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 is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped when a woman is getting married?

Haven't seen anything online, even after googling. Wikipedia seems to only list the countries that support the practice, but offers no history. Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped ...
25
votes
6answers
3k views

When and why did having long hair become associated with women, and short hair with men?

It's obvious that having short or long hair is an identity sign for men and women respectively, more or less worldwide. I wonder why something like this happened, though. Maybe it was a way to ...
23
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5answers
3k views

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
755 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 ...
16
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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 ...
16
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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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1answer
690 views

Why do the Japanese sing Ode to Joy during the Japanese New Year?

During the New Years, the Japanese have a curious custom where they perform Beethoven's 9th symphony. This has produced some stunning sights on youtube But there's nothing particularly festive or New ...
15
votes
3answers
450 views

Did people use to marry much younger during the last millennium?

I've frequently heard it stated that "people used to marry at much younger ages" historically. Recently, these kinds of statements have tended to show up in sociological discussions about young ...
15
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2answers
372 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 ...
14
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5answers
407 views

Is there a field of study which attempts to document historic experiences of ordinary individuals?

One of my interests is attempting to understand what human experiences were like for individuals in the past. I want to learn about their day-to-day lives, their fears, their aspirations and what ...
13
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3answers
821 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
votes
1answer
405 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
votes
1answer
563 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
574 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
votes
4answers
405 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, ...
11
votes
1answer
919 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" ...
9
votes
1answer
453 views

How common was it for Americans to visit Europe in the late 19th century?

According to this article, in 2009, around 13 million people from the United States travelled overseas, of which 35% visited Europe. Given the United States' population of 320 million, we can estimate ...
9
votes
1answer
334 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, ...
9
votes
1answer
622 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
2answers
188 views

At what age did samurai children start going into battles in the Sengoku era?

Exactly as the title says, from what age did a child of a samurai start to join his father in battles? I suspect it is when the child was considered an adult, but what age was considered an adult ...
9
votes
1answer
232 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
237 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
321 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
2answers
377 views

Was hitchhiking common in Ancient Rome?

I am writing a story about a soldier who survived from an ambush and he hide several days.then he walked to a village, While he is on the way(walking on a road) he saw a caravan ... so my question is ...
8
votes
5answers
454 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
2answers
249 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
134 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
votes
1answer
408 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
votes
3answers
3k 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
164 views

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

I'm sure anyone who is reading this has read at least an article, blog, or book condemning the consumption of television and video games as harmful to children, the behavior of teenagers, intelligence ...
7
votes
3answers
314 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
2answers
714 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
votes
1answer
947 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
353 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
110 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
2answers
678 views

When did husbands & wives start sharing bedrooms?

In a lot of period movies the husband & wife are shown to be retiring to different bedrooms at night. e.g. most movies about 1800's Britain or even pre WW-II. Or even War & Peace or Pride ...
6
votes
4answers
446 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
205 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
240 views

Who introduced Yoga to the West?

Yoga has been accepted as a way of life by so many people around the world irrespective of the religion and country. There is world wide promotion for Yoga and June 21 is going to be celebrate as ...
6
votes
2answers
710 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
2answers
281 views

Why was Japan not colonized? [closed]

Why was Japan NOT colonised by any of the European countries when practically all of the Asian countries were being colonised by a European nation? Why did no army even clash against the Japanese ...
6
votes
1answer
278 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
1answer
100 views

Which was the earliest book of names for naming babies?

Nowadays one finds books and online websites that help you to name babies. What are the earliest instances of these? I would assume that these would be in Europe, China or the Middle East, but if ...
6
votes
2answers
218 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
254 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
198 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 ...