Katherine Lynch

Carnegie Mellon University


Katherine A. Lynch is Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Lynch is a social historian working in the fields of family history, historical population studies, and the history of charity and welfare institutions in the European past. Her latest book, entitled Individuals, Families and Communities in Europe, 1200-1800: The Urban Foundations of Western Society, provides a new interpretation of European family and society by examining the family at the center of the life of "civil society". Using evidence from European towns and cities, she explores how women and men created voluntary associations outside the family -- communities, broadly defined -- to complement or even substitute for solidarities based on kinship. It also suggests the central place that family issues played in the creation of larger communities, from the "confessional" communities of the Reformation to the national "imagined community" of the French Revolution. Her current research focuses on the development of French poor relief institutions in the first half of the nineteenth century, particularly in comparison to the English Poor Law system of the same period. Dr. Lynch is also interested in questions of historical methodology, both quantitative and qualitative. She served as Editor of Social Science History from 2001-2006, and has recently been a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris – IV (Sorbonne) and a Directeur d’Etudes at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.