Generations and Collective Memory
Their key finding—built on historical research and interviews in the United States and seven other countries (including China, Japan, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine)—is that our most powerful generational memories are of shared experiences in adolescence and early adulthood, like the 1963 Kennedy assassination for those born in the 1950s or the fall of the Berlin Wall for young people in 1989. But there are exceptions to that rule, and they're significant: Corning and Schuman find that epochal events in a country, like revolutions, override the expected effects of age, affecting citizens of all ages with a similar power and lasting intensity.
The picture Corning and Schuman paint of collective memory and its formation is fascinating on its face, but it also offers intriguing new ways to think about the rise and fall of historical reputations and attitudes toward political issues.
Introduction: The Meanings of Collective Memory and Generation
Part One. Revising Collective Memories
1. Collective Memories and Counter-Memories of Christopher Columbus
2. Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: Sex, Slavery, and Science
3. Abraham Lincoln: “Honest Abe” versus “the Great Emancipator”
Part Two. The Critical Years and Other Sources of Collective Memory
4. The Critical Years Hypothesis: The Idea and the Evidence
5. Cross-National Replications and Extensions
Part Three. Beyond Critical Years Effects
6. Does Emigration Affect Collective Memory?
7. Generational Experience of War and the Development of New Attitudes
8. Autobiographical Memory versus Collective Memory
9. Collective Knowledge: Findings and Losings
10. Commemoration Matters: The Past in the Present
Appendix A: Statistical Testing and Its Limitations
Appendix B: Survey Response Rates
Appendix C: Formal Tests of Critical Years Effects
Appendix D: Robustness of Standard Events Question