To facilitate the IHR’s return to the Senate House north block, it has now been confirmed that the library will close from Saturday 16th August to Saturday 30th August inclusive. Room bookings during this time will be unaffected.
We plan to reopen in the north block on Monday 1st September but please check the IHR website and blog for updates nearer the time.
We apologise for any disruption caused during the move, but look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on email@example.com or 020 7862 8760.
Over the spring and early summer we have been bringing together information on the history of the IHR library, and have now added a new section to the webpages which highlights the origins of some of our collections. In its early years the library was built up by actively seeking donations of books, and much of the collection was formed from bequests and gifts by individuals and organisations. They cross all sections of the library, from the many donations to the Canadian section by Henry Percival Biggar, via the large amount of local history material given by H Guy Harrison, to the controversial donation of 1937 from the German government which forms a large part of our German history collection. Special acquisition funds were created to support some collections, such as the Canadian Lectureship Fund, and in some cases donated books that were surplus to the IHR’s needs, because they were duplicates or outside the collection policy, were sold in order to boost the funds available for purchasing new material.
Many of the books that came to the IHR through bequests and donations carry fascinating evidence of their earlier provenance, in the form of dedications and inscriptions to individuals, earlier bindings, interesting book plates, or letters now bound into the volumes. The collection includes, for example, the beautifully bound volumes of the Vincent Wright collection, and David Douglas’s interleaved and annotated copy of J. Horace Round’s Calendar of documents preserved in France.
We are still finding things out about these collections and will be adding to the web pages as research continues. Keep an eye out, too, for blog posts which will highlight particular items of interest. For further information on how you can support our collections please speak to the IHR development office.
The refurbishment is going to schedule and we are expecting the move back to the Senate House north block to take place in late August, to coincide with the period when the Institute of Classical Studies closes (16th - 30th August). There will be some disruption to services during this time, and we expect the library to be closed for a minimum of 5 days while the books are moved. You are advised to avoid planning visits during this period. We look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished Institute by early September.
Further details will be announced shortly, but if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7862 8760
The IHR library has an outstanding collection of university and school records. Following on the theme of this year’s Anglo-American conference, we’ve been looking at what they contain about the First World War. School registers often have lists of teachers and former pupils who served or were killed in the war. School histories and journals include more descriptive accounts, and there are some vivid records, sometimes poignant, but mostly emphasising how schools attempted to continue as usual.
Several describe how school playing fields were ploughed up to be used as allotments worked on by the pupils: at St Peter’s School in York a ‘vegetable committee’ was formed (Raine, A., History of St Peter’s School, York, p.189). In A History of Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School, we read how the congested state of the railways made it difficult to get equipment and books (p. 69). Availability of food is often an issue – Records (1909-1992) of the Ramsgate County School for Boys gives praise to Mrs Read: “the fact that we were able to have.. any dinners at all was largely due to the way she managed to secure food-stuffs in unorthodox ways” (p. 115).
The stress caused by the threat of air raids is a recurrent theme. Air raid shelters were created in cellars and cloakrooms and under school lawns. History of St Peter’s School tells of Zeppelin attacks in York and a boy being injured by shrapnel (p.189). At Ramsgate County School for Boys, a bomb fell on the tennis court, demolishing a summer house and breaking windows (p.100). In general people coped, and school life continued, though classes started a little late the morning after a raid (p.113).
The Book of the Blackheath High School gives two first-hand accounts by former pupils. The war affected not only the girls’ daily life at school but also their attitudes to the role of women in the future. At a school speech day, the Bishop of Woolwich said “Now.. is women’s chance to use wisely and well the great force and power of work of which this War has shewn them to be possessed” (p.170).
The girls were keen to help with war work. A former sixth former describes how “It was difficult to read for the University when one was consumed by a desire to go out and do something of immediate use..”, but “well-equipped women would be needed in the post-war future, so we stayed on” (p.171). One girl was called up for service in France and “was seen off by an admiring and envious crowd of seniors who could have given all they possessed to have been going too” (p. 172).
Girls at the school helped out in their own time by working in allotments, canteens, and factories, packing parcels, and doing Red Cross work. Sixth formers knitted under the table to be “safe from the eyes of the Head and the Staff, who discouraged that mixture of fervid patriotism and intermittent reading which is apt to result in a low place on university scholarship lists” (p.172). Again, the “unchanged and steady way in which the life of the school went on” is emphasised. A younger pupil described school life as a relief from the troubles of the outside world (p. 176-7).
Other school histories recount the departure of male teachers to serve in the war and the arrival of female replacements, the activities of the officer training corps, war savings work, and the planning of memorials for former pupils and masters.
The material can be found in the Biographical section of the British collection. School records are also located in the record society series within the Scottish, Welsh and English local history sections.
This is part of a series of blog posts highlighting some of the sources we have in the IHR library on the subject of this year’s Anglo-American conference, The Great War at Home. We have a range of sources covering all aspects of the war on the home front from letters, diaries and memoirs, newspapers accounts, business, estate and administration records. Here we focus on the parliamentary records.
The Home Front features heavily across all the parliamentary sources, including the journals and debates, petitions, reports of committees and commissions and Acts of Parliament. The parliamentary debates as recorded in Hansard, are an especially rich source for daily life during the war because MPs often raised concerns on behalf of their constituents or with their experiences in mind.
Provision of food… and drink
Food shortages, food prices and rationing were a source of anxiety and there is much discussion of the issues around agriculture, transportation, import restrictions and food availability.
Some discussions were more concerned with the effects of alcohol. From 1915 the Defence of the Realm (Liquor Control) regulations allowed local authorities to prohibit people from buying drinks for others. In October Basil Peto, Conservative MP for Devizes, urged the government to extend the “no treating” rule across the UK. Hansard reported his Commons speech: “the injury to the health and efficiency of the men of His Majesty’s land and sea forces when on furlough.. [is] directly attributable to the hospitable instincts of their friends” (House of Commons Hansard, Fifth Series, Volume 74, 14th October, 1915 column 1464).
Steps were taken to ensure that households could continue to support themselves. There were protests over tenants being threatened with eviction due to rent increases, particularly those families with soldiers at the front. Discussions can be found in Hansard. In 1915 an Act was passed to restrict “in connection with the present War, the Increase of the Rent of Small Dwelling-houses”.
James Thomas, Labour MP for Derby took up the case of railway workers who needed temporary lodgings as they were moved around the country. In July 1917 he asked the President of the Board of Trade if he was aware that
“railway locomotive men and guards throughout the country, and particularly on the Great Western system, are experiencing hardship when booked off duty away from home, owing to the difficulty under prevailing conditions of obtaining lodgings and food; that a number of Great Western goods guards, after on several occasions walking about for hours at night seeking lodgings and food in vain, and in one case having to proceed to the workhouse for accommodation, are now refusing to be booked off for rest away from home when unprovided with food, and in consequence are being punished by the railway company, which action threatens to bring the whole system into a state of revolt; and whether, therefore, he will at once consult with the Railway Executive Committee and endeavour to find a remedy, either by placing the responsibility of providing food and lodgings in all such cases upon the railway companies or by such other means as may be found practicable?”. (House of Commons Hansard, Fifth Series, Volume 96, Written answers (Commons) 19th July, 1917, column 607)
A pressing need in 1919 was to find housing for demobilized soldiers. Frederick Macquisten, Conservative MP for Glasgow Springburn, questioned: “the number of military and munition camps with comfortable and roomy hutments provided with electric lighting, gas and heating, water and drainage, play centres, and halls.. and the number of returned soldiers who have no houses for themselves and their families and would gladly now reside in these camps in preference to having the prospect of residing in subvented houses which will take long to materialise”. (House of Commons Hansard, Fifth Series, Volume 121, 11th November, 1919)
German Nationals resident in the UK
The parliamentary records reveal a lot about both official and private attitudes to Germans and other foreigners living in Britain. Thousands of people signed petitions asking for Enemy Aliens to be interned, at the same time that MPs were hearing about the poor provision of food for foreign nationals already interned in Alexandra Palace. In November 1915 the Home Secretary intervened to prevent one particular German woman from being repatriated:
“Miss Groschel is a lady of forty-three, who has lived in this country since she was nineteen, is devotedly attached to England, and has no friends to whom she could go or means of livelihood in Germany. To deport such a woman to a country where she would be friendless and penniless and exposed to suspicion and insult on account of her affection for England, would be an act of extreme harshness”. (House of Commons Hansard, Fifth Series, Volume 75, 3rd November, 1915)
Send women workers home!
An essential part of the war effort was that women filled many jobs vacated by men who were called up for military service, often in occupations which had traditionally been closed to females. There is much discussion with Trade Unions about ensuring that men’s employment rights were retained. After the war there were conflicting messages about whether women might continue to hold these jobs. In 1919 one Act (Sex Disqualification Removal Act) appeared to allow it, at least in certain circumstances—no person should be “disqualified by sex or marriage” from any civil or judicial office or post or any civil profession or vocation—while another (Act to make provision with respect to the restoration after the war of certain trade practices) restored pre-war restrictions.
Parliamentary petitions can show the strength of local feeling over particular issues in wartime. In June 1917 some 300 people requested an inquiry into the case of Frank Bimson, held under guard at Chester Castle after being taken “by the military authorities for service which he cannot conscientiously perform”. The petition explained how Frank had been “wholly devoted to religious work in the township of Newton in Makerfield for over five years”. (Reports of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Public Petitions, Session 1917-18, Second Report on Public Petitions, 29 March – 23 July, 1917)
Dr James Baker of the British Library spoke about digital research on 18 March.
Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research Library hosted a well-attended and interesting event aimed at postgraduate students, independent and early career researchers last Tuesday, 18 March. The first morning sessions introduced attendees to archival and library networks and the concepts behind the organisation of collections and information. The later morning sessions covered new skills such as digital research and digital imaging; more established technologies like reference management software and electronic research resources; and always-important topics like training and giving presentations. The afternoon gave attendees the opportunity to directly engage with information professionals from twenty-three libraries, archives and professional information organisations.
History Lab and History Lab Plus helped out on the day and recruited new members.
Dr Elizabeth Williams talked to students about presentation skills during an afternoon clinic.
If you could not attend, the story of the day is available for you to browse, and Dr James Baker of the British Library posted his notes online. The Institute of Historical Research Library and Senate House Library hope to build on the initial success of this first year and potentially hold History Day annually, reaching out to more students and researchers of history, as well as more repositories. We would like to thank event sponsors, Brepols, Cambridge University Press, Maney Publishing, Polity and Yale University Press, as well as the members of the Committee of London Research Libraries in History, and we hope to see you next time.
Further to our previous post about the IHR library refurbishment plans, we can now give a bit more detail about our initial plans for the library collection locations. About two thirds of the collection can be kept on open access. The remainder will be closed, and we would like to store as much as possible onsite within Senate House.
We have drafted some initial plans based on
frequency of use
ease with which volumes can be identified and requested
ease of fetching and availability of appropriate shelving for oversized items
availability of material in nearby libraries and online
collections fitting logically into particular areas of the library
There are some general principles which we have adopted, given the space limitations. These are:
All except current volumes of periodicals will remain in closed access. This is disappointing as we know how much the open-access back runs have been valued for browsing purposes. We will be looking at widening access to electronic journals where possible and hope to work with Senate House Library colleagues to improve the user interface.
With the exception of the British history collection, much of the bibliography/archive guide sections will go on closed access. Although we appreciate that these sections can be useful as a starting point for research, they include much material that is now online or out of date, and they have had relatively low usage. We do plan to check these sections carefully with subject specialists and aim to bring the most useful material into a quick-reference section.
It is difficult to prioritise some sections over others and we’ll have to make some hard decisions, but we hope we can make the library as usable as possible. We’ll continue to do more to promote the collections and improve their discoverability. The closed-access fetch service is flexible, and we are happy to bring out long runs of material and keep it available for as long as it is being used.
Our draft plans divide the collections into broad areas: British, Irish and Ecclesiastical History on the first floor, Military and International Relations collections in the basement and European, Colonial and North American collections on the second floor. More details about individual collections can be found in the attached list. These plans are all subject to discussion. We will be asking subject specialists in different areas to discuss particular collections in detail. We welcome your feedback or input into this, please visit us in the IHR library enquiry office, or contact us on email@example.com or 020 7862 8760.
Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research are hosting a research event on the 18th of March 2014, as you may have noticed from several tweets in the last month or two. The morning research skills training sessions are, unfortunately, all booked. However, the afternoon open history fair is open to all who register, with further details on the event website. The open fair will allow you to talk to the representatives of twenty-five London-area libraries, helping you to find the perfect resources for your research. Furthermore, the nine research clinics will give you one-on-one time with experts on British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History, the print and archival collection of the National Archives, digital preservation, digital curation, reference management, digital imaging and presentation skills. Bring your camera, your laptop, your knottiest problems and lots of questions!
This post was written for us by library intern Lisa Smoltino.
The Spanish Collection at the IHR contains numerous resources for digging in to the complex and multi layered history of Spain. The collection includes primary sources written in the Spanish, but also a good amount of material in English, allowing access to important historical material for even those who do not speak Spanish.
The Spanish Civil War was one of the crucial moments in Spain’s history, and is one of the biggest strengths of the collection. There is a variety of sources written from various different perspectives, allowing the researcher a complete look at the war.
For a realistic portrait of what it was like to be a female exile during the time of the Spanish Civil War, have a look at Éxodo: diario de una refugiada española, written by Silvia Mistral, a Spanish writer who sought refuge in France and Mexico during the war. Mistral gives an emotional and personal account of what is was like to be uprooted from one’s country. José Villar Sánchez also writes from the point of view of an exile in Diario de un exiliado español de la guerra de 1936. This personal narrative reads like an intimate diary of what Sanchez, an anarchist, experienced throughout the war. To take a look at the Civil War from a more historical perspective, Nuestra guerra: memorias de un luchadorby Enrique Líster analyzes all aspects of the war from the political to the personal, mixing historical content with his own autobiography.
As described previously, work on the IHR refurbishment is well underway, and we expect to be returning to the Senate House North block in August or September this year.
First Floor Axonometric view. Illustrations courtesy of BDP. For illustrative purposes only.
The library will have a smaller footprint than before, but the layout has been carefully planned to maximise shelving and reader desk spaces. The two main floors (first and second) have been reconfigured to create a more open layout with fixed and rolling stack shelving. Four seminar rooms, three on the second floor and one on the first, will double-up as library rooms to take full advantage of the space.
To the west of the staircase on the first floor will be a room housing most of the library’s folio and map collection, with a larger desk to facilitate use of oversized material. As before, the library will have a current periodicals reading room next to the common room on the ground floor. There will also be shelving and reader spaces in the basement. The rest of the basement and the third floor will house conference and training facilities for the IHR’s rich programme of events.
General view looking through library. Illustrations courtesy of BDP. For illustrative purposes only.
A dedicated reprographics room on the second floor will house new photocopier and scanning equipment. New microform scanning facilities will also be provided. Bespoke reader desks have been designed to incorporate power and data points and lighting. Metal shelving with glass and timber end panels is being supplied by Ecospace, in a similar style to our current shelving. A lot of care has gone into the design of the space to accentuate and complement the architecture of Senate House, and the lighting schemes are both functional and visually appealing.
This week we have received the final library shelving plans and can now complete the collection layout plans. We expect to have around twice as much open-access shelving as we do now. The rest of the collection will continue to be available through a fetch service. Further information on these arrangements will follow, but if you have any questions or comments or would like to view the plans, please visit us in the IHR library enquiry office, or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7862 8760