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Thicker than WaterSiblings and their Relations, 1780-1920$
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Leonore Davidoff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546480

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546480.001.0001

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The ‘Long Family’ and its Decline 1

The ‘Long Family’ and its Decline 1

Chapter:
(p.78) 4The ‘Long Family’ and its Decline1
Source:
Thicker than Water
Author(s):

Leonore Davidoff

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546480.003.0005

A high birth rate among most people meant offspring were spread over a wide age range creating an ‘intermediate generation’ between parents and younger children. Life in middle-class households could be crowded, added to by residential servants, pupils, apprentices, and visitors. Children and young people were expected to share space and possessions. Parents and others used a variety of routines and punishments to manage these large broods. Elder children, particularly girls, helped with and taught the younger. Given the high incidence of serious illness, and high infant and child mortality, religious beliefs were an important source of guidance and solace. Adults favoured some children over others. Youngsters were expected to conform to accepted forms of feminine and masculine behaviour. In the late nineteenth century, middle-class family size gradually declined, fuelling eugenicist fears. By the 1920s large families were looked down on, an attitude that fed class tensions.

Keywords:   birth rate, favouritism, family size, infant and child mortality, domestic space, eugenics, intermediate generation

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