Abstract/Details

DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN A MARITIME COMMUNITY: NANTUCKET, MASSACHUSETTS, 1660 TO 1850

LOGUE, BARBARA JOANN.  University of Pennsylvania. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1983. 8316052.

Abstract (summary)

The study of demographic processes is central to an understanding of historical change and continuity. Scholars have increasingly come to recognize the need for a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to community studies. In contrast to the majority of American studies to date, which have concentrated on small agricultural settlements, Nantucket offered a unique opportunity to investigate the demographic patterns of a non-elite population in a non-agricultural setting.

The techniques of family reconstitution, combined with a wide array of data evaluation procedures developed by historical demographers, were used to reconstruct the life experiences of over 1,800 families. Levels and trends in nuptiality, fertility, mortality, and out-migration over a period of 190 years were examined.

Results confirm that non-demographic influences profoundly affected the course of demographic change in Nantucket, and vice versa. Because their soil was too poor for farming and they needed products to exchange for the necessities of life, Nantucketers turned to the sea for a living. But dependence on a single industry, whaling, made them extremely vulnerable to crises affecting that industry. The whaling fleet was virtually destroyed in the Revolution and again in the War of 1812; in each case a significant proportion of the islanders responded by moving permanently to the mainland; the rest eventually rebuilt the industry. But whaling prosperity also created serious problems. Demand for labor attracted large numbers of in-migrants. The continual influx of strangers greatly increased population density, exacerbating poor sanitary conditions and increasing exposure to disease; death rates rose in consequence. Increases in the number of whaling voyages and the time and distance covered--the result of technological changes--heightened the risk of death for mariners. Simultaneously, fertility was severely constrained due to increasingly long spousal separations. In turn, all aspects of family life, including the roles of women, marriage duration, and the incidence of widow- and orphanhood, were affected. The importance of integrating demographic indices into an interdisciplinary perspective is well illustrated in the Nantucket case.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Demographics
Classification
0938: Demographics
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences
Title
DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN A MARITIME COMMUNITY: NANTUCKET, MASSACHUSETTS, 1660 TO 1850
Author
LOGUE, BARBARA JOANN
Number of pages
289
Degree date
1983
School code
0175
Source
DAI-A 44/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9798662068810
University/institution
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
8316052
ProQuest document ID
303169591
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
https://www.proquest.com/docview/303169591