A woman's decision to marry was closely tied to turn of the twentieth century concerns about race, ethnicity, female employment, and class. The number of never-married women in the United States grew between 1880 and 1920 as a result of the new employment opportunities that appeared in the decades following the Civil War. U.S. census data reveals that during these years the percent of forty-five to fifty-four year old women who were never married climbed to the highest point in United States history, through the 2000 census. However, lifelong singleness was not attractive or even plausible for all women in the United States. Race, ethnicity, class, and location had a profound impact on a woman's marital decision. The racial and/or ethnic group with which a woman identified defined, to a large extent, the pool of men from which she might select a husband and how much pressure was placed upon her to wed. Race and ethnicity, in many cases, also determined what jobs were open to her, how attractive they might be as an alternative to marriage, and what she gained or lost if she chose to marry. White middle class women, particularly those from affluent families, were more likely to remain single than women from other classes or backgrounds because they often had educations that allowed them to move into the new, better paying jobs and affluent families to rely on if they remained single. Geographic location was also important because the jobs and men available in any particular area shaped a woman's decision to marry. However, a woman's race and ethnicity were most important because they provided the parameters through which she measured her life choices.
university of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2010. Major: History. Advisors: Steven Ruggles, Tracey Deutsch. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 246 pages, appendices A-C. Ill. (some col.)
Unclaimed flowers and blossoms protected by Thorns: never-married women in the United States, 1880-1930..
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