One Year: 1942

Season 4: Episode 2

The Year Everyone Got Married

In 1942, matrimony was a national obsession. How would those weddings change America?


Episode Notes

There were 1.8 million weddings in 1942, the most that had ever been recorded in a single year in American history. But how many of them would last? 98-year-old Millie Summergrad tells the story of one that did: her own. And a pair of brothers explain what it was like to grow up inside the busiest chapel in Yuma, Arizona—the wedding capital of the United States.

One Year is produced by Evan Chung, Sophie Summergrad, Sam Kim, and Josh Levin.

Derek John is senior supervising producer of narrative podcasts and Merritt Jacob is senior technical director.

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Sources for This Episode


Yellin, Emily. Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II, Free Press, 2004.


“Army Calls Up Army Reserve At End of the Terms Now Closing,” Associated Press, Jan. 26, 1943.

“Army Creates Corps for College Students,” Associated Press, May 14, 1942.

Capron, Peggy. “For Wives of Service Men,” New York Times, Oct. 4, 1942.

Curtin, Sally C. and Paul D. Sutton. “Marriage Rates in the United States, 1900–2018,” CDC, 2018.

“Easy Nuptials Lure Hordes Across State Lines,” Associated Press, Jan. 26, 1941.

Fisher, John. “House Passes 18-19 Draft; Rejects Curb,” Chicago Tribune, Nov. 11, 1942.

“Flood of Marriages Marks Our War Entry; Some Cities Report Increases up to 150%,” United Press International, Jan. 10, 1942.

“Former Yuma Justice of Peace Lutes Dead,” Arizona Republic, Oct. 25, 1962.

Furlough Brides,” Life, June, 22, 1942.

Garelick, Avi and Andrew Schustek. “The Rise and Fall of the Coops,” Jewish Currents, Dec. 7, 2020.

Harris, Megan. “Beyond ‘I Regret to Inform You,’ ” Library of Congress, Feb. 23, 2015.

Holt, Jane. “For a Wartime Wedding,” New York Times, April 12, 1942.

It’s Your War, Too: Women in World War II,” the National WWII Museum New Orleans, March 13, 2020.

Jere, Daniel. “The Whys of War Divorces,” New York Times, Feb. 3, 1946.

“Judge Lutes Resigns as Justice of Peace Here; Wife is Appointed,” Yuma Weekly Sun and Yuma Examiner, March 24, 1944.

“Love Rationed in California,” Associated Press, Feb. 16, 1943.

McLain, Gene. “Oddities in Arizona’s News,” Arizona Republic, Dec. 2, 1942.

McLain, Gene. “Yuma—Marriage Mill,” Arizona Republic, March 6, 1949.

Purtill, Corinne. “The unromantic, untold story of the great US divorce spree of 1946,” Quartz, June 28, 2018.

Ross, McKenna. “Find out how Las Vegas become wedding capital of the world,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 5, 2022.

Soldiers’ Wedding,” Life, May 4, 1942.

“State Marriage Trade Lost: California Legislature Passes Measure to Repeal ‘Gin Marriage’ Law,” Arizona Republic, April 30, 1943.

“Three Ways to Enlist,” New York Daily News, April 26, 1942.

Towne, Douglas. “The Best Little Hitchin’ Post in Arizona,” Phoenix Magazine, Jan. 23, 2020.

Trillin, Calvin. “The Coops,” the New Yorker, Aug. 1, 1977.

Yellin, Emily. “Lining Up for Wartime Weddings,” New York Times, Feb. 2, 2017.

“Yuma Breaks Marriage Records,” Arizona Republic, July 2, 1941.

“Yuma, Modern City, Has Colorful Past,” Arizona Republic, Nov. 22, 1942.

“Yuma Nuptial ‘Trade’ Booms,” Associated Press, Jan. 3, 1942.


Leo Summergrad’s Oral History, Wexler Oral HIstory Project, Yiddish Book Center.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The fourth season of One Year covers 1942, a year when inflation threatened to sink America, disinformation was rampant, and a worker revolt changed music forever.

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