Finding Mr. Right: A 1950s Guide to Dating

‘She thinks it’s wonderful that he’s so wonderful. She’s right -- for him.’ 

More

From a series of films based on the book Marriage for Moderns by Henry A. Bowman comes "Choosing for Happiness," a dating how-to guide for young women in 1950, courtesy of the Prelinger Archive. Our narrator, Mary, who is relatively unfamiliar with the social scene on campus, looks to her friend Eve for advice in navigating the tricky dating waters. We get to witness Eve on several dates with men who are more or less poorly suited to her personality. After reflecting on Eve’s bad dates, Mary tells her friend that it is actually she who needs to change, not the men. Her behavior is simply too demanding (e.g. telling the men where she would like to go on their outings, preferring not to stay inside and watch them build boats, and expressing frustration when they flirt with other women). 

In an era when the median marrying age for women was 19, this instructional film reminds us that, in the '50s, society still viewed college for women as merely a layover on the way down the aisle. Female viewers take note: Be careful not to allow your own wants and needs to take precedence; it’s about changing yourself, not the other person. Oh, and make sure to find a man who knows what he wants. 

For more from the Prelinger Archive, visit their site

Jump to comments

Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In