Secrets and lies: The radical potential of family history

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article focuses on the benefits of blending the methodologies of professional/academic social and cultural history with those of 'amateur' family history. Genealogists have often been dismissed by academic historians, categorized as conservative, with a big and a small 'c', in their supposedly nostalgic search for a golden age of the family. But it is also argued that genealogy provides families with a sense of identity in a period of transformation and disruption. Practitioners have said that they search for their family trees to find 'something solid in a shifting world'. This article suggests that when it comes to broader questions of historical change and continuity the techniques and findings of family historians disrupt many of our assumptions about the past. The construction of a family tree, the discovery of manifold secrets and lies, throw into question the solidity not only of the history of family, class relationships and the power relations between men and women but also of the history of nation and empire.

LanguageEnglish
Article numberdbq065
Pages49-73
Number of pages25
JournalHistory Workshop Journal
Issue number71
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Fingerprint

Family History
Historian
Historical Change
Disruption
Continuity
Methodology
Social History
Genealogy
Power Relations
Solidity
Amateur
History of the Family
History
Cultural History
Golden Age

Cite this

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Secrets and lies : The radical potential of family history. / Evans, Tanya.

In: History Workshop Journal, No. 71, dbq065, 04.2011, p. 49-73.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

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