1920s: Lonely WWI Soldiers Seek Pen Pals Personal ads went mainstream again in the early 20th century, when social pressures to get married by 21 (and thus, expectations for relationships) were much lower, thankfully than their earlier incarnations.
Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals.
() 2010 - Today By 2010, different dating sites existed for virtually every city, sexual orientation, religion, race and almost every hobby, making it easier to find exactly what we're looking for and harder to stumble on someone who exists outside our pre-defined bubbles of identity.
In 2002, Wired Magazine predicted, "Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won't look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because 'the right books are found only by accident.'" Online dating is the new norm for introductions, replacing the role of traditional personals and in many cases, merging with the functions of social media.
Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities.
Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world's first computer dating service.
(Farmers Only continues the legacy to find "where all the country girls are" today.) Some very pragmatic examples of early 20th century personals: HOUSEKEEPER: 18 to 30 years of age, wanted by widower, 40.
1990s-2000s: Second Wave of Mainstream The explosion of the Internet in the mid-to-late 1990s created a new context for personals, and by the end of the decade, they had become relatively acceptable.
Less-Than-Fun fact: homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death in the UK by wife-murderer Henry VIII and continued to be illegal until 1967. A., anyone accused of being a "sodomite" doing "buggery" was also legally sentenced to death as of 1776.) Coded words, female names and other signals in personals were channels to privately expressing vulnerability and find companionship that society forbade.
During this time, gathering sites for gay men known as Molly Houses were subject to regular raids by law enforcement. 1727: Women Get Smacked Down for Expressing Personal Desire In 1727, Englishwoman Helen Morrison became the first woman to place an ad in a Lonely Hearts column.
Phishing, fake profiles, and ads for escorts continue this tradition today.
Early 1900s: The Lonely Rural Farmers, Ranchers and Shepherds Around the turn of the last century, personal ads enjoyed a renaissance of popularity, especially in the Western US with low populations and the harsh realities of rural life without a partner.