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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Hyphen »

December 03, 2005



Thanks LP. As an early Americanist, this is definitely one I should read!

Vito Prosciutto

The math people have this to track the descent (and ancestry) of mathematicians. I imagine that something similar in other disciplines could be quite interesting, although the site as it stands doesn't really address some of the questions that you raise. E.g., what sort of positions do Prof. X's students go on to? Or his students' students?

John Thomas McGuire

I think McConville's comments seem apropos for all historical fields. (Note: I knew him when I was a doctoral student at SUNY-Binghamton from 1997 through 2001.) I've already published several articles, and revised my dissertation for publication, but I doubt I'll ever possess the chance to train doctoral students.

Another Damned Medievalist

One of the things I love about the weird that is the internets is that I've found that several of my blogging peers and I all have the same academic grandparent. I have one academic sibling I know who blogs, because he started me in on blogging. It's kind of interesting.


Two comments: 1. Wolfgang Weber's book "Priester der Klio" does this kind of generational analysis of the German historical profession from the early 19th century through the 1970s.

2. In some fields, the most creative researchers are at liberal arts colleges, where they will not directly produce Ph.D. students. My department discovered this when we did a search some years ago for a Native American historian.


Sounds like there's a potential paper here for a Darwinist.

The English profs at my alma mater were certainly keen about passing on their academic genes. I'm sorry to say that a sudden shift in academic trends had them looking more like fossils than alpha males.

Andre Mayer

"[E}xpansion of universities beyond the East Coast" is hardly the issue, since (a)Yale, Penn, and Hopkins, cited as influential, continue to be pretty far east by most standards, and (b)Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, Berkeley, and Stanford, among other non-East Coast universities, have been fairly well established (even in Early American) for some time.

Obviously personalities are involved, but I question whether the "descendants" of Gordon Wood, teaching in a smallish department where he was not for most of his career the only Early Americanist, are so few -- and certainly Bernard Bailyn has far "outbred" his predecessor, Samuel Eliot Morison.

It might even be possible to make a case in the opposite direction: that departments emphasizing new approaches to "traditional" topics (e.g., Virginia) are doing notably well in attracting graduate students.

I suspect that there are significant administrative forces at work here, in admissions, graduate support, program structure, and departmental structure -- for instance, many of Yale's Americanists come through American Studies rather than History.

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