Over the last twenty-five years or so the history of the family has advanced from a marginal and rather boring topic in the history and sociology curriculum to a subject of intensive study and debate.1 Some have spoken of an ‘explosion of family history’, maybe even in the literal sense that family history has been blown up and fragmented into widely diverging subjects and fields of interests (Ryan 1982). Michael Anderson’s Approaches (1980) to the history of the family have not only been continued but, in fact, multiplied. Students of the economic history of the family, of family labour, work roles and income, of the history of family structure and family formation, of marriage strategies and demographic behaviour, of emotional and sexual relations, of youth, old age, or in general the life course,2 all seem to go their own way, only superficially paying attention to the others. Family history has opened a whole new range of topics and questions about the nature and contents of past social change (cf. Hareven 1991), but precisely because of its very success, it has tended to become integrated into other fields of social, economic and cultural history, while at the same time losing its internal coherence.