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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: 03 July 2022

Are They Marrying Too Young?

Are They Marrying Too Young?

The Teenage Marriage “Crisis” of the Postwar Years

(p.226) Nine Are They Marrying Too Young?
American Child Bride

Nicholas L. Syrett

University of North Carolina Press

Following World War II, the age of first marriage dipped to an all-century low. Numbers of teen brides and grooms soared through the early 1960s, and then quickly dissipated. While early marriage fit right into a United States bent on fighting the Cold War with domestic stability at home, experts, journalists, and academics also bemoaned the large numbers of high school students who married in these decades. This chapter argues that the uptick in early marriage, especially among white urban and suburban dwellers, was caused by conflicting messages about sex, which resulted in premarital pregnancies and shotgun weddings; a nationwide emphasis on domesticity; and by cravings by teenagers for adulthood, symbolized through marriage. While rates of early marriage for rural and nonwhite residents remained steady, the real change here was a white middle-class early marriage surge, which is what resulted in all the expert hand-wringing.

Keywords:   Cold War, Domesticity, Expert advice, Teenage marriage, High school students, Premarital pregnancies, Shotgun weddings, Adulthood, White middle-class teenagers

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