The History of Education Society seeks to further the study of the history of education by providing opportunities for discussion among those engaged in its study and teaching.

In this blog you'll find the latest news on research, events and literature in the history of education.

Monday 23 January 2017

This blog by Adrienn's is her third installment. Her previous blogs can be found here: 

A Hungarian University Health Protection System in the Reflection of Treaty of Versailles [1]

by Adrienn Sztana-Kovacs

In our blog post we would like to point out why it was so important to organize a proper health-care system at the Royal Hungarian Elizabeth University[2]. Surprisingly the examination of the question showed more aspects than appeared at first. Under the analyzing process of the documents it became clear there were some larger objectives behind the acts than the benefits of the students. There were two elements of the initiatives, the acts of the government and the universities on the field of the health protection of students.[3]
Naturally the first and most important element of the examinations was to get a general knowledge about the state of the students’ health and to provide treatment if needed. Chiefly the high death rate from Tuberculosis (TB) justified the steps.[4]
            Earlier we mentioned there was another element behind the scenes, rooted in the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.[5] Among these other elements, was the limitation of the army and the prohibition of the universal compulsory military service.[6] The Hungarian government’s answers to those points were to introduce compulsory physical education[7] to every man under 21, and to establish a special Hungarian paramilitary youth organization Levente.[8] Its declared purpose was physical training and a kind of not stated one was giving some basic military education.[9]

Compulsory Physical Education and the Related Healthcare Examination

At the Elisabeth University, compulsory physical education for men was introduced from the 1926/1927 academic year,[10]but the related healthcare examination only began in the 1927/28 academic year. In its first year of the 380 freshmen only 205 attended and from these 54 were sent for further treatment because of diffrent pathological changes.[11] The great depression had broken this initiative. In 1933 dr. János Ángyán[12] laid his proposal before the Council of Medical Faculty about institutionalizing the examinations of the students at Elisabeth University, which in the new settings took place in the school year of 1936/37.


There are only three reports about three consecutive academic years.[13] The participation rate differed among the faculties. It was high among the freshmen of the Medical Faculty and of the Faculty of Arts, however, only 22% of the Faculty of Law participated at the begining and only showed a minimal rise later.[14]

Source: Pécs University Archives, reference number: VIII. 105. a. 1936/37. academic year, XI. meeting, 21st of June in 1937. 49. point
Edited by the author

The examination included a gauge of case histories of the families, physical qualities and mental abilities. Students were questioned about their training habits and it turned out there were some serius issiues around the compulsory PE.

Sources: Pécs University Archives, reference number: VIII. 105. a. 1936/37. academic year, XI. meeting, 21st of June in 1937. 49. point. VIII. 105. a. 1937/38. academic year, X. meeting, 22nd of June in 1938. 30 point; VIII. 105. a. 1938/39. academic year, IX. meeting 26th of May in 1939. 18. point
Edited by the author

The most important was that the examiners didn’t find anyone with Tubercolosis in those three years, despite the fact that most of the students had been healed from primary or secondary TB infection. There was a difference on the field of the venereal diseases. Every year the doctors found some students with previous gonorrhoea and in the last year two students had  primary syphilis infection and two students had inherited syphilis.
There were some students every year suffering from high bloodpresure or arrhythmia.[15] Also there was a high rate of different physical deformities, for example: flat foot, chest disfiguration or joint problem. Almost 50% of the freshmen needed some sight correction. According to professor Ángyán’s reports most of the students’s families had difficulties with personal hygiene. This was proven by the high number of seborrohea and mycosis.
The data from the 1937/38 academic year allows us to get a glimpse of the nutritionalstate of the students and their smoking habits as well.

Source: Pécs University Archives, reference number: VIII. 105. a. 1937/38. academic year, X. meeting, 22nd of June in 1938. 30 point
Edited by the author

Sources: VIII. 105. a. 1937/38. academic year, X. meeting, 22nd of June in 1938. 30 point; VIII. 105. a. 1938/39. academic year, IX. meeting 26th of May in 1939. 18. point
Edited by the author

Unfortunately we don’t have the latest record before the examinations were suspended during the war after 1940. The managment planned to restart it again in 1947, however, no data survived from this period. From these reports we can form an opinion of the different aspects of the students’ health, of the state of the general health and nutrition conditions and of the health education of the families. At the end of the 1940s the political climate had changed in the country but the fight against the infectious diseases remained the focus point for the managment of the universities and the government as well.

[1] The original paper was published in Hungarian: Kovács, Adrienn: Az Erzsébet Tudományegyetem hallgatóinak egészségvédelme 1924–1950. [Health Protection of the Students of the Elisabeth University. 1924-1950] Orvostörténeti Közlemények, Communicationes De Historia Artis Medicinae 214217 (2011), 155172.
[2] You can read about the deatils of the foundation and the movements in our previous blog post: Summer Universities, within the international relationships of the Hungarian Royal Elisabeth University between 1920 and 1946.
[3] Beside the University Council of Royal Hungarian Elisabeth University there were other universities and civil organizations in the country to stand up and fight against contagions such as Tuberculosis (TB) and venereal diseases (VD). Their initiatives were carefully considered by the University Council and it took proper action in each and every case.
[4] In 1920 the population of the country was 7. 9 million and the number of the deaths caused by TB was 25000. In 1940 17000 people died from TB  out of a 9.1 million population. People called TB ’Morbus Hungaricus’ [Hungarian disease] since the begining of the 20th century. (Originally typhus was called Morbus Hungaricus in the 16th century.)
[5] In the case of the Hungary Kingdom it was the Treaty of Trianon named after the palace where the Hungarian deputation signed it in 1920. The Hungarian Kingdom lost three-quarters of its territory. The population of the newly formed country was 7.9 million in contrast to the former 20.9 million and 31% of the Hungarian nationals were left outside the new borders.
[6] The army was limited in 35000 officers and men. Heavy artillery, tanks and air force were prohibited. Romsics, Ignác: Magyarország története a XX. században. [History of Hungary in the 20th Century] Budapest. 2000. 145.
[7] LIII/1921.  Act of Physical Education
[8]VKM 9000/1924 Enacting clauses of the LIII/1921 of the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs. The Levente organization worked from January 1924 to March 1945. In January 1944 there were 1.3 million members. The leaders were retired officers who gave basic firearms training.
[9] II/1939. Act of Defence. All boys between ages 12 and 21 were required to enroll in the Levente organization. The organization was regulated by the Ministry of Defence since 1939.
[10] For female students the physical education was on a voluntary basis in separate groups under the lead of a lady PE teacher.
[11] Pécs University Archives, reference number: VIII. 105. a. 1927/28. academic year, VIII. meeting, 23rd of March in 1928. 13th point.
[12] János Ángyán (1886-1969) medical professor of the Hungarian Royal Elisabeth University.
[13] 1936/37; 1937/38; 1938/39
[14] Only one third of the law students went to the university classes. The other two-third of them usually had a job and they just travelled to Pécs to take their exams.
[15] In the 1937/38 academic year, 25% of the students had arrhythmia.

Monday 12 December 2016

‘Sight, Sound and Text in the History of Education’ HES 2016

‘Sight, Sound and Text in the History of Education’ HES 2016 

By Maria Williams

Maria is a doctoral student at UCL Institute of Education under the supervision of Professor Gary McCulloch. Prior to commencing my research she worked in London comprehensive schools for thirty years.

‘Sight, Sound and Text in the History of Education’ was the theme of the conference organised jointly by the UK and Australian & New Zealand History of Education Societies, held over the weekend of November 18-20, 2016 at the Abbey Hotel, Malvern, Worcestershire.  Stephen, Siân and Jodie organised a fantastic conference in a location with magnificent views.
The panel papers and keynote lectures which addressed the conference theme in relation to community or national identity and the arts were really relevant to my doctoral research which focuses on the educational practice of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and her sisters 1880-1918 with Italian migrants.  Tom Woodin’s exploration of education and culture to engender a sense of belonging in the Co-operative movement and Susannah Wright’s paper showing the League of Nations Union’s particular mode of collective commemoration for Armistice Day prompted questions for me regarding the impact of Italian and Italian- American celebrations in Cabrini’s time.  At the panel on music education I also saw parallels with the Italian situation as I listened to Teresa O’Doherty’s on the impact of cultural and political nationalism on the teaching of music in Ireland during the first decades of Independence. Ross Purves addressed similar issues with regard to music provision relating to the ethnic background of pupils. This theme was a central strand of Ian Grosvenor’s keynote on Saturday evening which revisited his landmark 2007 publication, Assimilating Identities. His visual sources powerfully demonstrated the rich contribution of the ‘History of the Ordinary’ and education outside of schools to the field of History of Education. The need for further work in this field provides a challenge for me; one which I have been considering as an English historian researching Italian history. In the summer at ISCHE I also discussed the question in relation to writing Black History with three African- American historians in Chicago. I wonder how the overwhelmingly white membership of our own organisation impacts on our confidence to research and write Black History.
I contributed to the ‘Education and the Arts’ panel which was both transtemporal and transnational. Raymond McCluskey explored medieval insights about the arts which challenged some of my assumptions. Stephen Tomlinson’s paper demonstrated Comenius’ innovative use of illustrations in the seventeenth century and Luana Salvarani continued the theme of innovative pedagogy exploring Jesuit theatre in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. In my paper I explored what Cabrini referred to as ‘ornamental competences’ demonstrating the opportunities these provided for women’s agency. My findings support those of Margaret Nash and Ann Marie Valdes challenging more assumptions.

I learnt a great deal more over meals and coffee. Like many colleagues I visited the adjacent Priory Church where I realised that our conference was continuing an educational tradition established on the site almost a thousand years before by migrants from continental Europe. This was my third annual conference. As a post-graduate researcher I have really benefited and recommend them to others.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

What is YOUR story?

by Jonathan Doney

In a recent editorial in History of Education Researcher (May 2016), Rob Freathy and I examined the life of Lord Asa Briggs, focusing on his lesser known role as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park, and as a contributor to first ever edition of The History of Education. For me, this sparked an interest, and I have since managed to visit Bletchley, and have read more about Brigg’s time there in his autobiographical work Secret Days: Code Breaking at Bletchley Park (London: Frontline Books, 2011). There is something about people’s own stories and history that is gripping…

Inside Hut 6 at Bletchley Park, Bletchley, England. Photo by Jonathan Doney
In 2017 we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the History of Education Society. To mark this occasion, we are planning a ‘Special Edition’ of the History of Education Researcher journal for publication in May 2017. We plan to publish a collection featuring a number of short, autobiographical, and personal reflections on the past, present and future of the Society and on the research field of history of education more generally. We envisage a range of contributions, with authors writing brief responses to a series of questions; a sort of written interview. These contributions can be written informally, but we hope they will stimulate curiosity and interest, and provoke thought and dialogue.

We’d like to know what first ignited an interest in the history of education; which books on history and/or the history of education specifically have been the most influential in your career; what was your greatest breakthrough moment in research; what was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it; what experiences have you of teaching the history of education and what approaches consistently worked well. We’d also like to think about the kind of sources you have worked with, trying to understand what are the joys and sorrows associated with them. Finally, we might ask what advice you would give a budding historian of education starting out in their career today.

We hope to create a resource that not only contributes to the 50th anniversary celebrations, but also provides future historians of the Society and the academic field with a rich and revealing primary source. We also believe that undergraduate, postgraduate and early-career researchers might find it interesting to learn more about others within the community of historians of education, particularly how they explain their methodological orientations; describe their research processes and working assumptions; outline their approaches to teaching and learning; and perceive the nature and purpose of the learned society. In terms of the Society, we hope that appreciative appraisals, focusing on its benefits and successes, will implicitly and collectively articulate a desired future. Apart from any innate interest we might have in reading responses from colleagues in our field, the answers might also provide food for thought and set off a train of ideas that influence how we each individually study or teach the history of education.

If you would like to contribute to the planned Special Issue, please get in touch, with me in the first instance (, and I will send further details. We hope to create a resource that not only contributes to the 50th anniversary celebrations, but also provides future historians of the Society with a rich and revealing primary source.