Friday, April 4, 2003

STILL MORE ON THE NYT WEDDINGS PAGE: Reader Anna Moody sent me a link to a great 1997 article by David Brooks on the history of the Times' wedding announcements.

Like America itself, Brooks explains, the page has evolved from chronicling a WASP elite based on lineage to a cognitive elite based on merit and accomplishment. Brooks notes:
Episcopalians and Jews serve as tracer elements that mark the transformation from an elite based on blood to an elite based on education and brains. It's hard to track cleanly the decline of New York's Episcopalian elite and the succession of the city's Jews, because until recently Jewish weddings held on Sunday were reported separately, in the Times's Monday edition (observant Jews don't wed on Saturday, and the Times, treating weddings as news events, long would not write about them until they had occurred). Still, by looking at the raw numbers, you can see the basic trend. In the spring of 1957, 55 percent of the couples featured on the Sunday wedding page were Episcopalians. Other Protestants constituted 31 percent of the weddings, and Catholics were 14 percent. In 1977, 48 percent of the weddings were Episcopalian. Catholic weddings made up 21 percent of those listed. Jews made their appearance at 12 percent. Other Protestants were 15 percent, and non-religious ceremonies registered on the scale at 4 percent. On the wedding pages of the winter and spring of 1997, by contrast, 40 percent of the ceremonies are Jewish, only 17 percent are Episcopalian, 15 percent are Catholic, 13 percent are other Protestant, and 15 percent are non-religious or non-denominational.

Can magna graduates marry summas? (I did.) Can predators marry nurturers? If you start a chain of erotic car washes, will the Times report on your wedding?

Brooks addresses all this and more in a well-researched, comprehensive piece, which you can read via this link.

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