Social history, often called the new social history, is a field of history that looks at the lived experience of the past. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. In the two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%. In the history departments of British and Irish universities in 2014, of the 3410 faculty members reporting, 878 (26%) identified themselves with social history while political history came next with 841 (25%).
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2020)
Charles Tilly, one of the best known social historians, identifies the tasks of social history as: 1) “documenting large structural changes; 2) reconstructing the experiences of ordinary people in the course of those changes; and (3) connecting the two” (1985:P22).