We start this week with Slavery, Race and Conquest in the Tropics : Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America by Robert E. May. Phillip Magness and the author debate a book which gives us a Civil War that was both the product of international affairs, and a shaping force on their subsequent course (no. 1717, with response here).
Then we turn to Hugh M. Thomas’s The Secular Clergy in England, 1066-1216, and Katherine Harvey and the author discuss a book which is surely destined to become one of the definitive works in the field for many years to come (no. 1716, with response here).
Next up is Status Interaction During the Reign of Louis XIV by Giora Sternberg. Linda Kiernan believes this book presents historians of the court with a vigorous model to test (no. 1715).
Finally we have George Morton-Jack’s The Indian Army on the Western Front: India’s Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium in the First World War. Adam Prime finds this to be an extremely stimulating book, which should appeal to academics and enthusiasts alike (no. 1714).
As memories of Christmas fade and you are left wondering how to fill the dark nights, there could not be a better time to distract yourself from the winter and to sharpen up your historical skills with the IHR’s exciting programme of research training!
Starting very soon is An Introduction to Oral History, the IHR’s long-running and very popular guide to undertaking historical research by interview. Taught in ten weekly sessions by Dr Anna Davin from the History Workshop, this is a comprehensive outline of how to set about oral history research for those just starting out: it covers both the nuts and bolts of recording methods and more complex questions of ethics, questionnaire composition and how to get the most from respondents. We only have a few places left, so do please hurry with your application.
For historians who want to use non-textual material but don’t know where to begin, our revised and re-vamped Visual Sources for Historians course is the answer. Each week for five weeks we shall explore a different theme: Local/Global; Visualising Britain and the Sea; Material Culture and the Spatial Turn; Historical Subjects; and History and the Media. The full-day sessions will consist of lectures, discussions and visits to museums, galleries and archives such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Museums, Greenwich and the National Portrait Gallery. Students will learn the questions to ask and the ways to interrogate visual culture in art, cartoons, film and architecture to bring them to bear upon historical analysis.
For those, on the other hand, who want to use the internet as a historical research tool, the one-day Internet for Historical Research workshop will provide you with all the knowledge and skills you require. Covering all aspects of deploying the net as a research tool, and including abundant advice on search strategies, this course will show how to find and use the abundance of primary and secondary source material now available online, as well as teaching how to use the net as a way to promote and archive your own work.
Lastly, starting in March as the weather warms up and hopeful thoughts of spring start to blossom, what could be more appropriate than the IHR’s course Historic Gardens: Research in Action? This is the perfect introduction to how to use archival research in restoring, conserving and managing historic gardens. Taught in eight weekly sessions, the course will be based on a mixture of classroom study and site visits, introducing students to the rich resources for the study of garden history in and around London and serving as an excellent taster for the IHR’s MA in Garden and Landscape History.
First up is Women, Work and Sociability in Early Modern London by Tim Reinke-Williams. Hannah Hogan and the author discuss an inspiring starting-point for further, in-depth histories of women, work and sociability in early modern England (no. 1713, with response here).
Then we turn to Ian Jared Miller’s The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo, which Jonathan Saha recommends as being important beyond its obvious and substantial contribution to both Japanese history and zoo history (no. 1712).
Next up is Crisis? What Crisis? The Callaghan Government and the British ‘Winter of Discontent’ by John Shepherd. Ian Cawood reviews a concisely written, forensic political analysis of the defining historical myth by which all British political parties still live (no. 1711).
Finally we have The Mystic Ark: Hugh of Saint Victor, Art, and Thought in the Twelfth Century by Conrad Rudolph, which Karl Kinsella believes to be a thoroughly worked out and thoughtful piece of scholarship (no. 1710).
This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Matthew Phillpott, SAS-Space Manager and SAS Digital Project Officer.
For those of you who have been using the Institute of Historical Research’s online research training platform, History SPOT you will have noticed a variety of changes recently. The sites web address has changed, its name has changed, and its design has changed.
The refit of History SPOT and its transformation into PORT (Postgraduate Online Research Training) is an exciting development. We believed that the old site was beginning to look tired but yet its contents still remain useful and relevant and there is still so much scope for expansion.
In addition the opportunity arose to merge the IHR’s efforts with the wider efforts of the School of Advanced Study (of which the IHR is one component). History SPOT has therefore become PORT, an online research training platform not just for historians, but for all humanities studies.
This is a good thing for historians. The extent of training provision on PORT will rapidly expand over the next few years and a vast amount of it will be relevant to students studying history. Already, PORT provides additional resources offering advice about completing a PhD and a host of handbooks providing links to modern languages resources. Soon a resource will be launched providing introductory guidance to research using quantitative methods, various videos covering all kinds of research needs, and more ‘history’ focused courses, such as managing your data as an historian.
So please do check out PORT and let us know what you think.
[Note: Those familiar with History SPOT will see that not all of the old resources are currently online. These just require a quick fix to work with the new design and will be reappearing over the coming weeks]
First up this week we have Andrew Melville (1545–1622): Writings, Reception, and Reputation, edited by Steven J. Reid and Roger Mason. Alasdair Raffe and the editors discuss an edited collection from which there is much to learn, both about a poet and intellectual, and about his religious and political circumstances (no. 1709, with response here).
Next up, Michael Kennedy and Art Magennis’s Ireland, the United Nations and the Congo, and Bernadette Whelan tackles this meticulously researched and tightly argued work of military and diplomatic history (no. 1708).
Then we have to thank Charles Esdaile casting his eye over a number of major works produced to mark the bicentenary of Napoleon’s downfall, as he reviews Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny by Michael Broers; Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815 by Philip Dwyer; Napoleon by Alan Forrest; Napoleon: the End of Glory by Munro Price; and Forging Napoleon’s Grande Armée: Motivation, Military Culture and Masculinity in the French Army, 1800-1808 by Michael J. Hughes (no. 1707, with response here).
Finally, we turn to the History of the Royal Navy, and Richard Harding and the series editor Duncan Redford discuss the first three volumes of a new history of the British Navy (no. 1706, with response here).
This post has kindly been shared with us by Jordan Landes, History Librarian at Senate House Library
The Library has extremely strong collections relating to resistance to the First World War, and the exhibition is an opportunity to establish a distinct voice amidst the wider commemoration of the centenary of the conflict. Our holdings demonstrate dissent on multiple issues and from diverse motivations, as well as official government publications supporting the war effort. However, it is striking how these intractably opposed positions made strident appeals to very similar fundamental principles and ethics in order to support their arguments. These principles can be reduced to essential duties, which, while each sounding inviolable, are also incompatible, with the moral certainties they embody evaporating as they conflict. The exhibition will be structured around the four preeminent duties observable: Duty to God, Duty to King and Country, Duty to Humanity, and Duty to Conscience.
With all sides appealing to the same principles, under each theme there will be displayed official propaganda, mildly dissenting views and also materials that were regarded as illegal in their resistance.
As a case study in how these duties interact and contradict one another, we will lastly present material depicting how the Labour Party and the wider Left was torn apart by the Great War, with disputing factions making appeals to essentially the same duties and principles.
The exhibition seeks to highlight rare materials but also to demonstrate the breadth of our holdings, and will include:
Contemporary government recruitment and propaganda posters
Suppressed pamphlets which were officially destroye
Rare books showing the 17th-18th century origins of pacifism
Cartoons and mass-printed anti-war illustrations
Manuscripts, including letters from the future George VI and Siegfried Sassoon
Evening events: These talks will begin at 6pm and be held in the Seng Tee Lee Seminar Room in Senate House Library.
15 January: Emily Johns, ‘Picturing resistance to the First World War: Emily Johns talks about the process of making a People’s History poster series’
(tbc) History Lab, ‘An Evening with History Lab: emerging research on the First World War’
19 March: Professor Ulrich Tiedau (UCL), ‘European duty and dissent: a Belgian example, Émile Cammaerts’
9 April: Cyril Pearce, ‘A re-appraisal of the complex history of Conscientious Objectors in Great Britain from the country’s leading researcher in the field’
14 May: David Blake, ‘Quaker contributions in the First World War’
Lunchtime events: These talks will start at 1pm and will be held in the Durning-Lawrence Library. Attendees may feel free to bring their sandwiches.
23 January: Richard Espley (SHL), ‘The survival of the suppressed: preserving banned pamphlets in the University Library’
17 February: Jordan Landes (SHL), ‘Albert Einstein and Arthur Stanley Eddington: a pacifist relationship’
11 March: Charlie Potter (SHL), ‘Bertrand Russell and the philosophy of pacifism’
15 April: Hester Swift (IALS), ‘A talk on international peace organisations’
As the year draws to a close, we at the IHR are looking forward to January’s research training programme, starting almost as soon as term begins with Public Speaking for Historians. Run by Dr Eliza Filby from KCL and Charlotte Endcott, a professional actor, this extremely interactive one-day workshop will blend acting techniques with academic practice and show how to communicate confidently, concisely and effectively in lectures, conference presentations, job interviews and all the many other contexts in which we need to put our views across. When this course ran for the first time last year, participant feedback was the ecstatically enthusiastic we have ever received!
Starting soon afterwards is An Introduction to Oral History, the IHR’s long-running and very popular guide to undertaking historical research by interview. Taught in ten weekly sessions by Dr Anna Davin from the History Workshop, this is a comprehensive outline of how to set about oral history research for those just starting out: it covers both the nuts and bolts of recording methods and more complex questions of ethics, questionnaire composition and how to get the most from respondents.
We still have one or two places left on the next running of our flagship archival course, Methods & Sources for Historical Research, which will be happening from 26-30 January. This intensive course consists of a day of lectures on how to find and use primary source material in archives, museums and other repositories, followed by four days of visits, where students will learn about a wide range of archives and the opportunity to talk in detail to archivists and curators about their own research.
Amedee Forstier, The Signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Christmas Eve, 1814 [John Quincy Adams (5th from left), Albert Gallatin (6th from left), and Henry Clay (10th from left, seated)].
Wednesday marks the bicentenary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the agreement that ended the War of 1812, the last open conflict between the US and Great Britain. The war was fought between the two countries over north Atlantic trading rights and territory in the North American interior. In celebration of this anniversary, this blog entry will examine the peace negotiations of 1813-1814 through the eyes of 17-year-old James Gallatin, the son of the chief American delegate during the negotiations and serving Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin. James accompanied his father to Europe and recorded the day-to-day challenges faced by the Americans in their dealing with the British and, perhaps more interestingly, in their attempts to arrive at a consensus strategy among themselves. James Gallatin’s diary reveals the human side of nineteenth-century diplomacy as a process of negotiation, not only between delegations representing rival nations, but also within each peace commission, where clashing egos among friends sometimes threatened to derail talks.
The Madison Administration sent several key members of the government to negotiate the end of the war alongside Albert Gallatin, including John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), James A. Bayard (1767-1815), Jonathan Russell (1771-1832) and Henry Clay (1777-1852). Adams, the future president of the US, was then serving as the US envoy to the Russian court. Bayard was a prominent Federalist senator from Delaware and Russell was the US envoy to Sweden. Finally, Henry clay was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and would later become Secretary of State during the Adams Administration.
The American delegation was beset with problems from the beginning, many of which were of their own making. The three men fought among themselves and with their British counterparts throughout the peace talks. James Gallatin recorded the first meeting between his father and John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg during the unsuccessful Russian-backed peace talks of October 2013. The two men had different thoughts about how to best advance the American position. James remembered: ‘After a stormy interview with Mr. Adams (Adams was the storm) father has decided to take his own course’ (12). To his frustration Albert Gallatin found himself marginalized by two of his compatriots. He, for example, wanted the negotiations to take place in London, thereby allowing the Americans direct contact with the British Foreign Minister, Lord Castlereagh. In this he was overruled by Clay and Adams who refused the suggestion ‘point blank’ arguing that, unlike Gallatin, they were ‘plain Americans and that in England they would only be treated as colonists.’ Geneva-born Gallatin did not understand their position. ‘You are a foreigner,’ they told him ‘which places you on an entirely different footing’ (21). From this moment onward the US delegation descended into regular bouts of in-fighting. Clay and Adams did not get along and often disagreed over how the negotiations should proceed. To make matters worse the Americans arrived in Ghent a month before their British counterpoints, leaving plenty of time for competing egos to clash and resentment to fester. James recorded these episodes in his diary. On 15 July he wrote: ‘Nothing to do. Mr. Adams in a very bad temper. Mr. Clay annoys him. Father pours oil on the troubled waters’ (27).
The situation worsened after the British delegation arrived in August. As Gallatin had feared when he objected to Ghent as the location for negotiations, the British, who had always viewed the American war as a sideshow in the larger conflict with France, sent relatively low level representation to Low Countries. Soon after their arrival Lord Gambier (1756-1833), an Admiral of the Fleet, and Henry Goulburn (1784-1856), Undersecretary of State for War and the Colonies, presented the Americans with a set of demands that they could not possibly accept. The British position regarding the North-Western Territory was utterly unreasonable from the American perspective. It required that the sovereignty of the region – which would eventually encompass the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois along with portions Indiana and Ohio – be returned to Native American control under the Guarantee of the British Crown. This would require the evacuation and repatriation of thousands of US citizens. A few days after this initial meeting, James recorded the despondency and frustration of the US delegation in his diary. ‘Father finds greater difficulty with his own colleagues’ he wrote ‘Clay uses strong language to Adams, and Adams returns the compliment’ (28). Gallatin clearly feared that both Clay and Adams could undermine the negotiations by making brash demands or by venting their tempers in the presence of the British. By late October the Americans began developing a treaty proposal among themselves. James’s diary reveals that this was, like everything else to that point, a tortured and exasperating process. ‘It is a most difficult task’ he claimed ‘both Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay object to everything except what they suggest themselves’ (32).
By November it appeared that negotiations were on the verge of collapse. At this point of despair for the Americans, Gallatin received a confidential letter from the Duke of Wellington, a man close to both the British Prime Minister and Lord Castlereagh. In it he reassured Gallatin that peace was attainable despite mistakes made on both sides. He informed Gallatin that the British ministry held him in high regard. The Foreign minister identified Gallatin as the senior member of the American delegation. ‘As I gather’, Wellington wrote:
Mr. Madison as well as Mr. Monroe [Secretary of State and future President] gave you full power to act, without even consulting your colleagues on points you considered of importance. I now feel that peace is shortly in view. Mr. Goulburn has made grave errors and Lord Castlereagh has read him a sharp lesson (34).
Two weeks later Gallatin received another letter from Wellington again stressing the Ministry’s faith in him: ‘I hear on all sides that your moderation and sense of justice, together with you good common sense, places you above all other delegates, not excepting ours.’ ‘I have always had the greatest admiration for the country of your birth,’ Wellington continued, ‘you are a foreigner with all the traditions of one fighting for the peace and welfare of the country of your adoption.’ Gallatin’s political opponents regularly questioned his suitability for office on the grounds that he was an immigrant and therefore harbored residual attachments to the land of his birth. He had been thrown out of Congress for this reason in 1793. James noted his father’s reaction to Wellington’s compliment: ‘Father, I think, was pleased. He is a foreigner and is proud of it’ (35).
Peace terms were agreed shortly after Gallatin received Wellington’s letters. Both sides agreed to the immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of the status quo antebellum. The treaty also stipulated that all border disputes be referred to territorial commissions (for Gallatin’s role in later border dispute see the blog). Having concluded the peace talks after several long months of stressful negotiation, the British and US representatives then sat together for Christmas dinner. This act initiated a period of peace and friendship between the US, Canada and the UK that holds to this day.
Every so often we get an enquiry about a natural history entry in a VCH red book. Largely completed before the First World War, the general volumes in each county series include natural history and provide a fascinating snap shot of the local ecology a century ago. The first natural history editor, Aubyn B.R. Trevor-Battye, recruited some of the most eminent naturalists of the day to write entries outside of his specialities. Notably the Revd T.R.R. Stebbing wrote the entries on crustaceans for all 40 counties.
Entries are often idiosyncratic and sometimes slightly bad tempered! Colbran J. Wainwright, in the introduction to the Lepidoptera section of Warwickshire Volume 1 (1904), bemoans the fact he has to rely on the Rugby School Natural History Society for a particular area as these are “..merely schoolboys’ records and naturally very untrustworthy”. Despite “many absurd errors which made one distrustful of the whole list” he admits that “no schoolboy is likely to be wrong about a species like Zeuzera pyrina, L.” and includes the reports “excluding the most improbable ones”.
Zeuzera pyrina. Photograph taken by Olaf Leillinger.
Whilst the charm of the writing alone often makes the chapters worth reading, there is still much valuable ecological knowledge to be gained. One of our more surprising requests came from the Kazkhstan Entomological Society looking for information on a particular spider (Sardinidion blackwalli). The researcher had found a reference to the entry in The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely: Volume 1 (1938) but could not find a copy in any library in Kazakhstan, Russia or Finland. In these cases we are happy to assist individual researchers when we can. For more on red book publications see our website www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk.
This post was kindly written by Rebecca Read, VCH Administrator.