agency

Just a few of these types of ads are below:

object, matrimony; no joke.

Two lonely orphan girls

Widower seeks widow or spinster

Desirous of opening a correspondence

A lady neither young nor middle aged

More than one marriage began in this way, though few would ever admit it.

One opinion of these ads took note of the impressively consistent perfection of the applicants:

They all have fine forms, excellent morals, no bad habits

But honest or not, the ads often got the desired results for their buyers.

Find hundreds more of ads like these here, or more articles about matrimonial agencies here. Try your own search using the search page on

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