Jean Roth sat in the lobby of a building at Southern Illinois University with signs that read: "I must be married by August 15th for inheritance purposes."
She explained to anyone who asked that she would give $50,000 to any man who agreed to marry her for a year. Many men immediately volunteered to help her. In addition, "Scores of men called the campus newspaper to get the girl's telephone number."
But it turned out, not surprisingly, that the offer was bogus. It was all just a sociology experiment dreamed up by Dr. James M. Henslin, the teacher of a Sociology of Deviant Behavior class that Jean was enrolled in. Explained Dr. Henslin: "In this [class], we deal with deviance from the norm or deviance from what is expected of people. It was an experiment to create a form of deviance and look at the reactions."
So it sounds like it was one of those breaching experiments
that became all the rage in sociology classes around that time (late 60s/early 70s).
The class had chosen Jean to be the heir in need of a hubby and had then coached her on how to respond to potential questions. In fact, Jean was already married. Her husband, also a student at the university, reportedly thought the experiment "was stupid."
Ogden Standard-Examiner - Jul 29, 1973
It reminds me of the Dormitory Escape Plan of 1967
that I posted about a couple of months ago, in which a young woman had advertised for a husband as a way to escape from the all-female dormitory that she hated living in.
Also, it seems that Dr. Henslin is the author of several sociology textbooks that are still in use — Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach
and Social Problems: A Down to Earth Approach
. He's now retired
from Southern Illinois University.