Abstract

Recent work about the method of family reconstitution and economic history raises serious doubts about the demographic and economic premises that underlie much of the existing scholarship about early American family history. As a result, early American family history—one of the new social history's crowning achievements during the 1960s—is now in disarray. Some scholars see the new microhistorical studies of the colonial family as an effort to sidestep these difficulties by ignoring demographic and materialist perspectives. However, such cultural approaches may well intensify the crisis by challenging the image of the early American family as a loving institution incapable of violent conflict.

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