Politically correct or not – days of old

Source: Wikimedia

I’ve been researching old records. Oh my! Talk about being offensive at least by current standards.

European birth records from the 1800s list whether a child is legitimate or illegitimate. Yep, it has its own column. Whoa! Seriously? Was the mother required to wear a scarlet “A” on her pinafore? What about the father? Perhaps they had pillories for offenders. Sometimes there were notations (totally unreadable) and the check was crossed out and moved to the legit column. A sign of a shotgun marriage? Was this the start of gun rights?

That was shocking enough but moving over to ‘Merica! Marriage records from the early twentieth century in the United States had the damnedest questions!

“Are you an imbecile, epileptic, of unsound mind or under the guardianship of a person with an unsound mind?”

Yes that’s a real question. Remember that imbecile is not the insult you hurled at the person sitting across the aisle in 6th grade. It’s a medical term. It means stupid. (Yes, I looked it up for you. You’re welcome!)

Just for a second can you imagine anyone checking that off? I know for a fact that stupid people got married and procreated. They are still around today. Had people been honest, this group would have died out by now. Just like dinosaurs.

Epileptic? Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. Perhaps back then they thought it was a sign of the devil. Or black magic.

Unsound mind. We all know those people married and procreated and voted for very weird candidates! How can you call your parents unsound (unless you saw their voting record!)?

“Are you under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics?” Do you know any drunk or addict who freely admits it? Would they check off a box? Not unless it came with a free drink or doobie. (Is that an old term? Did I just age myself?)

“Have you lived in an asylum or house for the indigent within the last five years?” Not exactly sure what the asylum part was getting to but was it bad to be poor? Perhaps poor people couldn’t marry. At least for five years. That gave them time to win the lottery.

“Are you able to support a family?” That question needs to be asked of every person prior to sex. Perhaps there’s an app for that.

This post was brought to you from a person still in the ancestry research hole. Please send a pizza and beer.



49 thoughts on “Politically correct or not – days of old

  1. Pingback: Politically correct or not – days of old — Views and Mews by Coffee Kat | Vincent's Thought

  2. I am laughing my head off! I wonder who got to decide whether someone was an imbecile or not. I know there is a lot of criticism today from some corners not happy with being so sensitive–I hate the “snowflake” comments–but I’m glad we’ve moved on from these questions! Wow…but still laughing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Before we married, we had to take a blood test. (Are they still doing that?) They found that our blood was incompatible since I was rh negative We got married anyway. Fortunately, they invented the serum to solve the rh problem while I was pregnant.

    Unpleasant words fall out of fashion so quickly. I wonder how many words we went through to get from imbecile to mentally challenged.

    I’m must be old enough to know, but I don’t know what a doobie is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blood tests weren’t required when I got married 10 years ago so maybe not anymore. I thought it was to check for syphilis but I guess not. From my grade school days I remember imbecile, moron and retard. They were never used in a medical fashion but to hurl insults (until the nun overheard us). I don’t know what kids use today. A doobie is a marijuana cigarette. You were lucky with your rh factor. I had a girlfriend who lost her first child but was able to carry a second one to full term with great results.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looking back always is interesting – and funny. (So many can’t accept context and only get outraged these days, right?)
    I wonder, how many could actually read what was written, did nervousness at being judged or not understanding language or dialect give odd answers (people have to blurt stuff out and can’t seem to stop with one word answers when it would be smart…if only we heard the verbal responses…and prep by others before the quiz)
    Wonder if these questions weren’t an early form of “not my fault, they said…” CYA? (and possible grounds for separation/spouse abuse later when the real truth emerged?)
    Real life is so much better than fiction!
    Loved the post – and that you’re having fun with it all

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of these were church records. I can see a (horny) crusty old priest eyeing up a young maiden with a babe in her arm, casting a judgmental eye. There were tons of illegits too. No birth control and probably no sex education, just hormones driving everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s pretty hilarious that this was all on the honor system.

    Also, the problem with stupid people is that they’re too stupid to know they’re stupid. They think they’re brilliant. Don’t believe me? Did you see Nurnberg on CNN?!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Kate – I am so glad that you still find time to blog while being held captive in the ‘ancestry research tunnel’. I need my morning chuckle!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Fascinating as you delve deeper!
    Can you imagine what birth certificates will look like in say 100 years? Sex : V (varied), N (neither) TBA (to be advised) E (either)
    Parents; M32 and F50 . I shudder to think where we’re going with ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. nevertheless it is super interesting….we had an old police record because one of my ancestors was an artist and created his own money… we howled with laughter, but for this guy it was probably not really funny :O)

    Liked by 2 people

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