Prochaska, Frank 1941- (F.K. Prochaska, Franklyn Kimmel Prochaska)

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Prochaska, Frank 1941- (F.K. Prochaska, Franklyn Kimmel Prochaska)


Born February 15, 1941, in Cleveland, OH; immigrated to England, 1976; son of Franklin Anton and Elizabeth Mary Prochaska; married Alice Marjorie Barwell (a library director), June 25, 1971; children: Elizabeth, William. Education: University of Maryland, B.A, 1965; Ohio University, M.A., 1967; Northwestern University, Ph.D., 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, music, collecting English watercolor art.


Office—Department of History, Yale University, P.O. Box 208234, New Haven, CT 06520-8324; Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St., London WC1E 7HU, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, historian, and educator. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, instructor, 1969-72; University of Missouri, Columbia, assistant professor, 1973-74; University of Wisconsin-Madison, associate professor, 1976; University College, London, London, England, tutor, 1976-87; Yale University, New Haven, CT, currently lecturer and senior research scientist. Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London University, research fellow, 1987-90. All Souls College, Oxford, visiting fellow, 1997-98. Instructor at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and Royal Holloway College, London University. Military service: United States Air Force, 1959-63.


Royal Historical Society (fellow).


American Council of Learned Societies, fellow, 1974-75; University College, London, honorary research fellow, 1987-93; Institute of Historical Research, London, England, honorary research fellow, 1992—.


(Under name F.K. Prochaska) Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth-Century England, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1980.

(Editor, with Alice Prochaska) Margaretta Acworth's Georgian Cookery Book, Pavilion (London, England), 1987.

The Voluntary Impulse: Philanthropy in Modern Britain, Faber & Faber, 1989.

(Under name F.K. Prochaska) Philanthropy and the Hospitals of London: The King's Fund, 1897-1990, foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1992.

Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1995.

The Republic of Britain, 1760-2000, Allen Lane (New York, NY), 2000.

(Selector) Royal Lives, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Schools of Citizenship: Charity and Civic Virtue, Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society (London, England), 2002.

Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950, edited by F.M.L. Thompson, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1990. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Lancet, History, Historical Research, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, International Review of Social History, Journal of British Studies, and the Journal of the History of Ideas.


Writer, educator, and researcher Frank Prochaska has spent more than thirty years studying and writing about British history. Born in the United States, he holds dual British and American citizenship. He has taught at several universities in the United States and Great Britain, and is a frequent contributor to broadcast and print media on topics such as social polity and the British monarchy, noted a biographer on the Yale University Department of History Web site. A number of his books have been concerned with charity, volunteerism, philanthropy, and associated forms of public service and contribution to the greater social good.

Prochaska looks at the charitable acts of the British royals in Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy. Beginning during the reign of George III, he traces how the monarchy may have lost some political power over the years, but retained a great deal of reputation through charitable contributions. Prochaska was "given access to the Royal Archives at Windsor and he has thus been able to provide a fuller picture of the royal family's charity work than ever before," noted Piers Brendon in the New Statesman and Society. The result, Brendon mused, is a book that is "distinctly odd," but which is nonetheless a "serious and original work of scholarship."

"By associating themselves with good deeds, sovereigns give the impression that they have caused them," Brendon observed. The reviewer further noted that this is in some ways actually true, since the patronage or association of a member of the monarchy can result in greater exposure and greater revenue for a British charity. Yet Prochaska determines that many members of the monarchy have been less than generous with their contributions, or were apt to spend more resources on trivial items than they gave to charity. For example, Queen Charlotte spent more money on clothes than she contributed to charity. Queen Victoria gave comparably less to charity than did the middle and working classes.

Further, the motives behind royal concern with charitable causes is a subject of suspicion, Brendon stated. "The very rich have always bought respectability by returning in well-publicized charity some of what they got by carefully disguised rapacity," Brendon remarked. Prochaska suggests that displays of royal generosity were not always genuine, and in many cases were intended to reinforce the ruler's benevolent image and maintain the status quo that supports their own enormous wealth.

A Victorian Studies reviewer called Prochaska's book "valuably original" in how it explores "the British monarchy in terms not of declining political strength, but of rising philanthropic strength." In the past, as well as in the present, "proximity to royal bodies proved a sure trigger of financial benevolence among the rich of the world's richest nation," commented the Victorian Studies reviewer. "As the crown became increasingly deprived of political power, it became thereby purified for this worthy purpose."

In Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit, Prochaska explores the history and role of Christian societies and related groups in the development of democracy in Britain. "The issues raised here could not be more important to the future of British democracy," remarked Frank Field in the Spectator. Prochaska "examines the virtual explosion of voluntary effort in the nineteenth century as people (mainly women) tackled the massive social changes sweeping across Britain" brought about by forces such as urbanization and the development of slums in British town centers, commented James Munson in the Contemporary Review. Prochaska's aim, Munson noted, is to "demonstrate what a massive effort was involved in all this work in numbers, time and money. His second aim is to show how, with the gradual growth in government power and the subsequent development of the welfare state, all this was swept away and with it, something precious and valuable."

Prochaska identifies numerous motives that drove the Victorian impulse toward helping the less fortunate. Some were religious, in terms of actively practicing their ideas of Christian charity. Other motives were practical; helping the poor could stave off mob violence. Prochaska divides the services provided into four major groups: education through the growth of schools; organization, through programs of "visiting" intended to encourage, educate, and help the poor; direct assistance, through programs of "mothering" designed to help working-class mothers; and improvement of health and general welfare through greater access to nursing care. These initiatives, based in religious thought and concepts, successfully helped the poor and underprivileged throughout Britain.

However, Prochaska also finds that the expansion of British government also brought with it a contraction of religious activity, and it was because of this that the enterprising and effective ways of helping the poor began to dwindle and vanish. Worse, Prochaska notes that the British welfare state has not managed to institute similarly effective programs in the many years since the Victorians took their views on religious charity and worked directly with the people who needed them most. In the end, Prochaska's history and analysis provides a resource for readers who want to understand much of "modern British life and recent history," Munson stated.



American Historical Review, April, 1997, Susan Pedersen, review of Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy, p. 455.

Contemporary Review, spring, 2007, James Mason, "From Voluntarism to Welfare in England," review of Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit, p. 107.

Economic History Review, August, 1996, Keir Waddington, review of Royal Bounty, p. 608.

History: Review of New Books, winter, 1997, Donald O. Fries, review of Royal Bounty, p. 66.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, April, 1997, John Brown, review of Royal Bounty, p. 358.

History Today, August, 1997, Stephen Howe, review of Royal Bounty, p. 52.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1998, Pat Thane, review of Royal Bounty, p. 165.

New Statesman & Society, October 7, 1988, Ben Pimlott, review of The Voluntary Impulse: Philanthropy in Modern Britain, p. 37; November 3, 1995, Piers Brendon, review of Royal Bounty, p. 43.

Spectator, December 30, 1995, John Grigg, review of Royal Bounty, p. 26; March 4, 2006, Frank Field, "Faith, Hope, and Charity," review of Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain, p. 40.

Times Higher Education Supplement, January 5, 1996, Vernon Bogdanor, review of Royal Bounty, p. 21.

Times Literary Supplement, October 14, 1988, Brian Harrison, review of The Voluntary Impulse, p. 1144; December 8, 1995, John Cannon, review of Royal Bounty, p. 32; August 4, 2000, Ferdinand Mount, review of The Republic of Britain, 1760-2000, p. 26.

Victorian Studies, winter, 1997, Christopher Kent, review of Royal Bounty, p. 330.


Yale University Department of History Web site, (January 28, 2008), faculty profile.

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Prochaska, Frank 1941- (F.K. Prochaska, Franklyn Kimmel Prochaska)

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