As the forthcoming issue of Past and Future details, a donation from the American Friends of the IHR has enabled the IHR library to purchase a collection of printed sources from the acclaimed (expensive) publisher Pickering & Chatto. All in all four different sets of primary sources spanning from 1609 to 1939 have been added to our Colonial and British collections.
- Communications in Africa, 1880–1939 CLB.215 Sun
- Ireland in the Age of Revolution, 1760–1805 part II BI.515 Iar
- The Making of the Modern Police 1780-1914 part 1 B.797 Law
- The American Colonies and the British Empire 1607-1783 CLAA.11 Sar
A fifth set, on Women’s Travel Writing, with sources drawn from the Chawton House Library, will arrive shortly and be found in the French collection.
Communications in Africa consists of five volumes documenting the establishment of railways and roads in Africa in support of Britain’s economic interests. At first glance I found the contents pages very uninspiring: endless official reports on the extension of this and that railway in various African states, but as always happens, digging into some of the documents and having a proper read opens up a whole new world. For instance, the full account of an Informal conference with Mr. Bedford Glasier on the subject of the Lagos Railway that took place in 1903 at a Liverpool Hotel definitely delivers what the publisher promises: an illumination of the relationship between colonizers and the colonized. And that is only one aspect of the information one could pull from this specific source.
“the native as you know is not fond of work – far from it, he resents work. I am speaking now of the educated native, and he is not blessed with those qualities of smartness, punctuality, and business aptitude which railway working requires.”
The Making of Modern Police (only part one has been published so far) also offers a wide range of insights into the past. The three works deal with three different aspects of the making of the police as we know it today. Volume one, “The idea of policing”, includes John Fieldings, A Plan for Preventing Robberies from 1755, wherein the London Magistrate  brother of Henry Fielding outlines his plan for preventing highway robberies within 20 miles of London. In volume two, “Reforming the police in the nineteenth century”, both contemporary material and memoirs are listed, with many documents dealing with the implementation of the County Police Act in 1839, covering, for instance, the establishment of rural police in Essex. In the third volume, “Policing the Poor”, we find under the heading Tramps and Vagrants in Trafalquar Square 1887  a letter to the Commissioner Police of the Metropolis from Mr. T. Cavanagh relating his distress to find so many people sleeping rough in the Square.
…not only 200 but more were there huddled together in the seats, on the stones at the back of the seats, on the stones around about the fountains and under the lions, making I should say about the most terrible sight of open air misery to be met with in Europe : and this under the eyes of the wealthiest visitors to London!”
The American Colonies and the British Empire, 1607–1783 consists of eight volumes and deals with the development of colonial and imperial ideology. Nearly all the sources are reproduced in full and include pamphlets, reports, sermons and letters. The publisher has tried to give examples of the often conflicting ideas of the people involved: the administrators, the politicians, the colonists to mention a few. The very detailed and comprehensive chronology in the first volume, beginning 1496 with John Cabot’s voyages to Newfoundland and ending in 1784 with the Order in Council to exclude American merchants from British colonial trade, is definitely worth checking out. I love it! Sir Walter Raleigh here pops up in almost every volume and of course features in the chronology.
Closer to home, part two  of Ireland in the Age of Revolution 1760-1805 (subtitled “Ireland and the French Revolution”) promises to illustrate the impact of the French revolution on political issues in Ireland. Pickering and Chatto have selected ca. 60 pamphlets originally published between 1797 and 1805 for that purpose. In addition, other material is included; for example, there are a few excerpts from “Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh” (1798) (the then Acting Chief Secretary of Ireland), one of them being ‘Communications passed between the Government and the State Prisoners’,  which is followed by reports from the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons and from the House of Lords in Ireland from August of the same year.  All material of interest to both readers interested in the history of revolutionary ideas and also those specifically interested in Irish history.
Come and have a look for yourself – the class marks are listed above, and all these sets have a brilliant consolidated index in their final volume.
Our next blog will be another look at the library’s fascinating collections of travel writing.
 Communications in Africa, 1880–1939 vol. 1 p. 225
Henry and John Fielding created the Bow Street Runners the first professional police force in 1749.
 National Archives , Kew London
 Making of the modern Police vol. 3 p. 176
 Index of The American Colonies and the British Empire p. 201
 Part I “Ireland and the American Revolution” was acquired in January last year.
Ireland in the Age of Revolution Vol. 4 p.141
 Same p. 161 and 183