Cognition is the most socially-conditioned activity of man, and knowledge is the paramount social creation [Gebilde].


Knowledge does not simply exist, awaiting discovery and use. Knowledge is produced, adapted, forgotten, rejected, superseded, expanded, reconfigured, and more—always by human beings (at least in this more-or-less pre-AI age), alone or in communities, always in culturally, socially, economically, and institutionally specific contexts.

Knowledge is central to most purposeful human practices, whether at work, in the family, or for worship, whether implicitly or explicitly, whether passed down by hands-on training or through books and other storage and retrieval systems. Both product and basis of human interactions, knowledge has a history. Indeed, human history cannot be understood apart from the history of knowledge.

This blog serves as a venue for the exchange of ideas and information on the history of knowledge. It is edited by a small team at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, but it depends on the engagement of many other scholars.

Learn more by reading “Blogging Histories of Knowledge in Washington, D.C.” by Mark Stoneman and Kerstin von der Krone in “Digital History,” ed. Simone Lässig, special issue, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 47, no. 1 (2021): 163–74. Open Access

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We do not have comments turned on for this blog, but that does not mean that we want no discussion. Far from it. We invite responses to posts here via Twitter or Facebook. Of course, we also encourage our readers to contribute to the blog.

In your research, do you sometimes have to grapple with knowledge as a socially determined product of human beings and their activities? If so, you are involved in the history of knowledge. Whether or not you label yourself and your work in such terms, we hope you will consider contributing to the conversation with a submission to this blog of your own.