Part 1: A Brief History of Dating and Courtship in America Let's turn our attention now to "dating" and the "date" itself. How did it become such an important part of our courtship system? According to cultural historian Beth Bailey, the word was probably originally used as a lower-class slang word for booking an appointment with a prostitute.
However, by the turn of the 20th century we find the word being used to describe lower-class men and women going out socially to public dances, parties and other meeting places, primarily in urban centers where women had to share small apartments and did not have spacious front parlors in their homes to which to invite men to call.
The Victorian era is defined as the years from 1837 until 1901 as this was the time in which Queen Victoria ruled England.
There is no exact date as to when the Victorian era truly ended as the Victorian lifestyle continued to influence culture, customs, and societal ways for several years following Queen Victoria’s death.
The system that developed in the early 20th century replaced another system of courtship, that existed throughout the 19th century.
The working and lower classes were more liberal with their thoughts, behaviors, and explored sexual freedom, though high society looked down upon them for doing so.Women and men also faced strict rules regarding courtship.The notion of two people falling wildly and madly in love and running away into the night, regardless of the opinions of their families or plan for the future was not something commonplace to the upper and middle class.Conversation flows naturally for a couple hours, with each beginning to learn about the background and interests of the other.After dessert, the gentleman pays for the meal and then drives the lady home.As conditions in the United States changed in the early 1900s, so did the courtship system.