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Most of these women were single, but some were widows, divorcées or runaways.
Asian men also worked through mail-order agencies to find wives as they worked overseas in the 1800s.
A mail-order bride is a woman who lists herself in catalogs and is selected by a man for marriage.
In nineteenth-century America, mail-order brides came from well-developed areas on the Eastern seaboard to marry men in Western frontier lands.
In the twentieth century, the trend was towards women living in developing countries seeking men in more developed nations.
In the twenty-first century, the trend is now based primarily on internet-based meeting places which do not per se qualify as mail-order bride services.
Experian, a market research firm, reports that the top 10 international dating sites attracted 12 million visitors in March 2013, up 29% from March 2012.
Courtship was conducted by letter, until a woman agreed to marry a man she had never met.
Many women wanted to escape their present way of living, gain financial security and see what life on the frontier could offer them.
Many of these marriage agencies are based near women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand, and the Philippines).
International marriage agencies encourage women to register for their services, and facilitate communication and meetings with men from developed regions of North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.