Here is the latest run-down of new additions to the library, based on our recently updated New Books display. Whereas last month’s entry focused on collected correspondence, this time I have picked out some examples of new volumes from some of the many local records societies whose publications we hold, and which cover a range of regions and areas. Our English local history collection forms a significant part of the library, and this is continually expanding largely because of the regular output of such societies.
Firstly we have the Dugdale Society and their latest publication – Coventry Priory Register. The Dugdale Society was founded in 1920 and named after Sir William Dugdale, a seventeenth century antiquary from Warwickshire. Their stated aims are ‘publishing original documents relating to the history of the County of Warwick, fostering interest in historical records and their preservation and generally encouraging the study of local history.’
Forming Volume XLVI of the Dugdale Society’s Main Record Series, Coventry Priory Register has been carefully produced from an original set of over 250 fifteenth-century folios, kept in The National Archives. It shows in great detail the extensive range of property and land owned by the priory at the time, and the rent that was received. Within the volume the Register itself is preceded by a very helpful contextual introduction from the editor, as well as a series of specially produced street plans for Coventry in 1411, which are certainly a valuable accompaniment to the original source.
Froxfield Almshouse, the subject of this latest volume, has a fascinating history going back to its foundation in the 1690s, and is in fact still open today as The Duchess of Somerset Hospital. The almshouse was originally built to ‘accommodate 30 poor widows’ on a budget of £1,700 left by Sarah duchess of Somerset in her will. This generous benefactor not only provided the initial start-up costs, but also made many other stipulations to ensure the future sustainability of the almshouse, and the care of the women living there. The resulting legacy of successful management is reflected in the minute books, which are a valuable source for studying how the almshouse was run from day to day, as well as providing the bigger picture of adaptation to change across the years.
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
This post was written for us by library intern Lisa Smoltino.
Travel writing is quite the trend these days, with books and blogs gaining popularity more and more every day. People have been interested in this style of writing for decades, however, and a look through the IHR US collection reveals travel diaries from as early as the 1700s.
The Dominguez-Escalante Journal chronicles a journey through the Rocky Mountains in an effort to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California. Much like Hernando Cortes’ writings, these journals were intended to give a detailed description to the King of Spain. This diary gives a look at how America was viewed in the earliest days of exploration.
Published in 1845 Travel in North Americaby Charles Lyell compiles geological observations into two volumes of detailed travel writing. Writing in a first person, diary style format, Lyell describes various places such as Boston, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut throughout varies times of the year.
The Gold Rush played a part in the exploration and settlement of the American West. Everyday citizens became adventurers and travellers as they searched for a new, prosperous life in little known areas of the country. In Bound for Montana: Diaries from the Bozeman Trail, the reader gets a sense of what it was like to cross a rugged trail in search of a new life. The book combines the daily diaries of seven men who travelled along the trail, dealing with harsh landscapes and dangerous Indian encounters.
Our parliamentary sources and other local administrative records give an insight into such areas as disputes over boundaries and legislation around public parks. Trade directories and C19th exhibition catalogues include information about the gardening trade, with details about market gardens and supply chains, tools, equipment and employment. We also hold a small collection of maps and topographical drawings. These sources are alongside our strong collection of reference works: bibliographies, biographical material and historical methods and guides. The library acts as a good starting point for research complementing the more specialist archives and libraries elsewhere.
The Garden History in the IHR library subject guide is available here.
The IHR library has a great set of London-based collections, relating to all aspects of the capital’s rich and varied history. We’re drawing on these for a series of ‘Around London’ posts, starting with the infamous tale of St Martin’s Round House.
Although now occupied by one corner of Trafalgar Square, St Martin’s Round House once stood opposite the church of St Martin’s in the Field and it was here during the summer of 1742 Londoners became enraged by the deaths of six women at the hands of the constables in charge of the house. Horace Walpole relates how on the night of the 15th July 1742 the constables had rounded up a group of twenty women – some beggars, some prostitutes, some returning from work – and placed them in the Round House’s holding cell which was only six foot square, ‘where they were kept all night, with doors and windows closed.’ In the morning four were dead and two others would soon succumb a few days later. All the constables fled never facing justice, except one, William Bird, who was tried at the Old Bailey in the October and sentenced to death, although, as the Gentleman’s Magazine relates, this was later commuted to transportation. An engraving held in the British Museum shows how the crowd soon demolished the hated building with Walpole once again summing up their ire:
‘…the greatest criminals in this town are the officers of justice; there is no tyranny they do not exercise, no villainy of which they do not partake.’
Following on from my colleague Mette’s post on slave narratives I’d like to draw your attention to some of the other resources available within the library. Understandably we have large holdings concerning the British and American slave trades, specifically the triangular trade between Britain, West Africa and the West Indies/American colonies and its subsequent abolition. The correspondence and papers of William Wilberforce, for example, can be consulted within the library, as can the works from other British and American abolitionists.
Beyond the Anglophone world, however, the IHR library has also collected an array of sources highlighting the nature of the trade and institution globally. From an early anti-slavery treatise by the 17th-century Capuchin friar, Francisco José de Jaca, via the accounts of the slaving ship operating between southern Africa and Madagascar, to the Comte de Mirabeau’s refutation of slavery published during the early stages of the French Revolution, sources found within the library’s collections reflect the transnational nature of this grim global trade.
The history of slavery and its abolition in Brazil and Cuba is covered in anumber of items within the library. Besides bibliographic sources to help the researcher find furthermaterial, one can find general anthologies of primary sources for Brazil and Cuba, and the correspondence and diary of the Brazilian writer, statesman and abolitionist, Joaquim Nabuco.
This is just a selection of the growing holdings the library has on this crucial subject.
This post was written for us by library intern Lisa Smoltino.
Within the extensive US collection are a number of personal papers and diaries that allow researchers a look into the past through the eyes of those who have lived through it. The IHR US collection highlights numerous eras of importance throughout the course of history.
There are also a number of reflective works and essays written by free black men and black political leaders. The collection includes Destiny and Race: Selected Writings 1840-1898 by Alex Crummell, an influential writer and thinker born into free black family based in the northern United States.
Sources on the Civil Rights Era are also among the collection. Among the highlights are two diaries that offer firsthand experience of living through various stages of the Civil Rights Movement– the diaries of David Mays and the letters of Virginia Foster Durr. Mays’ diary, Race, Reason and Massive Resistance: The Diary of David J. Mays, written in the late 1950’s, chronicles the beginnings of what would become an infamous moment in US history. The diary showcases a lesser known but equally important stage of the Civil Rights Movement. Virginia Foster Durr was at the centre of the Civil Rights storm in Birmingham, Alabama, and was the wife of the assistant attorney in the legendary Rosa Parks case. Her diary, Freedom Writer Virginia Foster Durr: Letters from the Civil Rights Years, describes what it was like to be part of the movement that changed America.
The US collection highlights the experience of new immigrants, such as the Chinese when they arrived in America. Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present are the personal accounts of the struggles of Chinese immigrants to America spanning a long time period since their first arrival in the 1850’s to more current experiences. The Jewish 1960’s ties together the immigrant experience with the Civil Rights Movement, offering a unique perspective of an immigrant community in a volatile time in US history.
There are also extensive unique and interesting personal accounts from women at various times throughout US History. Kiowa: A Woman Missionary in Indian Territoryis a diary written by Isabel Crawford. This unique bookgives the reader an eye into the lives of the Kiowa Indian tribe as seen through the eyes of a woman.
The US collection also contains a number of personal diaries and writings from women during the Civil War. A Maryland Bride in the Deep Southtakes us inside the everyday life of a well to do woman living in Louisiana at a time of uncertainty and violence.
Women’s voices also offer a cultural perspective and commentary on life in the US. In Southern Women at Vassar: The Poppenheim Family Letters 1882-1916 we are offered a cultural perspective of life in the North through the eyes of the typical ‘Southern Belles.’ This unique perspective also allows the reader to have a glimpse into the early stages of women in higher education.
A second part of this post covering Travel writing in the US collection will follow. More information about the rest of the collection can be found in the United States collection guide.
Anyone wanting to keep up to date with new acquisitions in the IHR Library can do so in several ways. Firstly there are the New Books shelves, located next to room 321, where all new works start off regardless of their eventual location. For more of a snapshot you can check out the book covers displayed in the central corridor, which are swapped over monthly. Finally on the website we also add selected titles to our recent acquisitions page: http://www.history.ac.uk/library/collections/recenthighlights.
To tie in with the New Books display we will be posting a list of selected acquisitions each month on the blog, and pulling out themes and important events connected to them. This month we have some interesting examples of collected correspondence from a range of historical figures, including Alfred Russell Wallace and General Sir George Erskine.
Alfred Russell Wallace (1823 – 1913) has received a lot of attention surrounding the centenary of his death (one big fan is comedian Bill Bailey), reflecting his historical significance as the man who independently developed a theory of evolution through natural selection at the same time as Darwin. Indeed in the foreword to the newly published Letters from the Malay Archipelagohe is described by modern great David Attenboroughas ‘one of the greatest of nineteenth-century naturalists, at one of the most crucial periods in the history of biology.’
This is a carefully reproduced set of correspondence, with several letters published for the first time, which offers a fascinating insight into a crucial period in Wallace’s scientific career and sheds new light on the ongoing debate around the extent to which Darwin was influenced by Wallace, and vice-versa. As well as historians of natural science this work could also be of interest to those studying travel and transportation in the nineteenth century.
The Mau Mau Uprising (or Kenya Emergency) remains a controversial period in history, as has been seen with the ongoing court battle between former Mau Mau members and the British Government, with the former suing the latter for the acknowledged atrocities that took place in the 1950s. The Kenya papers of General Sir George Erskine 1953-1955, shows us the official and personal experiences of the man who was appointed as Commander-in-Chief in East Africa in May 1953, and ‘charged with the conduct of all military measures required to restore law and order in Kenya.’
The editors have made good use of several archives, including documents from the Hanslope Archive, which were released for the first time in 2012 because of the aforementioned High Court case. Again this is a well prepared set of correspondence and documents, and is an important addition of sources for the debate around this dark period in Britain’s colonial past, which has arguably been under examined up until very recently.