Degree Name

Master of Science in Education

Department or Program

Higher Education


Dilley, Patrick


This research paper addresses the fluid nature of the American family structure and how that structure changes over time. Sometimes the family structure progresses forward and makes positive gains in equality between husband and wife and in some instances regresses back. Many facets of American life have influences on the structure of the family. Government control and governmental freedom, no education and higher education, economic prosperity and economic downturn, the United States and those who live within it are always in motion.

Throughout the twentieth century, the changing family structures, caused by changes within American society, fit into four distinct eras of the American family; the Progressive Era family, the Depression era family, the “Traditional” era family, and the “Modern” era family. This paper will examine the four eras of the American family in two parts. First, exploring the structure of the family within each era and the female’s role within that structure and next, exploring the female’s role within higher education and how that higher education affected the female’s role within the family structures and within society.