On the Case: Explorations in Social History
Published: November 1998© 1998
432 Pages, 5.88 x 8.80 x 0.82 in
Case files, records from all kinds of social, medical, governmental, military, and other agencies, become available to researchers once confidentiality is no longer in question. Such records are an important source for scholars in social history and related fields, providing insight not only into the lives of ordinary people but into the workings of the agencies that kept the records as well. Case files contain a wealth of information and challenge researchers by their complexity and the variety of approaches and methodologies their analysis demands. On the Case is a timely book intended to provide a forum for discussing the theoretical and methodological issues that case files raise. The book brings together theoretical debates, new research, and new research methods and offers compelling illustrations of the drama, conflict, and power relations that the case file can capture.
This collection of essays features some of Canada's leading social historians. Readers will encounter an impressive array of case files, including psychiatrists' accounts of sexual deviants, employment records of sailors, state welfare and Indian Affairs reports, court records, the patient forms of hospital and asylum doctors, and state security files. While the contributors differ in choice of subject and approach, they share a commitment to the progressive traditions of social history. They recover the voices and actions of people – not only of those with power but also of those who seemingly have none.
Case files have proved crucial to scholars developing such new fields of historical study as sexuality, gay and lesbian lives, and domestic violence, and have reinvigorated work in more established fields of history such as immigration, security and intelligence, and the modern welfare state. On the Case is unique in offering new research as well as guiding readers through recent debates and the various theoretical and methodological challenges created by case files.