Microhistories: Demography, Society and Culture in Rural England, 1800–1930 uses a local study of the Blean area of Kent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to explore some of the more significant societal changes of the modern western world. Drawing on a wide range of research techniques, including family reconstitution and oral history, Barry Reay aims to show that the implication of the micro-study can range way beyond its modest geographical and historical boundaries. Combining cultural, demographic, economic, and social history in a way rarely encountered in historical literature, Professor Reay examines a range of topics including marriage and fertility, health and mortality, the work of women and children, and illegitimacy and sexuality. This 1996 book demonstrates the challenging potentials of microhistory, and makes a central contribution to the 'new rural history'. It will be of interest to family and oral historians, as well as to demographers and sociologists.
• Combines cultural, demographic, economic and social history in a way rarely encountered in historical literature • Demonstrates the challenging potentials of using a microstudy to explore general societal changes of the modern western world • This book makes a central contribution to the 'new rural history' which will appeal to a large constituency
1. Introduction: place and people; Part I. Demography: 2. Fertility; 3. Health; Part II. Society: 4. Social economy; 5. Class; 6. Families; Part III. Cultures: 7. Sexuality; 8. Literacies; 9. Conclusion: microhistories.
' … this study … convincingly demonstrates the contribution that can be made by microhistory to a better understanding of the nature and causation of issues of more general historical importance … Reay's work should attract considerable attention.' History
'Microhistories is a considerable achievement; it deserves respect; and it should be required reading for historical demographers and social historians. It lives up to its billing on the dust jacket as 'a central contribution to the 'new rural history''.' Reviews in History
'an example of local history at its best … Such combination of methods has almost never been attempted by other historians of England … evocative, excellently written, resourceful and original … It shows how very wide-ranging 'microhistory' is … If historians really wish to understand historical developments they will need to take careful note of this book.' Journal of Economic History
'Fascinating … a brilliant accessible work.' Journal of Historical Geography
'impressive and intellectually challenging … This is a fine book, genuinely new in what it does and a model for future work … it will mark rural social history for many years.' Rural History
'skilfully technically executed and beautifully written … must be numbered among the very best studies with prime foci on the masses in the English countryside.' Southern History
'Over and over again, at key points in the text, Reay's sensitivity and the piercing directness of his oral sources create a positive feedback system in which the whole is much more than sum of its parts. Furthermore, some of the parts are wonderful. Reay's treatment of the demographic profile of social life in the Blean is magnificent … Better than anything else I have read, this book shows social historians how quantitative measures can be - and should be - incorporated into their concerns with the recuperation of lived experiences … English social historians will find it instructive to consider Microhistories alongside a re-reading of the relevant chapters from W. G. Hoskins' The Midland Peasant. It is a comparative exercise that shows Reay's achievement to its best effect. Since Hoskins' book is deservedly called a 'classic', I anticipate that Microhistories will be seen in the same way forty years after its publication. Could one give Reay's study higher praise?' Journal of Social History
'… an impressive and refreshing combination of cultural, demographic, economic and social history in which the particularities and complexities of the locality are used to challenge firmly entrenched historical opinions … Reay's fascinating vindication of the potentials of micro-history establishes the centrality of his book in the 'new rural history'.' Social History