Commenced in 1958 with 142 young women who were seniors at Mills College, the Mills Study has become the largest and longest longitudinal study of women’s adult development, with assessments of these women in their twenties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies. Women on the River of Life synthesizes five decades of research to paint a picture of women’s personality and development across the lifespan. The book explores questions of family, work, life-path, maturity, wisdom, creativity, attachment, and purpose in life, unfolding in the context of a rapidly changing historical period with far-reaching consequences for the kinds of lives women would envision for themselves. Helson and Mitchell breathe life into abstract theories and concepts with the real-life stories and voices of the study’s participants. Woven throughout the book are the authors’ reminiscences on the profound endeavor of sustaining a longitudinal study of women’s lives through time.
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