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In this paper we investigate two distinct but related questions: The longevity of individuals and the longevity of families. Following a brief review of the literature on genetic contributions to life-span we provide a simple, empirical test of the presence or absence of a “family” component to longevity utilizing sib and parent/ offspring correlations. While a modest family component is indicated by the results, inference on the genetic contribution to this component is difficult. We then turn to the issue of family longevity and suggest that the persistence of families in Deerfield, Massachusetts was influenced much more by their wealth status than by any distinctive pattern in fertility or mortality. Correlates of individual longevity contribute little, if anything, to the persistence of families. Historical studies using reconstituted families must make allowance for the fact that derived geneologies probably tend to represent an elite sub-class and not the general population of the community.