[APG Public List] Time of marriage

Neal Underwood neal4 at comcast.net
Fri Oct 8 18:28:15 MDT 2010

The discussion about time of marriage triggered a question that had been in 
the back of my mind for a while.  I have a database of 16,000 marriages 
from 1818 to 1945 in a rural agriculture-based county in Missouri.  I 
occasionally wondered if there was any time frame that was more frequent, 
particularly since I had casually observed a lot of winter marriages and 
not an overwhelming number May through July and August.  So this looked 
like the opportune time for a quick analysis.  Of all 16,000 marriages from 
1818 to 1945, the percentages are:

  January       7.69%
  February      8.31
  March         7.72
  April         7.55
  May           6.61
  June          7.07
  July          5.90
  August        7.92
  September     9.47
  October      10.54
  November     10.25
  December     10.97

Because the time range is so large at 127 years, I then questioned whether 
the distribution may have shifted over time.  Also, since there were 
probably substantially fewer marriages in the early years, the combined 
results could be significantly skewed. So I divided that range into three 
parts of about 42 years each. The reason I chose three parts is because I 
was performing the calculations manually and three times repetition was 
enough.  If I had more time and proper analysis software, narrower time 
frames might reveal better insights.  But the results from this breakdown are:

                1818-1860      1861-1902     1903-1945
# of marriages:  2064           5517          8396

  January         9.88%           8.70%        6.49%
  February       10.56            8.66         7.49
  March           9.16            8.45         6.90
  April           7.46            7.23         7.75
  May             6.64            5.40         7.37
  June            5.28            5.13         8.84
  July            5.57            4.19         7.11
  August          6.69            5.71         9.68
  September       7.61            9.73         9.74
  October         9.06           12.33         9.72
  November       10.22           11.29         9.60
  December       11.87           13.18         9.31

The numbers do support the popularity of the post-harvest period in the 
early years, while in more contemporary times, the data is distributed more 
evenly, but still with a bias towards fall.  I was surprised by the numbers 
for January through March, as the weather can be very cold in that area 
with substantial snowfalls. This in turn leads to another question, for 
which I do not have even a speculation, is on average how long did couples 
know each other and how long was it between engagement and marriage? Did a 
summer romance result in a fall marriage?  Did meeting at a fall 
post-harvest event result in a winter marriage?  One question answered 
always seems to lead to more.

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