Chapter

The Long and Influential Life of Social History in the <i>MVHR</i> and the <i>JAH</i>

Stephanie J. Shaw

in The Organization of American Historians and the Writing and Teaching of American History

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790562
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896820 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790562.003.0013
The Long and Influential Life of Social History in the MVHR and the JAH

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In a chapter entitled “Sociology, Meet History,” Charles Tilly included a subsection, “The Historical Zoo,” in which he wrote: “I hope my description does not make the historical profession seem smoothly organized, neatly hierarchical, or deeply coherent. In reality, the practice of history resembles a zoo more than a herbarium, and a herbarium more than a cyclotron”. His zoo was one in which species occasionally escaped their cages and wandered into the domain of other animals, and sometimes they became something altogether different from what they originally were. Tilly's metaphor is a useful one for this chapter's attempt to trace the development of social history in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review and the Journal of American History. It suggests that, by now, at least in part, as a consequence of the influence of social history, the “inmates” (disciplines, fields, and subfields) are not simply occasionally escaping their cages, mingling, co-mingling, and morphing into different species, but that some of the cages have come down, and the genus itself (history) has been transformed in some important ways.

Keywords: American history; social history; Mississippi Valley Historical Review; Journal of American History

Chapter.  10124 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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