This is not anything new. I’ve been writing it for about two years now. To be fair, I should more accurately say that I’m collaborating with Mary Elizabeth Collins, an ancestor of mine [1866-1938]. She wrote a diary of her high school years in Plattsburgh, New York between 1884 and 1887, which I have transcribed. I’m in the process of annotating it. Since she writes a lot about her various courtships [and repeatedly turning down marriage proposals!!], most of my introductory material concentrates on dating and marriage in the late Victorian era.
Anyway, for my book, I was reading Nancy Cott’s Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation. It’s an overview of marital practice and law on both state and local levels in the United States from colonial times to 2000. A cursory scan of the book shows American marriage as a fluid concept that steadily expands to include people of different races, married women’s property rights, no-fault divorce, parties of the same sex, etc. Though I’m still hurting from the fact that 53% of Californian voters personally hate me, I take heart from the long view proposed by Cott. Using the U.S. as a case study, she shows that marriage is an almost infinitely elastic institution. Those who campaign to stretch it always, always, always win out over those who try to keep it restrictive.
Even though Public Vows is not very relevant to my book, it’s relevant to my life, so I feel a tiny bit better.