I find biographies to be one of the most interesting forms of history. The biography, No Bleeding Heart: Charlotte Whitton – A Feminist on the Right, provided great insight into the life of Charlotte Whitton. Because the book was about the life of Charlotte Whitton, we are able to see her family life and decisions that she made. This is unique to biography because instead of talking just about the things she did for feminism we are also able to see aspects of her life that might not be as well known. One example is learning that she had trouble picking a religion (6).
I enjoy biographies because they are like a microhistory of a person.. In biographies, the reader is able to see not just the positive features of the person, but also some negative. One example of this is Charlotte Whitton stating the female gender is more superior than the male (Page 26).
In class, we discussed how interesting it would be if there was a biography about an ordinary person because most biographies seem to be about public figures (i.e. the mayor of Ottawa). Everyone has a story to tell, but it seems to have your story researched and told someone else also has to be interested in it.
In the other articles we read in class, we learned that biographies do not seem to be viewed as a prestigious form of history. In fact, Banner states in his article, “Biography as History,” that other historians find biography as “an inferior type of history” (580).
This class taught me how interesting a biography can be, and how much work goes into creating one. As Nick Salvatore states in his article, “Biography and History: An Intimate Relationship,”
One must rather grant the individual his particularity in all its dimensions – or as many as one can possibly discover; and the biographer must be willing to explore these byways wherever they may lead. (190)
Although I did not use biographies in my research project, this class has highlighted the significance they can play in researching. I disagree with the historians in Banner’s article; Biographies are NOT an inferior form of history.
Banner, L.W. “Biography as History,” The American Historical Review, 114, 3 (2009): 579-586.
Rooke, P.T. & R. L. Schnell, No Bleeding Heart: Charlotte Whitton- A Feminist on the Right, Vancouver:
UBC Press, 1987, ch. 1-10.
Salvatore, N. “Biography and Social History: An Intimate Relationship,” Labour History, 87
(Nov. 2004): 187-192