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Stephanie Coontz

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Stephanie Coontz
Stephanie Coontz
Stephanie Coontz, speaking at the University of Washington (2012).
Born (1944-08-31) August 31, 1944 (age 79)
Nationality United States
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Occupation(s)Historian, author, faculty member at The Evergreen State College

Stephanie Coontz (born August 31, 1944) is an American author, historian,[1][2] and faculty member at Evergreen State College. She teaches history and family studies and is Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, which she chaired from 2001 to 2004. Coontz has authored and co-edited several books about the history of the family and marriage.

Education and early career[edit]

Coontz earned a B.A. from the American History Honors Program (1966) at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a member of the campus political party SLATE and participated in the civil rights movement and the Free Speech Movement. Attending the University of Washington on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, she earned a Master of Arts in European History (1970). Abandoning further graduate work, she joined the staff of the National Peace Action Coalition, later becoming a National Coordinator; they focused on building peaceful, legal demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Before returning to full-time teaching in 1975, Coontz also had a leadership role in the Young Socialist Alliance, a Trotskyist youth group of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). By the late 1970s, however, Coontz had parted company with the SWP.

Academic career[edit]

In addition to her current teaching position at Evergreen, Coontz has also taught at Kobe University in Japan and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She won the Washington Governor's Writers Award in 1989 for her book The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families. In 1995 she received the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for her "outstanding contributions to the field of child development." She received the 2001-02 "Friend of the Family" award from the Illinois Council on Family Relations. In 2004, she received the first-ever "Visionary Leadership" Award from the Council on Contemporary Families.

Coontz studies the history of American families, marriage, and changes in gender roles. Her book The Way We Never Were argues against several common myths about families of the past, including the idea that the 1950s family was traditional or the notion that families used to rely solely on their own resources. Her book, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, traces the history of marriage from Anthony and Cleopatra (not a love story, she argues) to debates over same-sex marriage. Her newest book, about the wives and daughters of "The Greatest Generation," is A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

Coontz has appeared on national television and radio programs, including Oprah, the Today Show, The Colbert Report and dozens of NPR shows. In addition, her work has been featured in newspapers and magazines, as well as in many academic and professional journals. She has testified about her research before the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families and addressed audiences across America, Europe, and Japan.

In the landmark United States Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy cited Coontz's book Marriage, A History in its decision to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples.[3]


  • Coontz, Stephanie. The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. New York: Basic Books, 1992. ISBN 0-465-09097-4.
  • Coontz, Stephanie. The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families. Basic Books, 1998. ISBN 0-465-09092-3.
  • Coontz, Stephanie., ed. American Families; A Multicultural Reader. London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-91574-0.
  • Coontz, Stephanie. Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. New York: Viking Press, 2005. ISBN 0-670-03407-X.
  • Coontz, Stephanie. A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. New York: Basic Books, 2011. ISBN 0-465-00200-5

Recent essays[edit]


  1. ^ "Social historian Stephanie Coontz 'Stirs' Up 'The Feminine Mystique' 47 Years Later". NPR. January 26, 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  2. ^ Hartnett, Kimberly Marlowe (February 24, 2011). "'A Strange Stirring': Stephanie Coontz weighs the impact of Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique'". Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  3. ^ "A New Right Grounded in the Long History of Marriage". The Atlantic. 2015-06-26. Archived from the original on 2023-06-26.

External links[edit]