For three years after moving to Springfield, Mary Todd’s suitors came courting at her sister’s home and squired her to parties, weddings, railroad excursions, and informal gatherings. The culmination of these courtship activities came on November 4, 1842, when twenty-three-year-old Mary stood in a borrowed dress in her sister’s parlor and became the bride of thirty-three year old Abraham Lincoln.
Drawing on period letters, diaries, etiquette manuals, and reminiscences, this illustrated talk will examine the nature of courtship and weddings in Lincoln-era Springfield to establish a social and cultural context for the Lincolns’ experience. How did young people meet? What kind of social activities did courting couples engage in? What was the nature of engagements? What were typical features of weddings of the time? Exploration of the answers to these questions will result in a fuller picture of life in 19th century Springfield and a greater understanding of the Lincolns’ social world.
Presented by Erika Holst.
This program is made possible in part by an award from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois General Assembly.