This engaging and highly readable family history follows ten generations of a mainstream middle-class family through three and a half centuries of American social and economic history from the Puritans to the internet age. In doing so, it serves as a model and a research guide for genealogists interested in writing family histories that put their ancestors' lives in historical context.
The author, a retired history professor, begins with an overview of the research resources that a professional academic historian would regard as essential for writing a contextually accurate family history, including a general introductory reading list and a suggested research methodology. The chapters that follow then trace the lives of ten generations of a white, Anglo-Protestant, middle-class family over a 350-year period, with a sustained chapter-by-chapter focus on key topics in American family history - marriage and fertility patterns, birth-control and child-birth practices, the economic functions of families, men's and women's roles, social status, religious beliefs, old age, and burial practices (including gravestone iconography) - as they evolved over time. The resulting book is a significant addition to the family-history literature and one that will be of value to genealogists of all levels.