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History's BabelScholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880 - 1940$
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Robert B. Townsend

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226923925

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226923949.001.0001

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The Crisis of the “Research Men”

The Crisis of the “Research Men”

(p.132) (p.133) Chapter Seven The Crisis of the “Research Men”
History's Babel

Robert B. Townsend

University of Chicago Press

After 1925, the American Historical Association (AHA) narrowed its responsibilities and focused on being a professional organization intended primarily for “research men”—that is, historians with PhDs, employed in academia yet relatively unburdened by teaching responsibilities. The AHA trained its sights on professional standards in one area of the historical enterprise—academia—even as its leadership began drawing primarily from the students and faculty of a small cluster of elite universities. The narrowed focus on particular research concerns prevented the association from engaging fully in intellectual work on other activities, such as developing curricula or policies about history teaching. As teaching arrangements were assimilated into or with disciplines at many institutions, historical research continued to become fragmented into increasingly narrow topics. The proliferation of history publications contributed to the trend toward specialization in the history profession.

Keywords:   history, American Historical Association, research men, historians, academia, historical enterprise, history teaching, historical research, history publications, specialization

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