Family Chronological Trends


Figure 1.--America at the turn-of-the 20th century finally reached the point thst over 50 percent of the population lived in cities. And as a result we begin to see more smaller families. Here we see an unidentified American family in the 1900s, probably about 1900-05. Men wore suits and women wore dresses and skirts. This mother seems to be wearing a blouse abd skirt, although it is a little difficukt to tell. Boys almost universally wore knee pants with long stockings. Here the younger boy wears a sailor suit.

HBC has been gradually building family pages in our various country sections. Most of the informtion we have archived has come from the 20th century, but we have also begun to archive information on the 19th century for the larger countries. These chronological images provide a wonderful view of how fashion has changed oiver time because they picture not only the boys which HBC focuses on as well as the girls in the family as well as mom and dad. Elderly reltives are also sometimes included. These images help put boys' fashions into perspective. And separted by country they also provide an interesting view of how fashions varies from country to country over time. They also provide a range of sociological insights. The most prounounced chromological trend is the shrinking size of the gamily. With the Indudtrial Revolution, the principal demographic trend was people moving from rural to urban areas. Agriculture dominated econoimies from the Neolithic Revolution to the 18th century. Beginning in Britain (mid-18th century), industry bgan to trasform societies and the families with which they are built. Large families were valuable in urban areas. They provided the hands needed to farm. Not all 19th century families were large, but many were, especially rural families. As families moved into the expanding cities, lsrge families were no longer valuable. Children becme more of an economic burden than an assett. Another factor were advances in public health and medivine. As more children survived, again fewer children were needed. This decling family size can clearly be seen in our chronological archive. While the trend toward smaller families is notable in the 20th century. We see diirences from country to country, as well demographic, social class, religious, and other differences.

The 18th Century

With the Indudtrial Revolution, the principal demographic trend was people moving from rural to urban areas. Agriculture dominated econoimies from the Neolithic Revolution to the 18th century. Beginning in Britain (mid-18th century), industry bgan to trasform societies and the families with which they are built. We do not have nmuch information on 18th cerntury families. We do have an American 18th century page.

The 19th Century

We have begun to archive information on the 19th century for the larger countries. The most prounounced chronological trend is the shrinking size of the family. After the Napoleonic Wars, the industrial Revolution gradually spread from Britain to the Continent and the United States. Relatively few countries industrialized in the 19th century, primarily America, Britain, France, and Germany, but their were notable pockets of industry in other countries, such as Bohemia in the ustro-Hungarian Empire and northern Italy. And Russia by the end of the century was growing very rapidly. In America, the urban population did not reach 50 percent unyil the turn-of-the century. Large families were valuable in urban areas. They provided the hands needed to farm. Not all 19th century families were large, but many were, especially rural families. We can see these trends most clearly in America because of our large photographoic record. Notably the family did not react immediately to demographic shifts. This we see family sizes only gradually declining with the shift toward urban life. Industriaslization was not the only contributing factor. Religion was another factor. Thus we see larger families in Catholic southern Europe than Protestant northern Europe. Family size is not the only factor at play. The strength of the family is another interesting trend, but one that can not be as easily followed through the photographic record.

The 20h Century

Most of the informtion we have archived has come from the 20th century, largely because our site relies so heavily on photography. Photography was developed in the mid-19th century, but for most of the century was for most families confined to the studio. This changed dramatically with the Kodak Brownie. The power of the camera was unleashd and we suddenly see countless family snapshots added to the photographic record. In fact the family snapshot would soon superceed the stidio portrait as the primary photographic form. This means we know much more bout family life than ever before. And these And in the 20th century the industrial revolution spread to many more countries, including Japan at the beginning of the century. As families moved into the expanding cities, large families were no longer valuable. Children became more of an economic burden than an assett. Another factor were advances in public health and medicine. As more children survived, again fewer children were needed to ensure continuation of the family. This declining family size can clearly be seen in our chronological archive in Europe and America, less so in the developing countries still largely based on agriclture. Buthere too there were changes as the Asian Yigers, China, and India demostrated the wealth generating power of agriculture. While the trend toward smaller families is notable in the 20th century. We see differences from country to country, as well demographic, social class, religious, and other variations. In the post-World War II perios, especilly by the 1970s we see a convergence in fashions as a kind of pan-European fashion emnrges similar to Ametrican fashions, thus we find it increasingly difficult to idntify the country unless noted on the back of the photograph.

The 21st Century

The emergence of digital photography and the increasing spread of economic prosperity arond the world provides us a vast photogrphic resource to help understand fashion and family trends.







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Created: 6:23 AM 7/16/2012
Last updated: 10:58 PM 12/3/2017