The professionalization of history in English Canada to the 1950s.

Title: The professionalization of history in English Canada to the 1950s.
Authors: Wright, Donald A.
Date: 1999
Abstract: In opposition to the historiography which plots the rise of a historical profession in tum-of-the-century English Canada, this thesis argues that to think in terms of a rise from amateur history to professional history obscures more than it clarifies. Instead, it plots a different trajectory. Owing to the demands of an increasingly modern, urban and industrial society, intellectual life was transformed. In other words, one way of organizing intellectual life yielded to another way of organizing intellectual life. Whereas the nineteenth-century historian was a generalist for whom the study of the past was a part-time activity, the twentieth-century historian was a specialist for whom the study of the past was a full-time career. However, at the same time as there were changes in the practice of history, there were also important continuities. Against this backdrop, this thesis argues that while pre-professional historians could write hagiographic and patriotic books and articles, they also practised some of the techniques associated with professional history: archival research, historiography and the weighing of evidence. Moreover, women could be, and indeed were, historians when history was a part-time activity. Beginning with George Wrong's 1892 appointment to the University of Toronto, history began its migration into universities across English Canada. In addition, the Canadian Historical Review was launched in 1920; the Canadian Historical Association was founded in 1922; and graduate programmes were instituted. Historians also pursued a variety of professional strategies, including the drawing and policing of boundaries between who could and could not be a historical knower. Boundary-work was a gendered process. Whereas women were historians when history was understood as a past-time, they were excluded from the historical project when it was understood as a career. In this sense, the professionalization of history also saw its masculinization. Central to any professional project is the defence of independence. To study the defence of professional autonomy, this thesis examines the many relationships English-Canadian historians had with American philanthropy. In the absence of Canadian granting agencies, historians were forced to rely on American foundations for subventions to research and publication. Although the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Rockefeller Foundation had their own research objectives, at the end of the day English-Canadian historians successfully pursued their own research agendas. In the crisis of World War II and the Cold War, professional historians began to re-think the historical project. Abandoning history as a practical social science, they returned to an older notion of history as a humanity concerned with questions about human values.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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