Timeline – 1942 – History’s Disciplinary Identity?

Prompted by sharp cuts in legislative funding during World War II, the UW undertook an institution-wide self-study that resulted, among other things, in the creation of the present-day interdisciplinary divisions—biological sciences, humanities, physical sciences, and social studies.

Head of Janus, Vatican museum, Rome
Head of Janus, Vatican museum, Rome

Because some areas of historical research had begun to incorporate social science theory and methods, History faculty were initially members of both the Social Studies and Humanities divisions. Later, individual faculty members in the History Department chose the (single) division they preferred. As a result of recent changes in the discipline, almost all History faculty are now in the Humanities Division.

For an introduction to historians’ thinking about the social sciences in the 1940s, see Social Science Research Council, Theory and Practice in Historical Study (1946) and a follow-up volume, The Social Sciences in Historical Study (1954).

Sources: History Department File, UW-Madison Archives, Madison, Wisconsin; UWH-3, 351-357.