Did they wear tights in the 1920s? And also, can we put a date on it?
The answer, dear readers, is yes.
The History of the Teen-Maid
In the year 1869, in the midst of the Great Depression (and looking at it from the current point of view, this could even be worse) an American doctor named William Jennings Bryan proposed an alternative to war. He argued that the most efficient way to alleviate poverty would be to give every American the power to marry, and to not just marry but to marry at age 16.
At the behest of his mother-in-law — the “Nurse-General of the Army” — he proposed the idea of allowing girls to have babies on college campuses, and as much as possible to do so at home. This meant boys couldn’t get married to older women, and girls had to pay less to get married if they weren’t already married.
But how could I know that this was going to work?
A few days later, I read that one of his advisors, a local clergyman named John C. Calhoun, had been a supporter of Bryan’s idea. So I asked him for his opinion. “We are not doing anything that has any practical application to the great mass of mankind,” Calhoun replied, “so long as it is of such a nature to interfere with the social development that exists.” The answer?
“The great part of mankind, for the most part, can be induced to marry much sooner, by making the cost of that time too low for the bride’s parents. I should prefer that all who choose to marry should have the option of marrying at any age they please.”
If they can’t get married sooner, at all, and if they have to pay too much for the wedding, it seems to me that all the good feelings a bride gives her bridegroom, will be just as much of a bad idea as the dowry.
It is not hard to find anecdotes and stories to help us see where our idea of social order would have led. As the social history book The Oxford Companion to Victorian Culture pointed out, in 1869, when Bryan proposed the idea, “the average age of marriage for a woman was 23. Women generally had few opportunities to become married until much later on.” This is also when the modern-day “right” to marry was introduced:
A young man in London named William Lawrence
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