History of marriage: A list of 100 19th-century marriages.

A Tragic Catalog of 100 Mostly Miserable 19th-Century Marriages 

A Tragic Catalog of 100 Mostly Miserable 19th-Century Marriages 

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
March 3 2015 12:49 PM

A Tragic Catalog of 100 Mostly Miserable 19th-Century Marriages 

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This survey of the outcomes of 100 marriages, conducted by German doctor Anton Gross-Hoffinger and published in Leipzig in 1847, was reprinted in early sexologist Iwan Bloch’s book The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, first published in 1907.

Gross-Hoffinger, who included this list in an 1847 book titled The Fate of Women and Prostitution, compiled it to support his argument that it was marriage, rather than prostitution, that needed reform. Bloch used the list to show the many ways that marriage—observed across social classes—resulted in unsatisfying arrangements. 

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Taking an interdisciplinary approach to sexuality, Bloch framed his research through anthropological, sociological, historical, and literary studies. In a history of sexology, Erwin J. Haeberle names Bloch as an inventor of the field. Bloch was an enthusiastic former dermatologist who advanced an ambitious approach that sought nothing less than to produce a “comprehensive treatise on the whole of sexual life.”

Bloch, like other sexologists, was a reformer with some radical ideas. In this book, he argued for the amendment of laws relating to marriage and divorce, writing that the institution generally had miserable results because of the uneven social and economic status of men and women.

Calling marriage “coercive,” an institution people tumbled into out of social pressure, Bloch argued that it would be better to allow “free love” among consenting adults than to tacitly sanction “openly casual transitory extra-conjugal sexual intercourse” with prostitutes, mistresses, and exploited domestic servants. Gross-Hoffinger’s list, which contained many anecdotal instances of marriages sustained only through the careful ignorance of infidelity, helped him prove his point.

I first saw this list in a post about historical list-making on the Public Domain Review.

1Marriages
The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, Iwan Bloch, 1909.

Internet Archive.

2Marriages
The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, Iwan Bloch, 1909.

Internet Archive.

3Marriages
The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, Iwan Bloch, 1909.

Internet Archive.

4Marriages
The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, Iwan Bloch, 1909.

Internet Archive.

5Marriages
The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization, Iwan Bloch, 1909.

Internet Archive.