Early American History Seminar Ancestry as Social Practice in Eighteenth-Century New England: The Origins of Early Republic Genealogical Vogue 6 March 2012.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:15PM Karin Wulf, College of William and Mary Comment: Laurel Ulrich, Harvard University

This paper derives from Wulf's book project on the practice and significance of Anglo-American genealogy from 1680 to 1820. In this chapter she looks at the extensive genealogical work of eighteenth-century New Englanders and positions those labors both as a social practice drawing on and developing communities of knowledge and as a middle chapter in the Anglo-American reckoning with the relationship of family to history. The keenness for genealogy that eighteenth-century New Englanders exhibited reflected a broader Anglo-American interest in lineage as a way of understanding and ordering the world.  

Wulf is particularly interested in the ways that genealogical interest and local history in New England entwined early and regularly, not emerging in the nineteenth century as parallel interests, but as fruits of the same slow growing tree. She uncovers the eighteenth-century source materials that informed early nineteenth century work and explores the contexts for their production--what prompted them, how they insinuated into family memory practices, and how they interacted with public recordation within churches and in towns.