Desperately seeking pigeons

Eric Dunning recently recalled having written an article with Norbert Elias on the popular working-class hobby of pigeon racing, sometime in the late 1960s, which he thought had been published in an American magazine, probably Newsweek.

If that were so, it should be included in the forthcoming three volumes of Elias’s essays in the Collected Works.

There has been no difficulty in retrieving the draft of this article from a typescript in the Elias archives: it consists of 800 words packed with insights. But we have had no success in finding out when and where it was actually published. We have established, with the help of their archivist in New York, that the piece did not appear in Newsweek. It would seem that it did not appear in Time magazine, because there is an online index of its contents going back to 1923. Ditto for Harpers. Eric is amazingly vague about exactly when and where the little essay may have appeared, but it looks as though it was in 1967-8, give or take a few years. Or perhaps it was only submitted for publication but never actually published. Or perhaps it wasn’t an American publication …

The obvious resources of the internet and library searches have already been tried. But if any reader of this list can pin down this phantom publication, we shall be immensely grateful. Please send any information to me at

Stephen Mennell

Professor Stephen Mennell
St Catharine’s College
Cambridge, CB2 1RL
United Kingdom

[Visiting Scholar, 2006-7]
Tel. +44 1223 329022

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