The role of the two world wars in the evolution of Fordism

The role of the two world wars in the evolution of Fordism


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What is the role of the two world wars in the evolution of Fordism ?

I've read that Fordism entered Europe due to the WW I, but I've also read that the Fordism began to be effective after the WW II. Because in the 1920s and 1930s, there were too much inequalities and so Fordism led to surproduction. But this was not the case after the WW II.

Is it true ? Have you further information on the role of the world wars, even in the U.S. ? Is it the "militarization" of the society that permitted to give to Fordism a stature ? Thank you very much.


Fordism is widely accepted outside France and isn't restricted to regulation theory. It pops up, independently in marxist industrial sociology (Johnson-Forest / Braverman) as the concrete results of research. It appears as a concrete research object, a theoretical category, and a transcended political and theoretical moment in Autonomism (Cleaver, Reading Capital, libcom).

One issue with Fordism is that one needs a stable definition if you're going to move forward. Considering Fordism as both

  • A method of social and technical relations of production within the factory, focused on Taylorism, deskilling, management imposition of machines and brutalisation to [attempt and fail] at taking the knowledge of control of actual production out of the hands of workers; and,
  • A method of ordering and distributing the products of widespread consumer production (ie: increasing sector IIb) as a way to stave off declining rates of profit, including, but not limited to, a widespread consumer economy, increased male full time worker (unionised) pay, increased male majority ethnicity permanency and work availability, an attempt at "full" employment, restriction of women from the work place, forced domesticity for women, the development of a "fuller" welfare state aimed at increasing the quality of labour (health and education mainly)

This is a relatively standard definition: Fordism is both a social and technical arrangement of production *AND* a channelling of social product to the working class in general by soaking up the reserve army of labour (unemployed) and increasing wage and non-wage returns to labour.

Fordism entered Europe due to the WW I

The following is an Autonomist answer:

Fordism entered advance industrial societies as a form of social and technical relations of production, largely as a reaction to radical syndicalism (US's IWW, UK's shop steward, France, Germany, Soviet Union) and workers' revolutions (Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Soviet Union). This happened slowly, sector by sector, as the increased productive potentials of firing a whole bunch of skilled tradesmen and replacing them with unskilled general labour operating machines that "embodied" the skill (Gramsci on this) indicated a higher level of profit.

However, if you're aware of the least Marx you'd know that an increase in the Organic Composition of Capital, the "machiney"-ness of production, causes over-production (your "surproduction" in English) and leads to a declining rate of profit and a momentary crisis such as, why, a great depression.

The working class remained undisciplined through until the end of WWII. Why after WWII did the working class become "disciplined" generally, and retreat to mere industrial militancy and occasional insurrections in the East?

Because after WWII Fordism's broader elements developed: a method of ordering and distributing the widespread consumer production.

What roles did WWI and WWII play in this? Directly, little. The Marshall plan was directed against working class self-activity, as was the imposition of Comecon. The introduction of Fordist production methods in the 1920s was directed against the skilled workers who lead syndicalist unions.

The broader point is: War empowers workers. Total wars impose elements of Fordism as a general economic relationship: forced labour quality standards (even if they fail) and full employment. Full employment is generally considered to empower workers, as it indicates capital is no longer able to use a reserve army of labour (the unemployed) against the employed. So WWI and WWII both strengthened and aggrieved labour movements.

And these strong and aggrieved labour movements had to be dealt with.

In the 1920s Capital turned to Fordism in the factory. In the 1950s Capital turned to Fordism in society.


Fordism

Fordism and the Organization of Work in the Workplace

Fordism as a specific form of micro-scale organization of mass production first emerged in the US in the early years of the nineteenth century at Henry Ford’s automobile plant at Highland Park. While undoubtedly a revolutionary shift in methods of manufacturing, Ford’s mass production model built upon previous advances in methods of manufacturing, in particular Taylor’s work on scientific management, a detailed technical division of labor in the production process, and the precise measurement of the time needed for workers to undertake a particular task on a production line. Taylorism in turn built upon the emergence of the American System of Manufacture specifically as a way of wresting control over the production process from craft workers, based on the use of specialist machines to produce interchangeable parts. This was a key development in manufacturing, with profound implications for workers and the organization of work but the full implications of this development for deepening the technical division of labor and organization of the labor process were not developed until Taylor’s work on scientific management and Ford’s revolutionary mass-production automobile plant with its mechanised assembly lines.

Mass production is based around selling low-cost standardized products in large homogeneous markets. When initially introduced into automobile production by Ford, it led to dramatic increases in labor productivity. The labor time needed to produce a Model T Ford fell from 12 h and 8 min in October 1913 to 1 h and 30 min 6 months later. Mass production thus conferred great competitive advantage but required workers to be organized and to work in specific ways, based around a separation of mental from manual work, extreme specialization of tasks, and a deep technical division of labor within the workplace. Workers typically perform simple, repetitive de-skilled tasks with very short job-task cycles (often defined in seconds) on the production line. The moving line delivers materials to them at speeds determined by management. Increases in labor productivity are achieved via increasing the line speed because of managerial decisions. As such, alienated workers perform repetitive routine tasks on an uninterrupted basis at a pace dictated by the speed of the line. Shift systems allow maximum utilization of machines. There are well-known problems associated with Fordist mass production as a result of both labor and product market changes. The initial challenges arose due to increasing resistance by workers in the ‘full employment’ conditions of the core urban and regional labor markets that emerged in the advanced capitalist countries in the 1960s as tensions emerged in the macro-scale Fordist mode of regulation (see below). There was increasing resistance to speedup and intensification of work, leading to industrial disputes and disruptive official and unofficial ‘wild-cat’ strikes. One neo-Fordist managerial response to this was to increase automation within mass-production factories (e.g., by using robots in production) to alleviate problems of labor control.

Some commentators have proclaimed the demise of Fordist mass production in many branches of manufacturing and the emergence of a post-Fordist production system but others point to the extension of the principles of Fordist production into activities such as agriculture and mining and to an expansion of both ‘downgraded manufacturing’ and ‘downgraded services’ as the principles of Fordist mass production have been extended to encompass more occupations and locations (and the latter point is discussed more fully below). Principles derived from Fordist approaches to production have been translated into, and to a degree, reworked and extended within a diverse range of routine service activities, including the fast-food sector and call centers and other activities that involve processing large amounts of data and/or paper or dealing with customer enquiries.


Fordism and Post-Fordism - Research Paper Example

This paper represents a historical shift from the Fordist methods in business to the post-Fordist methods and beyond. This paper will attempt to analyze the role played by management accounting in this historical shift by looking into both Fordism and post-Fordism while trying to realize how changing business requirements have been addressed by management accounting over time. 2. Fordism refers to an economic and social system that bases itself exclusively on the ideas of Henry Ford&rsquos model of mass production.

The use of Fordism is not restricted to the economic domain alone but instead, it has been applied to social as well as socio-economic systems too (Thompson, 2005). The essential side of Fordism relies on the fact that goods are produced cheaply in such a fashion that the people producing those goods are able to consume them. This facet of Fordism has made it popular in some Marxist circles as well. However, it has to be realized that the economic and social circumstances that favored Fordism are now effectively over leading to a shift in Fordism.

Some commentators call this shift post-Fordism though others disagree and contend that Fordism has been under constant evolution instead. De Grazia (2005) has defined Fordism as "the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them". In contrast to Grazia&rsquos view, other commentators have described Fordism as an economic model for economic expansion that relies on mass production in order to create large volumes of standardized products using unskilled labor and specialized manufacturing equipment (Tolliday & Zeitlin, 1987).

When these views are put in perspective of the manufacturing carried out by Henry Ford&rsquos automobile plant at the turn of the twentieth century it becomes clear that both definitions are incomplete and tend to complement each other to produce a working definition. Hence, Fordism (for the purpose of this paper) is an economic process that allows the creation of standardized goods using unskilled labor and specialized manufacturing equipment such that the workers themselves are able to afford these goods.

It must be realized at this point that Marxism, socialism and allied ideologies are distinct to Fordism in that Fordism still relies on a free market economy in order to thrive. The Marxist and socialist doctrines require that the control of businesses be relinquished to the government while there are no such stipulations in Fordism. Fordism has tended to rely on three major operating principles through its initial use at Henry Ford&rsquos automobile manufacturing plant and then for its use in social and economic pathways.

The fundamental operating principles are (Tolliday & Zeitlin, 1987): all products are standardized so that handmade craftsmanship is not required and is instead production is dealt with by machines manufacturing relies on the utilization of specialized tools and equipment to make assembly lines a reality. This indicates that low level and unskilled workers are able to operate sophisticated manufacturing equipment in order to man assembly lines. Moreover, the nature of tasks performed on the assembly lines are monotonous and require little creative thinking the workers working on these assembly lines are paid wages that are sufficient for them to purchase the things they produce.


By Ben Debney

Capitalism is a self-contradictory paradigm as a defining feature its internal contradictions are coming to a head in the ecological crisis, as it tries to maintain the endless growth so crucial to its existence on a planet of finite space, resources, and capacity to absorb the pollution and waste it spews forth with all the self-restraint of an addict. And yet at the same time, global capitalism has also demonstrated a high degree of adaptivity in making changes to its social composition to forestall crisis and prolong their capacity to dominate all life in pursuit of profit – the neoliberal globalisation of capital since the 1970s being not the least of which.

Accompanying globalisation has been a series of associated shifts to the global composition of capital understood in terms of ‘Fordism’ and ‘Post-Fordism’. The industrial capitalism of the 20 th century, with its production line work and Taylorist management techniques (associated with industrialist Henry Ford), has given way to the rise of service industries, the feminisation of the work force and the financialisaton of the economy (Hall 1988, 24 Kiely 1998 Gramsci 1999). Autonomist arguments concerning the importance of ‘immaterial labour’ (knowledge work) in the global economy reflect the significance of the cultural markers attached to these respective stages in the mutation of capitalism (Bianchi 2011 Marazzi 2011).

In the face of these developments, the self-directed praxis of anarcho-syndicalism has generally failed to keep pace. Furthermore, the broad failure of anarcho-syndicalism to keep abreast of the evolution of the structure and composition of global capitalism reflects deeper shortcomings within its theory and practise. This failure arguably manifests in two interrelated ways:

  1. In the first, anarcho-syndicalism continues to operate within a Fordist paradigm, assuming the continuance of the industrial capitalism into which it was born (in western countries in particular) amidst the deindustrialisation of the North and exporting of industry to poor countries with less restrictions on the exploitation of wage labour associated with globalisation.
  2. In the second, anarcho-syndicalism continues to focus on wage exploitation as the only means by which value is extracted by subject classes in a class-divided world, generally tending to ignore the colossal contributions of unpaid labour by women caregivers in the home – which all available evidence indicates outstrips exploitation associated with the extraction of surplus value from wage slaves by a significant margin.

We now proceed to consider each of these in turn.

Fordism and deindustrialisation

The global North has experienced a marked de-industralisation in recent decades, with an accompanying shift towards service-based economies in the United States, this process has taken place predominantly in regional areas, giving rise to the ‘Rust Belt’ and the large-scale emptying out of former manufacturing hubs like Detroit. What jobs do remain are being replaced by mechanisation (Koistinen 2013 Strangleman, Rhodes & Linkon 2013). Multiple factors propel the decline of industry in the North – the aforementioned globalisation being a key feature, though international competition and the diversion of profits into stock buybacks rather than investment in infrastructure also appear to play a significant role (Hudson 2015).

In the face of these developments, much of anarcho-syndicalist praxis invokes archaic and, by now anachronistic, Fordist frameworks in the United States, the pre-eminent revolutionary union is the Industrial Workers of the World, and its publication is entitled the Industrial Worker. Despite its international claims, the IWW remains largely confined to the English-speaking West, where it agitates using Fordist images of white male factory workers clutching spanners in front of 19 th century factories belching smoke – patent indifference to the massive and unmistakable changes to the social composition of capital globally in the half-decade since the 1970s tending to suggest more of a concern with conserving the past than being relevant to workers in the present. White males in overalls is particularly anachronistic when over half of all workers are women – those in low-paid sectors most of all (Close 2016).

Also revealing their vintage are what were, at the time they were written, the most advanced ideas of their day. Though having been through several recent reprints from Pluto Press and AK Press on account of the broad conceptual relevance of anarcho-syndicalist praxis, Rudolf Rocker’s classic 1938 work, Anarcho-Syndicalism, nevertheless points to the developments of 80 years ago:

The restricted strike is today losing more and more of its original importance, even if it is not doomed to disappear altogether. In the modern economic struggle between capital and labour the big strike, involving entire industries, will play a larger and larger part. Even the workers in the old craft organisations, which are as yet untouched by Socialist ideas, have grasped that, as is shown clearly enough by the rapid springing up of industrial unions in America in contrast with the old methods of the AFL .

The historical decline of unions amidst the capitalist offensive associated with the rise of neoliberal ideology (or what Naomi Klein calls ‘corporate supremacism’), along with the deindustrialisation of the global North, indicates that the developments Rocker hoped for all those eight decades ago did not come to pass.

On the contrary, as the Solidarity Federation (UK) point out in the process of developing perhaps the best attempt to date to update anarcho-syndicalist praxis, Fighting for Ourselves, that deindustrialisation was part and parcel of class warfare and undermining the capacity of organised labour to place limits on the otherwise totalitarian domination of capital over all life.

For the manufacturing sector, the process was less sudden. Instead, firms increasingly employed a ‘spatial fix’, relocating to countries with lower wages and laxer conditions. Often, these were military dictatorships like Brazil and South Korea. Here too, they often found that the workers they brought together on the production lines got organised, fought and won better conditions. But in terms of Britain, the militancy was successfully exported.

(Solidarity Federation 2012)

SolFed note further the aforementioned shift in the North towards the service economy, pointing out the intended effects of this in imposing a ‘generational break in militancy across almost all sectors … Most workers born in the 1980s or since have never been on strike, and for those who have it has been mostly in one day, largely symbolic actions’. To this, they usefully add that, since ‘memories of effective industrial action are few and far between, and the sectors where this was commonplace are long gone,’ the effects of deindustrialisation require new efforts to address effective service sector organising. Inexplicably though, Fighting for Ourselves fails to carry this through to the exported industries. It remains otherwise silent both on the strategic implications of deindustrialisation in the North, and what this means for overcoming Fordist paradigms based on organising strategies for industries that have been exported safely away from union organisers (for the time being).

Social reproduction

A further problem with the Fordist paradigm, and indeed a more significant one for anarcho-syndicalist praxis in many respects, arises out of the ongoing issues associated with care labour in the home, its role on the social reproduction of the labour force for capital, its fundamental character as a colossal gratuity to the system of private accumulation, and its associated devaluing on that basis. We have already seen that the feminisation of the workforce is understood to be a central feature of post-Fordism this fact is reflected amongst other ways in the hyper-exploitation visited on garment homeworkers in the global South (Marshall 2019 Delaney et al 2019). Feminist scholarship takes this insight further in recognising the centrality of care labour and its role in social reproduction—i.e. the reproduction of the capitalist labour force—to the broad problem of worker empowerment, given the degree to which the system of private accumulation depends on the appropriation of colossal amounts of unpaid labour, and the systems of patriarchal oppression put in place to ensure supply (Federici 2012 Fraser 2016 Bhattacharya 2017 Boeri 2018).

For women doing care work in the home, the systems of oppression put into place to ensure the supply of massive amounts of unpaid labour (called ‘slavery’ in other circumstances) manifests as a profoundly unequal balance of power built on ‘gendered constructs of care’ (women do all the hard work raising kids for free, in other words). These gendered constructs of care thrust women into cycles of pauperisation, since care labour is not valued women are made to feel like they are ‘only mothers’ and are obliged to perform wage labour on top of care work for any recognition that they perform socially useful activities. Economically dependent on others, be they partners or welfare systems, the colossal amounts of free care work women provide is a crucial free lunch of gargantuan proportions (Boeri 2018, 3-13).

Some sense of the economic significance can be found in Australian government statistics, which find that, in consideration of comparable market rates of pay, unpaid care work in the home is the greatest contributor to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) states categorically that

It is clear from these data on labour inputs that the three largest industries in the economy are not in the market sector but are in the everyday household activities of (1) preparing meals, (2) cleaning and laundry and (3) shopping. Each of these activities absorbs about 70 mhw of labour time the three largest market industries require rather less labour: wholesale and retail trade 55 mhw, community services (health and education) 47 mhw and manufacturing 42 mhw.

Comparable statistics from India suggest similar:

Even in the absence of time use surveys, recent labour surveys reveal that more than 80 per cent women in India report their time goes in domestic duties and women do almost seven times the domestic and unpaid care work as men. Estimates reveal that the total value of time spent on unpaid care and domestic work by women in India is equivalent to 39 per cent of GDP.

39% of GDP sounds conservative when compared with the AIFS statistics. Indeed, unpaid labour as percentage of GDP in Bangladesh, by contrast are discussed in the following terms:

The estimated value of women’s unpaid non-SNA (household) work, if monetised, would be equivalent to 76.8 to 87.2 percent of the GDP.

(Khatun, Khan and Pervin 2014).

The Bangladesh statistics are much more consistent with the Australian ones, and the literature in political economy on appropriation of unpaid care labour in general. Without these massive amounts of unpaid labour invested in rearing new generations of wage-slaves, capitalists have no workers to exploit by paying them less in wages than the value of the work they perform.

The patent implication of this fact is that the traditional focus of anarcho-syndicalist organising on the exploitative nature of the wage system is only half the story running parallel to the private accumulation associated with wage slavery is the appropriation of unpaid care work associated with social reproduction (Federici 2012 Moore 2015 Fraser 2016). To the extent that anarcho-syndicalist praxis fails to account for private appropriation of care labour, it neglects the single greatest source of value for capitalists, and thus the single greatest basis of their class power.

Adapting anarcho-syndicalism to changing times

The exporting of entire industries to the global South and the emerging awareness of the critical value of unpaid care labour and social reproduction to the capitalist system reveals that the traditional Fordist modes of organising, and of representing the working class culturally, are generally outmoded and obsolete. Industrial workers in the South are by and large far removed from those in the North, which presents as a particular problem to the extent that anarcho-syndicalism remains a predominantly European phenomenon, inclusive of its colonies in North America and Oceania. Somehow, anarcho-syndicalists in the North have to work out how to communicate with industrial workers at the point of production in the global South, encourage interest in the history of the global libertarian workers’ movement and help organise in a revolutionary and non-hierarchical manner.

Similarly, care workers in the home are far removed from anarcho-syndicalist organisers to the extent that anarcho-syndicalism remains focused solely on wage labour and exploitation at the point of production, neglecting to account for the even greater sources of value for capitalism from unpaid care work in the home. Anarcho-syndicalists have to work out how to adapt the ‘why’ of anarcho-syndicalism to the ‘how’ of anarcho-syndicalist organising at the point of social reproduction. The organising of a feminist general strike in 50 countries early in 2019 shows the great potentials in this respect maybe the next stage is to organise an international care workers’ union so that all the mothers can go on a good work strike (ICL 2019)

These two questions become of even greater significance when we consider the combination of the two issues in industries in the South populated predominantly by women. Organising in Bangladesh (Bangladesh ASF—bangladeshasf.org, National Garment Workers Federation—ngwfbd.com), for example, demonstrates efforts that have to be encouraged and supported much more widely (Love and Rage 2019). Empowerment narratives in development studies, with their emphasis on collective autonomy, can be easily linked to workers self-management and cooperative economics (Cornwall & Rivas 2015 Fraser 2016 Bhattacharya 2017 Boeri 2018 Easton-Calabria & Omata 2018). Autonomous unionism can offer a framework for getting from here to there, constructing the facts of the future in the present and helping to empower people through directly democratic structures where they can practice utilising the participatory forms through which production and distribution could be run cooperatively as per fundamental precents of anarcho-syndicalism.

Organising from below would have the empowering participatory features and put pressure on lawmakers to implement regulatory frameworks for worker protections in the present, while developing revolutionary union structures that can potentially be used to organise production cooperatively and without bosses. The practical need to seek redress for injustices in the here and now can in this way be combined with the need to account for the intersection of oppressions at the level of root causes, rather than the instrumentalism inherent to trying to maximise individual potential within a context of exploitative and unjust social relations at the systemic level. Of particular interest on this count is the history of worker’s self-management in the global South, dismantled by aspiring neoliberals in service to capitalist development agendas with the decline of the neoliberal world economy in progress, and its collapse not far in the offing, this history offers a perfect example of what could be used to spare the South the tribulation of dire water and food insecurity as capitalism passes into history (Plys 2016). Perhaps the global anarcho-syndicalist movement could be a key actor on this count in helping to build to build the new society within the shell of the old.

In looking to establish and maintain a basic harmony between means and outcomes, anarcho-syndicalism is superior to liberalism, which inherits and raises to an artform the contradictions of capitalism in trying to socialise avarice and selfish individualism. It is likewise superior to state socialism, which likewise inherits and raises to an artform the contradictions of capitalism in trying to socialise the state. At the same time, anarcho-syndicalism has failed to build on its strengths in relation to other less principled attempts to ameliorate the human condition in the face of the catastrophic human consequences of capitalist social relations of production.

No small amount of this is due to the historical smashing of the anarcho-syndicalist movement through two world wars, and the experience of the fascism that rears up in moments of crisis in capital accumulation (as in the present). Part of it in the present is also due to our neglect of the fact that most workers are women, and the vast majority of capitalist wealth doesn’t even come from the exploitation of wage labour, but from the massive gratuities given to global capitalism by free care labour in the home, as women reproduce successive generations of workers. It is likewise due to failure to grapple effectively with the exporting of whole industries to third world countries that separates industrial workers in the South from radicals in the North, more or less by design. We have the means to deal with both of these problems the trick in the main is to recognise them as such.

Bibliography

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Bianchi, P. (2011). The Word and the Flesh: Postworkerism and the Biopolitics of Language in Paolo Virno and Christian Marazzi. Angelaki, 16(3), 39-51.

Boeri, N. (2018) Challenging the Gendered Entrepreneurial Subject: Gender, Development, and the Informal Economy in India. Gender & Society 32, no. 2 : 157-179

Close, Kerry (2016). ‘More than Half of Low-Wage Workers in the U.S. Are Women,’ Fortune, December 28, via https://fortune.com/2016/12/28/gender-gap-low-wage-work/

Cornwall, A. & Rivas, A. (2015). From ‘gender equality and ‘women’s empowerment’ to global justice: reclaiming a transformative agenda for gender and development, Third World Quarterly, 36:2, 396-415

Delaney, A., Burchielli, R., & Connor, T. (2014). Positioning women homeworkers in a global footwear production network: Identifying barriers and enablers to claiming rights. Available at SSRN 2497381.

Delaney, Annie, Rosaria Burchielli, Shelley Marshall & Jane Tate (2019). Homeworking Women: A Gender Justice Perspective, Routledge.

Easton-Calabria, E., & Omata, N. (2018). Panacea for the refugee crisis? Rethinking the promotion of ‘self-reliance’ for refugees. Third World Quarterly, 39(8), 1458-1474

Federici, S. (2012). Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, reproduction, and feminist struggle. PM Press

Fraser, N. (2016). Contradictions of Capital and Care. New Left Review, 100(99), 117.

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Hall, Stuart (1988) “Brave new world.” Marxism Today.

Hudson, M. (2015). Killing the host: How financial parasites and debt bondage destroy the global economy. CounterPunch.

International Confederation of Labour (ICL) (2019). CNT to call a 24-hour feminist general strike on March 8, via https://www.icl-cit.org/cnt-to-call-a-24-hour-feminist-general-strike-on-march-8/

Ironmonger, Duncan (1994). The Value of Care and Nurture Provided by Unpaid Household Work, Family Matters No. 37 – April 1994, Australian Institute of Family Studies, via https://aifs.gov.au/publications/family-matters/issue-37/value-care-and-nurture-provided-unpaid-household-work

Khatun, Fahmida, Towfiqual Islam Khan and Shahida Pervin (2014). ‘Women’s Unaccounted Work and Contribution to the Economy,’ in Estimating Women’s Contribution to the Economy: The Case of Bangladesh, Centre for Policy Dialogue, via https://en.calameo.com/read/0014748565632c648d007

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Koistinen, David (2013). Confronting Decline: The Political Economy of Deindustrialization in Twentieth-Century New England. University Press of Florida.

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Marshall, Shelley (2019). Living Wage: Regulatory Solutions to Informal and Precarious Work in Global Supply Chains. Oxford University Press.

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The Indian National Congress

The foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 as an all India, secular political party, is widely regarded as a key turning point in formalising opposition to the Raj.

It developed from its elite intellectual middle-class confines, and a moderate, loyalist agenda, to become by the inter-war years, a mass organisation.

It was an organisation which, despite the tremendous diversity of the sub-continent, was remarkable in achieving broad consensus over the decades.

Also split within Congress were those who advocated violence and those who stressed non-violence.

Yet it was not a homogenous organisation and was often dominated by factionalism and opposing political strategies. This was exemplified by its splintering in 1907 into the so-called 'moderate' and 'extremist' wings, which reunited 10 years later.

Another example were the 'pro-changers' (who believed working the constitutional structures to weaken it from within) and 'no-changers' (who wanted to distance themselves from the Raj) during the 1920s.

There was also a split within Congress between those who believed that violence was a justifiable weapon in the fight against imperial oppression (whose most iconic figure was Subhas Chandra Bose, who went on to form the Indian National Army), and those who stressed non-violence.

The towering figure in this latter group was Mahatma Gandhi, who introduced a seismic new idiom of opposition in the shape of non-violent non-cooperation or 'satyagraha' (meaning 'truth' or 'soul' force').

Gandhi oversaw three major nationwide movements which achieved varying degrees of success in 1920-1922, 1930-1934 and in 1942. These mobilised the masses on the one hand, while provoking the authorities into draconian repression. Much to Gandhi's distress, self-restraint among supporters often gave way to violence.


The Idea of Work in Post-Fordism

The power of the workerist theoretical elaboration consists, as we have said, in confronting the complexity of the problems, in getting to the bottom of things, averting simplifications and shortcuts. The most illuminating example can be seen by observing how workerists dealt with the concept of “working class.” For most political militants in the 1960s and 1970s the term “working class” was a kind of mantra, an all-encompassing magic word. Just referring to the “working class” was enough to be considered a member of the “Left,” of the workers’ movement, to be considered a communist. For the workerists, on the other hand, the working class was an unexplored universe, extremely differentiated and complex, or, better, the point of arrival of a very long process, fraught with obstacles, in the course of which labor-power became aware of its own role and its own strength, and appeared on the scene of society as a protagonist, not as an appendage of the system of capitalist production. As I wrote in one of my essays on workerism:

The collective work that the workerist group undertook in direct contact with the world of factory-production aimed at penetrating the various levels that make up the system of productive relations: the sequential organization of the productive cycle and the hierarchical mechanisms spontaneously produced by it, the disciplinary techniques and techniques of integration elaborated in various ways, the development of new technologies and processing systems, the reactions to the labour-force’s spontaneous behaviour, the interpersonal dynamics on the shop-floor, the systems of communication employed by workers during their shift, the transmission of knowledge from older to younger workers, the gradual emergence of a culture of conflict, the internal division of the labour-force, the use of work-breaks, the systems of payment and their differential application, the presence of the union and of forms of political propaganda, risk-awareness and the methods used to safeguard one’s physical integrity and health, the relationship to political militants outside the factory, work pace- control and the piecework-system, the workplace itself and so on. 4

The person in front of the personal computer, as a laborer, that is, as a person who yields a determinate intellectual product to third parties in exchange for remuneration in order to survive, must present the same, if not greater, complexity. Let’s begin with the simplest things. For example: what form does this remuneration take? The old form of the wage or the form of a professional fee? Is he paid by the hour or by the project? Is there a working time? The fundamental parameters for defining a laborer are the wage and the hours. His privacy, his personal existence, his everyday life, his consumption, his relationships, his standard of living are determined in whole or in part by these two parameters. It is a very materialist vision, crudely materialist, to which the ideology of modernity opposed the theory that what matters in the individual is not his material conditions but his personality, his character, whether he is an optimist or a pessimist, sociable or surly, seductive or disagreeable, inclined towards leadership or service, effusive or silent, confident or shy, whether he has “character” or not. But, on closer inspection, the crudest materialism is less misleading than extreme subjectivism, than sterile and illusory individualism, which are, on closer inspection, ideological dispositifs which have the purpose of dissolving the notion of “labor.” The modern conception of labor contained within the ideology of modernity is that it is no longer human activity exchanged for the means of subsistence, but an activity in which the individual externalizes his own personality, knows himself better, almost a mystical encounter. “Labor is a gift of God,” I heard one day from a leader of a Catholic union. Labor does not belong to the world of commodities but to that of human psychology. From this ideology emerges the idea of labor as a “gift” of the individual to the collectivity, and the justification of “free” labor, badly paid or unpaid.


Wartime Canada

Volunteering was an integral part of the “total war” Canadians experienced during the First and Second World Wars, offering civilians a meaningful and practical way to contribute to the national war effort. This essay provides a context for understanding and using the most common types of artifacts that have survived from Canada’s wars of the early twentieth century, by examining Canadians’ attitudes towards volunteering, the types of volunteering in which they engaged, and the kinds of information that can be gleaned from the artifacts they left behind. Whether they gave time, expertise, labour, money, or goods – or simply voluntarily adhered to officially-encouraged behaviours – Canadians used voluntary work to make a patriotic contribution to the war, find a sense of comfort and/or accomplishment, fulfill social expectations, and assert their place in Canadian society. The artifacts they left behind provide fascinating glimpses into the work they did and why they did it.

When war broke out in August 1914, the Canadian Red Cross national headquarters office in Toronto found itself deluged by items ranging from raincoats and baseball uniforms to worn-out phonograph records and broken furniture, sent in by Canadians hoping the items could be put to use in aid of the sick and wounded soldiers the war must soon produce. Several months after the outbreak of a different war, in November 1939, Toronto millionaire E.H. Watt donated his boat – a 78-foot motor cruiser – to assist the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve with training. The following year the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) raised $100,000 to purchase a Bolingbroke bomber for the war effort.1 As these examples suggest, when Canada went to war in the first half of the twentieth century, the majority of Canadians responded “ready, aye, ready!” and voluntarily gave generously of themselves and their resources.

There was a natural fit between the concept of volunteering and the ways in which the First and Second World Wars were conducted in Canada. Twentieth-century “total war” was a form of warfare that engaged entire societies, and to some extent removed the traditional distinctions between soldier and civilian. Both groups were expected to direct their energies and resources toward the national war effort – essentially to get involved in whatever ways they could. Getting involved is what volunteering is all about, and when we examine the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 we find they are full of people volunteering their time, money, talents, possessions, knowledge – even their lives – and encouraging others to do the same. For Canadians who could not or would not participate in the fighting, volunteering offered an alternative means of contributing to the war effort.

“Volunteering” is a broad term when applied to wartime Canada, encompassing a wide range of activities. Canadians voluntarily donated money to war charities and invested their money in Victory Bonds to help the government pay for the war they provided voluntary labour to war-related charities, willingly enlisted in the military, and freely decided to apply for jobs in war-related industry or on farms. In a thousand ways Canadians chose to share with their country the resources of their families and businesses, in what they perceived as Canada’s hour of need. These were not trivial acts. Canadians valued, applauded, and valourized the spirit of voluntary service during both world wars, regardless of whether it was expressed through knitting socks for soldiers, growing a Victory Garden, or being the first in one’s neighbourhood to enlist in the army. Early twentieth-century Canadians (especially middle-class Canadians) believed that doing or giving something without being coerced spoke volumes about a person’s character: it demonstrated a strong sense of duty, patriotism, civic-mindedness, and charity. Good citizens offered themselves and their resources freely and generously, and took part in voluntary efforts for the benefit of their community.2 For this reason, although the results were the same (enlistment in the military), joining the armed forces voluntarily was viewed as admirable and honourable, while being conscripted usually was not. Doing the right thing of your own free will made all the difference in the eyes of early twentieth-century Canadians.

Although the spirit of voluntary service animated this wide range of wartime activities, this essay will focus on unpaid, home-front, civilian volunteering. There were enormous similarities between such activities in the First and Second World Wars – so much so that, unless they are explicitly labelled with a date, it can be difficult to determine whether particular artifacts (knitting instructions or postcards, for example) come from the first or second war. There was a great deal of overlap in both the organizations and the volunteers active in both wars. Many First World War charities undertook the same or similar roles in the Second World War, while many individuals – a few decades older, the second time around – provided support or leadership to the same voluntary organizations in both wars. The Second World War may well have been greeted by these volunteer veterans of the First World War with an attitude akin to the title of a popular 1940s song: “We Did It Before (and We Can Do It Again).” The great benefit of this overlap was that many lessons learned the hard way during the First World War were applied by organizational leaders during the Second World War.

An excellent example of how Canadians’ First World War volunteering experience shaped their handling of the Second World War is the Canadian Patriotic Fund (CPF). The CPF, Canada’s leading war charity of the First World War, was noticeably absent from the Second World War. Although Canadians were supportive of the CPF’s function of providing for soldiers’ families and dependents, the charity was resented by many beneficiaries because its policies were not consistent across the country, and its volunteer visitors were seen as busybodies interfering in the domestic affairs of soldiers’ families. In hopes of providing for soldiers’ dependents while avoiding these inconsistencies and resentments, the role played by the CPF in the First World War was instead assumed by the federal government when the Second World War broke out in 1939.3

The evolution of Canadian support for soldiers’ families and dependents also highlights the most significant difference between voluntary efforts of the two world wars: namely, the growing presence of government, either regulating or replacing voluntary work, during the Second World War. The 1917 War Charities Act took a step in this direction during the First World War, requiring organizations raising funds for war-related charitable purposes to register with the federal government and submit financial statements on a regular basis. This regulatory role was expanded during the Second World War with the creation of a new federal government department specifically to deal with the voluntary, civilian side of the national war effort: the Department of National War Services. The new department not only policed the registration and financial doings of war charities, it also determined which organizations could and could not fund-raise, when they could do so, and in what fashion. Its goal was to encourage greater efficiency and coordination in the voluntary side of the war effort. Some organizations, accustomed to greater independence (being, after all, non-governmental organizations), vigorously protested these restrictions, but to little effect. Greater government intervention in the voluntary side of war was there to stay.4

Although voluntary efforts could at times be highly inefficient, the Canadian government (like other wartime governments) encouraged and supported its citizens’ voluntary activities. It did so because of the power inherent in the idea of volunteering. Since volunteers chose which cause(s) to support, with what frequency, and in what manner and degree, donations and voluntary labour could be interpreted as indications of popular support for a particular cause. When citizens were not forced into wartime service but instead voluntarily gave their time, money, and talents, the real winner was the national war effort morale was boosted as civilians felt they were making a contribution of their choice to the war effort, and the government benefited from the human and material resources freely given. The trouble, of course, was that volunteers could withdraw their offerings as well as give them. This meant that not only voluntary organizations and war charities, but also the government itself, had to spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort wooing public support throughout both wars. Many volunteer-related artifacts of the two world wars therefore relate to this public relations side of volunteering: a sea of pamphlets, posters, newspaper advertisements, and other propaganda.

As Ted Barris and Alex Barris state in their oral history of the Second World War, throughout the war years, via everything from newspapers to candy wrappers,
Canadians were badgered, cajoled, threatened, nudged, scolded, [and] exhorted
to do or not do an ever-growing list of things. Save . be careful what you say .
don’t travel if you don’t have to . sacrifice . scrimp . dig deep to finance the
war . write often . send parcels . knit socks . save tin foil . re-use everything .
wear last year’s clothes . buy bonds . walk, don’t drive . be kind to men in
uniform . do volunteer work . roll bandages . support the war effort . use less
sugar, gasoline, meat, butter, rubber . take a job in a war plant . join up.5

Examining wartime artifacts related to this exercise in marketing voluntary service can reveal two important things. First, these artifacts tell us what behaviours or activities were considered sufficiently important for organizations to try to convince Canadians to do them. For an organization to issue this kind of appeal generally meant that either people were not used to doing a certain thing and needed to be asked or gently reminded or the message was meant to chastise the public: Canadians had already been asked to do a certain thing and were failing in their duty to do so. Second, these artifacts give us insight into the techniques that organizations used to try to convince Canadians to volunteer or donate, through the images and messages employed. In other words, which heartstrings did particular causes tug on?

This kind of volunteering-related propaganda most commonly appealed to Canadians’ patriotism, sense of duty, and belief in the necessity of extraordinary measures in wartime. The idea of duty was frequently framed in the context of providing home-front, civilian support to the troops fighting overseas: non-combatant Canadians owed it to their soldiers to “Back the Attack,” as the Second World War phrase put it. Beyond patriotism and duty in an emergency situation, other emotions were appealed to as well, sometimes for specific types of causes. Organizations providing comfort, entertainment, or medical relief to troops and refugees generally appealed to Canadians’ caring and compassion for others, for instance. Conversely, civil defence efforts frequently appealed to Canadians’ senses of self-, family- and community-preservation. Whether for the benefit of themselves or others, Canadians responded to these appeals.

Among the wide variety of approaches taken in both wars to promote a host of causes, gender was an angle frequently mobilized by organizations to motivate Canadians to volunteer. As Robert Rutherdale writes of the First World War, home-front activities “gave civilians the opportunity to apply perceptions of themselves as men and women to wartime settings, to participate in a national enterprise of ‘protection’ or ‘service’ through the immediacy of local settings.”6 Canadians entered both world wars with certain ideas about the appropriate social and economic roles of men and women, and wartime voluntary work offered opportunities for Canadians to pursue those roles in new ways – with the added lustre of doing patriotic service in the process. As Rutherdale points out, women’s voluntary work was often discussed in terms of “service” (to soldiers, to refugees, to the nation), while men’s voluntary work was often portrayed as being about “protection” (of the home front, of soldiers overseas, of the nation).

Given women’s traditional exclusion from combat roles, voluntary opportunities for wartime service were particularly important for women who wished to throw their support behind the nation at war. Their efforts to do so eventually branched into non-traditional roles (such as the First World War Farmerettes who helped harvest crops, or the Second World War entry of women into the military), but they started from a firmly traditional place. The IODE, one of Canada’s leading national women’s organizations, launched a campaign to raise funds for a hospital ship immediately upon the outbreak of war in 1914, calling upon Canadian women to play their “natural” role of healing and saving wounded troops. “It is felt that this will be an opportunity [for] every Canadian woman to show her loyalty and devotion to the Empire,” stated the IODE national executive, adding that the hospital ship project was “most fitting as it is the woman’s part to minister to the sick and wounded.”7 The millions of socks knitted and bandages rolled by women of all ages, races, and social classes in a host of organizations from coast to coast in both wars were similarly framed as caring, maternal work on behalf of the “boys” overseas. Since women were excluded from direct participation in the fighting (although Nursing Sisters, VADs, and Second World War members of the women’s armed services got closer than most), such appeals to women to “do their bit” through voluntary work and donations were widely heeded. Many women took pride in contributing to the war in this way others found solace for grief or relief from the agony of waiting for news, through volunteering. The importance of having something concrete to do in such a tense and difficult time crops up frequently in first-hand accounts of women’s wartime experiences.

On the other end of the gender spectrum, home defence and air raid precautions (ARP) work was pitched particularly to men, since it represented a form of home-front “fighting” and a defensive role that was the next best thing to actual military enlistment. Age, health, and a variety of other reasons kept many men from the battle fronts, and active participation in voluntary work – whether through money or time – was promoted as one way for a man to publicly demonstrate that he was still serving his country at home.8 Slogans like “Fight or Pay” (used by the CPF in the First World War) made it clear that those would could not or would not bear arms against the enemy were expected to contribute in other ways.

Canadian children were barred from active military duty for obvious reasons, but many of them were keen to participate in other ways. Their energy and enthusiasm were therefore harnessed by schools, churches, and other organizations in both wars, and children across the country were encouraged to tend Victory gardens, save their pennies to buy War Savings Stamps, knit quilt-block squares, and collect scrap metal in their neighbourhoods for salvage campaigns.9 As was the case with appeals directed at adults, themes of supporting the troops overseas, showing compassion to those who were suffering, and contributing to victory appeared in volunteering propaganda directed specifically at children.

Artifacts related to wartime volunteering can tell us a great deal about what exactly was being done by volunteers in the two wars, and how they were doing it. War charities and voluntary organizations often published internal reports, newsletters, or circulars explaining their activities, listing boards of directors or committee heads, enumerating donations, and otherwise making public their inner workings. From these documents we can sometimes catch glimpses of who specifically was volunteering for these organizations, information that is especially useful when most membership records are long gone or never existed in the first place. We can also learn the types of voluntary assistance deemed useful, either by donors or by organizations (the two not being necessarily the same thing). Were those baseball uniforms and broken phonograph records the Canadian Red Cross Society received in 1914 really what the agency needed? Was it possible to direct Canadians’ desire to give into other channels? The pages of Bulletin – a regular Red Cross publication of the First World War – provide the answers. And no, they were not keen on the odd items arriving on their doorstep!

Volunteering artifacts can sometimes help us grasp the ways in which communities understood and expressed the importance of their voluntary work in the context of the wider war effort. The IODE awarded service bars (worn attached to regular IODE badges) to its members whose close relatives saw active service in either the First or Second World War: blue for a husband, red for a son, white for a daughter. These service bars acted as a tangible, visible link between a woman’s home front IODE voluntary service and the military service of her relative(s). No doubt they were worn with great pride. The IODE’s attitude toward its place in the grand scope of Canada’s war efforts is further indicated by a discussion of the organization’s more than $5,000,000 contribution to the Second World War. “The real worth of the work lay not in its material values,” wrote an IODE historian in 1950, “but in the spirit which inspired and sustained the members through the years of war. An organization composed of patriotic women which has the power to rally other patriots in a time of national emergency, is a power in the land.”10 This attitude was not limited to IODE members. Across Canada, during both wars, Canadians engaged in all manners of voluntary service felt that they were an important part of something bigger and more powerful than themselves.

Some artifacts provide concrete evidence of what Canadians were doing during the war years. The booklets of knitting instructions issued regularly throughout both wars by the Canadian Red Cross and other organizations, for instance, will lead a knitter to a finished product that looks the same in the twenty-first century as it would have in the early twentieth. Newsletters and pamphlets produced by organizations for the next-of-kin of Canadian Prisoners of War detail the ongoing effort to maintain communication with POWs and provide them with supplementary food and clothing parcels. Other artifacts offer insight into how Canadians prepared themselves to deal with the worst – and what they imagined the worst might be. This category includes St. John Ambulance instructions for providing first aid to the injured, and guidelines for dealing with incendiary bombs in your neighbourhood. Throughout both world wars, volunteers attempted to anticipate future challenges, as well as to deal with those already existing, through concrete, hands-on voluntary work.

Some volunteering-related artifacts testify to Canadians’ creativity and ingenuity: with so much competition for a limited pool of time and money, organizations resorted to gimmicks to gain public attention, fundraising fads ebbed and flowed, and when money was unavailable in-kind donations were accepted. In both wars, war charities, church groups, and other organizations arranged tag days, charity teas, raffles, bake sales, door-to-door canvasses, patriotic concerts, and corporate fundraising appeals, but Canadians came up with all sorts of unexpected approaches as well: cute dogs bearing collection boxes, or the sale of patriotically-themed dolls, for instance. In rural and remote areas where cash was scarce, farmers donated produce or livestock and trappers donated fur pelts, the sale of which would generate funds for an organization. Businesses sometimes offered in-kind donations of potential use to voluntary organizations or the military: shaving cream, musical instruments, or whatever was their special stock-in-trade. Although not every in-kind donation was accepted, no cash donation was ever too large or too small, and the idea that everyone could and should contribute – regardless of age, race, class, religion, region, language, or gender – was a theme that resounded throughout both the First and Second World Wars.

While volunteering-related artifacts readily reveal the strategies used to try to motivate Canadians to donate their time or money and offer us insights into what Canadians were doing and how they were doing it, they do not speak so clearly when it comes to the question of why Canadians actually did so much volunteering. Did the propaganda strategies actually work? Were Canadians genuinely motivated by these appeals to their patriotism, their sense of duty, their traditional roles in society as men and women? We know that Canadians were volunteering in droves, and while a letter from a businessman offering a particular item to the military may provide a clear statement of his motives for doing so, we do not have such letters from every woman who rolled a bandage, every child who collected aluminum scraps, every family that invested in Victory Bonds. Therefore, we must engage in some educated speculation. It seems reasonable to infer that Canadians volunteered for a variety of reasons as diverse as Canadians themselves. As discussed earlier, Canadian society valued volunteering very highly in this period, wartime or not. Many citizens seem to have been genuinely stirred by appeals to their patriotism and wished to contribute to victory. Other Canadians were probably inspired by personal connections to soldiers or by social pressure to be publicly seen “doing their bit.”

Volunteering is about more than altruism: volunteers benefit from their involvement, even if it is through something as simple as the personal satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause. Families who contributed to the Victory Loan campaign were not only helping to finance the war, they were also investing in their own post-war financial prosperity. Volunteers who prepared hospital supplies for the Red Cross helped sick and wounded servicemen in the abstract, but they also knew they might end up helping sick or wounded servicemen from their own families and communities. Companies that made large, well publicized financial donations created positive associations in the public mind for themselves and their products, while aiding the war effort. Capable women who took leading roles in community fundraising efforts found an outlet for their abilities even as they garnered funds for the cause. Citizens who publicly took part in voluntary work provided much-needed free labour, but also satisfied their nosy neighbours and gossipy social circles that they were pulling their own weight in the war. By organizing patriotic concerts and tag days, racial and ethnic minority communities raised awareness and money while simultaneously demonstrating their (sometimes questioned) patriotism and asserting their worthiness for full citizenship rights.

The fact that there were mixed motives for much, if not all, of the voluntary service undertaken by Canadians during the First and Second World Wars does not lessen the significance of that work either to the prosecution of the war, or to Canadians themselves. Through voluntary means Canadians contributed tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions of dollars in cash and kind to the two war efforts – resources that otherwise would have come from government coffers (sinking the country further into debt) or been done without. And by undertaking a variety of voluntary work and contributing to the war effort financially, Canadians invested themselves in the success or failure of these two wars. Their fellow-citizens were fighting overseas, and through their voluntary work on the home front these civilians made the war their own.

The history of wartime volunteering is integral to understanding the history of Canada during the First and Second World Wars. The majority of Canadians never came close to a battlefield, but their government, their neighbours, and usually they themselves nonetheless believed they had important contributions to make to the war effort. The surviving artifacts of Canadians’ wartime volunteering offer fascinating insights into two periods of time when giving freely of oneself and one’s resources for the good of the country was both encouraged and expected. Through their formal volunteer work, donations of money and goods, and voluntary adherence to a wide range of behaviours and guidelines, Canadians patriotically “did their bit,” found a sense of comfort and/or accomplishment, fulfilled social expectations, asserted their place in Canadian society, and made the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 truly ones of “total war.”

Sarah Glassford, University of Ottawa / Carleton University

Suggested Reading:
First World War:

Fallis, Donna. “World War I Knitting” in Alberta Museums Review (fall 1984): 8-10

Glassford, Sarah, and Amy J. Shaw, eds. A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012)

Miller, Ian Hugh. Our Glory and Our Grief: Torontonians and the Great War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002)

Morton, Desmond. Fight or Pay: Soldiers’ Families in the Great War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004)

Quiney, Linda J. “Assistant Angels: Canadian Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurses in the Great War” in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 15/1 (1998): 198-206

Quiney, Linda J. “‘Bravely and Loyally They Answered the Call’: St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross, and the Patriotic Service of Canadian Women during the Great War” in History of Intellectual Culture 5/1 (2005): 1-19

Riegler, Natalie. “Sphagnum Moss in World War I: The Making of Surgical Dressings by Volunteers in Toronto, Canada, 1917-1918” in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 6 (1989): 27-43

Rutherdale, Robert. Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004)

Scates, Bruce. “The Unknown Sock Knitter: Voluntary Work, Emotional Labour, Bereavement and the Great War” in Labour History (Australia) 81 (2001): 29-49

Warren, Gale Denise. “The Patriotic Association of the Women of Newfoundland: 1914-18” in Newfoundland Quarterly 92/1 (1998): 23-32

Baldwin, Douglas O., and Gillian Poulter. “Mona Wilson and the Canadian Red Cross in Newfoundland, 1940-1945” in Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 20 (2005): 281-311

Bruce, Jean. Back the Attack! Canadian Women during the Second World War, at Home and Abroad (Toronto: Macmillan, 1985)

Durflinger, Serge Marc. Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006)

Gregor, Frances. “The Women of the St. John Ambulance Brigade: Volunteer Nursing Auxiliaries in Wartime and Post-War Halifax” in Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society 8 (2005): 17-34

Kapp, Richard W. “Charles H. Best, the Canadian Red Cross Society, and Canada’s First National Blood Donation Program” in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 12 (1995): 27-46

Keshen, Jeffrey A. Saints, Sinners, and Soldiers: Canada’s Second World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004)

Oppenheimer, Melanie. “Controlling Civilian Volunteering: Canada and Australia during the Second World War” in War and Society 22/2 (2004): 27-50

Pomerleau, Daniel. “La Societé canadienne de la croix-rouge et les prisonniers de guerre, 1939-1945” in Bulletin d’histoire politique 16/1 (2007): 177-188

Vance, Jonathan F. “Canadian Relief Agencies and Prisoners of War, 1939-1945” in Journal of Canadian Studies 31/2 (1996): 133-148

Glassford, Sarah. “Marching as to War: The Canadian Red Cross Society, 1885-1939” (PhD diss., York University, 2007)

Pickles, Katie. Female Imperialism and National Identity: Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002)

Rutherdale, Robert. “Home Front” in Oxford Companion to Canadian History (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2006)


History (HIST)

Course numbers with the # symbol included (e.g. #400) have not been taught in the last 3 years.

HIST 405 - History of Early America

America from the early era of European discovery through the American Civil War. Emphasizes the interaction of European, Native American, and African peoples the separation of the English colonies from Great Britain and the establishment and early history of the United States. Course meets the History major requirement for Group 1.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 403, HIST 405H, HIST 405W, HIST 503

HIST 405W - History of Early America

America from the early era of European discovery through the American Civil War. Emphasizes the interaction of European, Native American, and African peoples the separation of the English colonies from Great Britain and the establishment and early history of the United States. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirement for Group 1.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

Equivalent(s): HIST 405, HIST 405H

HIST 406 - History of the Modern United States

History of the United States since the mid-19th century. Political, social, and economic developments as well as relationships of the modern U.S. with other countries. Course meets the History major requirement for Group 1.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 404, HIST 406H, HIST 406W, HIST 504, HIST 510

HIST 410 - Historic Survey of American Civilization

Topical survey, within broad chronological divisions, of the development of American civilization since 1600. Students may take the course up to two times as long as the topic for the two courses is different. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirement for Group 1.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

Equivalent(s): HIST 401, HIST 410H, HIST 504, HIST 510

HIST 421 - World History to the 16th Century

The global experience of human communities with special emphasis on the development of the major civilizations and their interactions. Comparisons of social, cultural, religious, and political life and the emergence of distinctive and diverse human societies are examined. Course meets the History major requirement for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST 422 - World History in the Modern Era

Emergence of major global human interactions due to the growth of major civilizations. The global context for the rise of the modern West. The rise and decline of Western global domination and the emergence of new states and changing societies throughout the world. Course meets the History major requirement for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 422H

HIST 425 - Foreign Cultures

Introduces the culture of a particular nation or region preparation for experiencing a foreign culture. Consult department for listing of topics. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II or III, depending on the topic.

Attributes: World Cultures(Discovery)

Equivalent(s): HIST 425H, HIST #425W

HIST #425W - Foreign Cultures

Introduces the culture of a particular nation or region preparation for experiencing a foreign culture. Consult department for listing of topics. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II or III, depending on the topic.

Attributes: World Cultures(Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

Equivalent(s): HIST 425, HIST 425H

HIST 435 - Origins of European Society

This course traces the contours of human experience in what has come to be called "Western Civilization," from its beginnings in the ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome, to the dawn of the modern global world in sixteenth-century Europe. Although topics will vary by instructor, all sections examine the myriad forms of social, political, religious, military, and economic organization that emerged in this rich tradition, Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 435H, HIST 435W

HIST 435W - Origins of European Society

This course traces the contours of human experience in what has come to be called "Western Civilization," from its beginnings in the ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome, to the dawn of the modern global world in sixteenth-century Europe. Although topics will vary by instructor, all sections examine the myriad forms of social, political, religious, military, and economic organization that emerged in this rich tradition, Course meets the History major requirements for Group II. Writing intensive.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

Equivalent(s): HIST 435, HIST 435H

HIST 436 - Europe and the Modern World

The course focuses on major encounters between Europe and its Global rivals from the Age of the Revolution to the rise of modern terrorism. While the topics covered will vary by instructor, all sections address the rise of Democracy, the birth of Capitalism, the apocalyptic destruction of the two World Wars, and the emergence of a diverse multi-cultural Europe in the years following World War II. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 436H, HIST 436W

HIST 436W - Europe and the Modern World

The course focuses on major encounters between Europe and its Global rivals from the Age of the Revolution to the rise of modern terrorism. While the topics covered will vary by instructor, all sections address the rise of Democracy, the birth of Capitalism, the apocalyptic destruction of the two World Wars, and the emergence of a diverse multi-cultural Europe in the years following World War II. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II. Writing intensive.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

Equivalent(s): HIST 436, HIST 436H

HIST 437H - Honors/The Mad Among Us: A Global History of Mental Disorder

Mental disorder is a universal and persistent condition in human history. Every society has struggled to make sense of it every society has struggled to address it. But, what is mental disorder? Is it a disease? If so, of what? The body? The brain? The soul? Is it a chemical imbalance? Genetic destiny? Is it the wage of sin? The mark of the devil? The curse of a god? Or is it a social label or cultural construct - a name slapped on thought, feeling, or behavior that defies a society's definition of "normal?" This course seeks to answer these questions by exploring the great range of beliefs human societies, ancient to modern and from across the globe, have developed to identify and define mental disorder as well as the methods they have employed to treat or contain it.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course

HIST 440A - Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Racial Justice

This course examines Martin Luther King's life, philosophy, and career on the front lines of the civil rights movement. In our study of King as well as the larger black freedom struggle, we seek an understanding of how certain questions related to racial justice played out in American history. We focus on issues of civil disobedience, just and unjust laws, love and hate, violence and non-violence. Students will read many of King's famous writings such as the Letter from Birmingham Jail, as well as his lesser-known speeches - among them king's 1967 address denouncing the Vietnam War. More generally, this seminar introduces students to the rudiments of historical thinking and asks broader questions about the role of individuals in history and how social change happens. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course

HIST 440B - Honors/Medicine, Society, Science, and the Law: Who Makes Your Health Care Decisions?

Every person interacts with the health care system -- including you. In this class, students will study the interactions between law, society, science, and medicine to gain an understanding about how the American health care system developed and who has and does make decisions about health. Topics covered include vaccination, health care providers, discrimination, and epidemics. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course

Equivalent(s): HIST 604

HIST 440D - Honors/Citizens and Persons

Definitions of citizenship have changed dramatically in the course of history. In this class, we will trace the evolution of expanding (and occasionally contracting) political and civil rights and responsibilities over time, with an emphasis on events in multicultural American nations and emphasizing how laws, social practices, unique historical contexts, and individuals’ understanding of self and other have mutually produced each other. The course is part of the Honors Symposium “Being Human” and will engage in an interdisciplinary conversation about personhood, humanity, rights and responsibilities, and dehumanization.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course

HIST 440E - Honors/Drugs and Addiction in World History

As drug addiction rates in the US are reaching epidemic proportions, new solutions and perspectives are becoming increasingly important. This course teaches students how a variety of cultures, including the Aztecs, Maya, Vedic India, China, and Greco-Roman antiquity, confronted the problems of drug use and addiction in their own societies. By examining these phenomena through the lens of other culture's values, students will gain a valuable perspective by which to address these problems today.

Attributes: Honors course World Cultures(Discovery)

HIST 440F - Honors/Islam, Art, and the Past

While the world is all too familiar with images of ISIS using explosives and frills to destroy ancient sites and artifacts in Iraq and Syria, there has been little attention given to the dynamic role of art within past and present Islamic societies. Yet, Islam has a rich and vibrant artistic tradition, one in which ancient civilizations played and continue to play a major role. This course introduces students to Islamic art and cultural heritage through a study of Islam’s engagement with past artistic traditions in the fields of architecture and the fine arts. It also addresses how the recent actions of ISIS have changed questions about cultural heritage and stewardship in the Middle East and the West. Finally, the course asks students what they can and should do to preserve cultural heritage.

Attributes: FinePerformingArts(Discovery) Honors course

HIST 440G - Honors/Revolutions in Science

In this course, we study several examples of scientific revolutions, and consider whether a general model applies to them all. How have ideas about the universe and human beings' place in it changed dramatically at certain points in history? Do scientific revolutions have a common structure? Do they have any connection to political or social revolutions? Are we living through a scientific or technological revolution? These are among the questions we will examine.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course Writing Intensive Course

HIST #444D - Slavery and Society in Pre-Colonial Africa

Examines the evolution and practice of the institution of slavery in Africa from the earliest times to the era of European colonialism. Using contemporary personal narratives by the slaves, the course examines specific historical contexts of various slave systems, continuity and change in the ideologies and practices of slavery, religion and slavery, race and slavery, gender and slavery, conditions of slaves, as well as the making and uses of slaves - as domestics, concubines, eunuchs, officials, soldiers, labor and capital. Using films, slide images, and a comparative approach, African slavery will be examined within the context of the early evolution of slavery in the Mediterranean and Islamic worlds as well as its later expressions in the Atlantic world of the Americas. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST #444G - Voices from Modern China

Human voices--written or vocal--left records of history. Yet too often we hear only the voice of the statesman, which is too partial to bring to life a colorful history like China's. This seminar explores China's dramatic changes in modern times through revolution, reform, and war as experienced by a wide range of individuals who witnessed or participated in these huge events and left their voices in record. We will read and discuss the lived experiences of some iconic (well-known) political or cultural leaders, as well as working women, male and female revolutionaries, youthful rebels, a leading industrialist, and foreign observers during China's extraordinary transformations over the past two centuries. Writing intensive. Course meets History major requirement for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 444H - Honors/From Beijing to Baghdad: Objects along the Silk Road

The Silk Road, often characterized as the world's first great superhighway, played a vital role in spreading forms of art and in developing new technologies for their production. The peoples along the Silk Road traded luxury goods such as silk and jade as well as culinary and musical traditions. Through lectures, readings, films, and podcasts we will explore the trade links between East and West and the material objects traded along the way.

Attributes: FinePerformingArts(Discovery) Honors course Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 444J - Honors/Global Citizenship: In Pursuit of Liberty

What does it mean to be a global citizen? Are we? What are human rights? Are they universal? This honors discovery course will explore with the men and women who traveled and thought beyond the borders of their locality and their moment of time and who imagined themselves citizens of the world. We will start with early revolutions that traversed oceans and national borders. We'll read utopias that saw their world differently. In the end, we will investigate major global challenges of our own world. We will move backwards, but also forwards in history. We will read novels, and perform plays. We will listen to Beethoven and Berlioz, in class and discuss larger questions of our international community, from sustainability to diversity, as they echo through different disciplines. Course meets History major requirement for Group I or II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Honors course Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 483 - History of World Religions

Introduces the religions of the world in terms of historical development, relationship to society, belief system, central texts, and ritual practices. Begins with the religions of small and tribal societies (e.g., African, Native American), moves through religions of complex societies (e.g., Hinduism), and then studies the various traditions that emanated from ancient revelations: Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and certain new forms of Christianity. Course meets History major requirement for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Equivalent(s): HIST 483W, RS 483, RS 483W

HIST 497 - Explorations in Historical Perspectives

In-depth exploration of a particular historical question or topic: for example, the French Revolution, Chaucer's England, or the New Deal. Students should consult with the Department of History for a list of topics and instructors. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I, II, or III, depending on the topic.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

Equivalent(s): HIST 400, HIST 497H, HIST 497W

HIST 498 - Explorations of Historical Perspectives

In-depth exploration of a particular historical question or topic: for example, the French Revolution, Chaucer's England, or the New Deal. Students should consult with the Department of History for a list of topics and instructors. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I, II, or III, depending on the topic.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 500 - Introduction to Historical Thinking

Basic skills essential to the study of history: critical reading of historical literature, improvement of written and oral analysis of historical material, and use of library resources. Intensive study of books and documents from varying historical fields and periods. Required of history majors open to other interested students. Writing intensive.

Attributes: Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 501 - Medieval Military History

Western societies from the Roman Empire to the emerging nation states of early modern Europe spent an enormous proportion of their surplus wealth on war. This course introduces this crucial aspect of Western history and examines the period extending from the third century AD, to just before the extensive introduction into Europe of gunpowder weapons in the fifteenth century. Discussion of not only battlefield tactics and famous generals but also the effect that war had upon society as a whole and the economic ramifications of war, the Christianization of war, and the effect of war upon literature. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST 505 - African American History

Explores the forced integration of the Atlantic World through the African slave trade and the development of creole cultures in America, and takes the story of Black Americans' "creative survival" and the evolution of African-American culture through the end of the Civil War. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 506 - African American History

Experiences, aspirations, and contributions of black Americans from their ethnic origins in Africa to the present American crisis in race relations comparative study of cultures and institutions. Reconstruction to the present. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Inquiry (Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 509 - Law in American Life

Investigates the role of law in American social, political, and economic life from the European settlements to the present. Traces the development of legal institutions, but focuses on the various functions of law (e.g., in structuring social relationships, allocating resources, defining governmental authority, expressing social and moral values, and as a mechanism for control). Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 511 - History of New Hampshire

This course reconstructs the surprising past of the place we call New Hampshire. Beginning with the 17th -century encounter between English and Native people, it runs to the present. Literature, documents, photos and films provide access to New Hampshire's changing natural environment, its rural life, industrialization, politics and recent struggles. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

HIST #515 - Game of Thrones: Power and Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

George R.R. Martin's popular medieval fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire better known from HBO's Game of Thrones brilliantly portrays the brutal dynastic wars that unfolded between noble houses for control of Westeros. But did you know that pre-modern European history was one of Martin's greatest inspirations? Join us as we explore a real "Game of Thrones", the gripping series of national and international struggles between actual noble European houses for supremacy from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries that ultimately forged the modern European state system. Writing intensive.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

HIST 521 - Origins of Modern Science

Development of scientific ideas in Europe from the Renaissance through the Scientific Revolution to the Enlightenment. Topics include themes in the physical and biological sciences and their relations to cultural and social contexts. No special science background is required. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST 522 - Science in the Modern World

Development of science, particularly in Europe and North America, from the 18th century to the present. Themes including Darwinism, the growth of modern physical and biological sciences and science in the contemporary world. No special science background is required. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST 532 - Modern Latin America

Provides a broad overview of Latin America from the 18th century to the present. It examines the breakdown of colonial rules, the establishment of independent countries, the formation of viable nation states, the importance of geography, the roles of the different elements of society. Social, political, and economic changes and continuities emphasized to give a sense of the ambiguities of the historical process. Cultural differences illustrated with slides and music. The effects of elite rule and of United States interventions studied. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 537 - Espionage and History

Introduces the history and politics of espionage and intelligence organizations from the 20th century to the present. Special attention to intelligence work among the major powers in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Readings include autobiographical accounts and other primary sources as well as novels. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST #538 - Modern European War and Society: The Napoleonic Wars to World War II

This course is organized around three conflicts: the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II. As we study them, we'll discuss the evolution and impact of total war in order to understand how societies work in wartime and how these conflicts have shaped Europe. In our exploration of each war, we examine a range of participants from international alliances to individual soldiers and to civilians involved in the conflict. Total war, by its nature, incorporates most elements of society, so we will spend time looking at the homefronts as well as the battlefronts. We will survey the conflicts as a whole, but also devote time to some special events or elements. For example, we will look at the battle of Somme during the portion of the course dedicated to World War I. We will also study some of the art that arose out of the conflict. The core of the class will be lectures, but we will engage in some discussion almost every day and there are some classes that will be dedicated to discussion. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST 540 - Foundations of Medieval History: 300-1300 CE

Introduces the history of Western Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the late twelfth century. Particular focus on the history of Christianity, social and economic structures, the role of women in medieval culture, and literacy and learning. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

HIST 560 - Modern Britain

This course explores Great Britain from the American Revolution to the reign of Elizabeth II. We examine Britain's unparalleled Imperial power, the vibrancy of Victorian Culture, and the devastating impact of the two World Wars, which initiated Britain's post-war decline. During the Cold War, Britain rebuilt its position through cultural exports like rock-n'-roll music, royal pomp, and the mini-skirt, but has never fully recovered its status, despite its vibrant multi-cultural allure. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST 563 - Introduction to Russian Culture and Civilization

Interdisciplinary course on the development of Russian culture from its origins through the end of the 19th century. Historical documents, literary works, ethnographic materials, films, slides of Russian art, and music. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: World Cultures(Discovery)

Equivalent(s): RUSS 525

HIST #564 - Russia and the Soviet Union in World War II

This course examines World War II from the perspective of Russia and the Soviet Union. Readings, lectures, and discussions cover the major battles, Stalin's leadership, experiences of the soldiers (both men and women), life on the home front, the Holocaust on Soviet territory under German occupation, and propaganda. Students also read the most important Russian novel set in World War II. Midterm, final, short papers. Writing intensive. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

HIST 565 - Women in Modern Europe

A social history of women in Europe from 1700 to the present. Examines the development of the "modern nuclear family," transformations in women's work during the industrial revolution, and women's political evolution from bread rioters to hearth tenders to petitioners. Sources include published diaries, historiographical studies, and novels. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST 566 - Comparative Revolutions: How to Make a Revolution in the World before Marx

This course in HOW TO MAKE A REVOLUTION (if you lived more than 100 years ago) will ask why the Sea Beggars flooded Holland, the Levellers dug up the Commons, and Black Loyalists fled the independent Americans after their revolution. The class asks how slaves in Haiti defeated Napoleon's troops, utopian socialists built a railway around a cross at the center of Europe, and Marx rallied the workers of the world to unite. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Attributes: World Cultures(Discovery) Writing Intensive Course

HIST 567 - History of Canada

Covers the development of Canada from first contacts to the modern era, with an emphasis on the twentieth century. Particular focus is on Canada's position between Great Britain and the United States, Anglo-French tensions internally, and the shifting place of the First Nations in Canadian society.

HIST #575 - Ancient Near East

From the Neolithic revolution to the time of Alexander the Great. Rise of civilization nature of human artistic and intellectual development in the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt Judaism in its historical setting. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

HIST 579 - History of China in Modern Times

This course introduces students to major historical developments in China from 1600 to the end of the twentieth century. Major themes include: ethnicity, alien rule, political reforms and revolution, industrialization, interactions with the rest of the world (such as cross-cultural relations and military conflict), social and cultural transformation. Readings for the course are a combination of secondary and primary sources in translation, including scholarly articles, memoirs, biography, fictions, and journalist reports, most of which are landmark works indispensable for the study of modern Chinese history. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST 580 - History of Japan in Modern Times

Surveys major historical changes in Japan from 1600 to the end of the 20th century. Topics include Tokugawa centralized feudalism, samurai class, Edo culture, foreign relations with Asian countries and the United States, wars, postwar reforms under American Occupation, and the rise of Japanese economic power. Sources include official documents, personal memoirs, literary works, films, as well as slides of ukiyo-e (woodblock paintings). Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

HIST 585 - Medieval Islam

This course examines the origins and expansion of Islam and the development of the Muslim community from the time of Muhammad until the Islamic empires of the 16th century. We will address the associated geographies, artifacts, and legal formations associated with the medieval and early modern Islamic world. The course focuses on major developments in politics, religion, and the arts. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

Attributes: Historical Perspectives(Disc)

HIST #586 - Islam in the Modern Age, 15th Century to present

Emergence of modern Middle Eastern states and societies from the time of the Ottoman Empire to the present. A survey of major developments, including the emergence of nationalism, the Islamic resurgence, and social transformations. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

HIST 587 - History of Africa from the Earliest Times to 1870

This survey course introduces students to the major landmarks in the making of African history and societies from the earliest times to 1870 AD. Beginning with the dual premises that Africa is the birthplace of both the human species as well as some of the oldest and most varied civilizations in the world, the course examines the early civilizations of both Egypt and the Nile Valley, the development and of the Swahili culture, the Sudanese and forest empires, religious beliefs and the moral order, gender and class, warfare and diplomacy, the advent and impact of Islam and Christianity, migrations and cultural formations in central and southern Africa, commerce, and encounters with Europe, slavery and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the end of formal African independence. Films and other visuals are streamed to supplement the readings. No pre-requisite required. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

HIST 588 - History of Modern Africa: 1870 to the Present

This survey course introduces students to the major forces and dynamics of change in the modern history of Africa, from the late 19th century to the present. The primary focus is on European imperialism and its aftermaths in Africa. Issues to be examined include: the scramble for and partition of Africa resistance to colonization the rise and fall of apartheid in Southern Africa religion and society, music and culture, gender and sexuality, art and literature, pan-Africanism, military rule, HIV/AIDS, democratization, and nation building. Emphasis on African initiatives, and on an exploration of contemporary challenges and the major forces reshaping the history of this oldest, most diverse, and most fascinating continent. Feature films, drama skits, literary works, and guest lectures are utilized. No prerequisites required. Course meets the History major requirements for Group III.

HIST 595 - Explorations

Credits: 1-4

See department listings for semester topic. Course meets History major requirement for Group I, II, or III depending on the topic.

HIST 600 - Explorations

Advanced explorations in one of the fields listed below: A) American History, B) European History, C) World History, D) Ancient History. Barring duplication of subject, may be repeated. Course meets History major requirement for Group I, II, or III depending on the topic.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credits.

HIST 603 - European Conquest of North America

European Conquest of America explores many of the major issues relating to the creation and development of colonial North America. We will focus particularly on the extraordinary heterogeneous mixture of peoples who lived in North America and the Caribbean, and on the complexity and consequences of their interactions. Throughout the semester we will continually evaluate arguments among historians about whether or not it makes sense to understand the colonial period in terms of a conquest, or whether Native Americans retained enough power and resistance throughout the colonial period to make such an interpretation inaccurate. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 605 - American Revolution, 1750-1800

Examines the transformation of thirteen British colonies into the United States through the election of Thomas Jefferson as president in 1801. Topics include the revolution's origins, the social and political impact of war, the changing structure of the family, the role of religion, the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and the revolution's consequences for Indians and African Americans. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 606 - History of the Early Republic

Explores the histories of the people and institutions that transformed the new United States from a coastal republic of largely independent freeholders to a transcontinental democracy increasingly driven by class. Topics include slavery, the family, reform movements, and the formation of national identity. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 609 - Special Topics in American Legal History

In-depth thematic exploration of law in American life. Topics include race and equality in America community, pluralism, and American law property, liberty, and law gender and law. May be repeated for credit with instructor's permission. Consult department listings of topics. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

Equivalent(s): AMST 609, ENGL 609, MUSI 609

HIST 611 - Civil War Era

Surveys the period from the presidency of Andrew Jackson to the end of the Reconstruction. Focuses on causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War. Topics include slavery in the Old South, antebellum reform movements, creation and breakdown of the Second Party System, social and economic (as well as military) events during the war and major developments during Reconstruction after the war. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 612 - Emergence of Industrial America

Investigates the economic transformation of 19th-century America from a rural, agricultural society to an urban, industrial one. Explores the sweeping economic changes and focuses on such topics as change in work and leisure, westward expansion and its effects on Native Americans, shifts in gender roles, growth of a consumer culture, rise of the labor unions, Populism, immigration, reform and regulation movements, growth of American imperialism, and intellectual developments. Course meets History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 613 - American Ways of War

"Is there an American way of war?" This commonly asked question will be the focal point of the course. To answer that we will study the interactions of both war and society in the United States from the Civil War onwards, addressing such issues as the causes, courses, diplomacy, homefront, legacy, and the art of the great and small wars. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 615 - The Rise of Modern United States, 1900-1945

By 1900, the United States had emerged as the world's leading industrial power and leading destination for millions of immigrants and had begun to become a major player in world affairs. Americans enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and became eager consumers of new inventions and popular culture: cars, radios, jazz records, and the "motion pictures." But they also experienced the worst depression the country had ever known and struggled to make sense of a world that went to war twice within a generation. Women, African Americans, immigrants - all struggled to carve out their place in the new political order. By World War II, the United States assumed many of its "modern" characteristics. Using novels, movies, photographs, sporting events, political speeches and political debates, we will explore both the domestic and the international aspects of the development of modern U.S. Course meets the History requirements for Group I.

HIST 616 - United States Since World War II

This course presents a framework for understanding American history from 1945 to the present. We explore major events and themes, beginning with the Cold War and the domestic anti-communism crusade, and continuing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the women’s movement. In our study of national politics, we chart the rise of liberalism – focusing on the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson – as well as the conservative response, punctuated by the "Reagan Revolution." We conclude with a brief study of the 21st century.

HIST 618 - American Environmental History

Examines how nature has been a factor in American history and how Americans have wrestled with the concepts of nature and culture. Topics include industrialization, evolution, conservationism, environmentalism, and environmental diplomacy. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 619 - Foreign Relations of the United States

The history of American diplomacy from the colonial era to the present, with the dividing point at 1900. The focus will be on both the foreign and domestic influences that shaped American diplomacy. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 620 - Foreign Relations of the United States

The history of American diplomacy from the colonial era to the present, with the dividing point at 1900. The focus will be on both the foreign and domestic influences that shaped American diplomacy. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 621 - History of American Thought

This course introduces the subfields of American intellectual and cultural history by assessing the ideas of some of the brightest minds that thought about life on the land we know of as the United States of America before the middle of the nineteenth century. This course surveys more than two centuries of thinkers and their connection to America's plural and evolving popular culture. Ultimately, this course seeks to answer the question: What is the history of American thought?.

HIST #622 - History of American Thought

Influential thinkers and ideas have shaped American politics, society, economy, and culture since the Civil War. Among the topics explored are American Victorianism, Social Darwinism, Pragmatism, Modernism and its opponents, gender and identity politics and post modernism. Mark Twain, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thorstein Veblen, W.E.B. DuBois, John Dewey, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hannah Arendt, Thomas Kuhn, Malcolm X, Susan Sontag and William F. Buckley Jr. will be among the thinkers explored. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

HIST 624 - Topics in Modern US History

Advanced study of topics in U.S. history. Barring duplication of subject, may be repeated. Course meets the History major requirement for Group I.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 632 - Latin American History: Topics

Topics vary (see department listing for current semester). Seminar entails reading, discussion, and research on literature and documents related to the selected topic. Provides students with the opportunity to do research under close direction. Course meets the History major requirement for Group III.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 633 - Medieval England 800-1300

This course provides students with an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the history of medieval England from the beginning of the period of consolidation under the Wessex dynasty in the ninth-century through the end of the thirteenth century. In addition to obtaining a large corpus of information through the reading of a significant monographs dealing with England during this period, students will be challenged to develop the critical analytical skills necessary for the thorough understanding and practice of historical methodologies, with a particular focus on the practice of historical method in writing medieval history. Finally, students will be given the opportunity to improve their communications skills through extensive class discussions dealing with the scholarly works read for this course, and in writing assignments. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST #634 - Medieval Empires

This course will explore the intellectual and political foundations of imperial rule in the Middle Ages with a particular focus on the Carolingian, German, and byzantine empires of the early and high Middle Ages. The course will begin with the development of the idea of empire under Alexander the Great and then during the Roman empire. The course will then turn to an examination of how the rulers of the three great empires of the western Middle Ages adapted the classical ideas and practices of empire for their purposes. The course focuses on sources. Background material will be provided in short lectures. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST 640 - Holy War in the Holy Land: The Medieval Crusades

Survey of the medieval military expeditions organized by Christians to secure the Holy Land during the 12th and 13th centuries. Topics considered include the formulation of a "just war" theory political, intellectual, religious, and military interactions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims the Crusader State of Jerusalem and the histories of individual crusades. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST 641 - Europe after the Black Death

Explores the dramatic changes that characterized Western Europe as it rebounded in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries from the ravages of the Black Death of 1348. Examines the social, political, and artistic developments in late medieval and Renaissance Italy before "crossing the Alps" to trace the expansion of Renaissance culture in Northern Europe. Topics include the humanist movement new patterns of social organization the revival of classical antiquity in the arts, architecture, religion, and political theory the effects on European society of the encounter with the "New World" shifting roles for men and women in early modern European societies religious war and conflict. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST 642 - Saints, Sinners, and Heretics: Europe in the Age of Religious Reform

Examines the history of Western Christendom from roughly 1400 to 1600, a period of tumultuous religious change throughout Europe. We begin in the Middle Ages where the seeds of religious division were sown. We then tackle Martin Luther's challenge to the Catholic church, trace the diffusion of his message throughout Europe, and address the Catholic response to the evangelizing movements that he inspired. Finally we investigate some of the regional varieties of Protestantism that developed in the latter half of the sixteenth century with a particular focus on Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, France, and the Netherlands. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST 652 - Liberty and Its Discontents

Explores such major developments as the Enlightenment, Russian intellectual history, and the relationship between gender and intellectual history. Includes topics since the Renaissance. Since topics vary, students should check the department newsletter or office for course theme in any given term. May be repeated as topics change. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credits.

HIST 654 - Topics in History of Science

Advanced study of a selected topic in the history of European science since the Renaissance. Course meets the History major requirement for Group II.

HIST #656 - Twentieth Century Europe

The Twentieth Century began with European nations at the apex of their global power. It ended with their world dominance in ruins. Two World Wars, the rise of Nazism, and communist revolutions had left Europe in the shadow of the United States. Examining European history from the birth of the automobile to the fall of the Berlin Wall, we explore the political, social and cultural forces that made the twentieth century the bloodiest epoch in world history. Course meets the History requirement for Group II.

HIST 662 - England in the Tudor and Stuart Periods

England experienced great upheaval under the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. This course explores many of the key political, religious, social and economic changes that changed the face of England in the 16th and 17th centuries. We will study all of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs, and we will focus particularly on the following topics: Henry VIII, the English Reformation, Elizabeth I, Commons v. Nobility, the English Civil Wars and the execution of Charles I, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution. Course meets the History requirement for Group II.

HIST 664 - Russia: Modernization through Soviet Empire

The challenges of modernization, experience and legacy of Leninist and Stalinist revolutions. Soviet consolidation and decline through the Gorbachev era. Course meets the History requirement for Group II.

HIST 665 - Themes in Women's History

In-depth examination of a selected topic in women's history. Topics may include Women and Health, Women in Modern European Political Theory, Comparative History of Women and Revolution. See Time and Room Schedule of history department newsletter for the specific topic. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor. Course meets the History requirement for Group II.

HIST 675 - Early History of Ancient Greece

Greek history from the Minoan and Mycenaean eras through the Persian Wars of the early fifth century. Emphasis on original sources including the Homeric epics, Plutarch, Sappho, and Herodotus. Examination of the distinctive developments of political systems in Sparta and Athens, as well as issues of colonization, diplomacy, religion, and culture. Thorough discussion of types of available evidence and their integration into historical understanding. Course meets the History requirement for Group II.

HIST 676 - Classical and Hellenistic Greek Worlds

Greek history from the Persian Wars of the early fifth century through the life of Alexander the Great and the creation of the Hellenistic world. Emphasizes original sources including Herodotus, Thucydides, the Athenian playwrights, and Plato. Examines the transformation from city-state political organization to large Hellenistic kingdoms, as well as discussion of Greek historiography, intellectual life, and social theory. Thorough discussion of types of available evidence and their integration into historical understanding. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

Equivalent(s): HIST 576

HIST 677 - Roman Republic

Covers pre-Roman Italy, the Etruscans, and the foundation of the Republic, Rome's expansion through the Punic Wars, relations with the Hellenistic kingdoms, and disintegration and final collapse of the Republic. Includes discussions of Roman art, engineering, and political theory. Emphasis on Latin sources in philosophy, history, and literature. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST 678 - Roman Empire

Collapse of the Roman Republic and creation of the Augustan principate. History of the principate through the division of the empire, with discussion of the fall of Rome in the west and the eastern empire through Justinian. Discusses Roman art, literature, philosophy, and religious developments such as the proliferation of mystery religions and the rise of Christianity. Course meets the History major requirements for Group II.

HIST 690 - Seminar: Historical Expl

Seminar in one of the fields listed below: A) American History, B) Atlantic History, C) Canadian History, D) Latin American History, E) Medieval History, F) European History, G) History of Islam, H) Ancient History, I) East Asian History, J) African History, K) Middle Eastern History, L) Historiography, M) Russian History, N) World History, O) British History, P) New Hampshire History, Q) Historical Methodology, R) Irish History, S) History of Science, T) Maritime History, U) Museum Studies. Course meets the History requirements for Group I, II, or III, depending on the topic.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

Equivalent(s): HIST 701

HIST 691 - Internship

Credits: 1-4

Supervised internship with a governmental agency, private corporation, philanthropic institution, library, archives, museum, historical society, or other institution seeking individuals interested in historical research. Cr/F.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 695 - Independent Study

Credits: 1-4

A) Early American History, B) American National History, C) Canada, D) Latin America, E) Medieval History, F) Early Modern Europe, G) Modern European History, H) Ancient History, I) East Asia, J) Near East and Africa, K) European Historiography, L) American Historiography, M) Russia, N) World History, O) English History, P) New Hampshire History, Q) Historical Methodology, R) Irish History, S) History of Science, T) Maritime, U) Museum Studies. For students showing a special aptitude in history who desire to study an area or subject for which no appropriate course is offered. Prereq: permission.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST #695W - Independent Study

Credits: 1-4

A) Early American History, B) American National History, C) Canada, D) Latin America, E) Medieval History, F) Early Modern Europe, G) Modern European History, H) Ancient History, I) Far East and India, J) Near East and Africa, K) European Historiography, L) American Historiography, M) Russia, N) World History, O) English History, P) New Hampshire History, Q) Historical Methodology, R) Irish History, S) History of Science, T) Maritime, U) Museum Studies. For students showing a special aptitude in history who desire to study an area or subject for which no appropriate course is offered. Prereq: permission.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 698 - Internship in Museum Studies

Supervised position with a museum, historical society, archive, or other history related site. Cr/F.

HIST 771 - Museum Studies

Introduction to theory, methods, and practice of museum studies. Examination of various museum functions, as well as contemporary historical controversies. May be repeated with departmental approval.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 772 - Studies in Regional Material Culture

Introduces the theory and methodology of material culture, that is, the study of history through the analysis of buildings, human-created landscapes, and artifacts made and used in the United States, particularly in New England. May be repeated for credit with permission of undergraduate adviser. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 774 - Historiography

Analysis of ancient and modern historians. Open to undergraduates with permission. (Not offered every year.)

HIST 775 - Historical Methods

Contemporary historical methods. Required of all entering Ph.D. candidates open to undergraduate with permission. (Not offered every year.)

Equivalent(s): HIST 670

HIST 780 - Special Topics in Museum Studies/Material Culture

Study of a selected topic related to museum studies or material culture. May be repeated for course credit with permission of the undergraduate adviser. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated up to 3 times.

HIST 796 - Research Internship

Credits: 2-4

Intensive collaborative experience in research for undergraduate majors. Students gain professional skills while assisting a faculty member on a continuing research project. Permission Required.

HIST 797 - Colloquium

Selected topics in American, European, and non-Western history. Required of history majors. Students must elect section in the department office at the time of registration. Prereq: HIST 500. Course meets the History major requirements for Group I, II, or III, depending on the topic.

Attributes: Writing Intensive Course

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits.

HIST 799 - Senior Thesis

Supervised research leading to the presentation of a major research paper. Open only to history majors. Permission of department chairperson required. May not be used as a substitute for the required senior colloquium.

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Dunkirk

As France fell rapidly, the Allies' northern and southern forces were separated by the German advance from the Ardennes to the Somme. The Allied armies in the north were being encircled.

By 19 May 1940 the British commander, Viscount Gort, was considering the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) by sea. But London was demanding more action and on 21 May, Gort launched an attack from Arras.

This attack lacked the necessary armour and General Heinz Guderian's tanks continued past Boulogne and Calais to cross the canal defence line close to Dunkirk, the only port left for an Allied withdrawal from Europe.

On 24 May, just as Guderian was expecting to drive into Dunkirk, Hitler gave the surprise order to withdraw back to the canal line. Why the order was given has never been explained fully.

One possible explanation is that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe, assured Hitler that his aircraft alone could destroy the Allied troops trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk. Others believe Hitler felt that Britain might accept peace terms more readily without a humiliating surrender. Whatever the reason, the German halt gave the Allies an unexpected opportunity to evacuate their troops.

Evacuation began on 26 May and gained urgency the next day, when Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch, the German Commander-in-Chief, persuaded Hitler to rescind his orders and German tanks again advanced on Dunkirk.

By this time the Allies had strengthened their defences and the tanks met heavy resistance. Almost immediately, Hitler ordered them instead to move south for the imminent attack on the Somme-Aisne line, another lucky break for the Allies.

Heavy German bombing had destroyed Dunkirk's harbour, and there were hundreds of thousands of men on the beach, hoping to be rescued. The Luftwaffe attacked whenever the weather allowed, reducing the town of Dunkirk to rubble.

On 29 May, the evacuation was announced to the British public, and many privately owned boats started arriving at Dunkirk to ferry the troops to safety. This flotilla of small vessels famously became known as the 'Little Ships'. The contribution these civilian vessels made to the Dunkirk evacuation gave rise to the term 'Dunkirk spirit', an expression still used to describe the British ability to rally together in the face of adversity.

By 4 June, when the operation ended, 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved, but virtually all of their heavy equipment had been abandoned. Six destroyers had been sunk, along with eight personnel ships and around 200 small craft, from a total of around 860 vessels of all sizes.

A further 220,000 Allied troops were rescued by British ships from other French ports (Cherbourg, Saint-Malo, Brest, and Saint-Nazaire), bringing the total of Allied troops evacuated to 558,000.

Although the Germans had taken over a million Allied prisoners in three weeks at a cost of 60,000 casualties, the evacuation was a major boost to British morale and enabled the Allies to fight another day - even if that fight was to be on home turf, resisting the expected German invasion of Britain.


The American sniper rifle has taken many forms, but its objective has remained the same—one shot, one kill.

Select Primary American Sniper Rifles Used Throughout History:

  • American Long Rifle (American Revolution)
  • Sharps Rifle (Civil War)
  • Whitworth Rifle (Civil War)
  • M1903A1 (World War I)
  • M1903A4 (World War II)
  • M1941 (World War II)
  • M1C (Korean War)
  • Winchester Model 70 (Vietnam War)
  • M21 (Vietnam War)
  • M40 (Vietnam War)
  • M24 (Modernday)
  • M2010 (Modernday)
  • M82 (Modernday)

The sniper rifle, engineered expressly for long-range shooting, singularly captures the American imagination. It’s little wonder why.

Aside from their incredible ballistic feats, the men who wielded these specialized tools exemplified the best traits of our soldiers. Be it the U.S. Marine Corps’ Carlos Hathcock, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle or any of the other countless long-range warriors, the American sniper proves diligent, courageous, skilled—and, above all, deadly.

That last point is especially true. Whereas infantry takes hundreds of thousands of rounds to record a kill, the sniper’s requirements have remained consistently low: an efficient 1.3 rounds at last count. That’s a testament to their training and tools. Neither one is a recent occurrence.

The Deerslayer Goes to War

Perhaps no single muzzleloader stirs the American imagination more than the American Long Rifle. Just the mention of what’s better known now as the “Kentucky Rifle” conjures up images of Colonists picking off Red Coats at distance.

The American Long Rifle still stirs the American imagination. Deadly past 200 yards, the rifle played only a limited role in the Revolutionary War, given how long it took to load and its incompatibility with a bayonet. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

The accurate flintlock did play that role in America’s struggle for independence, perhaps most notably in the battles of Kings Mountain and Saratoga. The war even saw the first formalization of an American sniper unit (of sorts) by Daniel Morgan, aptly called “Morgan’s Riflemen.” But overall, its part was small compared to that of the musket. Typically, it was found in the hands of patriot militia or light infantry units.

Despite extending a soldier’s effective range past 200 yards—accurately, mind you—it has a couple of gaping holes that stymied wider adoption. Compared to muskets, the .40- to .50-caliber rifles were more difficult and time-consuming to load. The grooves could foul after several shots and would require cleaning to regain accuracy. In addition, they were incompatible with bayonets, forcing a rifleman to turn to his knife or tomahawk—undesirably so—upon an infantry charge. Nevertheless, the American Long Rifle did enough damage during the American Revolution to earn a place in the nation’s heart and mythology.

Surgical Precision in a Club Fight

Brutal. Few words better sum up the American Civil War. The advent of the conical Minié Ball in 1849 made the Springfield Model 1851, Pattern 1853 Enfield and other rifled muskets much more accurate. However, rank-and-file fighting was the order of the day, giving both the Blue and the Gray soldiers barn door-sized targets at which to pitch the devastatingly effective soft-lead projectiles.

Known not only for its long-range accuracy but also for the whistling sound its bullet made, the Confederates’ Whitworth dealt out shrill death. It still owns the record for one of the world’s longest kill shots. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

Despite the close and grizzly battles, sniper tactics were coming into their own. Both the Union and Confederate soldiers had sharpshooting regiments. Perhaps the most famed was Brigadier General Hiram Berdan’s (the name behind the primer) legendary U.S. Volunteer Sharpshooting Regiments and their Sharps Rifle.

Breechloading, set trigger, capable of delivering its deadly payload past 1,000 yards, the .52-caliber was among the most accurate rifles of its time—a terrifying instrument when you think about it. Remember, many battles were won by those best with the bayonet. A rifle that could knock you out of your brogans, sight unseen, is enough to send chills from leggings to kepi.

Berdan’s men used it to good effect, most notably at Gettysburg. Some even got outfitted with the breakthrough technology of the day—a telescopic sight. And, while its reputation precedes it, the Sharps might not have been the most feared sniper rifle in the War Between the States. That distinction goes to the Whitworth Rifle.

No Civil War long-range shooter is more famed than the Sharps Rifle. Hiram Berdan’s sharpshooting regiments used it to good effect at Gettysburg’s Devil’s Den and Peach Orchard. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

The unusual hexagonal bullets the hexagonally bored rifle shot were known to whistle in flight—a banshee’s shrill that often meant death. However, Union soldiers had good reason to fear the abstruse rifle for more than just the sound it produced: It was capable. One proficient Confederate sent a bullet screaming from his Whitworth in December 1864 at Fort Sumpter to record what was then the longest kill by an American soldier—1,390 yards. Amazingly, the mark stood until World War I and remains in the top 20 of the most lengthy sniper kills of all time.

Even so, the .451-caliber rifle wasn’t a miracle weapon. There weren’t enough to make an impact, and the ones on hand were painfully slow, shot to shot—a curse of most accurate muzzleloaders. Not that either made a difference to a soldier who had a Whitworth bullet whistling toward him.

International Conflict and Sniper Advancement

What we would recognize as a sniper rifle was forged in the crucible of two world wars. Yes, today’s highly engineered metal and synthetic rifles are lighter and more specialized than the Springfield M1903. But, like that old warhorse, modern sniper rifles pretty much remain bolt-actions, firing metallic cartridges, loaded with spitzer bullets and, most importantly, topped off with scopes.

More Military Guns:

  • The M1903A4 Sniper Rifle: An Old Soldier Still Hits the Mark
  • M1 Garand: America’s Original Battle Rifle
  • 6 Long Guns To Know From The Spanish-American War
  • Five Guns You Need To Know From The American Revolution
  • 8 Long Guns You Have to Know from the American Civil War

The Springfield’s role as the long-range backbone through both wars was default. Similar to most nations after World War I, the United States dismantled its sniper program and did not advance its weaponry by entering its sequel. Consequently, the evolution of the sniper system over this period is mainly defined by optics.

The .30-06 wore two primary scopes in World War I: the Warner & Swasey 1908 (or 1913 Telescopic Musket Sight) and the Winchester A5 Scope. The 5x A5 was the more desirable of the two. But, as is often the case in war, the lesser option was the more prevalent.

Offering assembly line accuracy, the Springfield M1903A4 was the first mass-produced sniper rifle. However, the 2.5x Weaver scope offered little to desire, despite its ruggedness. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

Warner & Swasey’s Musket Sight was the official U.S. Army scope. By all accounts, it was a dog. In addition to weighing upward of 2 pounds, the prismatic scope was offset from the barrel. Nevertheless, both the ’08 and ’13 models could take a licking. Neither was especially powerful. The 1908 was a more respectable 6x scope but was reduced to 5.2x by 1913 to open the field of view. In either case, the magnification was more than enough for trench warfare. “No man’s land”—the space between opposing trenches—rarely exceeded 300 yards.

The opposite of the Warner & Swasey, Winchester’s scope was top of the line. Mercifully, it also followed the fundamentals of scope operation chief among these was that it was centrally mounted and turret-adjusted … only, the damned thing was like fighting with a Fabergé egg! The rifle’s recoil, alone, was enough to decimate it, leading to free-float mounting. This meant the eye relief had to be reset after every shot. Still, it was an upgrade for doughboys lucky enough to be issued one.

World War II’s mass production saw the advent of America’s first assembly line sniper rifle—the M1903A4. Not much differentiated it from other Springfields, except that the iron sights were left off to make room for the scope—in this case, the Weaver 340C (the “M73B1,” in Army parlance).

The glass was good and durable, but it wasn’t powered to pick fleas off a dog’s back. At 2.5x magnification, it was, at best, more of a mid-range option. This, combined with the United States having to reboot its sniper program, is perhaps the reason the Yanks struggled early on with their much-more-experienced German counterparts.

The Winchester Model 70 rifle marked a break from past military sniper rifle doctrine—namely, the reconditioned match shooters were not service rifles but were specialized for their job. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

The same can’t quite be said for those in the Pacific Theater. Marine snipers generally had better luck, although they arguably had a system more suited to their application. The rifles were older (the vintage World War I M1903A1), but the scopes were much more appropriate (the Unertl 8x).

What became known as the M1941 Marine Corps Pattern Rifle was a sniper’s sniper system. As they do today, Marines had to know their DOPE and dial in each shot. However, the Unertl made it easy. The scope had oversized turrets, with both tactile and audible clicks. You could get on target, even in the thick of battle. So, what if the free-float mounts meant you had to reset the eye relief after every trigger pull? You had the confidence you’d hit what you aimed at. In the hands of skilled snipers, that was enough.

Semi-automatic snipers rifles—at least in concept—also came about in World War II. However, it would have to wait until Korea to get put to the test.

Crosshairs on East Asia

The contributions of the M1C in the Korean War weren’t child’s play. The semi-auto M1 Garand, modified to accept the M73 scope made by Lyman, was impressive … although it was hampered and overshadowed.

The M1941 Marine Corps Pattern Springfield was an older rifle for its time, but its Unertl 8x scope was much better than other American sniper optics. Note the oversized turrets—perfect for dialing in a precision shot. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

The rifle perhaps didn’t live up to its full potential, typically used 600 yards in, due to the lack of match-grade ammunition. Most simply pitched the somewhat-less-accurate Army-issued M2 ball.

Then, there was the style of battle waged on the Asian peninsula: A big war in a little country, the slaughter was primarily wrought from machine guns, wave frontal assaults and artillery barrages. Despite this, skunk-working snipers came up with some clever systematic advances in Korea.

None was more notorious than Army Major William Brophy’s .50-caliber monstrosity. Essentially, it was a Russian anti-tank rifle with an M2 machine gun barrel slapped on it. Of course, a bipod was necessary—and, for safe measure, a butt pad. For the finishing touch, Brophy crowned it with a 20x Unertl. Real “Frankenstein’s lab” stuff—but effective.

Modified M1 Garands, the M1C and M1D (pictured) played a relatively small role in the Korean War, although they advanced the concept of a semi-automatic for precision applications. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

Brophy and others were able to make communists “good communists” from 2,000 yards out. More importantly, the first .50-caliber sniper rifle inspired an entirely new concept of what discipline might be. However, we’ll get to that shortly. We still have one more stop in Asia—a tough slog during which the sniper truly came into his own: Vietnam.

Tactically, his role made sense. Small-unit actions lent themselves to a war defined by thick jungles, where finding an enemy to engage was half the battle. It was a hunt and required hunters—such as Carlos Hathcock. An accomplished competitive shooter for the Marine Corps, winning the 1965 Wimbledon Cup at Camp Perry, his marksmanship was unimpeachable. So was his fieldcraft. There’s much written about Hathcock and the patience he showed in the face of hell for a single trigger pull.

A precision stock, such as the McMillan A1 on this M40A1, became one of the major upgrades on modern sniper rifles. Impervious to climatic changes, many were also customizable to a particular shooter’s frame. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Company)

For the most part, that squeeze for Hathcock and other scout snipers came from behind a heavy-barreled Winchester Model 70. Typically, these were reconditioned Marine Corps match rifles … which might seem a small factor. It isn’t. Why? Simple: The good, old 70 wasn’t a service rifle it wasn’t even close.

If anything, this showed that the U.S. military was beginning to recognize the particular role the sniper played on the battlefield. He was a specialized warrior who needed a specialized tool. He got it with the protean Remington 700.

Coming of Age

Up to this point, a lot of the sniper rifle discussion has revolved around optics. Make no mistake: In talking M40, M24 and other 700 military variants, this is still an important factor. But it’s not the only one.

From buttstock to muzzle crown, these rifles were specifically tuned for their job. Barrel, trigger, ammunition—nothing was left to chance. Even so, the most obvious development was the stock. Soon after the M40, it was no longer a one-size-fits-all hunk of walnut.

A long way from simple crosshairs, the H-58 grid reticle found in the Leupold Mark 4 6.5–20×50mm on the M2010 arms soldiers with range-estimation tools, as well as a rock solid system for holdover and wind adjustment.

For example, take the Army’s most recent 700 variation, the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle. Little surprise—it wears a chassis. Complete with thumbwheel length of pull and comb rise adjustments, snipers get the same consistent fit that match shooters seek. They should their target is more vital than a bull’s-eye.

However, the M2010 wasn’t the first to latch onto these concepts. As early as the 1970s, Marine armorers upgraded the M40 with a fiberglass McMillan A1 stock, along with other modifications, creating the M40A1. The stock wasn’t adjustable, but it took inaccuracies due to stock swell all but out of the equation.

And, along with configuration, optics and caliber have also improved the modern sniper system. The M2010 is topped with a Leupold Mark 4 6.5–20x50mm ER/T M5A2 Front Focal variable power for most daylight operations. Aside from more and variable power, the scope uses a Horus H58 grid reticle, giving snipers the ability to hold over, lead shots and deal as never before.

As far as caliber is concerned, the trend has been larger and magnum. True enough, the 7.62 has been the mainstay since right after mid-century. But the .300 Win. Mag. (for which the M2010 is chambered) and .338 Lapua Magnum have become more accepted, just as snipers have become expected to hit longer and harder. Still, even those cartridges are small fries compared to what else presently resides in the sniper’s toolbox.

Not Just Overwatch

Radar arrays are expensive, vital and difficult to replace. It takes serious man-hours to fix a jet engine or delicate communications equipment. It would certainly be a shame if someone went ahead and poked a hole in one. Grasp this, and you grasp the concept of hard target interdiction: Sow chaos through material deprivation. Not that you couldn’t with the tried-and-true 7.62, but something with a little more “oomph” would get the job done with a little more gusto … say, a .50-caliber. Brophy and Hathcock both proved that the .50 BMG is an adequate long-range precision cartridge. Nevertheless, for all but a masochist, their versions aren’t really small-unit mobile.

The Barrett M82. A beast among precision rifles, this semi-automatic .50-caliber has an effective range of 1,900 yards.

Enter the Barrett M82. A beast among precision rifles, this semi-automatic .50-caliber has an effective range of 1,900 yards. If manning a shoulder-fired .50 sounds about as coveted a position as a crash-test dummy, it should be. Yet, with the Barrett, it isn’t. In part, this is thanks to its weight—a whopping 27 pounds—and a recoil-absorbing barrel assembly. Topped with a 4.5–14吮 Leupold Mark 4, the M82 has dealt its fair share of far-out damage.

In 2004, Sergeant Brian Kremer of the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion let loose with his Barrett on an Iraqi insurgent and connected from 2,515 yards out. To save pen and paper calculations, this longest U.S. sniper kill to date came in at just shy of a mile and a half. It’s a testament to where sniping stands today.

Future Sharp Shots

Given that the sniper effective range resides somewhere around mind-boggling, it’s difficult to ponder where it might be in 10, 20 or 50 years from now. It’s certain that equipment—rifle, scope, ammunition—will only continue to improve and, with that, the sniper’s deadly range and role.

But no matter: If it’s a Springfield or some yet-imagined shoulder cannon, his aim will remain constant: One shot, one kill.

The article originally appeared in the June 2020 issues of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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