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Dr. Lilian Lewis Shiman (1931–2021)

Updated: Aug 13

Editor’s Note: The Alcohol and Drugs History Society was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Lilian Lewis Shiman earlier this year. In today’s post, her colleague and friend Dr. David M. Fahey, Professor Emeritus at Miami University and former President of ADHS’s predecessor organization (Alcohol and Temperance History Group), remembers Shiman’s scholarship and career.

Lilian Shiman was a pioneering temperance historian and the author of two books and multiple articles on the topic. She began work on her dissertation in the 1960s when the English temperance movement was almost an unknown research field and without any women scholars.

Born in Bradford, England, Lilian worked as a young woman first in France and later in Canada. At the suggestion of a Toronto friend, she enrolled at Columbia University, where she met Paul L. Shiman. They married in 1956. He taught religion and philosophy at various colleges. When they lived in Colorado, she received an M.A. at the University of Colorado. When they lived in Wisconsin, she received a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.

Finally, they settled in Massachusetts, where she held research fellowships at Harvard and Radcliffe. Lillian also received a fellowship in chemistry from the British textile firm, Courtaulds. Lilian taught at Nichols College from 1974 until her retirement in 1996.

At Wisconsin, Lilian did her research under the direction of John F. C. Harrison, a British scholar who had arranged for the university to purchase Guy Hayler’s temperance collection. Based in part on the Hayler collection, Lilian completed her dissertation the year after the publication of Brian Harrison’s great work, Drink and the Victorians. She had difficulty publishing her dissertation because she was told that Harrison had “done” temperance.

Lilian Lewis Shiman Obituary image

While looking for a publisher who believed that the English temperance movement deserved a second book, she wrote many articles (for instance, for Victorian Studies) and continued research in her native North of England. Two of her locally based articles appeared in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal (1974 and 1986). She wrote an autobiographical sketch about the reaction in Bradford to her interest in drink, “Lilian Turns to Booze,” for the Social History of Alcohol Review (1998).

Lilian was active in the newly founded Alcohol and Temperance History Group (later called the Alcohol and Drugs History Society). She briefly was editor of the Social History of Alcohol Review in the mid-1980s.

Lilian’s dissertation finally appeared in 1988 as Crusade against Drink in Victorian England. Her time period stretched to 1895 in contrast to Harrison’s book that had concluded its study in 1872. Her book was especially strong in social history and was often based on her research in the North of England. Lilian then turned her interest to temperance women—first in an article and then as a major part of a book, Women and Leadership in Nineteenth-Century England (1992). She began a third book on transatlantic temperance reformers. Ill-health, however, ended her plan after she had published an article about John B. Gough in 2001.

Always generous, Lilian helped many younger colleagues who remember her fondly. I thanked her in the introductory essay, “Writing about Temperance,” in my book Temperance Societies in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (2020).

Lilian Lewis Shiman died on January 28, 2021, at the age of 89.

#Historiography #Womenshistory #Temperance #alcoholhistory #England


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