History 231 Reading Guide

The Puritan Family and the Well-Ordered Community

  • Philip Greven, “Family Structure in Seventeenth-century Andover” WMQ 3rd ser. 23.2 (1966): 234-256.  JSTOR
  • C. Dallett Hemphill, “Age Relations and the Social Order in Early New England:  The Evidence from Manners,” Journal of Social History 28 (1994): 271-294.  JSTOR 


  • To understand the nature of family structure in seventeenth-century Andover, Massachusetts, Greven begins by describing the larger context in which that family structure developed and eventually changed.
  • How does Greven characterize the economic development of Andover during the first two generations (until c.1680)?
  • How did that economy shape the dynamics of family life in the community?  What were the main features of family structure in early Andover? How does he weave those together to support his argument about Andover’s “glacial stability” and the establishment of a "patriarchal society"?
  • How did the economy change beginning in 1660 and especially after 1680?  What effect did those changes have on the third and fourth generations?
  • According to Hemphill, what kind of evidence does conduct literature offer?
  • What functions did manners serve in colonial American society? What purpose did symbolic behaviors, such as deference, serve? To whom were these manners and behaviors most important?
  • According to Hemphill, what does the evidence from conduct literature suggest about the nature of power and status in early New England, and its relationship to age and “rank”? What were the implications of these ideals and behaviors for the social order?
  • When and why did changes occur in the hierarchical family model for the social order in New England? What kind of model replaced it?