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.