What is social history
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WHAT IS SOCIAL HISTORY?. Social Historians today dominate both U.S. and European history Social History is the history of the “inarticulate” Of ordinary people and their impact on society, government, and culture And also the impact of society, government, and culture on them.

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WHAT IS SOCIAL HISTORY?

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What is social history

WHAT IS SOCIAL HISTORY?

  • Social Historians today dominate both U.S. and European history

  • Social History is the history of the “inarticulate”

    • Of ordinary people and their impact on society, government, and culture

      • And also the impact of society, government, and culture on them


Reasons for neglect of social history before world war ii 1

REASONS FOR NEGLECT OF SOCIAL HISTORY BEFORE WORLD WAR II (1)

  • Until the end of World War II, most historians came from well-off backgrounds

    • They were primarily interested in people like themselves

      • The rich, powerful, and well-educated

    • Class bias and prejudices caused these historians to ignore “ordinary people” in the past


Reasons for neglect of social history before world war ii 2

REASONS FOR NEGLECT OF SOCIAL HISTORY BEFORE WORLD WAR II (2)

  • Available historical sources before World War II forced historians to study the rich, powerful, and well-educated

    • Since most of these sources were produced by them

  • The social backgrounds and biases of pre-war historians and the nature of most historical sources at their disposal combined to make the rich, powerful, and well-educated the main focus of historical study until at least 1945


Change 1

CHANGE (1)

  • College education became available to more people

    • G.I. Bill

    • New financial opportunities after 1960

    • Higher education suddenly became more democratic than ever before

      • Had a massive impact on the study of history


Change 2

CHANGE (2)

  • Some of the new students refused to engage in “old history”

    • Due to the general shift of political views among young people to the left during this period

    • Many young historians became influenced by radical ideologies which emphasized the “common man”

      • Rejected traditional emphasis on the rich and powerful and turned their attention to the ordinary people of the past


New sources

NEW SOURCES

  • Sources which would be useful to study social history had always been around but no one had bothered to look at them before

  • But young post-war historians began to look at them

    • Census lists, marriage records, birth and baptism records, death records, medical reports, military and business personnel records, archeological remains, police reports, etc.


New methodologies

NEW METHODOLOGIES

  • New sources required the development of new and precise methodologies in order to best handle and analyze a topic

    • Example: use of computers to analyze manuscript census list

    • Methodologies were often borrowed and modified from another discipline


Summary

SUMMARY

  • Social history is based on the democratic assumption that everyone has a history

    • That history should not be the monopoly of the rich and powerful

  • Social history is therefore the study of the lives, actions, and attitudes of “ordinary people” in the past

    • A group who, even though they made up the vast majority of the European population, were ignored by historians in favor of the rich, powerful, and well-educated

    • They are studied through the use of new and previously unexploited sources of historical evidence and imaginative and often interdisciplinary methodologies


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