We start this week with The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century by Jon Grinspan, as Mark Power Smith and the author discuss a gripping, fascinating and provocative book (no. 1979, with response here).
Then we turn to Isabella Lazzarini’s Communication and Conflict: Italian Diplomacy in the Early Renaissance, 1350-1520. Catherine Fletcher believes this book makes a substantial contribution to the lively new history of communication, archives and letters (no. 1978).
Next Stan Nadel reviews two major contributions to the historiography of Europe in the first half of the 20th century, as he takes on Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 and Enzo Traverso’s Fire and Blood: the European Civil War 1914-1945 (no. 1977).
Finally we have Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918-1960 by James Nott. Claire Langhamer enjoys a book which beautifully explains why dancing was so loved across this mid-century moment (no. 1976).
We start this week with Liberty or Death: The French Revolution by Peter McPhee, as Marisa Linton and the author discuss a book set to become a standard work on the subject (no. 1975, with response here).
Then we turn to Charity Urbanski’s Writing History for the King: Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography. John Gillingham remains unconvinced by a book which stays too long on narrow and well-trodden paths (no. 1974).
Next up is The German Right in the Weimar Republic by Larry Jones. Colin Storer surveys a collection that does much to enhance our understanding of the diverse nature of right-wing politics in the Weimar Republic (no. 1973).
Finally Sean Ledwith reviews Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States by Edward Foley, a study of exhaustive scholarship and powerful argumentation (no. 1972).
We start this week with Making Early Medieval Societies: Conflict and Belonging in the Latin West, 300-1200, edited by Kate Cooper and Conrad Leyser. Edward Roberts and the editors debate a lustrous collection which promises to be of immense value to specialists and students of early medieval social and cultural history (no. 1971, with response here).
Next up is Cathy McClive’s Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France, as Sarah Fox praises a book which offers a novel insight into the way in which gender and procreation were understood historically (no. 1970).
Then we turn to Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms : the Roots of Impermanence by Maxim Bolt. Richard Daglish and the author discuss a very welcome addition to the field of migrant culture and African social hierarchies (no. 1969, with response here).
Finally we have Natalie Zacek’s review of a varied collection of essays edited by Julia Brock and Daniel Vivian, Leisure, Plantations, the Making of a New South: The Sporting Plantations of the South Carolina Lowcountry (no. 1968).
Oh, and before I forget, please check out a belated but welcome response by Fred Anscombe to Alex Drace-Francis’ review of his State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands.
We start this week with London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690–1800 by Tim Hitchcock and Robert B. Shoemaker. Heather Shore and the authors discuss a book which shows us how hard life was for poor or even less well-off Londoners in the 18th century (no. 1967, with response here).
Then we turn to Wolfgang Palaver, Harriet Rudolph and Dietmar Regensburger’s edited collection The European Wars of Religion: An Interdisciplinary Reassessment of Sources, Interpretations, and Myths. Dave Papendorf thinks the editors should be praised for contributing an original volume so in touch with modern debates in early modern history (no. 1966).
Next up is Gold and Freedom: The Political Economy of Reconstruction by Nicolas Barreyre, as Charlie Thompson recommends a book which cleverly uses a growing and interesting area of historical research to richly contextualise and shed new light on the high politics of Reconstruction (no. 1965).
Finally we have Nick Toczek’s Haters, Baiters and Would-Be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right. Paul Blanchard believes this book provides a useful and timely study of some overlooked elements of the British far right (no. 1964).
This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Alice Dolan, Economic History Society Anniversary Fellow.
My postdoctoral project comes directly out of my PhD thesis which was a social history of linen during the long 18th century. Linen was used by rich and poor for underwear and on beds and tables. Its ubiquity across all ranks of society makes it ideally suited to an analysis of how relationships with textiles varied over the life cycle. ‘The Fabric of Life: Linen and Life Cycle in England 1678-1810’ therefore considered experiences across the life cycle, exploring infant clothing, child labour and the temporality of domestic work within a Lancashire household. Adult daily life was uncovered through the themes of respectability, the commercial significance of linen and the relationship between bodily intimacy and the creation of emotional meaning. Finally the thesis finished by exploring burial practice with burial in wool rather than linen, which was forced by the 1678 Act for Burying in Woollen for economic reasons.
The thesis showed that linen was only dominated by cotton for plain textiles in the 19th century. Linen’s superior durability and cheaper price, alongside its essential roles in everyday life, meant that it continued to be used during the long 18th century. It took decades for cotton prices to fall far enough to change established material culture traditions. However by the 1830s, the British and Irish linen industries were in rapid decline. They were victims of low cotton prices, lengthier fibre preparation processes and a slower rate of technological innovation.
My postdoctoral project follows up where my thesis left off by investigating how mechanisation and falling cotton prices transformed working-class dress in the first half of the 19th century. Engels recorded a dramatic change in what people wore.
Wool and linen have almost vanished from the wardrobe of both sexes, and cotton has taken their place … [The working class] is scarcely ever in a condition to use a thread of woollen clothing; and the heavy cotton goods, though thicker, stiffer, and heavier than woollen clothes, afford much less protection against cold and wet, [and] remain damp much longer because of their thickness and the nature of the stuff.
Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, (1844)
This bleak summary of the clothing privations of the working class centres on material changes. Engels bemoans the disappearance of wool from labouring wardrobes, replaced by stiff, absorbent cotton, an inferior insulator. Centuries of reliance on linens and woollens were over.
I will explore these dramatic and rapid material changes over this academic year. In 1800 working-class people wore linen underwear, men wore woollen outer clothing, and women wore cotton, linen and woollen dresses. By 1850 the cotton, linen and woollen trades were fully mechanised in England. Hand-spinning had largely died out which prevented industrious families from producing their own textiles to reduce costs. By 1844, according to Engels, their choices were basically limited to one textile – cotton.
The effect of manufacturing changes on working-class clothing has been little studied, yet it is another facet of the Industrial Revolution’s effect on daily life and the global rise of cotton. This project directly traces the impact of these changes on what people wore. It focuses primarily on members of the working class able to choose their clothing, rather than the poor forced to wear uniforms by institutions.
I will complete two garment studies this year: underwear and trousers. My research into underwear asks when did the majority of working-class people begin to wear cotton not linen underwear (shirts and shifts/chemises)? Was the price of cotton fibre grown in America more important, or the full mechanisation of production in the 1830s?
I will also examine the rise of trousers. Before 1800 only sailors wore trousers, while everyone else wore breeches. In the early 19th century trousers spread across the working class and they were then adopted by the middle and upper classes. Old Bailey crime records testify to a growth in their popularity: trousers appeared in 161 cases in the 1800s and 2018 in the 1840s. This case study will look at the materials used for trousers by the working class and whether they changed over the period. Was cotton exclusively used as Engels suggests? I will also examine how quickly the trouser fashion spread, whether men in some areas were more resistant than others.
My sources will include Quarter Sessions records from Yorkshire and a (still to be chosen) southern English county, surviving objects, images, autobiographies, adverts, shopkeepers’ inventories, merchants’ records and novels.
The evidence given at the Quarter Sessions provides insight into working-class clothing choices, textiles and colours as the following example from the West Riding Quarter Sessions shows. In early September 1826, Enoch Ant and John Wilson allegedly stole unfinished wool cloth from a manufacturer. Both were chimney sweeps. Wilson’s wife stated that John and Enoch made a pair of trousers out of the contentious cloth, an unusual example of domestic male production. However their endeavour was not successful, the trousers did not ‘fit him well between the Legs’ so Charlotte Wilson altered them to fit ‘better’.
The case was taken to Court because John unlike Enoch took his stolen kersey to a tailor who was suspicious because it was ‘unfinished’ or ‘raw’ and got a hawker to ask around for missing cloth. This means the final finish had not been applied to the textile. Kerseys were cheap woollen cloths. They were woven and then the surface was felted. The unfinished kersey lacked its fuzzy surface. Kersey protected its wearers against the elements and it was cheap, therefore it was popular with the lower classes. The stolen kersey was drab, meaning that it was undyed and was a grey-beige colour.
Clearly all chimney sweeps were not clad in stolen textiles. However, this case gives an example of what was considered appropriate and even desirable cloth for these two chimney sweeps. And it was even worn by one, if only for a few days before discovery. Examples like this will help to build up a picture of the clothing and colours worn by working-class people in 19th-century England. Furthermore, because a specific textile name is given, we are able to get an idea of what the outfit might have looked like, even if we don’t know the exact cut of Enoch’s trousers. The case also inspires questions – did John and Enoch have trousers because they were more practical garments for chimney sweeps? – Did certain professions adopt trousers earlier than others for practical reasons?
In summary, my postdoc examines the first half of the 19th century, a period with an unprecedented rate of change in working-class clothing. To uncover the role of mechanisation and declining fibre prices I will look at changes in fibres used for underwear. Research into trousers will also consider issues of materiality, as well as uncovering how quickly this new fashion spread amongst the working class.
Florence Montgomery, Textiles in America 1650-1870 (London, 2007)
Vivian Richmond, Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England (New York, 2013)
John Styles, The Dress of the People (London, 2007)
 Advanced search ‘trowser* trouser*’ on 03/03/2015.
We start today with Alastair Bellany and Thomas Cogswell’s The Murder of King James I. David Coast and the authors discuss a book which adds much to our understanding of early Stuart politics (no. 1963, with response here).
Next up is a review article by Helen Roche of Mussolini’s Greek Island: Fascism and the Italian Occupation of Syros in World War II by Sheila Lecoeur and History, Time, and Economic Crisis in Central Greece by Daniel M. Knight, two books which leave our understanding of current Greek attitudes to the past inestimably the richer (no. 1962).
Then we turn to Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans, edited by Guilhem Pépin, Françoise Lainé and Frédéric Boutoulle. Christopher Allmand recommends a valuable contribution to our understanding of the weaknesses of the French crown in this period (no. 1961).
Finally we have Andrew May’s Welsh Missionaries and British Imperialism: The Empire of Clouds in North-east India, and Andrew Avery believes this work deepens our understanding of British colonial experience in 19th-century northeast India (no. 1960).
We start this week with Julie Gottlieb’s ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain, as Daniel Hucker and the author broadly agree over the first gendered history of British foreign policy in the age of appeasement (no. 1959, with response here).
Next up is Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe by Daniel G. König. Harry Munt and the author debate a key resource for future scholars interested in medieval Muslims’ views of their non-Muslim neighbours (no. 1958, with response here).
Then we turn to Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight’s edited collection Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Rosie Kennedy and the editors discuss a collection which enhances our knowledge and understanding of the histories of childhood and youth (no. 1957, with response here).
Finally we have Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder by Felicity Stout. Tatyana Zhukova recommends a book which will appeal to students and researchers of Elizabethan political culture (no. 1956).
This post originally appeared on the School of Advanced Study website.
Historian and digital publishing specialist Dr Philip Carter is set to join the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) as its new head of digital publications. He will take up his post at the institute, a member of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), in mid-October.
Dr Carter, who replaces Professor Jane Winters, now the School’s chair in digital humanities, is currently senior research and publication editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), and a member of the history faculty at Oxford University. At 70 million words, the ODNB is the world’s largest collaborative research project in the humanities, and records the lives of 60,000 notable figures in British history.
Since 2004 he has been responsible for the Dictionary’s pre-1800 content and for developing and extending its online edition in a changing digital environment. More recently, he has promoted the ODNB online as a resource for first-time research in the humanities, and has managed a series of digital partnerships with external academic programmes and heritage organisations. His recent publications consider the opportunities for, and future of, large-scale online reference works.
Professor Lawrence Goldman, director of the IHR, is delighted to welcome Dr Carter as a colleague at the IHR. ‘I know him to be a brilliant historian of modern and early modern Britain, with extensive experience of historical research at the highest level,’ said Professor Goldman. ‘His wide academic range and interests, the network of professional contacts he has amassed, and his long experience of both print and online publication, make him the ideal person to lead the IHR Digital Publications Department.’
Dr Carter will be responsible for the existing IHR Digital resources such as British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History, both of which are used extensively by historians and members of the public. He will also develop new digital historical projects, some of them located in the Institute of Historical Research, others in collaboration with other SAS institutes, and some with external partners in the university and heritage sectors.
Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford – where he gained a first class degree in history and studied for his doctorate – Dr Carter specialises in 18th-century British social history. His book, Men and the Emergence of Polite Society, Britain 1660-1800, was an innovative study of social relations in this period, and he has since published on aspects of 18th-century Britain and historical biography. His contributions to the Oxford DNB include more than 150 biographies of people active between the 17th and 20th century. As publication editor he also has considerable experience of organising academic events, the use of scholarly information in social media, and promoting of historical content to non-specialist audiences.
‘I’m very pleased to be joining the Institute of Historical Research and the excellent team at IHR Digital. The IHR enjoys a national and international reputation for quality and innovation, and IHR Digital has been central to this for more than 20 years’, said Dr Carter.
‘I look forward to continuing to provide, and extend, the key IHR resources on which historians and students depend, and to working with staff at the Institute to develop new ways of exploring the past. I’m particularly keen to widen participation in, and discussion of, digital history as an exciting discipline. I also look forward to working with Jane Winters, who’s done so much to make IHR Digital a success, and with other researchers across the School of Advanced Study.
We start this week with a semi-Brexit-appropriate book, Caroline Shaw’s Britannia’s Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Tehila Sasson and the author discuss a book which traces the 19th-century history of refuge in Britain (no. 1955, with response here).
Then we turn to Elizabeth I and her Circle by Susan Doran, as Valerie Schutte praises a book which is refreshing in its scope and methodology (no. 1954).
Next up is Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. James Cameron recommends a highly ambitious, very stimulating and extremely readable work (no. 1953).
Finally we have State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands by Fred Anscombe, and Alex Drace-Francis believes this book will be of interest to anyone researching or teaching Ottoman or comparative imperial history (no. 1952).
Launching later this month, the IHR is delighted to announce the publication of Medieval Merchants and Money, a volume of selected essays celebrating the contribution to scholarship of the medieval historian Professor James L. Bolton. Expanding on a 2013 conference on the same theme, these 16 essays address different questions in medieval economic and social history, focussing on merchant activity, trade and identity. What did medieval merchants read, for example? How did mercantile and military activity interact with one another? And what did it mean to identify with one mercantile company over another? Looking at both rural and urban economies, this volume offers a small cross-section into the ongoing research that connects to James L. Bolton’s pivotal and diverse work in economic history.