Our latest Digital Library item to be made available in Project Gutenberg through the Distributed Proofreaders project is a late-19th-century relationship advice book: How to Get Married, Although a Woman, by “A Young Widow.”
As the title suggests, the book attempts to address the difficulties women faced during a time when they were often dependent on marriage for survival, but also were socially discouraged from explicitly expressing interest in the subject. While one might hope for a book critical of the restrictive social systems of its time, what this actually provides is a set of rules for conforming to those systems, largely founded upon stereotypical views of both men and women. It is also heavily padded with poetry and quotations, some of limited relevance to the topic at hand.
Like many non-fiction works from this period, its usefulness for its intended purpose has long-since expired; however, as a primary source document, it offers a window into a very different time, and could prove useful in various fields of historical research.
If you are interested in learning more, the whole book is available for free at Project Gutenberg to read online or download in popular eBook formats.