Mary Elisabeth Cox

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

Mary Elisabeth Cox is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Departmental Lecturer in the History Faculty at the University of Oxford, and a William Golding Junior Research Fellow in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Dr. Cox’s research focuses on the health, hunger, and inequality of civilians during and following the First World War. Her first book, ‘Hunger in War and Peace’ is being published by Oxford University Press as part of their Historical Monograph Series. It is based on her DPhil dissertation which won the Dev Book Prize for the best dissertation in the History of Medicine at Oxford. Her article in the Economic History Review (2015) "Hunger games: or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them" is based on a chapter from the book and was awarded the Alexander Prize from the Royal Historical Society for the most outstanding article by an early career historian in any field of history. Dr. Cox’s book assesses the nutritional status of civilians in Germany from 1914-1924 using a variety of original source material including old anthropometric measurements from school children, scientific studies, maps, institutional reports, internal international aid documents, personal letters, legal reports, newspapers, and diaries. She finds that deprivation was severe for some civilians in Germany, but that it varied greatly depending on status: age, gender, social class, and even stratum within families impacted how much people suffered during the War.

Along with Dr. Claire Morelon and Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Dr. Cox is leading a Leverhulme-Trust funded International Network called ‘Hunger Draws the Map’. This three-year project traces hunger across Europe and the Ottoman Empire from 1914-1922 and involves academic institutions from across the world. A monograph edited by Dr. Cox and Dr. Morelon will be produced at the end of the project, with chapters written by members of the network. The Hoover Institution is hosting the second workshop in April, 2017.

Dr. Cox also studies the creation of multinational institutions focused on international aid in the early 20th century. Analyses of their successes and failures in changing childhood nutritional trajectories can help elucidate best and worst practices, and how these antecedents have helped determine current practices. Some current assumptions on international aid do not have historical support.

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