“Poor” Research: Historiographical Challenges When Socio-Economic Status is the Unit of Analysis
Historians of higher education approach their discipline from numerous perspectives. The extant literature contains a great deal of information about how various institutions were founded, funded, or managed. Historians have also concentrated on how the curriculum evolved and the religious and intellectual foment in which colleges and universities worked. Another long-standing tradition in the ﬁeld is the study of the life and work of central actors in the enterprise such as faculty members or presidents and other key administrators. Perhaps more recently, scholarship has centered on the symbiosis of higher education and the larger society, especially with regard to higher education’s role in what I might label the “military-industrial-academic complex,” to paraphrase President Eisenhower. Of equal signiﬁcance, albeit with a much shorter tradition, is the question of who had access to colleges and universities and the concomitant implications for the social and economic status of those groups admitted.