The Year Everyone Got Married
In 1942, matrimony was a national obsession. How would those weddings change America?
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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.
Slate Plus members get to hear more about the making of One Year. Get access to extra episodes, listen to the show without any ads, and support One Year by signing up for Slate Plus for just $15 for your first three months.
Sources for This Episode
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“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.
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McLain, Gene. “Oddities in Arizona’s News,” Arizona Republic, Dec. 2, 1942.
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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.
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“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.
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Leo Summergrad’s Oral History, Wexler Oral HIstory Project, Yiddish Book Center.