The life histories of two socio–economically different groups of humans comprising birth cohorts from the 1700s and 1800s were investigated. It was discovered that fertility selection was greater among European aristocrats and mortality selection greater among rural Finns. The life history of the rural Finns involved shorter female life spans, a considerably longer period of reproduction, higher juvenile mortality, a greater total production of offspring and slightly higher individual fitness. In a comparison of parental cohorts, it was discovered that longevity and progeny survival improved significantly from the 1700s to the 1800s. Out of the three factors investigated, longevity was found to influence reproduction and fitness more than socio–economic group or birth cohort. The reproductive efficacy and fitness of women increased along with their life span. However, reproductive success and fitness were lower among women with the longest life span (over 80 years). Among men, reproductive success improved consistently along with the increase in longevity. When birth intervals were examined, it was discovered that the sex of previous offspring did not influence the interval between births.