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Historians' family tree

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 18, 2010 03:14 PM

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By tutoring them as graduate students, David Brion Davis, a respected historian of slavery at Yale, begat a number of historians who became well known in their own right, among them Harvard's Nancy F. Cott, the University of Texas's David M. Oshinsky, the University of Chicago's Christine Stansell, Princeton's Sean Wilentz, and Rutgers's T.J. Jackson Lears.

Cott, of Harvard, for her part, begat Lori D. Ginzberg, of Penn State; George Chauncey, of Yale; Rachel Seidman, of Duke, and others.

The "History of History Tree," part of a larger project that also maps relations within other academic disciplines, now makes it easy to trace the lineages of notable professors. Certain intellectual affinities begin to make sense, based on what you learn from the tree, and some disagreements become more significant. (For example, Wilentz tweaked Davis a few years ago, in the New Republic, for too flatly condemning the racial views of Thomas Jefferson. Knowing that Davis was Wilentz's advisor makes that criticism appear both more pointed and more heartfelt.)

The tree depends on voluntary information from scholars to keep it accurate and up to date. Perhaps a Web designer might volunteer her services, as well, to update the site's seriously 1990s aesthetic.


The History of History Tree logo

PS The David Brion Davis branch.

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