Lecture on the use of personal records for history and anthropology

A lecture given to the Joint course in research training for Master of Philosophy students in Cambridge, with backgrounds in history, anthropology, sociology, law, geography, criminology. It describes in an autobiographical way the use of personal records, including letters, diaries, autobiographies and travel records.

Lecture given by Alan Macfarlane in 2002/3, filmed by Xiaoxiao Yan, lasts about 45 minutes.


By Alan Macfarlane: Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (1970); The Family Life of Ralph Josselin (1970) ; Alan Macfarlane (ed.), The Diary of Ralph Josselin (1976) ; The Origins of English Individualism (1978); Marriage and Love in England (1986) ; The Culture of Capitalism (1987) ; The Savage Wars of Peace (1997) ; The Riddle of the Modern World (2000) The Making of the Modern World (2002).

Some guides to English diaries and autobiographies:
William Matthews, British Diaries (1967)
John Stuart Batts, British Manuscript Diaries of the Nineteenth Century (1976)
Arthur Ponsonby, English Diaries and More English Diaries(1927)
Paul Delany, British Autobiography in the 17th Century (1969)
Some great English 'diaries'.
Oliver Heywood's Diaries 16301702, 4 vols. Ed. J.Horsfall Turner, 1882-5.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 11 vols. Eds. Robert Latham and William Matthews, 1971 on .
Boswell's London Journal (1951); Boswell in Holland (1952); Boswell in Search of a Wife (1957); Boswell on the Grand Tour - two volumes (1953;1955); Boswell for the Defence (1960); Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1963) (and of course the immortal 'Life of Johnson') - all the above edited by Frederick Pottle & others.
The Diary of Thomas Turner, 1754-1765, ed. David Vaisey (1984)
The Diary of ...James Woodforde, 5 vols. Ed. John Beresford (1968)
Kilvert's Diary, 1870-1879, 3 vols. Ed. William Plomer (1973)

Some British autobiographies:
The Autobiography of Mrs Alice Thornton of East Newton, C.York. ed. Charles Jackson (1875)
Autobiographical writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Carl Van Doren (1946)
The Autobiography of Francis Place (1771-1854), ed. Mary Thale (1972)
Autobiography of Harriet Martineau, 2 vols. (1877;1969 reprint)
Autobiography of Mark Rutherford, ed. Reuben Shapcott (various edns.)

Some autobiographical travel writings:
Arthur Young: Autobiography (ed. M.Betham-Edwards, 1898); Tour in Ireland, 2 vols. (ed. A.W.Hutton, 1892); Travels in France and Italy (1942) - also some fascinating tours through the North, East etc. of England.
Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, ed. Donald Smalley (1949)
Hippolyte Taine, Notes on England, trans. Edward Hyams, 1957.
Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts, trans. Constance Garnett, 4 vols. (1968)
Arthur Koestler, Arrow in the Blue (1952); The Invisible Writing (1954); Spanish Testament (1937).
Isabella Bird: the Victorian British travel writer and explorer: Korea and her Neighbours (1970); Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1984); The Golden Chersonese, Travels in Malaya in 1879 (1985); The Yangtze Valley and Beyond (1995); The Hawaiian Archipelago (1997); A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (1986); Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan (2 vols) (1989)
[Useful biographies by Anna M.Stoddart (1907), Pat Barr (1970), Olive Checkland (1996), Evelyn Kaye (1999)]

On Japan and the West.
The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, revised trans Eiichi Kiyooka, 1972.
Edward Morse, Japan Day by Day, 1877-83, 2 vols. Tokyo, 1936.

Methodological accounts.
B.Malinowski, A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term (1967)
Verrier Elwin, Leaves from the Jungle (1936); The Tribal World, an Autobiography (1964) : (see also the recent excellent biography by Ramachandra Guha, Savaging the Civilized, Chicago, 1999)
William and Charlotte Wiser, Behind Mud Walls, 1930-60. (1964)
Elinor Bowen (Laura Bohannon), Return to Laughter (c. 1960)
Claude Levi-Strauss, A World on the Wane (1961)
Clifford Geertz, After the Fact. (1996)
John Stuart Mill, Autobiography (1952)
Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography, 2 vols. (1904)
Beatrice Webb, My Apprenticeship (n.d. early C20) : Our Partnership (CUP, 1975)
C.Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (1964)
R.G.Collingwood, An Autobiography (1951).
Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft (1967)
Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit... (1990)
James D.Watson, The Double Helix (1970)
Henri Poincarre, Science and Method (1996)
Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself: Autobiography (1937)
J.R.Goody, The Expansive Moment (1995), ch. 8.