Cliometrics (was: Re: Anti-Quatitative History a Reaction to Fogel)

Damien Broderick (
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 10:24:51 +0000

At 10:34 AM 4/12/97 -0700, Robin wrote:

>Cliometrics is not trendy!? What evidence is there for this. Can
>either of you name any person with such a specialty who was hired at a
>major university history dept lately?

I asked a galfriend who's forever finishing off a PhD in history (and whose
father is a notable Australian historian, so she's drenched in the subject
matter), and to my surprise her response was this, confirming Robin's

`I for my part have never heard of cliometrics and know of no cliometrician
anywhere. Statisitics in history was kind of trendy in the late 70s when
the 'new social history' was in vogue. This involved looking at birth, deaths
and marriage certificates, tax records and any obscure reference to ordinary
Jo and Jill Blows that were in existence and flogging them for all they
were worth to find any interesting historical social trends which might
tell us something about the 'ordinary' people as opposed to kings and
As all that could be found was often just vital statistics these became the
centre and focus of historical studies and used as the basis for all sorts
of imaginative speculation. That is the last time I remember stats being
used to any significant degree by historians

`I have certainly never read or seen anything with even the most passing stats
in historical works recently. Although my thesis contains a few which
might make it even more untrendy.'

Damien Broderick