Skip to main content

HON 1000: ‘Going Steady?’: Documenting the History of Dating in American Culture, 1940-1990 (Anderson/Fall 2016)

In Progress

film still, "How Do You Choose A Date?" from "Dating Do's and Don'ts" film, Prelinger ArchivesThis is a modified version of the course guide for the Fall 2016 version of HON 1000: 'Going Steady?': Documenting the History of Dating in American Culture, 1940-1990," including changes likely to be included in the Fall 2018 version of this course (course not taught in Fall 2017).

An updated syllabus and my accompanying article about this course is now available in Syllabus Journal (June 2017; open access).

For The First Day of Class: Seventeen Quizzes:

Before the first day of class, take one of these online quizzes. Think about the questions asked and the answers you could choose from.

Print out your result and bring it to class for discussion.

Language Use

When we work with primary sources (that is, materials created during the time period that we are studying--for this course, between 1940 and 1990) we are likely to encounter language and concepts that are uncomfortable and/or considered now to be offensive.

History can be very ugly. 

It is important that we understand that these words and concepts are part of history.

It is also important that we understand the potential of these words and concepts to be upsetting or offensive today. 

Please be mindful of how you use this language, and be respectful when using it. 

We will be likely be discussing some potentially controversial topics in this course, including date rape, teen pregnancy, LGBTQIQA identities, and other topics.

Disrespectful use of language referring to sex and gender representation, race, religion, sexual orientation, sexual misconduct, and so on (including "jokes") may result in removal from the class session (constituting an unexcused absence) or from the course entirely. 

While humor can help us think about challenging topics, be mindful and avoid derogatory jokes (i.e. sexist, racist, or homophobic jokes, or jokes about rape or sexual violence)

What Are Primary Sources?

We will be focusing on PRIMARY SOURCES in this course.

(image from

Primary sources are the raw materials of historical research - they are the documents or artifacts closest to the topic of investigation. Often they are created during the time period which is being studied (correspondence, diaries, newspapers, government documents, art) but they can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants (memoirs, oral histories). You may find primary sources in their original format (usually in an archive) or reproduced in a variety of ways: books, microfilm, digital, etc.

In contrast...

Secondary sources are interpretations of events written after an examination of primary sources and usually other secondary sources, such as books and journal articles.

When you write a research paper, you are creating a secondary source!

Dating Do's and Don't's (video, 1949)

Click image to view this 1949 "how-to" film, "Dating Do's and Don't's"

Courtesy of the Prelinger Archives (which houses many more teen "how-to" educational films)