Tests of Husbands and Wives

May 23, 2008

BoingBoing has a posting (and perhaps 20 other blogs) on a fascinating booklet hosted on Flickr  titled "Tests for Husbands and Wives" written in 1939 by Dr. George W. Crane, a guide to rating your marriage. The American Psychological Association  (Dr. Crane was a member) probably had the original discussion of the booklet . Go ahead and lookat it, it will seem humorous to the more ‘modern’ of you, to Religious Right types, it may be near perfect.

The test is a list of bad and good traits that each partner would score for the other. You can get 0 to 100, with 76 and above meaning that you would be a great partner.

Dr. Crane’s NYT obit  from 1995 describes him as an conservative activist, a widely read columnist patients in the 1940’s and 1950’s, father of a misbehaving congressman from Illinois, and with what he was most influential with (not the marriage booklet), a pioneer in computer dating services that presaged eHarmony:

The result was the Scientific Marriage Foundation, which used a computer to match men and women based on their answers to elaborate questionaires and the personal observations of a nationwide panel of ministers, priests and rabbis who served as local representatives.

Google came up with very little on the Scientific Marriage Foundation, except really for this article in Look magazine from 1960 that described the need for his service:

Sometimes, in desperation, the lonely man will put a notice in the “personal” columns of newspapers. Mixed in with the frankly erotic notices in such columns are a vast number of apparently sincere marital offers: “Lonely—I am a widower, I need a widow. I’m in the best of health, 57, 140, no dependents. I have steady job and like my work. Am a Jersey man, American, Catholic, not rich, but happy, white.” Or: “Marriage only—Lonely bachelor, 26, college educated, good-looking, wishes to hear from well-educated young lady. Child accepted. Snapshot.” Or: “Master sergeant, gentleman, has retired and needs gal to help civilian him. He’s fat, 50, widower, now in Massachusetts.”

Some unmarried men long for a scientific approach to mate selection. A man in Missouri writes: “Having been indoctrinated in college with the ideal of the scientific method of solving problems, I found that method was applicable in almost every area of life, except in choosing a wife. Why isn’t there some centralized social agency that could at least place men in correspondence with women of reasonably comparable backgrounds? Why isn’t there such an agency for fulfilling this obvious need in our society? . . . ”

Three years ago, just such an agency was started. Named the Scientific Marriage Foundation, it has headquarters in the Hopkins Building, Mellott, Ind. Originated by Dr. George W. Crane, a consulting psychologist who also writes a syndicated column, The Worry Clinic, it has as advisers such religious leaders as the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, Rabbi George Fox and Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy. Thus far, it has arranged for over 5,000 marriages.

Applicants fill out forms, supply character references and attach a photograph. Then they visit a local foundation counselor (usually a minister), who records his own impression of the would-be bride or groom. All of this material is forwarded to the foundation headquarters in Indiana, where the initial “mating” of couples is done by means of an IBM sorting machine. Thus men and women are paired off as to age, race, religion, education and so on. Nearly all of Dr. Crane’s customers have been between the ages of 30 and 60.

The increasing mobility of millions of men and women has made such an agency especially desirable. Ours has become a country of the rootless. A young man who does not marry during the years when the opportunity for a “spontaneous” meeting with a girl at school or at work is greatest often moves on to other cities—away from the familiar surroundings in which he grew up. Hunting for a wife then becomes a much more complex problem. . . .

Credit to the first computer dating service is given to this service in 1966 , but it would seem that Dr. Crane predated at least the concept by almost a decade. The Look article describes the use of a sorting machine only that could count as a sort of "electronic brain" depending on the model used.

George Crane is also known for a quote , "Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good will on earth".  Dr. Crane was good friends with Norman VIncent Peale.

Psychologists know that sincere compliments—appreciation, which is a form of love—mean as much to people as food, work, and the other essentials of normal, happy living. So here is one of your most important opportunities for gaining the good will that is necessary for a successful career, marriage, and for friendships, as well as the satisfaction that comes from being helpful.

AFAIK, no relation to this Dr. Crane , who prefers big city condo living to being on a Midwestern farm.



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