One day, browsing through the archives of The New York Times, we found this article. It was dated April 4, 1886.

It had not escaped us that, all around us, people were pairing up. It was like those children's book illustrations of all giraffes and snakes and tarantulas forming a winding line to clamber up the gangplank into Noah's Ark. We had not noticed any signs of an incipient flood but still, this pairing off.

This land of the couples was a different one. The couples did not do many things without each other. When they socialized, it was increasingly in the company of other couples. They seemed fortresslike. Finished.

Had it always been this way? An article like this was a message in a bottle, washed ashore from a past that even our great-grandparents would have no memory of. This Society of Bachelors seemed like a good sort - wishing those of their number who found romantically companionship well, but also looking out for one another if they remained alone.

America in the 19th century was full of societies like these. We complain today about feeling rootless and disconnected but very few people today are capable of having an experience that compareas to the dislocations of the 1800's.

America was thronging with people who had delibrately unsettled themselves from homes and familiar communities that they would never see again. The societies, known as Benevolent Societies, were ways for strangers to agree to look out for each other in a way that the socieies they grew up in once would have forced them to. The societies were often named after places - countries and villages - but they were also named after ideals, even impossible ones.

What would such a society do today? It would reassure. It would not bear ill will towards the contentment of others. It would make note of the solidarity that can be found outside of the story that the larger world around one is intent on living.

Poster series, silkscreened on colored paper with metallic ink, 2012. Concept by Shippping & Receiving. Graphic design by Colleen Paz.