This important contribution to scholarship in social science history examines the development of public education in nineteenth-century Massachusetts. Until the 1950s educational historians emphasized the relationship of schooling to the political system and the development of a common American culture. In recent years a social history perspective has emerged that stresses the socioeconomic influences that tie education to other institutions and processes in society rather than to political ideals. Carl Kaestle's and Maris Vinovskis's study is firmly grounded in this newer perspective. However, their work questions the adequacy of any single-factor explanation of the broad educational changes that occurred during this period - whether it be the emergence of factory production or the broader concept of modernization. They argue that these educational changes were the result of the complex interaction of cultural, demographic and economic variables operating in varying ways in different communities over time. Ethnicity, religion, urban status, the occupational structure, income distribution and wealth of the community all emerge as significant factors in this interaction.