This work serves as an introductory reference guide to the growing body of literature on the history of the American family. Recognizing the family unit as the institution most central to any society, the volume covers a broad range of theoretical approaches which concentrate on relationships within the family and between the family and the wider community. Essays by specialists in the field of family studies profile the family both as a unit and as a group of individuals. Methods used to examine family dynamics are described, and trends, such as the increased individuation and changing ecomic priorities within the family, emerge from the data presented. The contributors appraoch the subject from both historical and comparative perspectives. The family is first studied chrologically from colonial times to the present. Attention then turns to sociological and ethnic groups such as the immigrant working class and African American families. Introductory pieces synthesize the findings found in the essays and describe the resulting patterns. The reference work, presented in this format, makes a large body of scholarly literature on the family and aims to be easily accessible to both specialists and nspecialists in the field.
JOSEPH M. HAWES is Professor of History at Memphis State University. A specialist in the areas of the American family and American childhood, Professor Hawes is the author of Children in Urban Society, Growing Up in America, American Childhood (Greenwood Press, 1985), and Children in Historical and Comparative Perspective (Greenwood, 1991). He has also written articles for New Designs and the Journal of Psychohistory. ELIZABETH I. NYBAKKEN is Associate Professor of History at Mississippi State University. Specializing in eighteenth century America and women/families in American history, Dr. Nybakken has also authored a book, several journal articles, and Charles S. Sydnor in a forthcoming book from Greenwood Press, Historians of the American South.