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Fashion and consumption in the First World War: Department store catalogues 1916-17


AboutPeterRobinsonThe Institute of Historical Research, in collaboration with Senate House Library, is delighted to announce the launch of a new online exhibition of digitised fashion catalogues from the First World War. These select catalogues of women’s clothing from 1916 and 1917 illustrate the war’s impact on materials, the roles of women and fashion itself.


BradleysStewartandMacdonaldThe exhibition is freely available at, and includes eight fully digitised catalogues from five different department stores (Bradleys, Dickins and Jones, Peter Robinson, John Barnes and Stewart and Macdonald), potted histories of each of these, and further articles on the provenance of the catalogues, their preservation and the process involved in scanning them.


JohnBarnes2Scanning2This online exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Institute of Historical Research’s IHR Digital Department and Senate House Library, and has been produced thanks to contributions from Angela Craft, Dr Richard Espley, Dave Jackson, Dr Jordan Landes, Danny Millum and Professor Jane Winters. Please do get in touch with with any questions or feedback.

New reviews – public sector unions, Frederick Douglass, Islamic Empire, war resisters


disalvo2We start with Government Against Itself: Public Sector Union Power and Its Consequences by Daniel DiSalvo. Joseph E. Hower and the author discuss a useful book on an important subject (no. 1782, with response here).

Next up is Laurence Fenton’s Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Black O’Connell, and Hannah-Rose Murray recommends a well-written and researched volume (no. 1781).

Then we turn to Robert Hoyland’s In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire. Youssef Choueiri reviews a lively and fresh account of the Arab conquests (no. 1780).

Finally, Cyril Pearce provides a monumental overview of the literature on war resisters over the last 100 years, in Writing about Britain’s 1914-18 War Resisters (no. 1779).

New reviews: Fatherhood, Jacobean travellers, Southern historians and the environment


king2We begin this week with Laura King’s Family Men: Fatherhood and Masculinity in Britain, 1914-1960. Helen McCarthy and the author discuss a beautifully researched, nuanced and ambitious book (no. 1778, with response here).

Next up is The Jacobean Grand Tour: Early Stuart Travellers in Europe, edited by Edward Chaney and Timothy Wilks. Simon Ditchfield has some reservations, but finds much to enjoy in erudite, generously illustrated and very reasonably priced volume (no. 1777).

Then we turn to Megan L. Bever and Scott A. Suarez’s Historian Behind the History: Conversations with Southern Historians, as Bruce Baker reviews an insightful set of interviews with historians about doing history (no. 1776).

Finally, we have The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, edited by Andrew C. Isenberg, which Peter Coates praises as an enormously valuable teaching and research resource for the practitioner of environmental history (no. 1775).

New reviews: Bible, WW1, 1641 and C20 working class


948297657We begin this week with The Courtly and Commercial Art of the Wycliffite Bible by Kathleen E. Kennedy. Eyal Poleg and the author discuss a book which is an important part of the ‘rehabilitation movement’ of the Wycliffite Bible (no. 1774, with author’s response here).

Then we turn to T. G. Otte’s July Crisis: The World’s Descent for War, Summer 1914, as Jeff Roquen recommends a thought-provoking study of supreme erudition (no. 1773).

Next up Gerald Power reviews The Shadow of a Year: 1641 in Irish History and Memory by John Gibney alongside TCD’s digital resource, the 1641 Depositions Online (no. 1772, with response here).

Finally we have Selina Todd’s The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010. Sean Ledwith takes on a powerfully written social and political history of contemporary Britain (no. 1771).

Using Film as a Source – IHR Research Guides


barberThis post has kindly been written for us by Dr Sian Barber, author of Using Film as a Source (MUP, 2015), the first in the IHR Research Guides Series.

What is the value of studying film? How can feature films tell us anything about the time in which they are made? Why do films look different in different periods? How do films address social issues? And how can film be used as a historical source?

These questions are central to anyone engaged in the study of film. However, film can be used in variety of different ways as part of research; not everyone uses film in the same way. The skills acquired in the fields of history, politics, English literature, sociology, cultural and media studies can all help to use film as ‘historical evidence,’ but the study of film is a discipline in its own right. Film cannot be treated simply as a historical source, but rather needs to be understood as a distinctive medium, possessed of complex visual and textual codes.

This work is intended to provide a starting point for those seeking to use film as part of research. It offers advice on research methods, film-specific theory and methodology and film-based analysis. It draws on the disparate yet frequently complementary disciplines of film and history to offer advice for students and researchers. It is deliberately intended to speak to the preoccupations of those engaged in the study of film, either at undergraduate or Masters levels, as well as those who want to use film as part of research in cognate disciplines such as social and cultural history, politics, modern languages and sociology.

This guide includes sections on working with different kinds of moving images, how to explore visual sources, how to undertake archival film-related research and how to use film theory. It addresses the complexities of studying moving image and the conventional problems associated with using films as sources, as well as broader issues related to film historiography and method. It also includes a number of detailed case studies of individual films. Everything included is intended to be an example of good research practice, whether it is conducting an interview, visiting an archive, undertaking textual analysis or defining a research question.

New reviews: Medieval Christianity, Flodden, African soldier slaves and Huguenots


medieval-frescoFirst up this week is The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Christianity, as Thomas O’Loughlin and editor John Arnold discuss a new introduction to a vast field of research (no. 1769, with response here).

Then we turn to George Goodwin’s Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain. Alexander Hodgkins reviews a valuable addition to the body of literature discussing 16th-century Renaissance kingship and conflict in a British context (no. 1768).

Next up is Manuel Barcia’s West African Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World 1807-1844. Ulrike Schmieder praises an important contribution to the history of the African Atlantic and the South Atlantic (no. 1767).

Finally Vivienne Larminie recommends The Huguenots by Geoffrey Treasure, a worthy and largely well-informed attempt to explore a worthwhile and topical subject (no. 1766).

New reviews: Broadcasting buildings, Joan of Arc, Demonology and Tawney


yusaf2First up this week we have Broadcasting Buildings: Architecture on the Wireless, 1927-1945 by Shundana Yusaf, as Laura Carter and the author discuss a playful and scholarly new book (no. 1765, with response here).

Then we turn to Helen Castor’s Joan of Arc: A History. Kieron Creedon recommends a vivid and riveting book which combines a consummate skill for storytelling with the cogent precision of a trial lawyer (no. 1764).

Next up is Demonology and Scholarship in the Counter-Reformation by Jan Machielsen, which Francis Young believes is a book that deserves to be on the reading list of every course on the Counter-Reformation (no. 1763).

Finally we have The Life of R. H. Tawney: Socialism and History by Lawrence Goldman. Adam Timmins reviews the first full biography of the historian and social reformer (no. 1762).

New reviews: C16 Mexico and China, rural Indian technology, Venice and Dublin Press


cortesWe start this week with a lively discussion between Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and Serge Gruzinski over the latter’s new work of comparative global history The Eagle and the Dragon: Globalization and European Dreams of Conquest in China and America in the Sixteenth Century (no. 1761, with response here).

Next up is Technology and Rural Change in Eastern India, 1830–1980 by Smritikumar Sarkar, and Amelia Bonea recommends a valuable book for anyone with an interest in the history of science and technology (no. 1760).

Then we have Rosa Salzberg’s Ephemeral City: Cheap Print and Urban Culture in Renaissance Venice, which Alexander Wilkinson believes is one of the best and most original works on book history to appear in recent years (no. 1759).

Finally we turn to Newspapers and Newsmakers: The Dublin Nationalist Press in the Mid-Nineteenth Century by Ann Andrews. Patrick Maume praises a useful contribution to the growing body of research on 19th-century Irish print media (no. 1758).

New reviews: US human rights, women and pre-modern law, strategy and latest VCH


lgbtq_protest_480We start this week with Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s by Barbara Keys. Umberto Tulli and the author discuss a book which offers a new interpretation and will pave the way for future historical scholarship (no. 1757, with response here).

Next up is Women, Agency and the Law, 1300-1700, edited by Bronach Kane and Fiona Williamson, and Sparky Booker finds these essays break new ground in the history of women, law and agency in the pre-modern period (no. 1756).

Then we turn to Lawrence Freedman’s Strategy: a History, which Marcel Berni believes belongs with the classics in the field of strategic studies (no. 1755).

Finally James Bowen reviews Victoria County History: Shropshire VI Shrewsbury, edited by William A. Champion and Alan Thacker, a beautifully presented addition to the VCH series, of interest to both local and national historians as well as urban historians (no. 1754).

New reviews – Emotions, the end of the Iron Curtain, and Turkish heroin


Darwin-expressionThis week we have a real treat for you, as we focus on Jan Plamper’s exciting new work The History of Emotions: An Introduction. There’s a lengthy review by Rob Boddice (no. 1752, with response here) and then a fascinating interview between Professor Plamper and our very own Jordan Landes (no. 1753).

Then we turn to another German work, and Eliten und Zivile Gesellschaft: Legitimitätskonflikte in Ostmitteleuropa by Helmut Fehr. Steven Jefferson believes this to be an impressive volume of detailed empirical research and careful analysis (no. 1751).

Finally, we have Ryan Gingeras’s Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey, and Egemen Bezci reviews a remarkable contribution that paves the path for further studies on the topic (no. 1750).

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