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American Child BrideA History of Minors and Marriage in the United States$
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Nicholas L. Syrett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629537

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629537.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

Marriage Reform Is Still an Unplowed Field

Marriage Reform Is Still an Unplowed Field

Reformers Target Child Marriage during the 1920s

(p.165) Seven Marriage Reform Is Still an Unplowed Field
American Child Bride

Nicholas L. Syrett

University of North Carolina Press

In 1926 Peaches and Daddy (Frances Heenan and Edward Browning) were married, becoming one of the biggest tabloid sensations of the 1920s. Separated in age by about 40 years, their marriage led to new understandings of child marriage as a backdoor to illicit sex and to rumors of pedophilia. It also engergized a generation of reformers, feminists, and social workers, most notably Mary Ellen Richmond, who worked tirelessly to eliminate child marriage in language that placed the welfare of the child first. They worked on many fronts, targeting sexually active adolescents and immigrant families especially, despite the fact that native-born white and black girls and boys were more likely to marry as minors. Feminists in the National Woman’s Party also joined in the struggle, working to equalize the age of consent to marriage and the age of majority on the grounds of legal gender equality, not child protection.

Keywords:   Peaches and Daddy (Frances Heenan and Edward Browning), Pedophilia, Mary Ellen Richmond, Sexually active adolescents, Social workers, Child protection, Immigrant families, National Woman’s Party, Feminists, 1920s

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