Micro-Histories

What's a microhistory? Basically, it's a study of the past on a very small scale. Looking at the book titles will give you a sense of how small the scale can be! Microhistories have also been described as focusing 'on small incidents, insignificant in themselves, which reveal larger structures.'


Microhistories: Highly Readable, In-Depth Explanations of Singular Subjects (Harris County PL, TX): Author, title, cover image, webcat link and summary for about 30 titles, from Bernard Asbell's The Pill: A Biography of the Drug that Changed the World to Stephen Yafa's Big Cotton: How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations and Put America on the Map.

Microhistories (Nashville PL, TN): Author, title, pub. info, ISBN, webcat link, and summary for about 25 titles, including Coffee: A Dark History by Antony Wild, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin, and Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America's Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made It by Julie Fenster. Also available in PDF format.

Micro Histories: A Book List for History Buffs (Lisa Kelsey, Squidoo): Author, title, cover image and Amazon link for about 90 titles, in topic areas such as Fruit, Vegetables, Fish, Beverages, Plants, Birds, Spices, Tools and Utensils, Colors, Mathematical, Disasters, Unmentionables, etc.

Shards of History - Small Pieces, Big Impact (St. Paul Public Library, MN): Title, author, and webcat link for about 40 microhistories, organised by title, from Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug by Diarmuid Jeffreys to Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation by Philip Steadman.

Microhistories (Monroe County PL, IN): Author, title, webcat link and summary for 10 books, from Diarmuid Jeffreys's Aspirin: The remarkable story of a wonder drug to Robert Friedel's Zipper: An exploration in novelty.

The Unique, the Unusual, the Bizarre (Lake County Public Library, Merrillville, IN): Non-fiction, most of which is micro-history. Categories are Americana, Discoveries and Discoverers, Flowers, Food and Drink, the Mundane, People, Science, Travel, and Miscellanea. Author and title only for a total of about 70 books.

Microhistories (Nashville PL, TN): Author, title, webcat link for about 30 fiction titles, from The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World by Ken Alder to Big Cotton: How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America on the Map By Stephen Yafa.

Microhistories (Madison PL, WI): Author, title and webcat link for about 65 titles, from A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable by John Gordon to Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty by Robert D. Friedel. Updated March 2008.

Zeroing In (St. Charles Public Library, IL): Author and title only for about 15 "'micro-histories' and other stories of trivia that change the course of human events, shape the universe and lift our spirits." From E=MC2 by David Bodanis to Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast. Compiled Nov. 2004.

Non-Fiction Reading - Micro Histories (Palm Beach County Library System, FL): Title, author, and webcat link for 20 micro-histories, about crying, cats, zippers, coal, rats, dust, oranges mosquitoes, the genome, hobos, etc. May 2006.

Library Thing Books Tagged 'Microhistory' (Library Thing): List of books tagged as microhistories, from people's private collections, with links to more information on each book.

Business Week: The Pages of History Writ Small (Business Week magazine): Article by publisher George Gibson about "his string of short, quirky, page-turners, and why readers can't get enough of them." More than 20 microhistories are listed following the interview. Nov. 2002.

Micro-histories (Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, NY): 'Books that explore a specific subject in depth providing a different way of looking at familiar things.' Author and title for 16 micro-histories, in no particular order, on topics such as cod, vanilla, the number zero, spice, the Cosmopolitan (drink), cadavers, salt, the screwdriver and screw, tears, tea, aspirin, and airports.