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Dollar Princesses: Topics in Chronicling America

Beginning in the late 1800s, American heiresses married more than a third of the House of Lords. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Dollar Princesses” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Cartoon illustration of Dollar Princesses' influence on European men of wealth. September 28, 1913. El Paso Herald (El Paso, TX), Image 33. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Europe is broke and America seeks social status. The solution? European nobility marries rich, beautiful American socialites looking for aristocracy. These Gilded Age heiresses married more than a third of the titles represented in the House of Lords, and announcements of these transatlantic marriages were pervasive in the newspapers of the day. American influence was carried overseas, with many brides literally changing the face of Europe, by renovating the stately estates of Edwardian England. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

1874 Daughter of New York financier, Miss Jeanette ‘Jennie’ Jerome, marries Lord Randolph Spencer Churchill.
1878 Miss Mary ‘Minnie’ Stevens, daughter of Mr. Paran Stevens, a popular leader of New York society, marries British General Sir Arthur Henry Fitzroy Paget. For her social skills abroad, she’s deemed ‘the American queen of British society’ and plays the million dollar matchmaker to American girls and British men.
1879 Nancy Langhorne, Virginia beauty, marries William Waldorf Astor. She later becomes the first woman to take a seat in the British parliament.
1895 Miss Mary Leiter, the Marshall Field heiress, marries Lord Curzon. He is appointed Viceroy of India three years later, giving Mary the highest position an American woman has ever held in the British empire.
1903 Miss Mary ‘May’ Goelet, of the prominent Goelet family of New York, marries the Henry Innes-Ker, 8th Duke of Roxburghe.
1910 Miss Margaretta Drexel, daughter of Anthony J. Drexel, a well-known Philadelphia banker, marries Guy Montague George Finch-Hatton aka Viscount Maidstone.