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Natural History and the VCH

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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.

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.

New reviews: 1812 revisited, Kershaw interview, phenomenology and the history of the psyche

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kershaw2We start with the latest installment in our occasional podcast series. Daniel Snowman talks to Professor Sir Ian Kershaw about his forthcoming contribution to the Penguin History of Europe series (no. 1705).

Next, following his original piece for us last year, Jasper Trautsch has revised and updated his overview of works on the War of 1812, taking into account a number of new publications (no. 1387).

Then we turn to David Carr’s Experience and History: Phenomenological Perspectives on the Historical World. Hanna Clutterbuck thinks this book will be a valuable resource for almost any historian interested in thinking more widely about his or her subject (no. 1704).

Finally we have The Transformation of the Psyche in British Primary Care 1880-1970 by Rhodri Hayward. Roger Smith and the author discuss a book which successfully marries the theoretically reflexive practices of science studies and cultural studies with the empirical precision historians necessarily demand (no. 1703, with response here).

Latest from the IHR Fellows – prizes, papers, panels & publications

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curriersheader200•    Junior Research Fellow Ian Stone has been awarded the inaugural 2014 Curriers’ Company London History Essay Prize for his essay ‘Arnold fitz Thedmar: his place in London’. The prize is awarded in association with The London Journal and the Institute of Historical Research. In addition to a cash prize of £1000, the winning essay will be published in The London Journal.

 

Campbell •    Junior Research Fellow Courtney Campbell has three upcoming presentations:

“‘Ela vale um time de futebol’: Gender, Victory, and Loss in Brazilian World Cup and Miss Universe Press Coverage (1954-1962),” American Historical Association, New York, 3 January 2015

“Sixty-One Days at Sea: Fishermen, their Rafts, and Regional Identity in the Brazilian Northeast,” Latin American History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 10 February 2015

A panel that Courtney proposed to the Latin American Studies Association has been accepted. Courtney will be travelling to Puerto Rico to present her paper on “The Making of A Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”​ within the panel:

 “Before and After a Pedagogy of the Oppressed: From Cold War Politics to 21st-Century Social Action,” for the XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015

Courtney also recently presented the following:

“The Latin American Region as Internationally Embedded: The Case of the Brazilian Northeast (1926-1968),” Latin America in a Global Context Workshop, University of Bern, Switzerland, 4 December 2014

A book chapter co-written by Courtney Campbell will be coming out soon. The book launch will be at the British Library on February 27. The book is titled From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.

[Jane Landers, Pablo Gómez, José Polo Acuña, and Courtney J. Campbell. “Researching the History of Slavery in Colombia and Brazil through Ecclesiastical and Notarial Archives.” In Maja Kominko, Ed., From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.]

 

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•    Visiting Research Fellow Cheryl Fury presented a paper in Hamburg in November  at the “Early Modern Military-Medical Complex” conference called “You Make No Men of  Us but Beasts”: Shipboard Diet & Health in the Elizabethan Maritime Community”.

London and the First World War Conference – 20-21 March 2015

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ww1 londonRegistration is now open for this major conference which will explore the ways in which London and its inhabitants were affected by, and involved in, the 1914-18 conflict. Organised by IWM (Imperial War Museums) in partnership with the Centre for Metropolitan History (IHR) as part of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, it will be held in the IHR new conference suite (20 March) and at IWM London on 21 March.

With a packed programme of wide-ranging papers, it is hoped that the conference will appeal to both academics and members of the public.  Bookended by plenary lectures by Dr Adrian Gregory (Pembroke College, Oxford) on ‘London: a wartime metropolis in comparative perspective’ and Professor Jerry White (Birkbeck, University of London) on ‘London in the First World War: questions of legacy’, there will also be  seven panel sessions over the two days, a conference reception on Friday evening, as well as the opportunity to view IWM London’s new First World War gallery before the Museum opens to the general public on Saturday.

On 20 March, the panel sessions will explore: ‘daily life and institutions’, with papers on local government and waste, policing and Kew Gardens; ‘enemy aliens’,  focusing on riots, internment, deportations and the rise and fall of Sir Edgar Speyer; ‘transport’ – public transport, the Metropolitan Railway, and women war workers in the streets and railway stations; the ‘Empire view’, from the standpoint of Australian visitors, New Zealanders in London and African and Caribbean colonial troops. On 21 March, the session on ‘dissent’, will include papers on the peace campaigner, Caroline Playne, The Herald newspaper and anti-war trade unionists, the impact on the Anglican Church, and the East London Federation of Suffragettes; ‘air war’ will look at the interrogation of captured Zeppelin air crew, aircraft manufacturing and curating ‘The First World War in the Air’ at the RAF Museum; the final session will focus on ‘leisure’ – memory, work and leisure, Chelsea FC, and importing London to the Front.

For the full programme and booking details, please visit: www.history.ac.uk/london-ww1

New Historical Research articles online

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Through French eyes: Victorian cities in the eighteen-forties viewed by Léon Faucher by Philip Morey

This article examines the motivation, scope, findings and reception of the survey of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham which the French journalist Léon Faucher published in Etudes sur l’Angleterre (1843–5). Sources include Faucher’s letters, the original and revised text, the English translator’s notes, and reviews in the British, French and German press. Faucher’s fieldwork led him to question liberal orthodoxy and propose remedies to alleviate working-class distress. Exceptionally in eighteen-forties Britain, the continental socio-economic treatise was widely discussed and acclaimed. Elucidating Faucher’s thought and setting it in context illuminates the contrast between him and other writers, particularly Friedrich Engels.

Religion, politics and patronage in the late Hanoverian navy, c.1780–c.1820 by Gareth Atkins

Sir Charles Middleton, Lord Barham (1726–1813), occupies a pivotal place in naval history. His evangelical religiosity is well known, but while considerable attention has been given to how this shaped his administrative reforms, his manipulation of patronage to promote his co-religionists has, until now, been ignored or brushed under the carpet. This article uses contemporary correspondence, diaries and printed works to reconstruct for the first time a powerful nexus that bound Pittite politicians to Wilberforce and his circle, one that spanned parliament, the church, naval administration and the seagoing officer corps. In doing so it throws new light on how evangelicals gained such a strong foothold in late Hanoverian public affairs.

An unrealized cult? Hagiography and Norman ducal genealogy in twelfth-century England by Ilya Afanasyev

This article traces the adoption and ideological uses of the image of the pious Norman dukes in four consecutive hagiographical texts written in twelfth-century England. While this is a well-known topos of the earlier Norman tradition, its reception in England has been neglected in the existing scholarship. The article also examines further evidence of an interest in pious Norman dukes under Henry II, focusing on the translation of the remains of Richard I and Richard II at Fécamp in Normandy in 1162 and discussing whether the dukes’ official cult could have been established. The conclusion situates the material in the general context of the development of the cults of lay rulers in twelfth-century Europe and sheds light on the interplay between hagiography, historical memory and politics at the time.

School of Advanced Study makes digital history with new appointment

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Jane_web_largeThe School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London has promoted Dr Jane Winters, currently head of digital publications at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), to a personal chair in digital history. In the post below she explains a little bit about the development of digital history at the IHR.

In the summer of 1996 I was interviewed for my first job at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR). I can remember being asked whether I had ever used the web, to which the answer was an unqualified ‘no’. It’s a sign of how little penetration this new technology had that I got the job anyway. I might not have been familiar with it, but the IHR’s website (then called a ‘hypertext internet server’) had been up and running for almost three years. IHR-Info, which would become the current history.ac.uk website, was funded by Jisc as part of the Electronic Libraries programme (eLib), and this early investment laid the groundwork for twenty years of innovation in digital history within the Institute. In 1999, the IHR’s print and digital publishing activities were unified, although the IHR Digital brand was only applied in October 2010. During the past fifteen years, the department has been involved with a range of major digital research projects, including British History Online, the Bibliography of British and Irish History, Connected Histories, Early English Laws, Reviews in History and the History of Parliament Online. In keeping with the remit of the wider School of Advanced Study, its role has to been to promote and facilitate historical research nationally and internationally – by digitising primary sources, developing new tools, and identifying and mediating new developments in digital research.

All of this activity has been defined not just by innovation but by collaboration and partnership, whether with other institutes in SAS or with other universities, libraries and archives. It is also interdisciplinary, as evidenced by a project such as Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data, which brings together historians, political scientists, computational linguists, and computer and information scientists. As new Professor of Digital History, it is this collaborative and interdisciplinary activity which I am most keen to develop. The most interesting digital research tends to happen in the spaces between disciplines, involving people with a range of complementary subject and technical knowledge. The School of Advanced Study is well placed to foster such collaboration, and to act as a neutral space for the discussion of the significant issues facing us as humans in a digital age.

One of the exciting things about working in a field such as digital history is that you don’t know what will turn out to be important two or three years down the line. At the moment, I am particularly occupied with big data, through involvement with two projects funded by the AHRC (Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities and Traces through Time: Prosopography in Practice across Big Data) and the parliamentary history project that I’ve already mentioned, funded under the Digging into Data Challenge 3. Other areas on which I would like to focus include linked data, open access (of course!), the potential of the archived web for historical research, the communication of research using digital tools, making and materiality, and how humanities researchers engage with sound and moving image. I suspect that this list will look very different in a few years’ time, but it is probably enough to be going on with for now. I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

New reviews: African intervention, medicine and religion, Ireland and colonialism and Jazz Age New York

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millerWe start this week with Elizabeth Schmidt’s Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, as Jason Robinson and the author discuss a book which should prove useful and readable to many of those new to post-Cold War African history (no. 1702, with response here).

Next up is Medicine and Religion: A Historical Introduction by Gary B. Ferngren. Sophie Mann believes this work merits readership from any non-expert seeking a historical perspective on religious attitudes to sickness and healing (no. 1701).

Then we turn to Audrey Horning’s Ireland in a Virginia Sea. Emma Hart reviews a book which is a reminder that as historians move towards ever larger scales of inquiry, they should make sure that they integrate their approach with the insights provided by micro-history (no. 1700).

Finally we have a review article on Jazz Age New York by Christian O’Connell, in which he tackles Imperial Blues: Geographies of Race and Sex in Jazz Age New York by Fiona I. B. Ngô and Donald Miller’s Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America, which demonstrate that its history is a fertile ground for new scholarship, but also reveal the city’s ability to dazzle even the keenest minds (no. 1699).

Version 5.0 of British History Online now available

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BHOhomepageBritish History Online (BHO) is pleased to announce version 5.0 of its website, launched December 2014. Work on the website redevelopment began in January 2014 and involved a total rebuild of the BHO database and a complete redesign of its website.

For over a decade, BHO has been a reliable and accessible resource for primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland. Throughout the years, the project has evolved and adapted to changing technologies, new user demands and a variety of content, but as an eleven-year old web project, it was starting to look its age. We faced a problem very similar to the one described by the Internet Archive: our project had evolved far beyond the capabilities of our website and it was time for a comprehensive redesign of British History Online.

In order to rebuild, we had to start over from scratch. We switched to a new content management system and set about reconstructing our site. All the content has remained the same, but we have created completely new interfaces through which to access it.

The new search interface has been designed in response to user requests to be able to narrow down their search results. By applying one or multiple filters, users can control the level of specificity in their searches. The title search queries series and publication titles, and can be combined with the keyword search to further refine results. The new browse interface allows users to see everything that BHO has at a glance. They can also browse by source type, place, subject or period.

All the changes that we have made to BHO have been to increase the usability and searchability of the site as a whole. We have stripped the site down to its core, but we are eager to add new features over the coming year.

We are also very excited to introduce new subscription levels. With version 5.0, we have added premium page scans to BHO for the very first time. These page scans will be available to institutional subscribers, and we have introduced several new subscription levels to make them available to individual subscribers as well.

Finally, we were inspired by the Society of American Archivists’ Spontaneous Scholarships and came up with a way for members of the BHO community to support one another. We invite BHO users to contribute to our subscription scholarship fund, which will give out free year-long subscriptions to postgraduate students and early career researchers. Learn about how to contribute.

Lots of changes to BHO and we hope our users will be as excited about them as we are (if that is even possible)! We look forward to hearing what you think!

Historical Research – new online submissions system

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2BVRD00ZAnnouncing our new online submission process

As part of our continuing efforts to support both authors and reviewers, we are pleased to announce that  Historical Research has adopted an online submission and peer review system, ScholarOne Manuscripts. All new manuscript submissions should now be made at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/historicalresearch

We hope that authors and reviewers will find the new system convenient and we look forward to a streamlined review process, leading to quicker decision making and ensuring that the time from submission to publication is as short as possible.

Reduced access to library collections on Monday 15th December

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NorthAmericanWe’ll be moving books into the IHR’s new North American history room next Monday 15th December. The IHR will remain open but the lower ground area of the library (housing the International Relations and Military collections) will be closed so that the crates can be brought through this area. The Military, International relations and American collections (classmarks W, IR, US, UF and C) will be inaccessible on this day. Other fetches may be disrupted.

We plan to open the room up at the start of January and it will house approximately two thirds of the American collections as well as providing additional reader desks.

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