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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interstate Introducing Society 1905

More in this set of postings on marriage agencies in early 20th century Oregon.Today the "Interstate Introducing Society: The Most Reliable Marriage Club in the World."
The Oregon Journal ("Marriage Bureau Owner His Own Best Customer," Oregon Journal, March 16, 1905, 1, 6) reported the case of Andrew Cochran of Condon, Oregon, who came to Portland in search of a wife and paid $350 to become half partner in J.H. Hamilton's Interstate Introducing Society "with offices in the Lange hotel, Sixth and Washington." When Hamilton went to Seattle Cochran "began an inventory of his property" and took the file of Sarah Emily Keyes of Milwaukee, Oregon out of circulation and went to visit her. The story ends with their marriage.

There are many messages embedded within the story. For some readers it was obviously an advertisement for the Interstate Introducing Society -- Cochran achieves his goal and as readers learned at the close of the article, his new wife Keyes was a wealthy property owner. Yet the article also pokes fun at him, has him using what might be a country bumpkin dialect, and avoiding a chivaree the night before his marriage. Keyes is a woman of considerable property but interested in marriage. One reading of the tale is that she is an objectified woman, her ad part of the "property" of the agency. Yet she is also a participant in the process, reading the Matrimonial Register and making selections among the men advertising themselves.
We also learn that the agency required membership fees and introduction fees and connected interested and paid up parties with others by publishing a Matrimonial Register.
Come back for the next posting -- the city of Portland's reaction to marriage agencies.