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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 Comes Early in the Mountains

Marriage Comes Early in the Mountains

The Persistence of Child Marriage in the Rural South

(p.202) Eight Marriage Comes Early in the Mountains
American Child Bride

Nicholas L. Syrett

University of North Carolina Press

Using the 1937 Appalachian marriage of nine-year-old Eunice Winstead and twenty-two-year-old Charlie Johns, and the subsequent international attention it received as a prism, this chapter focuses on the persistence of very youthful marriage in the rural southern United States. During the Great Depression, when rates of marriage were down and the age of first marriage increased, minors continued to marry at very high numbers in rural southern states. This chapter argues that isolation, poverty, child labor, poor schooling, and the lack of age consciouness that was its consequence, account for this trend. In communities where calendar age had far less meaning than it did among the middle class and urban residents, white, black and Latino Americans in rural America continued to countenance child marriage in part because they did not see it as noteworthy. Urbanites voiced their horror for the practice in newspapers, magazines, and in film using a language of civilization to condemn those they perceived as backwards barbarians.

Keywords:   Eunice Winstead, Charlie Johns, Appalachia, Depression, Rural South, Child labor, Rural schooling, Poverty, Age consciouness, Civilization

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