What did your ancestors say about Valentine’s Day? – Treasure Chest Thursday

What words of love were shared between your loved ones on Valentines Day?   American culture has been quite attached to Valentines Day ever since the first Miss Esther A. Howland created our country’s first “fancy” valentine in 1849.  Valentine’s Day was a popular holiday in the United Kingdom, and it soon catapulted to popularity here in the states due to our appetite for tokens of romantic love, family, and beauty.  Valentines made Miss Howland rich beyond her wildest imaginings, and her shrewd business sense made her one of the wealthiest business women of her time.

A Valentine MessageSo now that a delivery device was available, what do you write in the card?  There were several etiquette books to provide structure of politeness and just the right amount of sentimentality.  If you’re looking for a few hints yourself, you can read Social Etiquette of New York by Abby Buchanan Longstreet.  Young people were invited to write their sentiments for prizes, with many of their entries becoming the fodder of local newspapers.  The Los Angeles Herald printed this article in their 1910 newspaper, with information of the writer and their school included.  Great stuff!

So now you’re looking for the words of your ancestors.  Have you tried looking through Valentines online on  Here are a few lovely examples of the love notes shared between our ancestors:

Postcard Back, 1909 Feb-9 Postmark
9 Feb 1909 – To Irwin Letts (Orange, New York)
Postcard Back
Circ 1910 to Thelma Radwell from Edith Stahl (Stonington, IL)
Postcard Back, Feb-12 Postmark
Feb-12 to Mr. Lloyd Hill (Seattle, Washington)

You will also want to check out A Very British Romance, an excellent documentary of love and courtship through the ages.  You can watch it for free on YouTube.  I was really amazed to see how our ideas of love and courtship have developed with social influences, especially with the rise of the romance novel!

Do you have a library card? Because I’m checking you out!


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