Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Author at the Library: "Not Just Roommates: Cohabitation after the Sexual Revolution," with Elizabeth H. Pleck, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of History, Professor of African American Studies at the University of Illinois.


January 17, 2013

This illustrated presentation is about cohabitation, which has become increasingly common in the U.S. among every age group from the young to the elderly.  Yet progress to cultural acceptance and a decline in social stigma has been uneven — and is still stymied by widespread retrograde legal policies.  For much of the 20th century, couples were dragged to jail, had their social benefits revoked or lost custody of their children because they decided to live together outside the institution of legal marriage.  

Even as the civil rights, feminist and gay rights movements gradually won more rights for cohabitators, the law has continued to revere legal marriage, especially when it comes to Social Security.  She learned most about cohabitation for this book from interviewing cohabiting couples and their lawyers.  What surprised her most was the large number of arrests and prosecutions for cohabitation in the late 1960s and the way that invasions of privacy continue up to the present.