Craig Foster provides data on regional marriage ages between 1850-1880.

Academic / Technical Report
Craig Foster

Craig L. Foster, "Assessing the Criticism of Early-Age Latter-Day Saint Marriages," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 211-213

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
Craig Foster
Reading Public


Of particular interest, when the statistics are analyzed by census region, they tell a very interesting story about marriage-age trends. The regions were analyzed by northern regions and southern regions where the percentage of married 15- to 19-year-olds was greater in the southern regions. Even more significant, both the New England and Mid-Atlantic women were above the U.S. average for mean age and below the average percent of females married. The statistical difference between the East-North Central census region and the West-North Central region is fascinating. In the 1850s East-North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) the percentage of married women age 15 to 19 was 12.4. The percentage rose to 12.9 in 1860 but by 1880 had fallen to 9.8. The West-North Central region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) had a mean marriage age below the national average at 21.4. These statistics demonstrate why using localities in Massachusetts and Michigan as a comparison with Utah — as was done in the pedogamy series — truly is like comparing apples to oranges.

The East-South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) and the West-South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) had even lower mean marriage ages and higher percentages of married women in the 15 to 19 cohort. Unfortunately, no statistics were available for the 1850 census in the Mountain and Pacific census regions, and there was no mean marriage age for females from the 1860 census. However, the percentage of married women between 15 and 19 was 32.4, and in 1870 it was 27.5%. These percentages represented a third in 1860 and well over a quarter in 1870 of married women in the combined Mountain and Pacific regions — a significant number, indeed. Moreover, the mean marriage age for women in 1870 was 20.1 — almost five years younger than women’s mean marriage age in New England, almost four years younger than women in the Mid-Atlantic, and two years younger than women in East-North central.

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