Tag Archives: egohistory

Autobiographies of historians

This week the summer term starts at my university in Luxembourg. One of my classes is dedicated to the history of history. How does the definition of what is history changed over the time? How did history became a scientific discipline? How did history became a profession?

I mainly focus on the 20th century. At the end of the term, students have to write a biography of an historian, mainly based on autobiographies, and publish it on Wikipedia. Egohistory is very hype at least since the late 1980s1. In France, the movement has been launched by a collective book edited by Pierre Nora in 1987 (cf. illustration).

I have established a first list of 30 autobiographies. One has been published in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, seven in the 1990s, 15 in the 2000s and five in the young 2010s. Six have been written by women, 23 by men.

If you have other suggestions, please put them into the comments.




  • Barkai Avraham, Erlebtes und Gedachtes : Erinnerungen eines unabhängigen Historikers, Göttingen, Wallstein, 2011.
  • Becker Jean-Jacques, Un soir de l’été 1942: souvenirs d’un historien, Paris, Larousse, 2009.
  • Berend Ivan T., History in my life : a memoir of three eras, Budapest, Central European University Press, 2009.
  • Boucheron Patrick, Faire profession d’historien, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2010.
  • Eley Geoff, A crooked line : from cultural history to the history of society, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2005.
  • Farge Arlette, Quel bruit ferons-nous? Entretiens avec Jean-Christophe Marti, Paris, Prairies Ordinaires, 2005.
  • Friedländer Saul, When memory comes, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979.
  • Garton Ash Timothy, The file : a personal history, 1st U.S. ed., New York, Random House, 1997.
  • Goff Jacques Le, Une vie pour l’histoire entretiens avec Marc Heurgon, Paris, La Découverte, 2010.
  • Goubert Pierre, Un parcours d’historien : souvenirs, 1915-1995, Paris, Fayard, 1996.
  • Grosser Alfred, Die Freude und der Tod : eine Lebensbilanz, Reinbek bei Hamburg, Rowohlt, 2011.
  • Hobsbawm Eric, Interesting times : a twentieth-century life, London, Abacus, 2003.
  • Iggers Wilma et Iggers Georg G., Zwei Seiten der Geschichte : Lebensbericht aus unruhigen Zeiten, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002.
  • Judt Tony et Snyder Timothy, Thinking the twentieth century, New York, Penguin Press, 2012.
  • Kaplan Alice, French lessons : a memoir, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1993.
  • Klein Fritz, Drinnen und draussen : ein Historiker in der DDR : Erinnerungen, Frankfurt a. M., Fischer, 2000.
  • Laqueur Walter, Mein 20. Jahrhundert Stationen eines politischen Lebens, Berlin, Propyläen, 2009.
  • Milza Pierre, Voyage en Ritalie, Paris, Plon, 1993.
  • Mosse George, Confronting history : a memoir, Madison, University of Wisconsin, 2000.
  • Niethammer Lutz, Ego-Histoire? : und andere Erinnerungs-Versuche, Wien, Böhlau, 2002.
  • Noiriel Gérard, Penser avec, penser contre : itinéraire d’un historien, Paris, Belin, 2003.
  • Nora Pierre (éd.), Essais d’ego-histoire, Paris, Gallimard, 1987.
  • Ozouf Mona, Composition française : retour sur une enfance bretonne, Paris, Gallimard, 2009.
  • Passerini Luisa, Autobiography of a generation : Italy, 1968, Hanover  N.H., University Press of New England, 1996.
  • Steedman Carolyn, Landscape for a good woman : a story of two lives, New Brunswick  N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1987.
  • Stern Fritz, Five Germanys I have known, New York, Farrar  Straus and Giroux, 2006.
  • Veyne Paul, Le quotidien et l’intéressant, Paris, Hachette, 1997.
  • Vidal-Naquet Pierre, Mémoires. 2, Le trouble et la lumière 1955-1998, Paris, Editions du Seuil  ;La Découverte, 1998.
  • Vidal-Naquet Pierre, Mémoires. 1. La brisure et l’attente 1930-1955, Paris, Editions du Seuil  ;La Découverte, 1995.
  • Zemon-Davis Natalie, L’histoire tout feu tout flamme : entretiens avec Denis Crouzet, Paris, Albin Michel, 2004.
  • Zinn Howard, You can’t be neutral on a moving train, Boston, Boston Press, 2004.
  1.  Popkin, Jeremy D. “Ego-Histoire and Beyond: Contemporary French Historian-Autobiographers.” French Historical Studies19, no. 4 (October 1, 1996): 1139-1167 and Vinen, Richard. “The Poisoned Madeleine: The Autobiographical Turn in Historical Writing.” Journal of Contemporary History46, no. 3 (July 1, 2011): 531 -554. []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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