Social history is a methodological approach to history that focuses on examining what the 'ordinary' people in a given time and place were doing. It is strongly influenced by the mindset and techniques of sociology and often makes heavy use of quantitative methods to make statements about groups of ...

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Why don't people without access to clean water drink beer anymore?

In the medieval ages, peasants used to drink beer instead of water because the plain water wasn't safe to drink. Why do people in countries where the water sources are polluted not do this today? Why ...
22
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1answer
3k views

When did challenging to a duel cease to be a practice in English culture?

In the Aubrey Maturin series of novels, there are at least two scenes where the protagonists are challenged to a duel: Post-Captain - Aubrey and Maturin about Aubrey's reputation with the Admiralty ...
21
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2answers
685 views

When did the term “Nationality” first come into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? By ethnicity?

When was the term "Nationality" first came into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? When we refer to Ancient Civilizations, did they consider themselves a nation in the modern ...
15
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7answers
4k views

What is the earliest reference to “space aliens”?

If we go back sufficiently far in human history we will most likely see that any descriptions of (supposed) "aliens" are described solely in religious terms. So in the distant past, any weird or ...
15
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2answers
1k views

Why did families in 6th century Mecca send their babies to be raised in the desert?

Biographies of Muhammad mentions that in his early childhood he was looked after by a wet-nurse Halimah, from a few days after his birth until he was 4. It seems customary for Meccan families to do ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Why did some people need to pay a bond in the 1700s in order to get married?

This is more a genealogy question than a historical event but I couldnt think of anywhere else to ask it. (I hope it not off topic) In 1787 my Great (x6) Grandfather paid a bond of £200 the ...
14
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2answers
350 views

Is the “youth bulge” hypothesis an evident explanation for imperialistic/rebellious historic movements and genocides?

The "youth bulge" hypothesis says that whenever the proportion of young men in the population was very high, their unhappiness with their future prospects - i.e., their inability to get jobs and ...
13
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3answers
650 views

Were any drugs (except alcohol) forbidden during medieval or ancient times?

I assume that some drugs where known to humanity in some way or other for a long time, but I think actually prohibiting certain drugs would require a state that (for reasons of morals, public health, ...
12
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1answer
362 views

When did nose-picking became socially condemned?

Nose-picking is a common and well known socially condemmed habit. However, this condemnation seems to be a purely social behavior with very little grounds on medical risks; it is even done by other ...
12
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1answer
500 views

Medieval Scottish clan society and legal structure

What was the basic structure of a Scottish clan in the medieval times? What was the role of the clan chief? What was the role of the elders? Were there any other prominent roles in the society such ...
11
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5answers
520 views

Have any armies equipped/fed their officers and enlisted men equally?

In the Soviet army during WW2 the officers had bigger food rations. They also had better boots (kirza vs. leather). The air force pilots were fed even better (but that is not very relevant). What ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Why did Soviet soldiers who plundered occupied territories during WW2 prefer watches to other valuables?

EDIT: text in bold was added later to not suggest that this practice was common. I'd known from stories told by my Grandmother and other people of Her age, that after entering pre-war Polish ...
11
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1answer
813 views

How educated were the clergy during the Medieval period?

I understand that Latin was common language of clergy in Medieval times. I presume that bishops could read and write. There were also some monks responsible of copying books. What about "normal" ...
10
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4answers
374 views

What are the historical reasons for religious and political negative attitudes towards homosexuality?

First of all, let me say that I know this is a very delicate issue. In no way should my question be seen as an attempt to endorse negative attitudes towards the LGTB community. I am seeking objective, ...
9
votes
1answer
544 views

Conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI

Was there a special treatment for conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI? I know that Britain had a process of exemptions, which was however rather harshly and sparingly administered (see ...
9
votes
1answer
218 views

What historical situation is comparable to what Europe is currently facing?

I know that this question might get closed, but I will try it, nevertheless. The reason why I am so interested in broad comparisons of historical situations with current ones, is because I believe ...
9
votes
1answer
222 views

When did dueling with weapons become socially unacceptable in the western world?

Now in the modern days, the phrase "lets settle this like men" would imply a fist fight. Yet as little as 200 years ago, "settling it like men" would either involve swords or pistols; the fist was the ...
9
votes
1answer
261 views

When and why did smiling at strangers and in photos become customary in the United States?

In the US, in my experience, it's customary to smile when meeting a stranger. Even in an interaction as casual as passing someone in the street without a word, a smile is normal and expected. In ...
8
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3answers
2k views

During the U.S. Prohibition, how did they get away with drinking alcohol?

I have heard about countless stories talking about people drinking during the Prohibition. How was this possible? How did they get away with drinking alcohol without getting caught?
8
votes
5answers
388 views

When did the English and Americans realize that vegetables were healthy?

I've recently come across two quotes in very unrelated sources implying that for centuries, the English and their colonial offspring did not appreciate the role of vegetables in a healthy diet. From ...
8
votes
1answer
225 views

How voluntary was Sati during the Mughal era?

So the ritual of sati (where a women must throw herself onto the funeral pyre of her dead husband) was widely practiced throughout South Asia in the Ancient era and Middle Ages. In the Mughal era, ...
8
votes
2answers
198 views

Medieval farmer's metal tools

What metal woodworking tools should I expect to find in the household of a 14th century well-off peasant farmer from Hampshire? (Answering more broadly is acceptable, but it might help to give this ...
8
votes
2answers
130 views

What is the meaning of “£10 per cent” in the early 19th century in relation to a wage (30/- fortnight)

Reading Hammond and Hammond (1919) The Skilled labourer I came across the expression of £10% in the quoted primary sources, ie, at 34: The Duke of Northumberland wrote to the H.O. on May 26 that work ...
8
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1answer
346 views

How did the French take the Republican Calendar?

I've been wondering what the reactions were in France to the new Republican Calendar. When I learned about it in school, it seemed ridiculously overzealous to me, and this notion hasn't left me since. ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Jewish Slave Owners in the United States

David Duke has a video on YouTube about Jewish participation in various slave trades in Western history. At the 7:40 mark he states: In the pre-Civil War United States 2% of white gentile ...
7
votes
2answers
639 views

Organized crime as a historical phenomenon

Is there any scholarly consensus about the origins of organized crime historically? Do movements such as the Ndrangheta have analogues in the pre-Christian or Medieval world? Or is it a relatively ...
7
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3answers
260 views

How was the current month and day disseminated to the townspeople of Medieval Europe?

How was the current month and day disseminated to the townspeople of the Medieval Europe? I'm quite sure that personal calendars weren't a thing back then... but I could be wrong... If they had a ...
7
votes
1answer
897 views

How did ancient Nomadic communities conduct trade? [closed]

Given that nomads are always on the move, how would you conduct trade with one another? Or maybe a better question did they even conduct trade with one another? Were there always cities/villages ...
7
votes
2answers
290 views

How prominent were taverns in medieval Europe?

Taverns as defined as a 'commercial establishment in the business of selling alcohol'. I'm aware that taverns existed in some parts of Europe during the late medieval period, but I don't know quite ...
7
votes
1answer
107 views

What was the role of a 'Tidy Man' and what might their duties have been?

In Hawthorne's 'Main Street' I came across the following passage: there goes the tithingman, lugging in a couple ot small boys, whom he has caught at play beneath God's blessed sunshine, in a back ...
6
votes
4answers
376 views

When were soldiers compensated with land grants?

In what times and places was it common to give land to soldiers, as a form of payment for their army service? I have learned in school that this was common in Rome. However, in the wikipedia article ...
6
votes
1answer
193 views

Is there evidence that scrubbing floors on one's hands and knees was a commonplace drudgery for women in the past?

Scrubbing floors on one's hands and knees is a common image used to highlight the drudgery and poor social status of women in the past. Was cleaning floors in this way actually common in the past ...
6
votes
2answers
619 views

Historical and biblical names for bottles of wine

According to sources like the linked sizes list at Wikipedia entry about bottles of champagne and other kinds of wine, various sizes of bottles took their names after ancient Jewish kings and other ...
6
votes
1answer
264 views

Was it widespread practice to grant freedom to slaves in early Roman Empire?

If a citizen owned a slave, he or she could free him / her. The Wikipedia article gives some reasons for doing this: Slaves were freed for a variety of reasons; for a particularly good deed toward ...
6
votes
2answers
197 views

Did the fairy craze overlap the UFO one?

One theory goes that cultural interest in technologic UFOs* derived from the same paranormal sensibilities as fairies and elves of previous centuries; and as such when one waxed in interest ...
6
votes
1answer
233 views

What makes a distinct civilization?

Inspired by this question, I have a more general one: What is, historically speaking, a civilization? We can identify broad traits that make a society a civilization- agriculture, city building, ...
6
votes
2answers
188 views

Were Uncles referred to by surname in Victorian England?

Merry Christmas, everybody! And speaking of Christmas ... In Charles Dickens' novelette, A Christmas Carol, the main character Ebeneezer Scrooge is referred to several times by others as "Uncle ...
5
votes
2answers
206 views

Historical, academic explanations for the near-universal second-class citizenship of women?

I just heard on the news that, in 70 countries, girls face risks by simply going to school and being girls. How did women come to be second-class citizens throughout the world? Are there any ...
5
votes
2answers
127 views

Did civilian cold war bunkers plan for inclusion of family pets?

At the height of the Cold War, total extermination was considered a possibility. In which case any beloved domestic pets like dogs and cats would presumably die unless included in the civilian bunker ...
5
votes
3answers
218 views

Les Misérables historical setting

What is the period in French history portrayed in Les Misérables in the early 1800s? Also, who was the French King at that time - the restored King? I thought the French Revolution was in the late ...
5
votes
2answers
303 views

Was there anything like African American architecture style or symbolic in the beginning of 20th century?

At the beginning of 20th century, large masses of black people were migrating to North or between districts of the same towns (like in New York from Tenderloin or San Juan Hill to Harlem, previously ...
5
votes
1answer
137 views

What was the typical range of travel of a Pennsylvanian resident for everyday life in the late 18th early 19th Century Pennsylvania?

How much traveling did a typical Pennsylvanian resident do for everyday life in the late 18th early 19th Century (1775-1825) Pennsylvania and what was the 'typical' range (in miles) from their home ...
5
votes
1answer
402 views

What was the age of majority in 1900 United States?

What was the age of majority in 1900, in the United States? For women and for men? I am not asking about the age of consent. The age of majority is the chronological moment when minors cease to ...
5
votes
1answer
67 views

Why did meat and dairy drop out of the working people in Britain's diet during the industrial enclosures period?

During the industrial enclosures period (1750-1832) meats and dairy dropped out of the diet of working people in Britain. This change was regional (oatmeal regions maintained milk consumption, bread ...
5
votes
0answers
60 views

What property relations existed between peasants and those who took from peasants in early Ottoman rule in Anatolia?

What property relations existed between peasants and those who took from peasants in early Ottoman rule (1300-1450) in Anatolia? How was social surplus extracted from peasants, by who, with what ...
4
votes
2answers
273 views

When did people start caring for the handicapped? [closed]

Did people in the past concern themselves with the welfare of the handicapped, such as the blind and the deaf, or did they neglect them? Was e.g. the "Amnericans with Disabilities Act" a new ...
4
votes
3answers
375 views

Did the roman conquerors have directives/guidelines to either integrate or assimilate foreign tribes/folks?

It is likely that Romans made no distinction between today's terms integration and assimilation. They did everything that was necessary for the expansion of the Roman empire and worked from ...
4
votes
2answers
550 views

Spanish-American war from Spain's perspective?

What did the Spanish-American war look like from Spain's perspective? Did the general population support the war? What were the reasons why Spain lost, was the general public aware of these reasons ...
4
votes
2answers
110 views

Were new forms of communication and media usually condemned similar to how television/video games are now?

Im sure anyone who is reading this has read atleast an article, blog, books condemning the use of Television and Video games as harmful to children, the behavior of teenagers, intelligence of adults, ...
4
votes
1answer
284 views

When did waving become a part of human interaction?

When did waving to others to say hello or goodbye first enter the historical record as part of a culturally accepted form of human interaction?