Navigating the Dos and Don’ts of Dating: A 1970-1989 Timeline

The 1970s to the 1980s was a period of much social change in American history. The rise of social tensions in the 1960s developed over concerning and controversial issues of women’s rights, authority, and human sexuality to name a few. This was identified as the Counterculture of the 1960s. The Second-wave of feminism also began in the 1960s and lasted roughly to the 1980s, significantly impacting gender roles in social practices and expectations. Thus exploration of any shifts in dating culture between the 1970s and the 1980s would highlight the changing norms and values of American society at this time, something the current historical scholarship is lacking.

What would further enhance exploration of dating culture changes during this period would be presenting it as a digital timeline. Change over time has a significant impact on many historical topics, but laying it out in an interactive setting, helps viewers better relate the changes happening to the time they are occurring. Moreover, a visual display of detailed research is often easier to take in as it includes images, links and a creative organization unique to a digital timeline. That being said, I propose using Knight Lab’s TimelineJS. This tool allows me to organize my research along a timeline, demonstrating change over time. I want to explore how dating advice changed from 1970 to 1989. While this is a short period of time, only two decades, I plan on going into detail about the different themes and messages presented to young girls that I see presented in various publications. For example some of my research questions are: Is there a shift from more traditional dating advice to a more feminist perspective? If so, when does that shift happen? Are there any significant shifts in gender roles? Is there more than one shift? Do these shifts occur at the same time or follow one after the other?

My chosen sources would be dating advice literature and various newspaper articles from 1970-1989. I would present books from multiple points in that period, ideally the beginning, middle and end chunks to explore any significant changes in thought, poplar topics and messages. I would explore the rituals and expectations of heterosexual relationships and what these findings suggest about accepted gender roles in dating situations.

After some preliminary research, some dating advice literature I would analyze would be:

  • Our Bodies, Ourselves; A Book By and For Women, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1973)
  • Sex Etiquette : Should I?, Can I?, May I?, Must I? : The Modern Woman’s Guide to Mating Manners, Hamel, Marilyn (1984)
  • The Teen Dating Guide, Stewart, Marjabelle Young (1984)
  • Charm; The Career Girl’s Guide to Business & Personal Success, Whitcomb, Helen and Rosalind Lang (1971)
  • “Men Play the Waiting Game in the Dating Game,” Berman, Laura (1989)

These books and article already give me a wide range of dating culture from the early 1970s, mid 1980s and late 1980s.

I would read through all the dating advice literature and newspaper articles I can find, while keeping track of various themes and changes to advice about specific dos and don’ts in dating. I would input the publication dates of each source into the digital timeline, including a quick summary and image of the source to provide a visual for viewers. After summarizes the general content, I would dive into the specific topics and advice presented in each source, ideally pointing out the same topics discussed in different sources with potentially different advice. I will also link to sources online if they can be found there. Potentially, I would also include links to various online articles about dating during the 1970s and 1980s.

Prior to diving into the primary sources, I would designate the first timeline entry to previous scholarship on the topic to give some background and reason for my focus on literature and newspaper articles. Some secondary sources I would include are:

  • From Front Porch to Back Seat : Courtship in Twentieth-Century America, Bailey, Beth L
  • Sex in the Heartland, Bailey, Beth L
  •  “Sex and the Me Decade: Sex and Dating Advice Literature of the 1970s,” Ward, Anna E
  • “Interpersonal Relationships in Women’s Magazines: Dating and Relating in the 1970s and 1980s,” Prusank, Diane T., Robert L. Duran, and Dena A. DeLillo
  •  “From Moutain Peak to Total Woman: An Evolutionary History of Pre-Feminist Dating Advice,” King, Andrew

Overall, developing a digital timeline to explore dating culture changes over time creates an interactive, visually stimulating learning environment to the benefit of the topic and learners. A journal article or book doesn’t allow for the reader to click through a timeline that clearly highlights the year with the source that demonstrates the dating norms and expectations in that moment. Moreover, a source visual image is rarely incorporated into writing pieces, but can easily and effectively be included alongside a summary and content analysis of that source in a digital timeline. In another sense, this digital timeline could be a virtual exhibit for a museum or even a presentation for classroom purposes. The possibilities are endless and must be explored.  

The Evolution of “States’ Rights” in 19th Century America

Throughout American history, there have been several political phenomena that have become defining characteristics of American politics, such as individualism and sectionalism. Phenomena like these have deep roots in America’s past, going back to the 18th and 19th centuries. In spite of this, however, these concepts are rarely invoked consciously. Conversely, the concept of “states’ rights” is not just a significant political concept in American history, it has been (and continues to be) invoked by politicians and private citizens alike.

Whose Vision of America Won Out—Hamilton's or Jefferson's? - HISTORY

“States’ rights” can be traced as far back as the 1790s, when the Jeffersonian and Federalist factions sparred over what they deemed the correct course that the government should take, especially between the issue of a centralized or de-centralized government. That was not the only time when “states’ rights” was a central concept in American politics, and it would only become more relevant as the 19th century unfolded. In the present day, this concept has become increasingly invoked by, and affiliated with, American conservatives. But in the past, the issue was less partisan, and had different connotations from today.

States' Rights vs. Federal Authority (Discussion) - The American Civil War

This being the case, I am interested in studying the evolution of “states’ rights” throughout the 19th century, and to utilize digital historical tools and methods to do so. One way that I will do this is by using Google Ngram to identify periods when the term was used more, and to draw correlations between it and other issues of the time. I will also utilize the Library of Congress’ database, so that I may find specific documents relevant to the issue of “states’ rights.” Finally, I will run certain texts and documents that I find on the LOC website through Voyant, so that I may draw further correlations between “states’ rights” and other issues that are paired with it, like tariffs, slavery, taxes, etc. Ultimately, I hope that this project will help me identify certain patterns between the invocation of “states’ rights,” and the occurrence of certain political crises that arose simultaneously with “states’ rights” usage. If this is accomplished, then hopefully it will demonstrate the fluidness by which the concept is invoked, and determine when, and how, it is invoked.

HistoryTube: The YouTube Trend of History Through Reenactment

History reenactment has always been an interactive and engaging way for museums and historic sites to educate the visitors. I also notice that over the years there is a growing trend of reenactment video channels on Youtube. For my print project, I’m interested in analyzing the history channels on Youtube, specifically on the channels that use history reenactment as their main vehicle to present history. I plan to look into several Youtube Channels, such as Drunk History and CrowsEyeProductions.

Drunk History is an educational comedy series where a historical event was recounted by a drunk narrator and reenacted in each episode. Drunk History was aired in 2013 and continued for six seasons until 2020. The series recreated some of the most famous nationals historical events including the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment. The series also highlighted some of the lesser-known stories, such as Oney Judge, an African American women enslaved by the Washington family, who became the subject of an intense manhunt after she escaped from the family, or Nellie Bly, an American journalist who exposed the condition of the mental health institution in the 1880s and prompted the asylum reform by faking insanity to enter the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island and record what she saw. The series took on a fresh spin on history storytelling, it used comedy to draw the audience’s attention while recounting a historical event. The historic accuracy of the series remained a point of concern for many history channels on Youtube. The content of Drunk History was also explored and examined by several independent newspapers. There have not been any major disputes on the stories told in the series. However, it is clear that the reenactment element and the character dialogues of the series are only intended to serve as comedy and are not historically accurate. 

Season 4 Episode 6 “Kpop Sisters”

Different from Drunk History, The Crows Eye Productions tries to make the historical reenactment as realistic as possible. The channel has a series titled “Getting Dressed in…” where each episode would show how it was like to get dressed in a historic period. The channel started in 2007, has 342K subscribers, and has produced 28 “Getting Dressed in …” videos and many other history reenactment videos. In some videos, there are only music backgrounds, the actors would reenact the scene without any narration. In more recent videos on the channel, more videos show the reenactments being narrated and the audience is given a historical background of the period and places the video is based on and detailed descriptions of the clothing used in the video. The time period range of these videos is very wide, with the earliest time in the 14th century to the 1960s. The Crows Eye Productions channel mainly focuses on fashion and clothing in history, although it also expanded its production to create series such as “Walk with me through time”, featuring videos set in different time periods with the narration of extract from literature in the time period. 

From video “Getting dressed in the 18th century”

I am very curious to examine how these platforms communicate and engage with their audience using history reenactment? How is the audience’s reaction towards these approaches? How historically accurate are these contents? Could these platforms reach a broader audience compared to traditional history television channels? I have also come across many other similar channels that are involved with history reenactments, such as Townsends, a channel that focused on the 18th Century lifestyle, English Heritage, and WWII History and Reenacting. Depending on the research of these two channels, I am open to including more channels in the project.

Folklore and the Fear Factor: The Evolution of Legends in the Era of Reddit

In the era of technology, modern medicine, and science, the concept that people still believe in, share, and adhere to folklore might sound absurd. Take, for instance, the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The story of a colorfully dressed rat catcher, hired by the town of Hamelin, who plays his flute, entrancing the pests and leading them out of the town. When the town refused to pay for his services, however, the Piper used his flute to lure a new set of victims: the town’s children. Lured by his tune, the children left town and vanished never to be seen again. By today’s standards, this story sounds more than a little odd, the type of tale that would be unlikely to pass the test of time as it once did. However, if you dig more deeply into that story, a truth unfolds.

Pied Piper of Hamelin rendition, copied from the glass window of the Market Church in Hamelin.

While the rats were a later addition to the story, one common truth remained: a stranger came to town, and left with the children. In 1227, approximately 50 years prior to the story in Hamelin, the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark fought in a battle that pushed back Danish borders. Colorfully dressed Roman salesmen, often called “locators,” travelled the land to find skilled men and women to move north to protect the Empire’s new borders. For obvious reasons, this was a hard sell. For towns like Hamelin, losing skilled laborers could put the town at risk. As a result, it was common practice to sell or give away children to this cause when locators came into town. For Hamelin, the tracing of surnames to new towns proves the less savory version of this folktale: a town made the collective decision to sell their children to locators to ship off to new towns. From there a collective story was constructed as a way to cope with their actions for years to come, and the Pied Piper was born.

Much like those that came before us, humans still tell stories to make sense of the world. Most especially, we continue to be drawn in by stories of tragedy, of what hides in the dark, or what steals our children. Our modern legends can be traced in figures such as the Slender Man. Slender Man, an unnaturally thin and tall humanoid creature, is said to stalk, abduct, and traumatize it’s victims, usually children or young adults. His story began on the Something Awful forum, with a couple of doctored photos, but those on the forum (and on other forums, such as Reddit and 4chan) began adding narrative and visual art, building a mythos of Slender Man.

The legend increased in popularity, showing up first in video games, blending into traditional popular culture, and then movies. Unfortunately, much of this limelight was a result of a 2014 tragedy, when two 12 year old girls lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her as an “offering” to Slender Man. Their actions, as awful as it may seem, continue to show the pervasive power of folklore in the modern era.

Film poster for Slender Man Movie, released 2018

While the original Slender Man story proliferated on a pre-Reddit site, there is little doubt that Reddit has become a breeding ground for modern day folkore. Subreddits such as r/creepypasta, r/nosleep, r/letsnotmeet, and more have acted as a space for entire communities built around the purpose of creating, sharing, and commenting on scary stories.

For now, my primary question remains: when we compare these stories against more traditional folklore, what role does a medium such as Reddit or TikTok play in the creation and proliferation of folklore? And in the era of science and technology, are we somehow more beholden to these stories than ever before?

In my project, I am hoping to explore some of the most popular subreddits and examples of modern folklore, examining how the medium of social media plays a part in the creation and proliferation of folklore. Without our knowledge, have these stories become even more important to our societies than the folktales we believe we have left behind?

For now, I will look at examples such as Slender Man (and other creepypasta figures) and trends such as Randonautica to track how they show up in social media (most likely using tools such as Voyant, Google n-gram, and topic modeling programs where possible). From there, I will attempt to assess the role these platforms play in the potency of the stories told, as well as assessing the lasting power of the legends in the context of “virality” and the fleeting nature of trends online.


Blank, Trevor J., and Lynne S. McNeill. “Introduction: Fear Has No Face: Creepypasta as Digital Legendry.” In Slender Man Is Coming: Creepypasta and Contemporary Legends on the Internet, edited by Blank Trevor J. and McNeill Lynne S., 3-24. Logan: University Press of Colorado, 2018. Accessed February 24, 2021.

Manhke, Aaron hosts, “A Stranger Among Us,” Lore (podcast). December 28, 2015. Accessed February 24, 2021.


Cookbooks and Cuisine in the United States

After growing up attending potluck dinners at family reunions and helping my mom recreate recipes from the annual church cookbook, the community and personal relationships surrounding food has always a memorable and influential part of my upbringing. When I was in middle school, I remember receiving my first cookbook from my aunt. She had filled the recipe cards with some of her favorite recipes as well as some dishes that her parents and grandparents taught her. On the back of each recipe, she wrote about these family connections to the dishes or brief anecdotes about making the food for various events. She also included several pages of blank cards for me to contribute new recipes.

In addition to my aunt’s gifted cookbook, my family has accumulated several cookbooks over time, ranging from commercially printed volumes full of recipes from professional chefs, to culturally specific recipes, to the annual church cookbook crowdsourced for fundraising purposes. Looking through the volumes, some of the cookbooks contain a fascinating range of anecdotes, cultural histories, and community histories accompanying some of the recipes. Others give sparse, direct language for creating the dishes. Due to variety of approaches for sharing recipes, I began to wonder about the development of cookbooks over time, which led me to the Michigan State University Libraries’ Feeding America Project.

Landing page for the Feeding America Project at MSU Libraries

The Feeding America Project, was a digitization project made possible through a 2001 IMLS National Leadership grant. The project researchers carefully selected 75 books out of nearly 7,000 volumes of cookbooks held in the MSU Libraries’ Cookery and Food Collection to represent the history of cookbooks in America. The selected cookbooks cover various themes and include publications from 1798 to 1922. In order to give a broad overview of the cookbooks found in the United States, the digitized collection includes cookbooks published for a variety of audiences and cultural regions (both nationally and internationally). In addition to scanning each page of the selected books, project participants transcribed each of the selected cookbooks by undergraduate teams of typists and proofread. As a result, the full text transcriptions of each of the digitized volumes are easily accessible.

For my print project, I am interested in analyzing the cookbooks found in Michigan State University’s Feeding America online collection. I think it would be interesting to see how the language used in the cookbooks changes over time and/or based on the theme of the cookbooks. Since the cookbooks are tagged by subject, I think it would be particularly interesting to analyze the way that Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine is represented. With the transcription text available for each cookbook, I could input each of the books into Voyant and analyze the texts thought distant reading, similar to Cameron Blevins’ topic modeling of Martha Ballard’s diary.

Example of one of the cookbooks in the collection. This book was published in 1914.

If this scope of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine becomes too narrow to draw analysis from the texts, I could incorporate other cookbooks found in the collection to draw additional comparisons. I think it would also be interesting to see if I could analyze differences between the cookbooks representing Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine and the cookbooks representing regions of the United States. Through either method, I am curious to see if the language used in the cookbooks can reveal additional historical context to foodways and food culture in the United States.