Talk:Microhistory

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Kurlansky, et. al.[edit]

Does this topic include the recent trend of books about single objects, ideas, etc.? They are colloquially referred to as microhistories, but this entry doesn't exactly sound like it includes that style. Examples:

  • Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History
  • Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
  • Larry Zuckerman, The Potato : How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World
  • Witold Rybczynski, One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw
  • Robert Friedel, Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty
  • Stephen Fenichell, Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century
  • Mario Livio, The Golden Ratio : The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number
  • Arno Karlen, The Biography of a Germ

There are many others. Is there a distinction between academic studies as described in the entry, and these 'popular' books? Are these out of scope? --Metabolome 01:20, July 13, 2005 (UTC)

  • I think there is quite a difference; microhistory is the historical counterpart to an ethnology of a small community; it is not a vast history of an everyday topic. I don't know what these popular books would be called -though if I were to make something up "mundane histories" might fit- but they clearly are by now a real genre, and I bet if you talked to someone in the publishing industry, we could get a real name for them.--Pharos 08:53, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
    • I've thought of those as simply examples of topical history. As topical history generally refers to subjects as broad as transportation history however, perhaps the above examples should be thought of as microtopical histories? IanHistor 17:38, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

It seems to me that the second paragraph is unjustified for two reasons, 1- There's little evidence presented that amateur mini historical studies are more biased then professional ones, 2- Even if they were that wouldn't make them any less micro-histories.

  • I've tried to clarify the point while making it fairer to those interested in local history; the difference isn't the inherent superiority of one over the other- it's simply that the two conduct small-scale historical research with very different intentions and goals.--Pharos 08:53, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Geertz? Darnton?[edit]

I've never thought of Geertz as a microhistorian, nor have I seen him referred to as such. He is certainly a great influence on microhistory, especially the work of Robert Darnton, but one would be hard pressed to call him a historian of any stripe.

On a related note, would it be appropriate to add Robert Darnton to the list? Most of his work certainly qualifies, I would think.Stuthehistoryguy (talk) 20:03, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Family History[edit]

Family History is a research area that distinguishes itself from mere genealogy (i.e. biological lineage and BMD events) by encompassing generalised history of a family (e.g. from newspapers, biographies, military records, judicial records, medical records, etc), and the places they lived in or worked at. From this perspective family history research is another type of microhistory. In fact, it has been suggested that including some aspect of family history research into the school curriculum would get more children interested in history, maybe in microcosm initially but for general history later. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tonyproctor (talkcontribs) 12:20, 2 June 2012 (UTC)