A bed with a dip in the middle.

Bundling was a courtship practice popular in New England during the Colonial period in which a couple were allowed to share a bed before marriage. The couple slept in the female's bed in her parents' house and were expected to refrain from sexual intercourse. To ensure this, a barrier was sometimes placed between them. Families viewed bundling as a way for couples to privately become familiar without the risk of sexual impropriety.

Bundling Boards

A bundling board was a wooden plank used to keep the man and woman separate from one another in bed. Boards might be as long as the bed itself and varied in style. Some rose quite high and created a substantial barrier between the bed's occupants. Others were shorter and largely acted as a symbolic reminder for each to remain on opposite sides of the bed. As a contraceptive device then, the bundling board was not very effective, and premarital pregnancies were not uncommon in Colonial times.

Other Barriers

Instead of using a board, parents might instead keep their daughter separate from her suitor by placing her in a bundling bag -- a body-length bag preventing physical contact -- or by separating the couple with bed-length pillow known as a bolster.