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Tamara Hareven, 65; Professor and Writer on Family Studies

November 07, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Tamara Kern Hareven, a historian whose interest in the family ranged from the effects of industrialization to the silk-weaving tradition, has died. Hareven, who was 65, died Oct. 18 in a hospital in Newark, Del., of kidney disease, according to a family friend, Perry F. Goldlust.

Hareven, who was Unidel professor of family studies and history at the University of Delaware in Newark, began studying the family at the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester, N.H. Her book stemming from that study -- "Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American City"(1978) -- was praised at the time by Benjamin DeMott in the Atlantic magazine as "no-frills history, solid and grainy."

"Yet the lives here recorded do breathe -- attain, indeed, considerable cumulative impact before the end," DeMott said. The book won the New England Oral History Assn. Award.

Hareven doubted myths popular before the 20th century regarding the family as a social institution. For example, she questioned the American nostalgia for the idea that three generations -- parents, children and grandparents -- had once routinely lived under one roof and that industrialization had robbed them of this happy model. Hareven said grandparents survived only rarely to even know their grandchildren.

She also promoted the idea of families once again offering lodging to others, a common arrangement in the United States in the 19th century that died away with the availability of housing and the move toward privacy.

"We're now seeing the limitations to privacy, how it isolates the elderly," she told the Associated Press in 1980. "They're willing to trade privacy for companionship." The elderly could help young families and give children the opportunity to learn from older people, she said.

She also studied divorce in China and silk weavers in Japan, France and Austria, especially the way their skills were passed down from one generation to the next. Her book on that topic, "The Silk Weavers of Kyoto: Family and Work in a Changing Traditional Society," is due from the University of California Press this month.

Her other books on the family include "Family Time and Industrial Time: The Relationship Between the Family and Work in a New England Industrial Community" (1982). She also was editor of many other books on the family and kinship.

Hareven was born May 10, 1937, in Romania, where she and her parents were imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. All survived and moved to Israel when the war was over.

She received her bachelor's degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, her master's from the University of Chicago and her doctorate from Ohio State University. She was a senior Fulbright fellow to India in 1978 and to Japan in 1987.

She had no immediate survivors.

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