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Author Archives: dannymillum


New reviews: Roosevelt and China, witchcraft, Irish sport and medieval paradise

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rooseveltFirst up this week is Gregory Moore’s Defining and Defending the Open Door Policy: Theodore Roosevelt and China, 1901-1909. Michael Cullinane and the author disagree over an analysis of Theodore Roosevelt’s influence within the longue durée of US-Sino relations (no. 1939, with response here).

Next up is Witchcraft, Witch-hunting and Politics in Early Modern England by Peter Elmer, as Imogen Peck recommends an essential read for all scholars of early modern witchcraft (no. 1938).

Then we turn to Paul Rouse’s Sport and Ireland: a History, which Brian Griffin finds to be a treat for both specialists and non-specialists alike (no. 1937, with response here).

Finally we have From Eden to Eternity: Creations of Paradise in the Later Middle Ages by Alastair Minnis. Brian Murdoch reviews a fascinating, original and impressive contribution to the field of paradise studies (no. 1936, with response here).

Open Source Historical Mapping: Using QGIS

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shutterstock_76196278This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Justin Colson of the University of Essex

I have been teaching a short course on Historical Mapping and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as part of the IHR’s research training programme for several years now, always using the industry standard ArcGIS software package by ESRI. This summer, however, I am running a version of the course using the alternative open source package QGIS (formerly known as Quantum GIS).

Several things have inspired this move to QGIS: the fact that the software is rapidly maturing in terms of functionality and stability; the fact that it is available across all platforms including MacOS X, and the growth of a community of users in historical GIS. The digital history tutorial site The Programming Historian now has a set of guides to QGIS which cover basic use of layers and geo-referencing scanned historical maps. QGIS has certainly come of age, and it now seems like a strong choice of mapping software for many historians.

QGIS also offers several distinct advantages over its competitors, at least for many of the tasks that historians seek to carry out with GIS. Many advanced ways of depicting data within maps, such as the popular ‘heatmap’ effect, and automatic displacement of overlapping points, which are complicated to achieve in other packages, are available in a single step. While QGIS cannot match ArcGIS for the sheer number and power of statistical and analytical tools, it does have a mature and comprehensive range of plugins which include easy ways to import mapping from open-source resources such as OpenStreetMap, and perhaps most usefully creating ready to use interactive maps to embed into websites.

Like the existing IHR Historical Maps and GIS training course, the QGIS course will first discuss the key geographical concepts and terminology required to understand cartography and GIS. Being aimed at historians, these concepts are explained through a potted history of maps. The first day also includes a chance to evaluate existing uses of GIS and web mapping in historical projects, and the use of Google’s free online custom mapping tools. Day two runs through all of the key processes required to work with historical material in QGIS including georeferencing historical maps, preparing historical data to be mapped, and two approaches to geocoding and displaying quantitative data. No prior geographical knowledge is required, but confidence with spreadsheets such as Excel is essential, and knowledge of relational databases such as Access is recommended.

New reviews: enemy intelligence, slave narratives, Georgian militia and Clementine Churchill

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intelligenceWe start this week with The Image of the Enemy: Intelligence Analysis of Adversaries since 1945, edited by Paul Maddrell. Charlie Hall and the author debate an excellent collection of meticulously researched and lucidly presented studies (no. 1935, with response here).

Then we have review article by David Anderson on two books of slave narratives, Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project (edited by Spencer Crew, Lonnie Bunch and Clement Price) and Chained to the Land: Voices from Cotton & Cane Plantations: From Interviews of Former Slaves (edited by Lynette Ater Tanner). The reviewer believes both these books will prove to be useful research tools and references for historians and students of slavery (no. 1934).

Next up is Matthew McCormack’s Embodying the Militia in Georgian England. Kevin Linch praises a work which champions an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the military in this period (no. 1933).

Finally Bradley Hart and Sonia Purcell discuss the latter’s First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill, a well-researched book of Churchill scholarship (no. 1932, with response here).

New reviews: London crime, American government, the Medici and the NHS

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shore2First up this week is London’s Criminal Underworlds, c. 1720 – c. 1930 by Heather Shore, as Robert Shoemaker and the author debate a fascinating study of the discursive power of ‘the underworld’ (no. 1931, with response here).

Then we turn to Gary Gerstle’s Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present. Thomas Rodgers praises a fine and satisfying work on the paradox of liberty and coercion in the American state (no. 1930).

Next up is The Medici: Citizens and Masters, edited by John Law and Robert Black. Nicholas Scott Baker and the editors discuss a multi-faceted, kaleidoscopic view of the 15th-century Medici regime in Florence (no. 1929, with response here).

Finally Julian Simpson recommends Contagious Communities: Medicine, Migration, and the NHS in Post War Britain by Roberta Bivins, an intriguing exploration of the ways in which particular aspects of policy and practice were shaped by a range of evolving factors (no. 1928).

New reviews: Anglican COs, working class fathers, John Dee and post-Civil War black politics

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Gay, Arthur Wilson; The Conchie; Peace Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-conchie-21680

Gay, Arthur Wilson; The Conchie; Peace Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-conchie-21680

We begin this week with Clive Barrett’s Subversive Peacemakers, War Resistance 1914–1918: An Anglican Perspective. James Cronin and the author discuss a valuable scholarly contribution to the war’s hidden history documenting its half-forgotten subversive peacemakers (no. 1927, with response here).

Next up is Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865–1914 by Julie-Marie Strange, as Emily Bowles praises a study which is important for understanding contemporary readings of fatherhood and parenting (no. 1926).

Then Sara Charles recommends an exhibition which does an excellent job of portraying Dee as a much-accomplished scholar as opposed to an eccentric occultist, as she reviews Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee (no. 1925).

Finally we have Reconstructing Democracy: Grassroots Black Politics in the Deep South after the Civil War by Justin Behrend. Erik Mathisen believes this work is the perfect place for scholars to begin the work of re-imagining the history of America’s most tortured historical moment (no. 1924).

BIGOT! Senate House Library seeks author of anonymous student pamphlet

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p4443Even amongst the extraordinary contents of the Ron Heisler collections, this strident little pamphlet rather stands out. It is the first and perhaps only issue of an underground magazine called, with arch provocativeness, Bigot. It is a remarkable mixture of sexual politics, suspicion of the establishment, vegetarian recipes and anti-nuclear propaganda. Something of its spirit and attitude can be discerned from the fact that the editorial has, by way of testimonial, an image of Karl Marx with a speech bubble containing the words, ‘Moist and fruity. A real corker’.

The content betrays a suspicion of authorities, the state and police in many different forms, with a cartoon depicting undercover police offers selling ‘dope’ to students in the hope of postponing the revolution; satisfied with their work, they walk away saying ‘Keep ‘em stoned, keep ‘em tame’. Even Winnie-the-Pooh is drawn into this position; with scant regard for the copyright of either A.A. Milne or E.H. Shepard, he is shown discussing how he would deal ‘with an angry police-person’, namely, ‘I would first bounce on him on my front, then turn over and bounce a little more.’

In other places, Bigot betrays a very powerful impatience with fellow students, for example haranguing a Saturday night crowd oblivious to the world situation and an international militaristic conspiracy: ‘They’re building a war. They’ve planned it. They’re ready, waiting, prepared. And all you do is DANCE.’

While arguably naïve, it is an intriguing document that illustrates with great immediacy the last generation of such publications, which would today be far more likely to be produced as blogs and online content. It is also, to the best of our knowledge, the only example of this or any other issue of Bigot to find its way to the security of a library shelf anywhere in the UK.

Moreover, reading it, one cannot help but warm to, and wonder about, the typist of these now fragile pages. The whole production is anonymous, and the author even remarks wryly that ‘due to anticipated C.I.D. investigations, I am a little less than enthusiastic to give my home address’. This statement does, however, give the best clue to the creator in that the postal address given is ‘Box D, Mandela House, Swansea University,’ a building that still functions as the Swansea University Students’ Union. The best hint of the date of its production is that the first article is an anti-capitalist exploration of the cause of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise passenger ferry in 1987. From an angry passage where a P.E. teacher is recalled using ‘girls’ as an insult, and from the ensuing discussion, it is also clear that the writer is a man.

So, the staff of Senate House Library and IHR Digital would like to appeal to anyone who suspects they may know or remember the identity of a student who attended Swansea University in the late 1980s, was a socialist-minded vegetarian, and who may have written Bigot. We would love to unite the writer with a new crop of readers, and to hear whether this foray into alternative journalism had an influence on his later life.

Please email danny.millum@sas.ac.uk with any leads…

New reviews: C19 caricature, medieval marriage, fascist training and English Revolution

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Canine at the Westminster Pit - Lord Palmerston and Lord Derby

Canine at the Westminster Pit – Lord Palmerston and Lord Derby

We start this week with Henry Miller’s Politics Personified: Portraiture, Caricature and Visual Culture in Britain, c.1830-80. Tessa Kilgariff and the author discuss a book whose conclusions have implications not only for political historians but also art historians and scholars of social and cultural history (no. 1923, with response here).

Next up is Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage, 860-1600 by David d’Avray, as Sara Butler and the author robustly debate a comprehensive analysis of royal marriages and their dissolution (no. 1922, with response here).

Then we turn to Alessio Ponzio’s Shaping the New Man: Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Philip Morgan has some reservations about a new history of fascism (no. 1921).

Finally we have the Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution, edited by Michael Braddick, which Elliot Vernon believes to be a useful starting point for those seeking to expand their knowledge of an increasingly complicated field of study (no. 1920).

New IHR Digital and Senate House Library collaboration – The Ron Heisler collection

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Collage3Following on from IHR Digital and Senate House Library’s successful collaboration last year (Fashion and consumption in the First World War: Department store catalogues 1916-17), we have been working together again to produce a new resource showcasing the digitised highlights of the Ron Heisler pamphlet collection.

This collection of political ephemera, built up by Heisler over the last 50 years and still being added to by regular deposits of pamphlet-stuffed plastic bags, currently consists of approximately 25,000 books, 20,000 pamphlets, 3,000 journal and newspaper titles and a quantity of ephemera, published by or relating to labour and radical political movements, and to political expression in art, drama and literature.

The collection is particularly strong for Britain and Ireland, and includes items published by radical groups, friendly societies and the Chartists from the late-18th to the 20th centuries, and many publications of Trotskyist groups, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party from the early to mid-20th century. From the 1960s and 1970s, the holdings of New Left material are very extensive, and there are some uncommon publications from the women’s movement. The collection further covers Africa, particularly South Africa; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the West Indies; France, Germany, Italy and Spain (notably the Spanish Civil War); and the former Soviet Union. A substantial proportion of material in the collection was published in very small quantities, and some is scarce.

In order to promote the collection, the cataloguing of which is still ongoing, a selection of the most striking pamphlet covers have been digitised, and made available on a new web resource produced by the IHR Digital team (http://www.history.ac.uk/exhibitions/heislercollection/). Where possible contextual information about the pamphlets, and the issues they cover, has been provided.

The resource aims to give an example of the treasure trove of material that lies within the collection, to illustrate how ephemera can perform as unique type of historical source material, and to act as an introduction to the wider Senate House Library Radical Voices project. Over the next year, under the Radical Voices umbrella, SHL plans to produce a series of events and resources centring around its various collections in this area – including the Grote library, the books and papers of pacifist Caroline Playne, the archive of Afro-Trinidadian journalist, activist and historian C. L. R. James, the Booth library, and many more – as well as drawing in other similar collections from across London.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this resource, or the Heisler collection, can contact danny.millum@sas.ac.uk.

New reviews: socialism and consumerism, Louisa Adams, early modern women and the home front

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workbuyconsumedieWe start with Noel Thompson’s Social Opulence and Private Restraint: the Consumer in British Socialist Thought Since 1800, as Jamie Melrose and the author debate a survey of the Left’s attitude to the worker-consumer in the heyday and beyond of British industrial society (no. 1919, with response here).

Next up we have a review article on The Other Mrs Adams, as Todd Webb reviews five biographies of Louisa Catherine Adams (no. 1918).

Then we turn to Challenging Orthodoxies: The Social and Cultural Worlds of Early Modern Women: Essays Presented to Hilda L. Smith, edited by Sigrun Haude and Melinda Zook, which Charmian Mansell praises as an important book that both celebrates and builds upon the work of Hilda Smith (no. 1917).

Finally Peter Grant and editors Maggie Andrews and Janis Lomas discuss The Home Front in Britain: Images, Myths and Forgotten Experiences since 1914, a wide-ranging survey which challenges some of the misconceptions we hold about the two home fronts (no. 1916, with response here).

New reviews: Poland / Lithuania, 1837, British tears and WW1 culture

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SzlachtaVoivodshipsWe begin this week with The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania. Volume 1: The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385-1569 by Robert Frost. Paul Knoll and the author debate an outstanding contribution to the history of east central Europe (no. 1915, with response here).

Then we turn to Jessica Lepler’s The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis, and Joanna Cohen praises a book which utilises a new approach to the history of capitalism, interrogating economic concepts as cultural and linguistic constructions (no. 1914).

Next up is Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears by Thomas Dixon. Hannah Rose Woods and the author discuss a book which sets out to dispel the ‘persistent myth’ of Britain as a nation of emotionally repressed stoics (no. 1913, with response here).

Finally Pip Gregory reviews Humor, Entertainment, and Popular Culture during World War I, edited by Clémentine Tholas-Disset and Karen A. Ritzenhoff, which she finds a thoroughly enjoyable book offering insight and interest for cultural historians of the Great War the world over (no. 1912).