Biohistory is a relatively new school of historiography although its development can be found in the late nineteenth century. Biohistory is defined, according to biohistorian Stephen Boyden, as a "coherent system of knowledge, or field of study, which reflects the broad sequence of happenings in the history of the biosphere and of civilization, from the beginning of life to the present day." For the historians who study under this school, one of the main principles is the understanding the relationship of the biosphere, the total collection of Earth’s ecosystems combined and various human elements, including cultural adaptations and the impact of biological forces on society. One of the things that make biohistory unique is that the "starting point is the history of life on Earth, and the basic principles and facts of evolution, genetic inheritance, ecology, and physiology. Next, it turns to consider the evolutionary background, biology and innate sensitivities of the human species, and the emergence in evolution of the human aptitude for culture." Biohistory emerged from several different schools and disciplines including the Annales school, environmental history, human geography, and sociobiology as well as Darwinian Theory. However, there are biohistorians who work towards eliminating affiliation with Darwinian Theory, especially Social Darwinism, in order to reduce critiques of biological determinism.
A similar concept to biohistory, evolutionary biology is different because it only takes into account the scientific aspects of phenomena and not the historical implications. As of 2010, the American Historical Association (AHA) has not accepted biohistory as a legitimate historiographical school of study, though there are academic scholars who study under it. However, for over one hundred years, there have been statements given that suggest an eventual acceptance of the main tenets of biohistory as a basis for future historical research and scholarship. The term biohistory has contested origins because many scholars who write on the topic claim to have coined it.
- Biohistory as a Field of Study 1
- Antecedents and Regression 2
- Resurgence 3
- Early Scholars 4
Biohistorical Studies 5
Biohistory and the Environment 5.1
The Four Phases 5.1.1
- The Hunter-Gather Phase 220.127.116.11
- The Early Farming Phase 18.104.22.168
- The Early Urban Phase 22.214.171.124
- The High Energy Phase 126.96.36.199
- The Four Phases 5.1.1
Biohistory and Race 5.2
- Biohistory and African Americans 5.2.1
- Biohistory and Gender Studies 5.3
- Biohistory and the Environment 5.1
Another Branch of Biohistory 6
- Examples 6.1
Ethical Standards 7
- Procedures and Guidelines 7.1
- Positive 8.1
- Negative 8.2
- Related Works 9
- References 10
- External links 11
Biohistory as a Field of Study
There are scholars within the field of history that say the current study of history does not fully take into account the scope of human history, but “omits the events and effects of the longest period of human existence.” The “longest period” referring to the large quantity of time that humans (Homo Sapiens) spent adapting and evolving to their environment. Robert S. McElvaine (January 24, 1947- ) argues that the study of history should take into account “the evolution of the particular sort of animals we are.” History combined with “evolutionary biology could provide historians with a means of assessing how changes over long periods of prehistory affect the times we study.” In 1991, Carl N. Degler (February 6, 1921- ) noted that, as of that time, social scientists in various fields including sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and political scientists had begun to accept the notion that biology, as it describes innate human proclivities, plays an important role in study, but he could not point to any historian that necessarily accepted this notion. Many of the scholars that have influenced biohistory are scientists by nature. Aside from the above list of professionals, geographers, sociobiologists, microbiologists, pathologists, and others have contributed. Human proclivities or the natural tendencies to behave in a certain manners commonly referred to as human nature, which historians can study, include the ability to adapt into small bands of hunter-gatherers. One of the many benefits of studying biohistory is the increased ability for historians and scientists to conduct “collaborative research projects, which offer the potential for unusual analytical perspectives as well as new evolutionary sources” as stated by Nancy Buenger, an American history scholar. Some scholars promote the idea that using biology as a method to history should not only study what features, values, and predispositions of the human condition were favorable in the environment, but also “how those predispositions interacted with the various cultural and historical environments in which humans have lived.” In the study of biohistory, McElvaine states that biology is a useful tool for history and that both can be utilized to gain a broader perspective of history.
Antecedents and Regression
Biohistory has its roots in the late nineteenth century with the evolutionary biology theories of Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882). Up until this time, the primary focus of history was to study the lives and events of important people including kings and generals. The topics of biohistory soon began gaining popularity as a study of history. In 1901 the president of the AHA, Charles Francis Adams Jr (May 27, 1835 – May 20, 1915), stated that Darwinian Theory “was the dividing line between us [contemporary historians] and the historians of the old school.” The early movements toward biohistory, however, were not followed and lost momentum due to Franz Boas (July 9, 1859 – December 21, 1942) with his research into the differences between biological and cultural evolution. Another group that led to the decline of biohistorical study was the Frankfurt School, a group of neo-Marxist intellectuals that challenged some widely held societal ideologies.
- The Occidental QuarterlyEric Paulson "Biohistory"
- For following items it is suggested to open in new tabs for comparison.
- The Distribution of Human Energy on the Basis of Climate map
- Distribution of Civilization in Europe map
- Distribution of Civilization in Asia map
- Distribution of Civilization in Australia map
- Distribution of Civilization in Africa map
- Distribution of Civilization in South America map
- Distribution of Civilization in North America map
Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Biohistory: The Interplay Between Human Society and the Biosphere.
(New Jersey: Parthenon Publishing Group Inc., 1992), 3.
- Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Biohistory: The Interplay Between Human Society and the Biosphere. New Jersey: Parthenon Publishing Group Inc., 1992, 3.
- Paulson, Eric. “Biohistory.” The Occidental Quarterly. Published: May 26, 2010. Accessed: April 3, 2011. http://www.toqonline.com/blog/biohistory/
- McElvaine, Robert S, “The Relevance of Biohistory”, The Chronicle Review. 49: 8, October 18, 2002.
- Brueger, Nancy “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No.3, (2004), 235.
- Crosby, Alfred W., “The Past and Present of Environmental History,” American Historical Review 100:4, (1995), 1189.
- Gareth Cook, “Wilson Rattles Historians with ‘Bio-History’ Theories,” Boston Globe, January 16, 2001.
- See Huntington, Ellsworth, Civilization and Climate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915).
- Huntington, Ellsworth, Civilization and Climate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915), 150
- Grant, Madison, The Passing of the Great Race, or The Racial Basis of European History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916).
- Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Biohistory: The Interplay Between Human Society and the Biosphere. )New Jersey: Parthenon Publishing Group Inc., 1992), 4.
- Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Biohistory: The Interplay Between Human Society and the Biosphere. )New Jersey: Parthenon Publishing Group Inc., 1992), 102.
- Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Biohistory: The Interplay Between Human Society and the Biosphere. )New Jersey: Parthenon Publishing Group Inc., 1992), 102-103.
- See Boyden, Stephen Vickers, Western Civilization in Biological Perspective: Patterns in Biohistory, (Michigan: Clarendon Press, 1990).
- Kieta, S.OY. and Rick A. Kittles, “The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence,” The American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 99, No. 3 (Sep., 1997), 534.
- Edgar, Heather J.H., “Biohistorical Approaches to ‘Race’ in the United States: Biological Distances Among African Americans, European Americans and Their Ancestors,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 39 (2009).
- Rankin-Hill, Lesley M. Afro-American Biohistory: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations. (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1992).
- Rankin-Hill, Lesley M. Afro-American Biohistory: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations. (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1992), xi.
- Jackson, Fatimah Linda Collier, “Evolutionary and Political Economic Influences on Biological Diversity in African Americans,” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 23: No. 4, (June 1993), 539.
- McElvaine, Robert S., Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), 3
- McElvaine, Robert S., Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), Ch. 4.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004).
- Russell Lewis. “Judgments of Value, Judgments of Fact: The Ethical Dimension of Biohistorical Research.” The Public Historian, Vol. 28: No. 1, (2006).
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 230.
- Russell Lewis. “Judgments of Value, Judgments of Fact: The Ethical Dimension of Biohistorical Research.” The Public Historian, Vol. 28: No. 1 (2006), 96
- Parry, Wynne, “Titanic’s Unknown Child is Finally Identified,” MSNBC, April 25, 2011, accessed: April 26, 2011, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42755013/ns/technology_and_science-science/42683081.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 229.
- Russell Lewis. “Judgments of Value, Judgments of Fact: The Ethical Dimension of Biohistorical Research.” The Public Historian, Vol. 28: No. 1 (2006), 97.
- Russell Lewis. “Judgments of Value, Judgments of Fact: The Ethical Dimension of Biohistorical Research.” The Public Historian, Vol. 28: No. 1 (2006), 98.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 232.
- Russell Lewis. “Judgments of Value, Judgments of Fact: The Ethical Dimension of Biohistorical Research.” The Public Historian, Vol. 28: No. 1 (2006), 93
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 235.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 234.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 233.
- Crosby, Alfred W, “Review [untitled]" Isis, Vol. 80: No. 1, (March 1989), 161.
- Savitt, Todd L, “Review: [untitled],” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 28: No. 4. (March 1998), 682.
- Buenger, Nancy. “Connective Tissues: Ethical Guidelines for Biohistorical Research.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 43: No. 3 (2004), 231.
Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997.
Boyden, Stephen Vickers. Western Civilization in Biological Perspective: Patterns in Biohistory. Michigan: Clarendon Press, 1990.
Arno Karlen. Napoleon’s Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1984.
One scholar, in review of Lesley M. Rankin-Hill’s book, A Biohistory of 19th Century Afro-Americans: The Burial Remains of a Pennsylvania Cemetery, stated that while supporting her hypothesis with examples and statistics that she promotes others have not considered, “Rankin-Hill charts out, and then gets bogged down in, the model she will use in her ‘biocultural analysis’” that she fails to present any new evidence. Referring to the CHS and the collection of Lincoln’s items, Nancy Brueger states that in their general study Historians are most interested in analyses that illuminate broad cultural, economic, political, or social trends. The authenticity of an individual artifact such as CHS’s cloak would not significantly contribute to the reevaluation of President Lincoln’s assassination or the social impact of this event.
Aside from the collaboration that can be a product of this type of study, there are many scholars who find fault with biohistory. One major critique of biohistory is the continued repetition of ideas from scholar to scholar. In a review of Stephen Boyden’s book, Western Civilization in the Biological Perspective: Patterns in Biohistory, one such scholar states that “[r]eaders who are familiar with other works in biohistory by René Dubos, D. B. Grigg, C.J. Glacken, Donald Worster, and William McNeill will find little that is new.” Another critique is that biohistory encompasses too vast a scope. To start from the beginning of the human condition creates too wide a spread of time, leaving room for much speculation. That is because there is not much data and knowledge about the early times studied, leading biohistorians to speculate and possibly make invalid assumptions. Another critique is that many biohistorians rely on too much science in their research. In trying to make assertions about certain historical issues, many are limited in their areas of study to just focusing on scientific aspects while leaving out others.
The study of biohistory allows for the possibility of collaboration between historians and scientists, in a way that has rarely been seen before. This collaboration allows for better understanding between the disciplines because “[t]hey need the insights of historians to mediate between humans’ evolutionary inheritance and modern behavior as much as historians and social scientists need the insights of biologists to understand better the motivations behind the historical behavior we study.” The study of biohistory allows for historians to consider an aspect of historical research that has not been considered before. Biohistory also opens up the scope of study to the beginning of human existence into prehistory, which goes back many more years than historians normally like to go back.
As with any intellectual school of thought there exist critiques, criticisms, and praise for biohistory. Below are a few examples of both positive and negative critiques.
One debate coming out of the rise of biohistorical research centers on whether or not these studies should be conducted based on cultural and societal beliefs. There are those that say “cranial dimensions” and other scientific measurements “should trump notions of cultural affiliation.” Then there are those that ask if this kind of study should be paramount because of certain significances that some societies hold true that can be eliminated with scientific discovery.
For a full list of her ethical considerations click here .
- Is the provenance of proposed biological samples reliable?
- Do the investigators have previous experience and a reasonable success rate with the proposed materials and methodologies?
- What are the potential negative consequences of biohistorical knowledge for human subjects as well as their relatives and communities?
which has led to a call for some ethical standards to set a framework for study. Through her evaluation of biohistorical ethical standards Nancy Buenger came up with a series of questions that should be answered by those doing the research. She broke them down into three areas: Historical, Scientific, and Social Considerations. Some of the questions that she states need to be asked include:
[b]iohistorical research proposals have generated historical, scientific, and social concerns, including the justification for the proposed research, appropriateness of the study design, destruction of fragile museum specimens, the relevance of informed consent, potential harm to live relatives, cultural respect for the dead, confidentiality of medical and genetic information, and the interpretation of study results
The norm of scientific validation and
Procedures and Guidelines
Some scholars have developed a set of ethical standards for biohistorical study. These ethical standards are largely associated with the branch of study that uses science to validate history since the other branch does not necessarily require such standards since the nature of study does not directly have any debilitating consequences. There have been concerns with the scope of biohistorical research as the study has grown in popularity. Russell Lewis stated that a “review of professional codes for twenty-three scientific, historical, and cultural organizations showed a lack of inconsistency and insufficient concern for ethical values that should inform biohistorical investigation.” Some aspects of biohistorical research that can be detrimental towards understanding include the destruction of fragile and/or antique artifacts, unreliable and wrong data attributed as fact due to scientific reasoning, and the defamation and other consequences that can affect living populations associated with what is being studied. This last point is especially true of studies dealing with people who are deceased. Because “[b]iohistory often involves an identifiable object and genetic analysis of tissue can reveal information about the paternity, health status, and predispositions of family members” there is the potential for biohistoric research to lead to inappropriate claims as well as other areas of defamation. In one study done by the Chicago Historical Society they “concluded that DNA testing [one of the most widely accepted forms of biohistorical research] would damage the artifacts [here referring to the Society’s Abraham Lincoln collection].” Buenger states that "[g]reater consideration should be given to basic techniques, such as detailed visual or microscopical examination" which are less destructive rather than rely on DNA and similar tests.
On April 25, 2011, Wynne Parry wrote an article for MSNBC about the unknown child aboard the Titanic. For years there have been speculations about the identity of this young boy. Through misleading evidence, researchers have inaccurately identified the child numerous times. The use of genetics to solve this problem began a decade ago. Robert Parr, an adjunct professor familiar with extraction and DNA testing pursued one claim. Through mitochondrial DNA test of the remains, he tested the DNA with that of the siblings of the perceived child. When results did not match, the search continued. After another false identification due to perceived age, researchers have agreed on the identity of the child, Sidney Goodwin. Even with looking at other factors including teeth structures, researchers misidentified the child. Ryan Parr commented, “Luckily, it was a rare difference, so that is what gives you 98 percent certainty the identification is correct.” The possibility exists that the child may still be inappropriately identified, but this case shows how this branch of biohistory works. This form of biohistory was also used with artifacts of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865). The Chicago Historical Society has the largest collection of artifacts and items related to the late President. There are many scholars and amateur historians that have the desire to “exemplify biohistorical quests that typically involve the authentication of historical remains and artifacts, the resolution of speculative medical history or paternity disputes, or the commercial potential of genetic analysis.” The CHS was constantly asked to conduct DNA testing on several of Lincoln’s personal items in order to find out various facts including “proof whether or not he suffered from Marfan’s syndrome.” Others have stated interest in conducting aDNA tests on the bloody cloak of Mary Lincoln, wife of Abraham. These types of claims and research are an integral part of this branch of biohistory.
Aside from the above stated study of biohistory there is another branch that is more accessible to the public. This branch of biohistory is concerned with using science to not only validate history, but to form historical conclusions about certain events or trends that cannot be noted otherwise. It uses various methods that are also associated with the other branch of study such as DNA testing and other methods to determine specific characteristics of specific individuals and/or artifacts. Both historians, scholars, and amateur historians are able to partake of this study. This is because individuals and organizations are more able to petition for and conduct studies. Individuals can often cause a stir, such as this support group’s letter to the Chicago Historical Society, “I thought that a ‘historical’ society wanted to ferret out truth. Where is that line in the sand drawn—what we ignorant heathens are permitted to learn about historical figures and what is off limits to us? And who draws that line—the Chicago Historical Society?” Russell Lewis states that as a biohistorian he “felt compelled to undertake this research by the promise of finding new clues, new evidence, perhaps even new understandings of the past in dirt and stains and grit and grime that typically would be removed from an artifact during cleaning.” This can be considered a common approach and desire for many biohistorians under this method.
Another Branch of Biohistory
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826), third President of the United States once wrote, “[t]he stronger sex imposes on the weaker. It is civilization alone which replaces women in their natural equality.” This quote is reflective of the relationship that has existed between man and women throughout most of human history. Robert S. McElvaine, author of Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and Human History, explains the relationship between men and women through a biological framework. His research focuses on the idea that instead of women having penis envy, men have breast and/or womb envy. This can be attributed to the fact that “[p]regnancy, birthing, and nursing have always constituted a ‘no man’s land.’” With these areas that men were not allowed, they In response to this circumstance...have, throughout history and across cultures, set up a variety of ‘no woman’s land’: war, politics, clergy, business, men’s clubs, and so forth. From which activities women are excluded varies from one culture to another, but some form of exclusion can be found in all societies McElvaine argues that it is this distinction that has driven men to subordinate women. Through various studies, he also hypothesizes that women were responsible for the agriculture, which took control and power away from the males, of which males soon took back power. McElvaine asserts that it throughout history, it is this interaction and struggle, among others, between the sexes that led to the subordination of women. Of Robert McElvaine and his research, some say that he almost accurately presents the masculine/feminine dichotomy in relation to environmental and biological factors.
Biohistory and Gender Studies
Many race historians have studied biohistory in relation to African Americans. Like Heather Edgar, Lesley M. Rankin-Hill in her dissertation, focused mainly on the conditions, especially the prevalence of disease, of free African Americans, including the population of blacks at the First African Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Through her research, using bone, teeth, and other samples, one of her findings was that “free Philadelphia Afro-Americans were generally healthier than their slave or emancipated counterparts.” In her article, Fatimah Linda Collier Jackson describes various factors and their effects on the African American population. She states that along with the continent of Africa having had the longest history of human habitation African American biological variation is also a product of the great Atlantic Diaspora, a movement that was initiated with the social and economic disruptions in Africa preceding the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans peoples and includes the forced march of prisoners of war to the sea for transport, the dynamics of the horrific Middle Passage and the seasoning process, and the biological and biocultural readjustments of Africans to enslavement in the Americas
Biohistory and African Americans
There are many different methods that can be applied to the study of race and race relations under the biohistorical method. There are scholars, like Robert McElvaine, who say that “biohistory seeks to illuminate aspects of history through a better understanding of human nature – the fundamental traits and predispositions that all humans share and that make us alike” which eliminates the necessity of the study of race. Other scholars, however, see validity in the study of the differences that make people unique. In their study, S. O. Y. Keita and Rick A. Kittles found that “[r]acial thinking rests on the belief that visible human variation connotes fundamental deep differences within the species, which can be packaged into units of near-uniform individuals.” Race biohistorians use many different methods in their study. Scholars use dental morphology, bone structure data, and DNA testing to identify certain aspects of racial identity and growth. One common practice is to use scientific data to explain certain aspects of race. One scholar, Heather J.H. Edgar, used teeth samples and other genetic identifiers to test her hypotheses. She used these samples to check evolutionary change of both European Americans and African Americans and societal perceptions of Americans of each group. Through her study she found the idea of “White” changed over a small length of time to include Eastern Europeans, while the idea of “Black” has changed very little over the 400 years that there has been contact with Americans. Although never actually accepted as valid, the research of Madison Grant, which advocated the idea of Nordic superiority, is another example of racial biohistoric study. His book outlined his belief that the Mediterranean and Alpine races were causing various problems in the political structure of Europe and the United States.
Biohistory and Race
Boyden states that if the human race were to survive in the future then there is the necessity to enter into a fifth phase. This new phase would have to be more sustainable than the current one. Ellsworth Huntington’s research also speaks to the nature of humanity and the environment. His work on the nature of the climate of an area and the rate of perceived civilization provides a framework for the seemingly complex interaction among humans and the environment. In external links there is a map that displays the amount of energy exerted based on climate is evaluated. The darkest areas refer to highest human energy exertion while lightest areas refer to the lowest energy exertion. He then asked professionals across the world to give their perceptions of civilization, defined by Huntington as “those characteristics which are generally recognized as the highest value.” He found that the higher the energy exertion, the higher the perception of civilization. See external links for comparisons to levels of civilization perceived continent by continent. Although his research has been largely overlooked, it has never been disproven.
- This period of time is considerably the shortest of the four. This phase roughly began at the time of the Industrial Revolution in England. It is defined by the expanded use of resources and energy which power machines. Boyden states that this current phase is unsustainable and will not last long if the current trend continues. Boyden defines this process as ecodeviation.
The High Energy Phase
- With the foundation of cities which occurred over 200 generations ago, this phase and the last phase began to coexist. Humans living in this phase relied on farming communities. Many societal changes and developments were evident during this period. Empires and kingdoms and the constant change of human populations based on these distinctions. This phase ended roughly around the time of the Industrial Revolution, at least for the West, and was centered on the connectivity of human populations with one another.
The Early Urban Phase
- This period began with the advent of agriculture and includes all farming practices, even into the High Energy Phase. This is symbolic of the first time that human populations began to remain sedentary.
The Early Farming Phase
- The longest period of the four presented, Boyden claims this phase represents “the only lifestyle and economy known to humankind.” This period is viewed as human populations actively moving to stay in close proximity to food.
The Hunter-Gather Phase
He classifies human existence into four distinct ecological periods: the hunter-gather phase, the early farming phase, the early urban phase, and the high-energy phase. In each phase there is a unique relationship between humanity and the environment.
The Four Phases
The interplay between the human condition, natural processes, and the environment is important in the study of biohistory. Stephen Vickers Boyden, an historian well-noted for his definition of biohistory, has written extensively about this concept. He has studied various aspects of humanity including weaponry, farming, and society in regard to biological factors in order to better understand this relationship. Under the focus of biohistory Boyden examines the evolution of human progress and thought from its inception thousands of years ago. He is also known for his use of adaptation as a major factor for human progress. There are many types of adaptation, including cultural and evolutionary adaptation, which have shaped and allowed humanity to thrive in many areas of the world and survive as a species.
Biohistory and the Environment
Biohistory encompasses a wide array of study. It can be used in many different areas that are commonplace in historical study as well as new areas of research. Below, several social aspects and their application are considered.
One of the first contributors to what can be deemed biohistory was Ellsworth Huntington (September 16, 1876 – October 17, 1947). Although a geographer by study, Huntington discovered an interesting correlation between the nature of climate, human geography, and culture. In his book, Climate and Civilization published in 1915, he found that there is a positive correlation between the amounts of energy exerted based on climate regions and the perceived areas of civilization. Ellsworth defines civilization as “those characteristics which are generally recognized as the highest value.” In 1916, a year after Huntington’s work went into circulation, Madison Grant (November 19, 1865 – May 30, 1937), a eugenicist, published his work, The Passing of the Great Race; or, The racial basis of European history, which advanced his opinion of Nordic superiority over the Alpine and Mediterranean peoples. These two thinkers utilized biohistory in their research. However, Huntington’s work was largely dismissed, although never disproven, and Grant’s theories were highly contested and repudiated by the United States and Europe by 1945.
Although not fully recognized as a separate discipline, the 115th AHA conference sponsored a distinct session on biohistory which shows that historians are thinking of the implications of biology on history, though many historians remain skeptical because they do not wish biohistory to be labeled “biological determinism.”  (June 10, 1929- ), the founder of sociobiology, gave a speech at the 115th annual conference of the AHA in 2001. He stated that “[h]istory is no longer just the study of war and peace, of politicians and economics. If the next generation of historians hopes to understand the driving forces of humanity, they need to know the principles of ecology, population genetics and even molecular biology.”Edward O. Wilson He is also noted as combining both principles in several of his books including The Colombian Exchange (1972) and Ecological Imperialism (1986). The study of biohistory, although similar to environmental history, is different in the aspect that it takes into account the environment as well as other biological phenomena in the study of history. In 2001, at the 115th annual conference of the AHA,  gained notoriety as a discipline. It did not take long for environmental history to shift towards using biology to explain history. Alfred W. Crosby, a prominent environmental historian once claimed that “[t]he ideology of environmental history is, at its roots, biological.”environmental history During the 1970s and 1980s,