Magazine article History Today

From the Editor

Magazine article History Today

From the Editor

Article excerpt

Now we are 60. The first edition of History Today was published on January 12th, 1951. Comparing that first issue with the one in your hand is instructive, for it tells us something of the changes that have affected the study of history over the last 60 years as well as

some of the continuities.

Peter Quennell and Alan Hodge, the founder editors, wrote of their rapidly changing world in the first editorial: of the remodelling of Britain's class structure; of the shedding of immense areas of former imperial possessions; of a Europe 'violently torn into Eastern and Western spheres'.

That Britain's class structure proved rather more resilient than the Soviet Union is one of those curious contingencies at which history excels. Yet, as the world enters another uneasy period of political and economic transformation, history is still an important guide to our present and our future. What happened then does matter now.

The discipline has itself undergone major shifts, a number of which are apparent in our cover story: an article on the origins of fashion, written by Ulinka Rublack, a German, female, cultural historian based in Cambridge. It took the pioneering work of the likes of Peter Burke in the 1970s and 1980s to make cultural history acceptable, widening the remit of the academy considerably: now there are histories of shopping, of the family, even of perfume and the Internet. There are far more female historians than in 1951, though Dame Veronica Wedgwood offered a novel interpretation of the life of Charles I's adviser, Strafford, in that first edition. …

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