Questions tagged [social-history]

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 people who left behind few written records.

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54
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8k views

Why was the Scout movement so successful?

I find it amazing how fast the scout movement spread after its creation. What I got from Wikipedia: Robert Baden-Powell became famous (rightly or not) at home for his activity in the British Army. ...
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Was race really unimportant in the 1660's?

There's this quote by Lerone Bennett Jr. where he said: Back there [in the 1660s], before Jim Crow, before the invention of the Negro or the white man or the words and concepts to describe them, ...
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Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

Today many people believe that vaccines cause autism. Is there a historical equivalent to this conspiracy theory, in that people believe something to be harmful when it has been proven benign by ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
29
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How could Jews integrate into Western modern society back when Saturday was a normal working day?

My understanding is that Saturday has only become day off for most people since the 60s-70s, and before World War II it was a working day just like Monday-Friday are today. Also my understanding is ...
29
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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Did classical Romans wear any sort of swimwear?

Say that a classical Roman decided they wanted to go for a swim in a lake or at a beach, and they expected other people to be able to see them. Would they have worn some sort of swimwear or gone nude? ...
23
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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 ...
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Was touching your nose a greeting in second millenium Mesopotamia?

I ran across a curious sentence today, in a Mesopotamian prayer to a personal god (the grammar looked better in verse format): "Daily worship your god with offerings, prayers and appropriate ...
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Is the scarlet letter 'A' a real historical thing?

I've heard someone say something like: It's not a scarlet letter, it's not a mark on your forehead you keep for life. Obviously this was said in terms of permanency of a badge of shame, or ...
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What were birthdays like in Medieval times?

I considered putting this question on Worldbuilding SE, but decided it would be better suited here, as it is about history. I am doing some research for a fantasy medieval novel, and I was wondering ...
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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 ...
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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 "...
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4answers
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What defined a Jew in the context of WW2? [closed]

What made a Jew? It's a complex question, primarily because borders in Central and Eastern Europe were moving back and forth in the 150 years preceding WW2, mostly because Poland was annexed for over ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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How wide-spread was antisemitism in the USA during WWII?

Richard Feynman writes in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, chapter Who stole the door, that: At MIT the different fraternities all had "smokers" where they tried to get the new freshmen to be ...
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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 "...
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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 ...
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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" ...
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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, ...
17
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1answer
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How was Martin Luther King Jr. viewed by white Americans at the time? [closed]

In today's United States, MLK Jr. is universally regarded as a hero and patriot (...or as universally regarded as one can be in this nation). By that, I mean all races, all political parties—everyone ...
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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 so:...
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Did men and women feast together in the early medieval East Francia?

I am interested in important feasts of the upper classes (nobility), e.g., Easter or the baptism of important heirs, in the Eastern Frankish kingdom around 900 AD, specifically the Duchy of Saxony. ...
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Who was the first head of government to support same-sex marriage?

Earlier today, Barack Obama declared his support for gay marriage. He told ABC News: "...for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able ...
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1answer
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Were Arctic communities aware how different daylight cycles were elsewhere?

At extreme latitudes, what we would think of as the typical day/night cycle becomes very different. The sun remains continuously visible for one day during the summer solstice at the polar circle, ...
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How does one wash with sand?

Maimonides refers to washing with sand. He may wash his clothes in water, but not with soap or using sand. Does anyone know how this was done?
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Did Peter the Great promote rights for women? If so, how?

I read somewhere that Peter the Great wanted that women participated more actively in the society. But I can not find a reliable source to confirm this, nor why or how he did this. I think this is ...
15
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5answers
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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 ...
15
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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 ...
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What was the perception of the average British person of the Boston Tea Party?

Do we have any record of the reaction of the average British person to the Boston Tea Party? Would the proverbial man on the street have been aware of the event? If so, what was their perception of it ...
15
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3answers
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In what ways did the rise of a true middle class in Europe during the late 19th century become apparent?

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were very transformative for Europe with the rise of a real middle class. Typically before this the middle class was more of a bourgeoisie and not the middle ...
15
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
15
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1answer
264 views

In Edwardian England, did poor families arrange to have their children buried in the graves of unrelated adults?

In Max Arthur’s Lost Voices of the Edwardians, a "compilation of memories from the turn of the century" (1901 - 1910), one Florence Hannah Warn relates how her brother Gilbert was buried: When a ...
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What is the name of the theory opposite to the Great Man theory?

The Great Man theory is a 19th-century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes; highly influential individuals. In nearly every lecture on ...
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1answer
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What was the situation of homosexuals in the early Soviet Union?

Between 1917 and 1930, homosexuality was decriminalised in the Soviet Union. From the Wikipedia article on LGBT history in Russia: The Russian Communist Inessa Armand publicly endorsed both ...
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4answers
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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, ...
13
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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Has being a single mother been always stigmatized?

Being a single mother was obviously a big economic disadvantage. And in the times when the Christian church morality dominated every day life, being a single mother was obviously a proof of a sin. But ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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What were the effects of Bushido on Japan after the Meiji Restoration?

As part of the Meiji Restoration, the samurai class was abolished and their members enrolled as shizoku under the new regime. While their ancient privileges were lost, the former samurai continued to ...
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When did formal social dance fall out of favor in the US?

Up until about the 1950s, one can see instances of social dance (especially ballroom) dominating the social scene. This includes instances such as the tennis court scene with Humphrey Bogart and ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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5answers
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What happens after a widespread social chaos? [closed]

I have a pretty limited knowledge in History but I want to know the future (or outcome) of the Tunisian revolution based on the development of current events and also on some data that I know/can ...