1872: Son-in-law testicle inspection a must, says Bertillon

After qualifying as a doctor, Jacques Bertillon (1851-1922) chose not to practice medicine, going instead into statistical analysis and demographic research. Bertillon was also an active writer, contributing articles to medical and sociological journals.

In 1872, a French medical guide published an essay on marriage written by Bertillon. Despite his inexperience (the author was still shy of his 21st birthday), Bertillon preached instructions and advice for newlyweds and their families.

The fathers of young ladies, urged Bertillon, should carefully but discretely evaluate the manhood of any prospective son-in-law. If a suitor showed any “doubtful traits of virility” – such as “a voice that is pitched high or often breaks”, “a thin, patchy or wispy beard” or any feminine traits – then the future father-in-law, as a condition of marriage, should drag him off to a doctor:

“…Have the physician inspect the testicular sac, to affirm the presence of testicles, whether there be two or one… and whether one or both be shrunken and flaccid… The so-called man who seeks a wife may be capable of erection or carnal lust, but may not possess true virility or fertile embraces. He is a being who, if he possesses any sense or tact… should remain a stranger to the matrimonial state.”

Source: Jacques Bertillon, “Mariage” in Dictionnaire Encyclopedique des Sciences Medicales, v.5 n.67, 1872. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.