The IHR Blog |


American collections in the IHR and beyond


massachusetts-loyalistsWe’ve recently produced a detailed guide to the Institute of Historical Research United States collections. Coverage includes early American colonial history, the Revolution and establishment of the United States, and special themes such as slavery. The core of the guide was written by Benjamin Bankhurst during his time as Postdoctoral Fellow of North American History, and it has been completed with contributions from others.

The guide will be useful for people new to the collections but those familiar with the collection may also discover something new. It complements the Guide to Canadian History produced in 2014.

You can discover more about North American collections in libraries across London and beyond at the History Day event this Friday. As well as covering general history, a special strand this year will highlight North American collections. If you can’t attend in person, more information is available about the participating libraries and collections at



Revealing local history


DD-SAS c212-10-1 map for web

There is still time to sign up for one of our Being Human edit-a-thons in London and Leicester on 21 November.

As part of the Being Human Festival, British History Online (BHO), Senate House Library (SHL) and Victoria County History (VCH) will be leading two simultaneous Wikipedia edit-a-thons in London and Leicester on 21 November. An edit-a-thon is an event where editors get together to write or improve articles centred on a specific topic. We will provide training in editing Wikipedia and no prior experience is necessary. The theme of our edit-a-thons will be local history, which will involve both editing articles about particular places, but also editing articles about the practice of local history in the UK.

The idea to have a local history Wikipedia edit-a-thon first occurred to us when we had a Wikipedia training session at the IHR way back in March. Our trainer was Edwardx (who conveniently will also be the London trainer for this coming edit-a-thon) and during our session we were amazed at how easy the process of editing and improving Wikipedia articles was after a little bit of training. Jessica Davies and Rebecca Read from VCH were thinking of ways they could improve articles about various aspects of local history, and I was thinking about how to encourage more editors to consult BHO since Wikipedia encourages citing online, accessible materials where possible. Following the session, the three of us agreed that the theme of local history would an interesting one for an edit-a-thon. We envisioned local historians, Wikipedia editors, students and academics all coming together and learning from each other. The Being Human Festival, with its focus on the humanities’ ability to inspire and enrich our everyday lives, seemed like a natural fit for the event we were dreaming up.  Jordan Landes, the history librarian at SHL, had organised the initial training for us and kindly offered to help facilitate the edit-a-thon. Soon we were partnering with a team in Leicester, and taking the edit-a-thon beyond our immediate vicinity and bringing it to a national scale.

We’ll admit we were slightly stumped about whether our events would relate to this year’s Being Human Festival theme, “Hidden and Revealed.” But we quickly realised that the goal of revealing is already behind the work that we do.

2006_0731Image0006_1We believe local history should be cared for and preserved in archives, but it should not remain there. It is our communal responsibility to study history, to learn from it and to share it. With the VCH volumes, authors comb local archives and untangle the history of places in order to present those histories to the public in the form of the VCH red books. What is that if not a process of revelation? They take something that might not be hidden per se but rather, difficult to access, and reveal the history of a parish, a hundred, or a county in a clear, encyclopaedic format.

Similarly, by digitising the red books, BHO further reveals these histories by allowing VCH texts to be freely accessible from anywhere in the world. One of my responsibilities at BHO is to manage our email account, and I love receiving emails like the one from the Australian woman who found the history of the small village where her great-grandmother was born, or from the mayor who learned new things about his own town, or from the homeowners who discovered the rich history of the place where they live, or from the elderly man who is brought back to his schooldays. To all those people and many more, uncovering the history of where they come from is nothing short of a revelation.

And finally, Wikipedia—one of the most visited websites in the world—is driven by a desire to make human knowledge accessible to everyone. Wikipedia relies on source material like VCH, and BHO content is already heavily cited across the site. Wikipedia democratises the construction of knowledge by allowing articles to be edited by anyone from anywhere in the world.

So to us, the revelation of the hidden is about understanding the history of where we come from and sharing that with each other. Our goal in these events is for everyone to feel like they can participate in the creation of their own history. One thing I have learned since being at BHO is that British history is never only British; and local history is never only local. We are connected on a global level and we share a global history, which might begin with the local but it never stays there.

Follow the edit-a-thons on Twitter with the hashtag #revealinglocal.

This post has been edited since a third event in Gloucester has been cancelled.

Bespoke advice at a History day research clinic


One feature of History day on 27 November is the one-on-one guidance provided by the scheduled research clinics. These clinics will allow researchers to spend time with a librarian or historian to discuss resources, training and research, addressing specific needs. For example, if a researcher would like to find historical research training, the IHR’s Dr Simon Trafford will be available to discuss finding sessions from 10:00 to 12:00. For any researchers who want to locate resources for Canadian Studies in London, Senate House Library’s Christine Anderson will have a table at History day from 10:00 to 12:00. Other sessions include:

  • Building your bibliography and keeping it up to date with Senate House Library’s Mura Ghosh from  10:00 until 12:00
  • Locating Caribbean Area Studies Resources with Dr Luis Perez-Simon of the Institute of Latin American Studies  from 11:30 until 15:00
  • Improving your online search skills with Birkbeck’s Aubrey Greenwood from  13:00 until 16:00
  • Help with American Resources at the British Library  with Dr Matthew Shaw of the British Library from 14:00 until 15:00
  • Using IHR’s digital resources with the IHR Digital team from  15:00 until 16:00

Lastly, Michael Little and the team from the National Archives will be available throughout the whole event to discuss using the collections at the National Archives.

The clinics will be in Beveridge Hall as part of the open history fair. If you have any questions, please just ask!

Albert Gallatin and the Early American Republic: exhibition and lecture


Gallatin-imageAn exhibition on Albert Gallatin and the politics of the early United States is currently on in Senate House Library until 27 November 2015, and includes books from the IHR and Senate House Library collections. The piece below was written by Benjamin Bankhurst, former Postdoctoral Fellow in North American history at the IHR.

Dr Max Edling (King’s College London) will hold a public lecture on Albert Gallatin, Jeffersonian finance and the War of 1812 on Wednesday, 4 Nov at 6pm in the Wolfson Suite, IHR, Senate House.

The decades following the American Revolution were a turbulent and transformative time in the United States as the citizens of the new republic wrestled with the meaning of their revolution and attempted to build a society that lived up to its principles.  How was this new society going to be structured and how should its government and economy be structured? Should Americans build a fiscal military state and advanced economy that would enable the United States to compete with the great powers of Europe, or should the country strive to become something different, a vast agrarian republic whose security rested on open trading policies?

Albert Gallatin (1761-1849) was at the heart of these debates. A Swiss immigrant who arrived in the country at the closing stages of the revolution, Gallatin played a leading role in the formation of US finance and politics in the early republic and was a central actor in many of the defining events of the period. He was committed to Thomas Jefferson’s vision for the republic and served under him as the 4th Secretary of the Treasury following Jefferson’s presidential victory in 1800. In this capacity he arranged the financing of the Louisiana Purchase in 1802 and helped plan the subsequent Lewis and Clark Expedition into the Louisiana Territory. Gallatin was also the main American negotiator in the peace talks that led to the Treaty of Ghent (1814) and the end of the War of 1812, the ‘Second War of American Independence’.

To celebrate the recent discovery of a portion of Albert Gallatin’s library in the collections of the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House Library and the IHR are proud to showcase items from their collections relating to Albert Gallatin and the history of the early American Republic. Many of these items are unique and bear marginalia and provenance that exposes the extent of Gallatin’s network of correspondence during this formative period. The items chosen for display touch upon major themes and issues from the period, including American constitutionalism, US expansion, the development of the American State and popular politics in the new nation.

The Making of Wolf Hall


The Making of Wolf Hall

Email Banner2

Thursday 22 October 2015

IHR | Senate House | Malet Street | WC1E 7HU

Lecture: 6:00-7:30pm
Reception: 7:30-8:30pm

Peter Kosminsky series director of the BBC’s Wolf hall will be in conversation with Professor Lawrence Goldman (IHR) & Professor George Bernard (University of Southampton) to discuss the making of the BBC 2’s most successful drama in a decade. The discussion will feature clips from the series and be followed by a drinks reception.

Wolf Hall (an adaptation from the Booker prize-winning novels; Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel) was first broadcast on the BBC in January 2015 and reportedly cost £7 million to produce (Guardian 2013).

The drama series featured 102 characters, took 3 months to film in numerous locations across the UK and attracted 26.33 million viewers across the entire drama series (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board).

Peter Kosminsky, the director of the series, said:

This is a first for me. But it is an intensely political piece. It is about the politics of despotism, and how you function around an absolute ruler. I have a sense that Hilary Mantel wanted that immediacy. … When I saw Peter Straughan’s script, only a first draft, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was the best draft I had ever seen. He had managed to distil 1,000 pages of the novels into six hours, using prose so sensitively. He’s a theatre writer by trade (Guardian 2013).

To hear more of what Peter Kosminsky has to say about directing the series, join us in the IHR on Thursday 22 October 2015 at 6pm.

The lecture, screening and reception is free and open for all to attend.  to register your place at the lecture visit the registration page.

If you have any enquiries relating to this lecture, please contact the IHR Events Office (

Public Speaking for Historians – 26 October 2015


elizafilbyThis post has kindly been written for us by workshop organiser Dr Eliza Filby

Do you suffer from a lack of confidence or nerves when you speak?  Are you finding that you spend a lot of time writing conference papers that fail rather than fly?  Aspiring historians can make as much impact in what they say than as from what they write – whether it be through teaching, job presentations, media engagement or conference papers and yet we receive very little helpful training in core communication skills. Indeed in the age when students are now ‘customers’ and academics are increasingly encouraged to disseminate their research to a broader audience, it has never been more important for academics to be effective communications.

Most public speaking course however are delivered by ‘external’ coaches who have no understanding of what is required in the academic world. The one-day course provided by the IHR is designed for historians (at any stage of their career) who wish to rid themselves of nerves and inhibitions and to think imaginatively and broadly about how to communicate their work to various audiences. The course is entirely interactive; you will not sit there and listen to ‘experts’ but will be called upon to practise your skills.

Working with a professionally trained actor and an academic, this workshop will take participants through the process of how to write and deliver a speech. In the first session you will cover how to structure a speech for different audiences, the use of appropriate language and imagery, audio-visual aids and how to master the academic Q&A. In the second session, we will focus on your performance. Drawing on acting techniques used in the leading drama schools, participants will discover how to improve their diction, resonance, range and articulation as well as relaxation and breathing techniques to calm nerves.  For this day, all participants will need to prepare 150-word punchy summary of their research designed for a non-academic audience (on printed paper) as well as one powerpoint slide designed for an academic audience (on a memory stick). All participants will present their work, be taken through the Q&A  and receive individual feedback.

For more details and to register see here.

Opening the book: reading and the evolving technology(ies) of the book


academicbookwhiteonblack-eps1In celebration of the diversity, innovation and influence of academic books, the first ever Academic Book Week is being held from 9 to 16 November 2015. A range of activities and events are being organised throughout October and November, tackling subjects such as ‘Curious books’, the trustworthiness of Wikipedia, the future of the English PhD, and the role and history of the university press (see, for more information).

On Tuesday 10 November, the School of Advanced Study, University of London is hosting a debate focusing on how the evolving technology(ies) of the book have affected the ways that we read. A panel of six speakers – Professor Sarah Churchwell (School of Advanced Study, University of London), Professor Justin Champion (Royal Holloway, University of London), Dr Martin Eve (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Stephen Gregg (Bath Spa University), Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia) and Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford) – will consider the many different kinds of books which are read in an academic context, from text books to edited collections, from monographs to scholarly editions, from novels to handbooks. There will also be plenty of time for audience discussion, beginning with formal responses from early career researchers for whom these questions will be of enormous importance in years to come.

Registration for the event is free, but places are limited so do book online now ( If you’re not able to attend in person, key elements of the debate will be published subsequently on the Academic Book Week website. You can also follow this and other events on Twitter throughout the week, using the hashtag #AcBookWeek.

This event is being organised as part of Opening the Book: the Future of the Academic Monograph, an international multi-centred debate. Academic Book Week itself is the centrepiece of this year’s activity on the two-year AHRC/British Library Academic Future of the Academic Book project (

The Deana & Jack Eisenberg Lecture in Public History 2015


The Deana & Jack Eisenberg Lecture in Public History 2015

More than just a good day out: Bringing History to life in the National Trust

Wednesday 7th October 2015
Wolfson Conference Suite 6pm

A public lecture on history in the National Trust by Dame Helen Ghosh.

Dame Helen joined the civil service from Oxford University, where she read Modern History. She has worked in a number of government departments, starting off in the Department of the Environment, and returning to environmental issues when she became Permanent Secretary at Defra in 2005.

In between, she followed her interest in providing public services to local people with jobs in the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Government Office for London. She has also worked at the centre of Goverrnment, with two spells in the Cabinet Office.  Most recently, she has been Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

She is a long-term member of the Trust and of her local Wildlife Trust in Oxfordshire. She is married to an academic and has a son and daughter, who are in their early twenties. She lives in Oxford, and includes family life, looking after her allotment, walking and watching ballet among her relaxations.shutterstock_213121852shutterstock_36890647shutterstock_136765844

To register for this free event visit: or RSVP to the IHR Events Office (

History Now & Then


shutterstock_263368988A series of six new public seminars on current issues raised by the study of the past.

Wolfson Room I, IHR

Seminar: 6-7.30pm
Refreshments: 7.30-8.30pm

Welcome: Lawrence Goldman
Chair: Daniel Snowman

14 October 2015: History, history, everywhere… The apparent paradox that, alongside the recent growth of popular interest in history, many people also seem to lack a sense of the continuity between past and present.
Panel: Ronald Hutton, Paul Lay, David Reynolds, Pat Thane

11 November 2015: History as Heritage: The preservation, distortion and commercialisation of the past.
Panel:Roger Bowdler, Robert Hewison, Anna-Maria Misra, Simon Thurley

9 December 2015: Does the ‘Real’ Past Matter?: The history and function of historical myth.
Panel:Peter Burke, Justin Champion, Adam Sutcliffe, Simon Dixon

13 January 2016: Rewriting the Past: The need felt in each generation to reconfigure the past.
Panel: Penelope Corfield, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Ian Kershaw, Jonathan Steinberg

10 February 2016: Pictures of the Past: How far can artworks provide a pathway – or a stumbling block – towards understanding the past.?
Panel: Vic Gatrell, Simon Goldhill, Marion Kant, Simon Shaw-Miller

9 March 2016: Uses and Abuses of the Past: History as ideology, consolation, nostalgia, vindication, identity, revenge. Where does ‘History’ go from here?
Panel: Anne Curry, Peter Hennessy, Paul Preston, Donald Sassoon

Registration for this seminar series is required.
Tickets are £5 per session.
Free for the Friends of the IHR.

To register for a seminar visit the University of London online store.

For any queries, please contact the IHR Events Office:

Announcing the 2015-16 IHR Junior Research Fellows!


IHR direction signAfter a highly competitive process, the Institute is delighted to have appointed eighteen Junior Research Fellows for the 2015-16 year. We received a record number of applications for Junior Fellowships this year, and panels found it challenging to select the successful candidates from a range of excellent submissions. Thank you to everyone who took the time to apply.

We greatly look forward to welcoming the new cohort in October, and will be sharing more details and news of them in the coming months. In the meantime, you can get a sense of their areas of interest from the list below.

Do remember to check back for the programme of Director’s Seminars. At these seminars the Junior Fellows will present their research. These will be held on Wednesday afternoons, 2-4pm, from 7 October – 2 December (except one on the Thursday, 26 November), in Wolfson II at the IHR.

Economic History Society Fellows

Alice Dolan (UCL) 1 year
Re-Fashioning the Working Class: Mechanisation and Materiality in England 1800-1856

Paul Kreitman (SOAS) 1 year
Economic and Social Dimensions of Sovereignty in the North Pacific, 1861-1965

John Morgan (Exeter) 1 year
Financing flood security in eastern England, 1567-1826 Warwick

Judy Stephenson (Cambridge) 1 year
Occupation and Labour market institutions in London 1600 – 1800 LSE

Jacobite Studies Trust Fellow

Mindaugas Sapoka (Aberdeen) 1 year
Poland-Lithuania and Jacobitism c. 1714 – c. 1750

Past & Present Fellows

Jennifer Keating (UCL) 1 year
Images in crisis: Landscapes of disorder in Russian Central Asia, 1915-1924

Roel Konijnendijk (UCL) 1 year
Courage and Skill: A Hierarchy of Virtue in Greek Thought

Tehila Sasson (UC Berkeley) 1 year
In the Name of Humanity: Britain and the Rise of Global Humanitarianism

Junqing Wu (Exeter) 1 year
Anticlerical erotica in China and France: a cross-cultural analysis Nottingham

Pearsall Fellow

Ben Thomas (Aberdeen) 1 year
The Royal Naval Reserve in rural Scotland and Wales, c. 1900-1939

IHR Doctoral Fellows – Royal Historical Society

Lucy Hennings (Oxford) 1 year P.J. Marshall Fellow
England in Europe during the Reign of Henry III, 1216-1272

Sarah Ward (Oxford) 1 year Centenary Fellow
Royalism, Religion, and Revolution: The Gentry of North-East Wales, 1640-88

IHR Doctoral Fellows – Scouloudi Fellows

Will Eves (St Andrews) 6 months
The Assize of Mort d’Ancestor: From 1176 to 1230

Felicity Hill (UEA) 1 year
Excommunication and Politics in thirteenth-century England

Julia Leikin (UCL) 1 year
Prize law, maritime neutrality, and the law of nations in Imperial Russia, 1768-1856

James Norrie (Oxford) 6 months
Property and Religious Change in the Diocese of Milan, c.990-1140

Joan Redmond (Cambridge) 6 months
Popular religious violence in Ireland, 1641-1660

IHR Doctoral Fellows – Thornley Fellow

Cécile Bushidi (SOAS) 1 year
Dance, socio-cultural change, and politics among the Gĩkũyũ people of Kenya, 1880s-1963

We would also like to announce that Jacob Currie (Cambridge) was awarded a six-month Scouloudi Fellowship, which has been deferred to 2016-17.

< Older Posts