Henry Alcock

Henry Alcock

Name: Henry Alcock

Epoch: Early 20th Century (the \'Long Early Twentieth Century\')

Grouping Field: Humanities (Ideas Formatted as Ideas) and Social Science (Models)

Location Grouping: Individual\'s Work Location

Map Coordinates: 27°28\'38.2\"S 153°01\'44.6\"E

Years At Location: 1923-1938

One Historical Setting: Prof. Henry Alcock, Dean, Faculty of Commerce, University of Queensland, George Street, Brisbane City (1925)

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Henry Alcock was the first Professor of Modern History at the University of Queensland, appointed in 1922 as the first McCaughey Professor of History and Economics. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, he was awarded B.A. First Honours degree in 1908, and a M.A. degree in 1911. He held high rank in cultural fields at national and state level.

He was President of the History Section for the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science; Chairman of the Queensland Broadcasting Committee; member of the State Committee of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. When he died in 1948 Alcock was the last remaining founding member of the Historical Society of Queensland (1913).

Impact On Brisbane Society

Alcock brought to Brisbane Society the Oxford View of History. Since Oxford historiography is not well understood in the literature, its meaning and impact is better explained as the contrast to the antithesis, the Cambridge School of History, which is the tradition of intellectual history and the history of political thought, characterised as a historicist or contextualist mode of interpretation.

Importantly, the Cambridge School contradicts the social-scientific positivism in historiography with an emphasis on ideas rather than the Oxford historiography which focuses on economics and what is called ‘Political Science’. The idea of ‘political science’ is contested and illustrated the problem that Alcock brought to the University of Queensland. The idea of a ‘science’ meant the values of statistical utility distorted the historiography, diminishing the social history to matters of economic production and commerce (see entry on the Department of History and Economics, in the other MBH program).


In memoriam: Henry Alcock. The Historical Society of Queensland Journal. Royal Historical Society of Queensland. Vol. 4. No. 1, December 1948.

Helen Gregory, Vivant Professores: Distinguished Members of the University of Queensland, 1910-1940. University of Queensland Library, St. Lucia, Qld, 1987.

Malcolm I Thomis, A Place of Light & Learning: the University of Queensland’s first seventy-five years, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Qld, 1985.

Image Citation

Henry Alcock. Archive: University of Queensland. [https://hapi.uq.edu.au/mccaughey-chair-history]