Karin Wienholts starts research on matrimonial and contact advertisements

In April 2024, Karin Wienholts, a new external PhD candidate at Radboud University, has started research aiming to offer new insights into changing partner preferences in the Netherlands between 1845 and 2000. For this PhD project, she is using a unique source that has hardly been applied in quantitative historical research before: matrimonial and contact advertisements, while applying an innovative mixed-methods approach including, among others, text mining techniques.

Research on partner choice has traditionally focused on the end-result of the mating process, whereby information on partner preferences is deduced from civil records, such as marriage certificates. Much remains unknown about initial partner preferences in the mating market and how these changed over time in a context of dominant norms and discursive conventions. By using large numbers of matrimonial and contact advertisements published in a variety of Dutch newspapers from the online collection of Delpher, she will first investigate the transition from instrumental to romantic partner choice, following the emergence of the new cultural ideal of the love match that became internalized in western countries in the nineteenth century. Subsequently and guided by theory on the Second Demographic Transition and social role theory, her study will zoom in on the emergence of alternative relationship goals other than heterosexual marriage and gender differences in partner preferences across time.

Her PhD promoters are professor Jan Kok and dr Paul Puschmann. A first article, entitled "From pragmatism to passion: changing partner preferences in Dutch matrimonial and contact advertisements", was published in the journal History of the Family in April 2024.

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History