Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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Midlife Crisis. Age and Gender in the long 1970s

January 1, 2016

My PhD thesis historicizes the "midlife crisis", a term which was first used in the mid-1960s and became popular in the United States and in Western Europe during the 1970s. The project sees the midlife crisis not so much as an ailment which befalls individuals, but rather as a concept which people -- often men -- draw on to make sense of their life. Accounts of the midlife crisis center around biographical ruptures between the ages of 40 and 60, such as divorce and job-quitting, typically linked to a sense of stagnation and dissatisfaction. Under the label of "midlife crisis", these problems are usually not rationalized nor are they depicted in order to be treated, cured or prevented. Rather, the midlife-crisis narrative highlights the state of emotional "crisis", and makes it the part and parcel of biographies, particularly autobiographies. It frames emotional conflict in midlife not as neurosis, but as a mark of mental health.

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