Friday, February 8, 2008

The Superfluous Woman

While cleaning out the garage, I stumbled upon some photocopies of a November 1, 1896 New York paper. It talks about the "superfluous woman". Hmmm...

Matrimonial Chances in New York as Indicated by Our Vital Statistics


There is an Average of Ninety-Three Marriages a Day in This City.

The usual view of marriage is the tender, pathetic, romantic, sentimental one, but a look at it from the heartless statistical side is full of interest, showing the laws under which the state of matrimony is entered - a quite constant relation between the sexes as to the age for mating and forecast of probabilities. Here on Manhattan Island, with its two millions of inhabitants, men and women are being married and are even given in marriage, presumably thinking only of each other, but the calculating Health Department has a record of them, and some surprising results are shown by the tabulations, the dry details, the matter-of-fact statistics....

The widow's chance for marrying is a good one. She doesn't always court a second venture, but when she does she is a dangerous rival to the maid who is greatly her junior. We find that a little mor ehtan half of the maids who marry do so between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, while half of the widows who marry do so between thirty and fifty...

The much talked of superfluous woman, who must go through life without a husband because there are not men enough to go around, does not appear in New York to an alarming extent.

Observe how they come and go and the numbers that are left. During the last twleve months, in round numbers, 26,000 males were born and 24,500 females. But the death rate throws the balance the other way, for 24,500 males died and 20,000 females. That leaves the yearly balance of 1,200 in favor of women. of the things that really popped out is this: the death rate sure was high back then...

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