Town & Country Most Influential Families List Honors Muhammad Ali, Quincy Jones And More (PHOTOS)

04/09/2013 01:38 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2013

The Obamas may be the first family of the United States, but in their chosen (and in some cases predestined) professions, these American families are ruling the roost.

In honor of their unprecedented contributions to society, Town & Country magazine has launched its first-ever ranking of America's top 50 most influential families -- households that the magazine's editors deemed to be the most inspiring, generous, enduring, creative and powerful broods to date.

But, "money alone does not a dynasty make," writes T&C contributor Richard McGill Murphy, in a short intro explaining how the list was compiled. "You need multiple generations and some other good qualities -- taste, say, or generosity -- to reach the top of the social heap."

That sounds like a far cry from the early days of American social prominence -- the Gilded Age -- when 400 white Protestants ran the show, though Murphy says many of the drivers of prominence remain the same today.

What sets the members of this list apart is an enduring legacy, Murphy notes:

Very few families achieve enduring prominence over multiple generations. That’s why we've created a list of American dynasties. To be eligible for the T&C 50, a family must be socially prominent today, and its prominence must date back at least two consecutive generations.

Here's a look at our favorite honorees, a testament of how far that early inner circle has come. Check out the full roundup when Town & Country's May 2013 issue hits newsstands on April 16.

town and country most influential families

The T&C 50

Also on HuffPost:

CONVERSATIONS