Beyond the interviews the virtual exhibition (which is well worth a look) includes various statistics (largely gathered from the 1990s London PhD project that looked into the history of History doctorates between 1921 and 1990 at the University of London and the more continuous History Theses publications currently hosted on History Online. There is some valuable and interesting data here. One chart in particular caught my attention on the changes in thesis topics over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (up until 2009). The most significant changes has occurred in studies of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which sharply increased over most of the twentieth century but has been significantly dropping since the 1980s. In reverse the study of medieval history seems to have declined until the 1970s, found a brief steady period of just under 10% of theses before again rising at the end of the century. Study of Modern Europe has steadily risen whilst the study of early modern history has slowly decreased over the century. Ancient history, historiography, historical geography and world history have all remained steady at the bottom end of the table suggesting continued but low-intensity interest.
This graph was drawn from the IHR’s History Theses publications, and chart trends in the number and type of history theses completed between 1901 and 2009 as it was republished on the web for the PhD Virtual Exhibition.
Also check out the podcasts available on History SPOT: The History PhD: Past, Present and Future
I find this all so fascinating. There is some not inconsiderable concern within U.S. women’s history that the subfields of the pre-modern are not getting enough attention any more.