Review of A History of Matrimonial Institutions

A History of Matrimonial Institutions, Chiefly in England and the United States; with an Introductory Analysis of the Literature and the Theories of Primitive Marriage and the Family. By GEORGE ELLIOTT HOWARD, PH.D., Professorial Lecturer in the University of Chicago. Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 1904. 3 vols. Pp. xv + 473 ; 497; 449. $10.

THIS work is veritably a magnum opus. No work of similar scope has heretofore been attempted, and Dr. Howard has carried

( 130) out his plan with great ability and conscientiousness-evidently at the cost of an almost inestimable amount of labor.

As a preliminary to the study of the history of marriage in historical times Part I is devoted to the analysis and discussion of the theories of the origin of marriage and the family. This discussion is designed to serve as a background to the more special studies of marriage in England and the United States, but it cannot be ignored by specialists, Its value is increased also by the very full bibliographical notes preceding each chapter.

Part II " Matrimonial Institutions in England," is the best and most accessible treatment of old English wife-purchase, the rise of ecclesiastical marriage, the, rise of civil marriage, and the history of separation and divorce in England. A vast amount of literature on the subject of marriage has been digested. The bibliographical notes are continued in the section (and throughout the book), and the whole forms an introduction to the most important and original portion of the work- Part III, "Matrimonial Institutions in the United States." In this-part the writer does a great deal of pioneer work of the highest value. He goes directly to the sources, making exhaustive use of the records of the colonial and provincial courts, the publications of historical societies, and the various compilations of statutes. Much of the material used in this section was consulted in manuscript form. The marriage customs of New England and of the southern and middle colonies are dealt with in an intimate and thoroughgoing manner, and this portion of the book is very fascinating reading, surpassing, without a doubt, the historical romances dealing with the same period. The history of divorce in the American colonies is treated in chap. xv, marriage legislation in the United States from 1776 to the end of 1903 is treated in chap. xvi, and divorce legislation for the same period in chap. xvii. From one standpoint -that of the reformer-these last chapters, and the last chapter of all-"Problems of Marriage and the Family,"-are the most important ones in the work.

The anxious attention of the legal and social reformer is being especially directed to the character of our state legislation regarding marriage and divorce. To him therefore it is hoped the last three chapters may prove helpful. Summaries of statutes as they stood at particular dates have indeed appeared. The digest contained in the government Report is of great value for the time of its compilation ; but no attempt seems ever to have been made to provide a systematic historical record. In these chapters —the result of

( 131) several years' labor —the laws of all the states and territories enacted since the Revolution have been analyzed with some regard to details. (Preface.)

A very valuable and commendable feature of Dr. Howard's great work is the bibliography of marriage appended to Vol. III, comprising 138 pages, and the most complete published. There are in addition a case index, and an excellent subject index.

It would he difficult to name a recent work which is of so great interest at once to the historian, to the sociologist, and to the man of law as this one. We predict also that it will appeal strongly to the intelligent public.



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