HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES
Atlantic World Seminar Unites Young Historians Around the World
By Ken Gewertz
Harvard's International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, 1500-1800, founded in 1995, will continue through June 2004, thanks to the renewal of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Seminar was established by Bernard Bailyn, the Adams University Professor Emeritus, under the auspices of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Bailyn will continue as the Seminar's director. Bailyn's works on early American history and population movements in early modern history have helped shape the concept of a sphere of political, economic, and cultural interactions within the Atlantic World.
The Seminar brings together young historians of many nations working on similar problems in Atlantic history in meetings with their counterparts in the United States. Its aim is to broaden the awareness of young historians in this country by involving them in discussions with historians from very different cultural backgrounds and technical training.
Another hope is that informal, personal contacts made during the Seminar's meetings will persist and broaden as careers develop. In this way, through the influence these young historians will have later in their careers as scholars, public officials, researchers, and academic administrators, the Seminar may ultimately contribute to international understanding.
To date, 98 young historians have participated, 59 of them from the United States, representing 51 universities, and 39 of them from abroad, representing 14 nations of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
The specific theme of the Seminar, as well as the membership of the group, changes every year. In successive years the focus has shifted from demography and migration to the governance of empires to cultural encounters in the Atlantic world. This year's Seminar concentrates on the economy of the Atlantic world as it developed in the first three centuries.
In addition to the annual Seminar, which takes place in late summer, the program also convenes two workshops each year, designed to investigate and disseminate information about resources for the study of the Atlantic world in the early modern period.
The first workshop examined the Pietist Archives in Halle, Germany; the second explored the new CD-ROM compilation of transatlantic slave trade voyages; and the third explored ways of teaching Atlantic history. The fourth workshop, on the uses of cartography for the study of Atlantic history, will take place at Harvard in April 1999.
"The International Seminar on Atlantic History is a wonderful opportunity," says Bailyn, "to extend the reach of historical studies at Harvard, to help define and explore an emerging field of study, and to bring together young historians from all over the world. It's amazing to see the similarities of interests, the convergence of interests, of these historians from very different backgrounds and different kinds of training, and to see how the personal contacts made during the Seminars' meetings persist. Many of them keep in touch after the Seminar and form panels at professional conventions. We're now organizing a Web page and a newsletter to help keep the participants aware of each others' work and of notable developments in the field."
Copyright 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College