"Turning points" for aging genealogists: Claiming identities and histories in time

Karla B. Hackstaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Based on qualitative in-depth interviews, I examine the use of genealogy with regard to the current historical moment for identities rooted in kin, race, class, gender, nation-and age. Drawing on the concept of "turning points" coined by Anselm Strauss, I explore moments that motivate the doing of family genealogy. First, I suggest that Strauss's turning points may occur simultaneously and converge like vectors across time. Second, I argue that late middle-age lends itself to "identity extensions", which I define as a reevaluation of self that acknowledges one or more of the following: the significance of extended kin to one's identity; reverence for ancestors; a social responsibility to the future. Finally, I analyze how the current era informs a particular generation's genealogical endeavors. I conceive of U.S. baby boomers' genealogical projects as an expression of longing for connections in family lives and for a place in social history across the generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-151
Number of pages22
JournalQualitative Sociology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Aging
  • Baby boomers
  • Class
  • Family history
  • Gender
  • Genealogy
  • Generation
  • Identity
  • Race
  • Turning point

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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