Safley, Thomas Max
Safley, Thomas Max
Education: University of Wisconsin, Ph. D., 1980.
Writer and historian. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, professor of European history.
Let No Man Put Asunder: The Control of Marriage in the German Southwest: A Comparative Study, 1550-1600, Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Northeast Missouri State University (Kirksville, MO), 1984.
(Editor, with Leonard N. Rosenband) The Workplace before the Factory: Artisans and Proletarians, 1500-1800, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1993.
Charity and Economy in the Orphanages of Early Modern Augsburg, Humanities Press (Boston, MA), 1997.
Matheus Miller's Memoir: A Merchant's Life in the Seventeenth Century, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) The Reformation of Charity: The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief, Brill Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2003.
Children of the Laboring Poor: Expectation and Experience among the Orphans of Early Modern Augsburg, Brill Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2005.
Sixteenth Century Journal, member of editorial board.
Writer, historian, and professor Thomas Max Safley writes and produces books on topics in labor history and related fields. The Workplace before the Factory: Artisans and Proletarians, 1500-1800, edited by Safley and Leonard N. Rosenband, collects papers presented at a 1990 colloquium at the University of Pennsylvania. The papers address how conditions evolved for early workers in settings that had not yet achieved the streamlined efficiency of factories. "In some sectors, workers successfully opposed innovations designed to increase productivity, and obliged owners (and fellow workers) to negotiate the terms of employment among skilled and unskilled alike," reported James S. Amelang in the Renaissance Quarterly. However, in most cases addressed by these papers, workers had lost "the organization of their work to employers and merchants," noted Donald M. Reid in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. "Essays of uniformly high quality address weaving, mining, shipbuilding, printing, and papermaking in France, Saxony, Upper Swabia, Tuscany, Catalonia, Venice, Antwerp, and even New England throughout the course of three centuries," Reid observed. A Business History Review critic commented that "the editors are to be congratulated on having done their work well" with this volume. Amelang concluded that "this collection makes a valuable contribution to rethinking the early modern workplace when it was no longer a shop, and not yet a factory."
In Matheus Miller's Memoir: A Merchant's Life in the Seventeenth Century, Safley reconstructs the German merchant's memoir and uses it as a mirror to reflect the economic and social conditions of the man's time. "Safley brilliantly deploys the memoir as a bi-focal lens, both to ferret out the individuality of a quintessentially bourgeois merchant, yet also to reflect on shifting demography, fluctuating economy, hardening confessional rivalry, and social stratification in Augsburg as it shrank from the once-glittering Renaissance center to a bourgeois backwater," commented Renaissance Quarterly reviewer James M. Weiss. Reviewer Gary K. Waite, writing in the Canadian Journal of History, called Safley's book a "sophisticated analysis of an unusual treasure" as represented in Miller's handwritten memoir.
Throughout the course of the book, Safely illuminates Miller's personal and business life and the relationships he had with his family, friends, and neighbors. In addition, "thanks to Safley, this private commentary nicely illuminates many aspects of life in seventeenth-century Augsburg," Waite commented. "This is an important book, for it makes significant statements about the role of the individual in seventeenth-century society, which will have to be considered by those working on the period," remarked Philip Broadhead in the English Historical Journal. Weiss stated that "Safley's work is learned, concise, sophisticated, and genuinely engaging." Waite observed that Safley's book "is a valuable addition to the growing body of studies that restore the individual to center stage in the historical theatre."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Business History Review, autumn, 1994, review of The Workplace before the Factory: Artisans and Proletarians, 1500-1800, p. 433.
Canadian Journal of History, December, 2002, Gary K. Waite, review of Matheus Miller's Memoir: A Merchant's Life in the Seventeenth Century, p. 524.
Church History, September, 1985, Virginia E. De-Marce, review of Let No Man Put Asunder: The Control of Marriage in the German Southwest: A Comparative Study, 1550-1600, p. 406.
English Historical Review, April, 2001, Philip Broad-head, review of Matheus Miller's Memoir, p. 479.
History: Review of New Books, winter, 2000, Timothy G. Fehler, review of Matheus Miller's Memoir, p. 71.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, winter, 1996, Donald M. Reid, review of The Workplace before the Factory, p. 492.
Journal of Modern History, March, 2000, Iris Ritzmann, review of Charity and Economy in the Orphanages of Early Modern Augsburg, p. 245.
Labor History, fall, 1997, Immanuel Wallerstein, review of The Workplace before the Factory, p. 525.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 2006, review of Children of the Laboring Poor: Expectation and Experience among the Orphans of Early Modern Augsburg.
Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 1997, James S. Amelang, review of The Workplace before the Factory, p. 1222; spring, 2001, James M. Weiss, review of Matheus Miller's Memoir, p. 291.
Sixteenth Century Journal Web site,http://www.sixteenthcentury.org/ (November 12, 2006), biography of Thomas Max Safley.
University of Pennsylvania Department of History Web site,http://www.history.upenn.edu/ (November 12, 2006), biography of Thomas Max Safley.*