Must Get Married by August 15th

August 1973: 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.
     Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 17, 2016
     Category: Experiments | Marriage | 1970s

Henslin never deviated from his mission of not doing anything actually useful.
Posted by Virtual on 09/17/16 at 03:51 PM
I'm sorry, but "By August 15" ? Correct me if I'm wrong here, but there probably weren't any students attending any classes in the beginning of August. They may have been strolling around campus, but why?
I'm sorry, but I know that most college students in that era were not hanging around school during 2-month summer vacation. If the university were in Chicago,maybe, where it was in the city and people COULD happen by the young lady... But it was Southern Illinois in Carbondale. Heard of it?
If you said Yes, you were paying attention during the last decade when the SIU Salukis made it to the NCAA Basketball tournament. Or, you know the country like the back of your hand. Or you know someone from there. I doubt the experiment would've garnered much attention. 115 miles south, southeast of St Louis, how did the UPI reporter from Edwardsville IL happen upon it?

Wonderful story. Sorry if my Devil's Advocate rant was out of line.
Posted by Greg on 09/18/16 at 09:29 PM
That's over $270,000 in 2016 dollars. No wonder so many men were interested -- and she's not bad looking either.

Greg, the article was published on July 29, which very well might have been during summer session. SIU has an Edwardsville campus in addition to the better known Carbondale campus.
Posted by ges on 09/18/16 at 11:37 PM
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