Back in late 1957, a group of people brainstormed ways to help a woman catch a man… and the suggestions are just as cringeworthy, soul-crushing and outdated as you can imagine.
The first time I saw clips from this article, the advice was so ridiculous, I was sure it was fake. One of the suggestions was “Stand in the corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over to find out what’s wrong.” That had to be a joke, right?
But no — it really was from an article called “129 ways to get a husband” that was reached nearly 8 million readers when it was published back in January 1958. The target demographic was single women, meaning teen girls as well as widows and divorcees. Not only did the story stretch over several pages, it merited a front cover mention, too.
For all we know, some of these suggestions actually worked. When it comes to family, though, let’s just say we really don’t want to know that Aunt Lorraine met Uncle Vernon by following any of these tips — especially 6, 17, 113 or 124.
Highlight reel! 12 of the top tips
129 ways to get a husband: A vintage article from 1958
In the United States today, there are sixteen million women over the age of seventeen who are not married, Presumably, the vast majority of them would like to be. They are sometimes alarmed by statistics that show there are only twelve million unmarried men on whom they can pin their hopes.
Happily, the real picture isn’t nearly that bad. In the so-called “marriageable-age” groups there are almost enough single men to go around. The problem is to find a good one and land him.
McCall’s decided to try a technique called “brainstorming” to see if there were any fresh ideas on the subject.
Brainstorming is being used by business. industry and our armed forces to sell goods, solve production problems and plan strategy. Parent-teacher associations, Kiwanis clubs and other community groups are brainstorming their way to wider membership and better service programs.
Sixteen people took part in McCall’s brainstorming session on “How To Find a Husband.” They were chosen largely because they were known to have good minds, lively ideas and mature experience.
Moderator was Lee H. Bristol. Jr., trustee of Alex Osborn’s Creative Education Foundation. Among the members of the panel were a popular songwriter, a marriage consultant, an airline stewardess, a police commissioner, a housewife, an investment banker, a psychologist, a bachelor, a newlywed and an engineer.
The panel was instructed in the basic rules of brainstorming:
Judgments are out. Criticism of ideas is a job for tomorrow.
Freewheeling, uninhibited thinking is what we hope to get — the more uninhibited, the better. Let yourself go!
The more ideas, the better. Sheer quantity is important.
Combinations of two or more ideas may be best of all. Try to “hitchhike” on another’s inspiration — two heads are better than one!
Starting to share ideas
The bell tinkled, and suggestions on “how to find a husband” began to fly. Hands waved for recognition. Fingers snapped briskly to indicate an idea that was hitchhiked from a previous suggestion.
Occasionally a suggestion brought irrepressible giggles or snorts of laughter, but for the most part, participants worked at a panting pace.
Finally, the bell rang, and the brainstorming session was over.
The results were astonishing — a total of 404 suggestions! Some are tried and true but good to remember. Some are new and daring enough to set the most sophisticated bachelor in a gyroscopic spin!
Weeding out ideas that seem repetitious, impractical or too, too wild, we present 129 of the best suggestions.
Even a quick glance at the list will show you that the day has passed when a reasonably pretty girl can sit, hands folded, on her front veranda waiting for Mr. Right to come along.
As our brainstorming panel sees it, getting married today is a problem in social engineering.
Advice on finding a man to marry, from McCall’s magazine in 1958
129 WAYS TO GET A HUSBAND: WHERE TO FIND HIM
1. Get a dog and walk it.
2. Have your car break down at strategic places.
3. Attend night school — take courses men like.
4. Join a hiking club.
5. Look in the census reports for places with the most single men. Nevada has 125 males for every 100 females.
6. Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.
7. Take up golf and go to different golf courses.
8. Take several short vacations at different places rather than one long one at one place.
9. Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.
10. Take a bicycle trip through Europe.
11. Get a job in medical, dental or law school.
12. Become a nurse or an airline stewardess — they have very high marriage rates.
126. If you see a man with a flat, offer to fix it.
127. Carry a tow chain in the trunk of your automobile.
128. Let it be known in your office that you have a button box and will sew on bachelors’ loose buttons.
129. Don’t marry him if he has too many loose buttons!
“Sure to be one of the most talked about articles in many a day is the one called ‘129 Ways To Get A Husband,’ which appears in the January McCall’s… A panel of 16 experts, using a technique that has inspired thousands of bright business ideas, tried it on love and marriage, and came up with 129 Ways To Get A Husband.
“Under the heading Wild Ideas — Anything Goes, we find: ‘If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat, too, tell him you’re adopted!'” – Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) – January 10, 1958