It is always great to see the work of colleague’s reviewed by scholars outside organizational history, and this one is a particularly charming and insightful discussion into how private history, organizational process and those of us who research those things can be closely intertwined:
Emotional Historians? A review of Andrew Popp’s Entrepreneurial Families
What happens when historians fall in love with their subjects? Love is supposed to make us blind, isn’t it? Does this mean we can’t write ‘objectively’ about the object of our fascination and affection? I am regularly besotted by some of the people I study, from the good (the adorable Northumbrian engraver, Thomas Bewick) to the bad (William Ettrick, the wife-beating justice of the peace), to the lovely (Mary Robinson, who seduced theatre audiences, princes, and her readers).
It is not just individuals. I fell for a whole family while researching my last book Parenting in England; the Shaws: John and Elizabeth who grew a family and a successful business in Staffordshire in the first half of the 19th century. Reading their correspondence through their courtship and marriage (1811-1839) created a powerful picture for me of the couple’s admirable characters, their loving relationship with each other and their children and parents, and – in fact – the appeal of the minutiae of their daily lives.
If you’d like to read the full review, click here.