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Little America: History and Architecture of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square


2On Friday 28th October, the IHR Library will host a screening of the documentary ‘Little America‘ (2016) exploring the history of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square and examining its role as a physical representation of the ‘Special Relationship’ and as a site of protest.

The film was commissioned to mark the Embassy’s departure from the Square as it moves to its new home south of the river at Nine Elms. The move marks a significant historical departure, with the US having been associated with Grosvenor Square since the late eighteenth century when John Adams, the first United States Minister to the Court of St. James’s, lived from 1785 to 1788 in the house which still stands in Grosvenor Square on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets.

The documentary records the history of both the people and the place that came to be know as ‘Little America’ and encompasses archive footage alongside oral histories from numerous British and American diplomats, journalists, politicians and activists, including Tony Blair, William Hague, Jack Straw, Jon Snow, Justin Webb, and the current ambassador, Matthew Barzun.

The screening will be preceded by a short introductory talk from Emily Gee (Historic England and IHR Fellow) focusing on the historical and architectural importance of the building.

LAPOSTERLANDSCAPERESIZECThe event is free and open to all, however registration is required.

The trailer for the documentary is available to view here.

Further information on the history of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square is available here.

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History Day 2016



What is History Day? And how can it help your research?

Historical research requires a rich ecosystem of libraries, archives, associations, publishers and other organisations to flourish. Part of the process of becoming a historian, or understaking research with a historical element, is attempting to come to grips with this dense, rewarding – and sometimes confusing – network. While many online resources, such as The National Archives’ Discovery system, which provides access to over 32 million record descriptions from across the UK, or Copac, which provides a way of searching over 90 specialist research libraries, help to find the sources that might be out there, there is often no better method than speaking to a librarian or archivist, and asking them, ‘this is what I am interested in. What do you have that might be useful to me?’

SCspotscroftpHistory Day 2016 is the annual analogue equivalent of Discovery or Copac. On 15 November 2016, The Institute for Historical Research (IHR) and Senate House Library, with the help of the Committee of London Research Libraries in History, are bringing together over thirty libraries and archives, from the Bishopsgate Institute to the Weiner Libary. All sizes of institutions are represented, from the British Library and The National Archives, to specialist archives and libraries such as the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. Members of their staff will be on hand to discuss their collections and your research.

You can get a flavour of some of the materials that they have in their collections in the series of blog posts, based on the Being Human theme for this year, ‘hope and fear’. The selected items include Scrofula and the Royal Touch (KCL), human physonomie (Wellcome), photograph of London’s first gay pride rally (Bishopgate Institute Library).

Like last year, History Day includes a number of talks and debates on the nature of history and the process of historical research, starting with a discussion on the varieties of public history, chaired by the IHR Director, Prof. Lawrence Goldman, with contributions from Dr Alix Green and Dr Suzannah Lipscomb. Later in the day, the relative merits of libraries and archives will be debated, and there are panels on digital history and business archives. History Lab and History Lab Plus will be on hand to help put graduates and Early Career Researchers in touch with one another, and to offer a sofa and a cup of coffee. We are also pleased to welcome the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, a number of historical organisations and a selection of historical print and digital publishers.

The day is free to attend, but requires registration in advance. Further information can be found on the History Collections site.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Participating libraries and archives:

Bishopsgate Institute Library
Black Cultural Archives
British Library
Business Archives Council
Caird Library and Archive, National Maritime Museum
Dana Research Centre and Library, Science Museum
Geological Society Library
German Historical Institute Library
Guildhall Library
Heinz Archive and Library, National Portrait Gallery
History Lab
History Lab Plus
Institute of Historical Research
King’s College London Library Services
Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre
Library of the Society of Friends
Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society
London Metropolitan Archives
LSE library services and The Women’s Library @ LSE
The National Archives
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Queen Mary University of London Archives
Royal Astronomical Society Library & Archives
The Royal Society, Collections
Royal United Services Institute, Library of Military History
Senate House Library
Society of Antiquaries Library and Collections
School of Oriental and African Studies Library
TUC Library collections at London Metropolitan University
UCL Library Services
Warburg Institute
Wellcome Library
Wiener Library

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History Now & Then 2016/17



The IHR History Now & Then Series returns for 2016/17

Wolfson Room I | IHR | Senate House | Malet Street | WC1E 7HU

Discussion: 18:00-19:30
Refreshments: 19:30-20:30

This series of public lectures at the IHR takes off from an extraordinary (and potentially dangerous) paradox.  On the one hand, ‘history’ seems to be more popular than ever:  in schools and universities, on film, TV and the internet, in sales of historical biographies, visitor numbers to heritage sites, the growth of family history, re-enactment societies and the like.

Yet we also live in an aggressively here-and-now culture in which many people seem to lack any real understanding of how the present is linked to all that has preceded it.   Thus, major current issues are frequently discussed with little sense of their longer-term historical roots: migration policy, for example, or continued British membership of the EU or Russian involvement in Ukraine.  As Jo Guldi and David Armitage argued in their ‘History Manifesto’(published in 2014), it is vital to understand the past if we are to have any chance of planning sensibly for the future.


Welcome: Professor Lawrence Goldman, Director of the Institute of Historical Research
Chair: Daniel Snowman, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research

 5 October 2016Rhodes statue and Beyond

How far can/should history be re-written in accordance with current values?  History and the pros and cons of ‘apology’.  Are there things about the past that it is not acceptable to mention (or research)?
Panel: Martin Daunton, Margot Finn, Jinty Nelson & David Starkey


2 November 2016: History and Change

Is history necessarily the story of ‘change’?  Who/what makes things change? The role of ‘Great men/women’ – and other factors?
Panel: Margaret MacMillan, Rana Mitter, Andrew Roberts & Gareth Stedman Jones


7 December 2016: The Focus of History

Much history is national history.  But should ‘history’ focus on the nation?  Or the locality – or maybe the wider world?  Or on ‘things’?  And should it have a short, precisely defined temporal focus – or a longer durée?
Panel: Maxine Berg, Jerry Brotton, Richard Drayton & Chris Wickham


11 January 2017: Lessons from the Past

Does history ‘repeat itself’?  What kind of ‘lessons’ can we learn from history?  ‘Counterfactual’ history: could the past have been different?
Panel: Jeremy Black, Taylor Downing, Ian Mortimer & Lucy Riall


8 February 2017: History and Religion(s)

What role has religion played in the unfolding of history?  Has it  provided a fundamental motivating force?  Or has religion primarily reflected deeper socioeconomic trends and priorities?
Panel: Felicity Heal, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Miri Rubin & Brian Young


8 March 2017: The Future of the Past

How will future historians judge today’s historiography?  What do we over-emphasise (or under-emphasise)?  ‘Big’ History, ‘big’ data: how is ‘history’ changing in the digital age?
Panel: Caroline Barron, Anne Curry, Charlotte Roueché & Jane Winters

Advanced registration for this seminar series is required.
Tickets are £5 per session or £25 for all 6 sessions.
Free for the Friends of the IHR.

To register visit the University of London online store.
For more information about the series please visit the History Now and Then website.

For any queries, please contact the IHR Events Office:

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IHR Library Workshop Report


The IHR Library recently hosted a one day workshop examining emerging research and current trends in Library and Information Science. The event, held in the IHR’s conference suite, attracted over twenty participants and was comprised of two panel sessions – the first examining the ‘Changing Face of Libraries‘ and the second ‘Impacts of Technology.’


The day began with a welcome and introductory remarks from the IHR’s Librarian Dr Matthew Shaw. Following this, Anne Welsh (UCL) opened the series of talks with a paper exploring ‘Cataloguer as Distant Research Collaborator: Implications of the Use of Catalogue Data in Humanities Research.’ Joanne McPhie (Brunel) then presented a paper on ‘The Evolution of the Librarian: developments and experiences at Brunel University.’ These engaging presentations examined how differing aspects of librarianship interact with users and researchers and both presentations drew interesting questions from the audience.

panelAfter a brief interlude for refreshments, the second panel session on ‘Impacts of Technology’ began with Tom Pink (City) asking ‘Has the Internet Changed the Way We Think? The effect of the network on user behaviour’. Emily Nunn (Sheffield) then addressed ‘Researching Open Access: thoughts from a LIS PhD.’ Following this, David Phillips (City) presented on ‘Robots in the Library: gauging attitudes towards developments in robotics and AI, and the potential implications for library services.’


speakerUpon conclusion of the presentations, time was then devoted to questions, with the panel members engaged in debate ranging from the practicalities of open access, the effects of Brexit on university libraries and the potential benefits and drawbacks of robots acting as security guards within libraries. In this regard, the workshop was an exceptionally varied and diverse arena for emerging research. The event consequently facilitated crossover between disciplines, topics and researchers, as presenters comprised lecturers, library professionals, PhD candidates and Masters students.


The workshop drew to a close with a few final closing remarks and a heartfelt thanks to all of the presenters and attendees for making the workshop so thought-provoking and engaging. The future of the discipline of Libraries and Information Science very much appears to be ever-changing, richly diverse, and multi-faceted.

For further information, the full workshop programme can be consulted here. An account of the event as depicted through tweets containing the workshop’s hashtag #ihrLIS can be viewed via Storify here.

ProgrammeFollowing the success of the workshop and the stimulating debates that it generated, the IHR Library intend to host a similar workshop in the New Year. Details will be posted on the IHR blog, website and social media platforms in due course. If you would like to receive any further information regarding the event, or contribute topics for discussion at future IHR Library Workshop Series events, please contact Siobhan Morris (

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Library Workshop: Emerging Research in Libraries and Information Science 19th August 2016


IHR Library Workshop Series: Emerging Research in Libraries & Information Science

Friday 19th August 2016 1pm-4pm Wolfson Room II

lib copyThe Institute of Historical Research Library will be hosting a half-day workshop examining current and emerging research in Libraries and Information Science on Friday 19th August from 1-4pm.

The workshop will provide an opportunity for current researchers to showcase their research and provide a platform for engaging debate on the future of libraries and the discipline more broadly.

The first set of presentations will focus around the theme of the ‘Changing Face of Libraries‘ with presentations examining cataloguing and the changing role of the librarian in an academic library. schedule copy

Following this, the second set of presentations will address ‘Impacts of Technology‘ and will include presentations on the effect of the internet on user behaviour, open access, and the development of utilising robotics and artificial intelligence in libraries.

Details of the full programme may be found at: Emerging Research in Libraries and Information Science Workshop Programme.

The workshop is free to attend and refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend the workshop, or any part of it, please contact Siobhan Morris ( to register.

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First Anglo-Taiwanese Historians’ Conference, 31st August-2 September 2016


Anglo-Taiwanese Historians’ Conference

31st August-2 September 2016

Programme image1


The IHR will be hosting 15 visiting historians from Taiwan who will participate in a joint conference with historians based in the UK over three days at the end of August and beginning of September (Wednesday 31st August-Friday 2nd September).

The conference, on aspects of the history of Britain and Western Europe, will bring together both younger and established historians. Sessions will cover a wide variety of subjects in political, cultural and intellectual history including Women’s History, the British Empire in Asia, Britain and America in the 18th century, Victorian social and political history, twentieth century British cultural history, and sessions on the modern history of Germany and France.

Plenary lectures from Professors Martin Daunton, Pat Thane, Joanna Innes and Richard Drayton will examine recent British economic history, the relationship of history and policy in the UK, the ‘linguistic turn’ in British history, and the rise of Global History respectively. The conference will offer an opportunity for two groups of historians, whose contact has been limited thus far, to come together and compare approaches and ideas.

A provisional programme can be found at: Anglo-Taiwan web Programme

If you would like to attend the conference or any part of it, please contact Gemma Dormer (IHR Events Officer- to book a place (as spaces are limited).  Please confirm the following information:

Day/session you would like to attend:

Please note that the IHR will provide all refreshments at break times, but delegates wishing to attend the conference will need to provide their own lunch.

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History and the Public: the Legacy of David Cesarani


combined image


Tuesday 31 May 2016

 Beveridge Hall | Senate House | Malet Street | WC1E 7HU

David Cesarani’s death in 2015 deprived the historical profession of a noted and highly respected public historian. Focusing throughout his enormously productive career on the history of modern Europe and of the Jewish experience within that history, Cesarani was not only a scholar in his own right but a notable interpreter of history for a broader audience whose career as a broadcaster and journalist linked past and present in ways that made history relevant and important to non-specialists. Two of his many books have been published posthumously. Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-49 was acclaimed on its publication in January of this year. It has been followed by Cesarani’s biographical study, Disraeli: The Novel Politician, published in April. This event will launch and assess Cesarani’s last book on Anglo-Jewish history, a biography of the most famous of Anglo-Jews, and offers an opportunity to discuss his overall contribution to public debate and historical studies in Britain.

Our panel will consist of two historians of modern Europe, Professor Sir Richard Evans, Regius Professor of History Emeritus in the University of Cambridge, and Professor Jonathan Steinberg, also of Cambridge and the University of Pennsylvania. They will be joined by the scholar and critic of Anglo-Jewish literature, Professor Bryan Cheyette of the University of Reading, and by Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Research and Academic Partnerships at the Imperial War Museum where David Cesarani was a consultant for the museum’s Holocaust gallery.

Entry to this lecture is free but registration is required.  To register for this event please click here.

Lecture: 18:00-19:30
Reception: 19:30-20:30


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BGEAH Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop in Early American History


BGEAH Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop in Early American History

American History Workshop2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of BGEAH, the British Group of Early American Historians.

This day-long workshop for postgraduate researchers and early career academics working on any facet of American or Atlantic history from the seventeenth century through the early national period invites them to discuss their ideas among their peers and, where appropriate, to assess the current state of early American research in Britain.

The first BGEAH Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop is being held at the London-based Institute of Historical Research. London, with its unique colonial archival resources and lively research student populati­­on, is one of the leading centres of early American scholarship in Europe, and the IHR is a natural location for this event. The IHR Library recently opened its new North American Room, housing one of the foremost UK collections of published material relating to the early history of the United States, Caribbean, and Canada.

You can register for this workshop at the University of London Online Store

Provisional Programme

09:00- 09:30 Registration

09:30-09:45 Welcoming Remarks
Prof. Lawrence Goldman (Director of the IHR) and Gareth Davis (UCL)

09:45-11:00 Panel 1: BACK TO THE FUTURE – The State of the Job Market for Early Americanists

  • Billy Coleman (UCL)
  • Tom Cutterham (Oxford)
  • Stephen Conway (UCL)

11:00-11:15 Break


  • Matthew Griffin (UCL): Climate and Regional Distinctiveness in the Environmental Imagery of the Early Republic.
  • Kathryn Olivarius (Oxford): Immunocapital, State Absence, and Yellow Fever – Becoming a Citizen of New Orleans, 1796-1840.

12:15- 13:00 Lunch


  • Kennedy Sanderson (Cambridge):Kemeys v Clarke – A Case Study of Commercial Arbitration and the Transatlantic Legal System in Jamaica, 1767-1782.
  • Philip Abrahams (KCL): The Church of England, Anglican Protestantism, and Colonial Society in Later Stuart Barbados.
  • Daniel Robinson (Cambridge) Spiritual Geopolitics and Political Culture in British North America, c. 1713-1763.

14:30-14:45 Break


  • Rebecca Simon (KCL):“The Ideological Pirate – Propaganda during the American Revolution.”
  • Gareth Davis (UCL): ““War must decide who rules Canada” – Continentals in Quebec, 1775-1776.”
  • Angel Luke O’Donnell (KCL): ““Pregnant with Many Advantages to America” – Almanacs, Lotteries, and Consumer Politics in Philadelphia, 1765-1775”

16:15-16:45 Plenary Session: The State of Early American Studies in Britain

Tea and lunch will be provided to all attendees.

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Is Britain a part of Europe? An Anglo-French Historical Perspective


Anglo-French Image

Is Britain part of Europe?
An Anglo-French Historical Perspective

17-18 March 2016

IHR | Wolfson Conference Suite | Senate House | Malet Street | WC1E 7HU

Is British History to be understood in isolation from the history of Europe more generally? Is Britain, as some historical schools have argued ‘exceptional’ in the pattern of its historical development? Or can we see similar characteristics, social formations, ideologies and political institutions on both sides of the Channel? 

This conference, bringing together British and French historians at the Institute of Historical Research in London, will examine the so-called ‘peculiarities of British History’.

More than 20 historians from Britain and France will deliver papers over two days at the IHR, examining the course of British history in comparative perspective from the early medieval period to the 1960s. The primary focus will be on the comparative history of Britain and France, but there will be scope for wider discussion of other national histories and of developments on a pan-European scale.

Panels will look at the material culture of Anglo-Saxon England and Northern Gaul; London and Paris in the late-medieval period; the history of British and French families in the 18th century; the British context of the French Revolution; the development of socialism in Britain and France; the effects of the First World War in both nations; and at the history of the French and British counter-cultures in the 1960s and 1970s.

Speakers includeElisabeth Lorans (University of Tours), Helena Hamerow (University of Oxford), Gabor Thomas (University of Reading), Matthew Davies (Institute of Historical Research), Hannah Skoda (University of Oxford), Pierre-Henri Guittonneau (Université Paris Sorbonne), François-Joseph Ruggiu (Paris IV), Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster University), Henry French (University of Exeter), Charles Walton (Warwick University), Elodie Duché (Warwick University), Michael Broers (University of Oxford), Stéphane Guy (Université de Cergy-Pontoise), James Thompson (Bristol University), Ben Jackson (University College Oxford), Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (University College London), Pierre Purseigle (Warwick University), William Philpott (King’s College London), Franziska Heimburger (Université Paris Sorbonne), Tess Little (University of Oxford) & John Davies (University of Oxford)

For a provisional programme please visit the online events listing

The conference is a collaboration between Lawrence Goldman (Institute of Historical Research), Stéphane Jettot (Université Paris-Sorbonne-Maison française d’Oxford), Emmanuelle de Champs (Université de Cergy-Pontoise) & Frédérique Lachaud(Université de Lorraine).

Registration: £50-2 days / £30 1-day

Registrations can be made online via the University of London Online Store

If you would like your institution to pay for your place at the conference, please contact the IHR Events Office who can send you an institutional booking form.

For more information about this conference please contact the IHR Events Office (

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Revealing local history: a follow up


Editathon imageOn 21 November, we held two simultaneous Wikipedia edit-a-thons in London and Leicester as part of the Being Human Festival. We did a lot of promotion of these events beforehand so we thought we should tell you how they went.  An edit-a-thon is an event where editors get together to write or improve articles centred on a specific topic. These particular edit-a-thons were centred on local history and you can read about how we connected our theme with the overall Being Human Festival theme of “Hidden and Revealed” here. You can also read the story of the day via social media.

My colleagues Jessica Davies and Rebecca Read from Victoria County History (VCH), Jordan Landes from Senate House Library and I were all at the London event. Our Wikimedia UK accredited trainer was Edward Hands, and fellow trainer Jonathan Cardy was also there to lend a hand. The wonderful thing about Wikimedia trainers is that they are volunteers, so we are very grateful to Edward and Jonathan for coming along and teaching our attendees to edit Wikipedia. Overall, we were twenty-one people at the London event. We had a great mix of experienced Wikipedia editors and complete novices. The experienced editors were able to help the novices throughout the day.

The first half of the day was devoted to learning how to edit Wikipedia, especially how to make edits that will last—the secret is to provide references for all the additions you make to Wikipedia. Once they’d been trained, our attendees tried their hands at making some edits.

After lunch, VCH editor and training co-ordinator Adam Chapman gave attendees a quick introduction to the VCH, explaining the historical context of the project and how the volumes are organised. I followed by showing attendees how they could use British History Online (BHO) to search and read VCH, along with many other sources of local history. Since providing references is such a vital part to creating strong Wikipedia edits, we wanted our attendees to know about the rich resources that they can rely on when writing and improving Wikipedia articles, especially those resources that are freely accessible on BHO.

Here’s a list of the articles worked on just by the London attendees:

And here are some of the new articles that were created on the day:

Wikipedia_training_session_leicester_uniAs for the Leicester event, they had ten people in total, including Pam Fisher from the Leicestershire VCH Trust, who helped us organise the Leicester branch. From the feedback we’ve received, it sounds like the Leicester event was just as much fun and just as productive as the London event. Their trainers were Doug Taylor and Roger Bamkin, who both did an excellent job. The only negative feedback we received is that the day should have been longer!

Overall, we all had a productive day, learned lots of new things and met some wonderful people. Thanks to everyone who helped with organisation, promotion and training. And thanks to all our attendees for making it such a great day.

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