When young ladies’ letters had to pass inspection

“An 1837 guide to women’s conduct recognized the value of honoring a request to maintain a confidential correspondence, but insisted that a young woman ‘make an exception in favor of [her] mother…. for young ladies under age should gracefully acknowledge their parents’ right of inspection.’

“In 1873, the ‘Young Women’s Column’ in the North Carolina Presbyterian took a harder line, decreeing that ‘a girl under nineteen or twenty should never be allowed’ to correspond with a young man, ‘and certainly never without the inspection of her mother or some very much older friend.’ ”

— From “The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America” by David M. Henkin (2008)