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Family history in England, c. 1945-2006 : culture, identity and (im)mortality

Titley-Bayes, Simon Michael (2006) Family history in England, c. 1945-2006 : culture, identity and (im)mortality. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis provides the first cultural history of the family history 'phenomenon' of the late twentieth century. Rather than conceptual ising such pursuits solely as popular interest in the past, however, it examines family history and genealogy on their own tenns - both tracing their growth, extent and nature, and their diversity and cultural work. The extent of this phenomenon, its precursors and subsequent expansion are thus tracked and a close examination of the practices of family historians reveals that it is inadequate to refer to a unified family history 'phenomenon'. Rather, hidden underneath a purely quantitative account of the growth of, say, record office use, are a series of stages of growth based upon different practices, and the different categorisations that are given to them. Indeed, a range of cultural uses of family history are identified in tenns of cultural capital and what I call 'professional-amateur' status. Crucially important in this regard is the identification of the late-1970s as a period of disjuncture of ideas concerning family history. The emergence of family history societies, a shift in attitudes amongst archive professionals and the appearance of family history on television screens all articulated a shift towards a more democratic genealogy which had the potential to tell practitioners 'who they are' . Furthennore, diverse practices have enabled a 'lack' of rootedness to be redressed through a search for identity that allows practitioners to at once construct their own identities whilst nonetheless retaining the primordialism of blood-ties. In addition, existential questions may also be addressed through such practices, which can provide a site for the stretching of longevity beyond the limits of death, without recourse to the eternal memory of God. Such analysis of family history on its own terms thus challenges any overly simplistic dismissal of family historians as undifferentiated 'amateurs'.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.442361
Depositing User: EThOS Import (York)
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2016 17:29
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2016 17:29
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14193

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