This week, we discovered that Winston Churchill has made the move from paper into polymer, with the announcement from the Bank of England that the next version of the five-pound note featuring the former Prime Minister will be manufactured from transparent plastic film. His papers, which are kept at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, have, of course, already made the transition from paper into microfilm, and now digital. Some 800,000 documents can now be searched via this resource, including the letter containing revelation (to this librarian) that in 1891 the young Churchill exchanged his bike, believed to be worth a fiver, for Dodo, a fine-bred British bull dog.
The IHR Library is currently running a 30-day trial of the digital resource. The papers can be accessed via any of the Library computers via http://www.churchillarchive.com/. We would be interested in knowing what you think about the resource, and whether it would be useful for your research. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to us at @IHR_Library.
The small pamphlet, measuring just 10.5cm x 17.5cm and only thirty-five pages in length, was written in 1818 by John Brown, Minister of the Gospel for Whitburn in West Lothian and printed for Ogle, Allardice and Thomson in Edinburgh in the same year. An additional work entitled, Loud Cry from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is also included in the pamphlet. The volume is rare, with only eight libraries in the United Kingdom holding a copy of the work – the University of Cambridge the only other library out with Scotland to hold a copy. The IHR’s pamphlet came into the library’s collections in 2010, however earlier provenance for the work is currently unknown to library staff.
After having studied at Glasgow University, John Brown became a prominent Scottish minister and theologian. Therefore, both works contained within the pamphlet describe the role of religion within societies in the Highlands of Scotland, as well as providing a travel account of a journey Brown undertook across the area. The purpose of the work is made clear in the advertisement that precedes the text. It notes that the work is published, ‘in the hope that it may be in some degree useful, in directing the attention of the Christian public, to the very interesting field for Missionary labours which the remoter districts of our own country present.’
A Brief Account of a Tour begins with Brown outlining his hopes and aims before providing an account of his travel itinerary, including the many religious figures with whom he met during the tour. In this regard, the account acts as a valuable source for the history of these communities – providing details of the number of residents, the names of sermon-givers, accommodation facilities, and places for worship (including, ‘a tent for preaching in a wood, on the margin of the water’ at Loch Tay.) In addition, Brown remarks that ‘it gave me pleasure to find several good books among the people’ – also of comfort today to library staff!
The ‘Loud Cry‘ pamphlet is more focussed on explicitly outlining a perceived lack of religious education, sermons and morals within the communities of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. It is noted that ‘swearing, smuggling, drinking, strife, revenge, and almost all evil work, prevail in many places’ with the author imploring the need for religious education and guidance to be established in such communities. Indeed it is further stated that, ‘the most faithful description, exhibits only a faint representation of the state of the Highlands: it must be, “come and see”, then the case must affect.’
Consequently, a series of suggestions are set out for how to increase the religious education and spread of the Christian faith into these areas. Among the proposals are calls for ministers to spend summers preaching in rural communities, an increase in the availability of Bibles translated into Gaelic, a Missionary Society for the Highlands to be established, and a call for ‘commercial travellers in their northern journies [to] distribute religious tracts.’ It is also suggested that ‘might not ministers and teachers establish small libraries’ to help ‘moralise’ these rural communities. However, it should be noted that while the work in this respect provides valuable insight into the history of the Highlands of Scotland and religious history more generally, the work does contain language that may be offensive to the modern-day reader.
In addition to the work itself, the pamphlet is also of note due to the marginalia and handwritten comments found throughout the work. These appear to have been written by Agnes Baillie, with an inscription on the front cover of the pamphlet of ‘Mrs Baillie of Drylaw’, written in the same handwriting as the notes interspersed throughout the text. Baillie owned Drylaw House in Edinburgh until her death in 1842.
Library staff would welcome any further information or resources concerning the background of both the pamphlet and marginalia. Please email email@example.com.
– New research guide for the Library’s Memory and Commemoration collections –
Mike Weston (own work via Wikimedia Commons)
With the emergence within historical research of the study of memory and commemoration practices, the Institute of Historical Research Library has seen a substantial growth over recent years in its collections documenting the history of memory. In addition, with significant centenaries of historical events and an exponential rise in public commemoration and heritage events, the library has also endeavoured to collect works on memorialisation practices, heritage studies and the influence history has in societies as a whole. The Library team have therefore recently compiled a guide to the library’s memory and commemoration collections.
The guide provides an overview of the Library’s holdings, gives details of relevant classmark locations and highlights works concerning the commemoration of the First World War, Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust.
The Library’s collections contain significant holdings concerning the theoretical approaches of conducting memory, heritage and commemoration research. In addition, the Library also holds a swathe of works examining public commemoration and remembrance practices of specific historical events and periods. Examples from both of these areas are detailed within the collection guide, alongside relevant holdings within the Library’s electronic resources, journals, and periodicals.
The guide brings together works dispersed across the Library’s collections with relevant resources for memory and commemoration research, most notably from within the General collections. Alongside this, the guide also provides information of other relevant libraries and institutions with extensive resources on the study of memory.
While processing the latest new volumes to be acquired by the IHR Library, we came across an especially unusual assortment of works. Listed below is an interactive image gallery of some of our personal highlights from these latest acquisitions.
Welcome to the inaugural blog post in a series promoting the Low Countries collection in the IHR Library. My name is Stijn van Rossem and I took up a one-year post-doctoral fellowship in March. In the months to come, I will explore and promote the remarkable holdings on the Low Countries, one of the largest collections outside of the Netherlands and Belgium, and will help to show the collection’s relevance not just for Low Countries studies but also for scholars of British, European and World History.
Before joining the IHR, I held teaching positions at the University of Antwerp (Literature of Modernity) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Art History). I am a visiting professor at the School of Arts in Ghent, where I teach courses on the history and theory of graphic design. In 2013, I was director of the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Brussels. My primary areas of expertise are book history, graphic design, and curatorship; my Ph.D. focussed on the publishing strategies of the Verdussen family, printers in Antwerp from 1589 to 1689.
As well as producing a general guide, I will focus on the extensive collection of rare books from the Low Countries held by the IHR, and which includes the arguably understudied collection of about 1,000 Dutch pamphlets (dating from 1602–1814), an important source on the political, religious, commercial and social history of the Dutch Republic and the Southern Netherlands.
Pieter Geijl in London 1922 (Source Wikipedia)
This collection of Dutch Historical pamphlets is but a small part of the books on the Low Countries entering the IHR Library on the instigation of Professor Pieter Geyl, the first chair of Dutch Studies in the United Kingdom. Geyl was involved in the creation of a seminar on Dutch History in the IHR and was able to negotiate the transfer of the history books from Bedford College to the IHR, which were to be used as the reference library for his seminar ‘Reading of Dutch Historical Texts’ (from 1925 to 1926). Although often a very controversial figure with the capacity to generate a series of academic and political feuds, Geyl is still considered one of the most important historians from the Low Countries, who started his academic career in London. Together with the Dutch Department of UCL, I plan to organise a conference on the influence of Pieter Geyl in the United Kingdom.
But also other libraries of the School of Advanced Study have important collections. Senate House Library holds more than 1,000 rare books from the Low Countries, with over 700 of those printed by the famous Elzevier family. Next year will be the anniversary of the death of the founding father of the dynasty Lowijs Elsevier (ca 1540–1617). Together with Leiden University, Museum Meermanno (House of the Book, The Hague) and the Elsevier Heritage Collection we are currently discussing how to organise a suiting commemoration and what role we could play in it.
A library enquiry recently sparked an intriguing trip to the archive, revealing a very different image of Bloomsbury to that of today.
The Institute of Historical Research Library team recently received an enquiry regarding the history of the Institute and in particular the varied buildings which the IHR has occupied during its history. As a result, following some research in the Institute’s archive, we have been researching the history of Bloomsbury, in particular Malet Street and Gower Street due to their proximity to the site that the IHR occupies today.
Interest in this project was further spiked following the discovery of photographs held by the Imperial War Museum in London documenting the area during the First World War. The photographs clearly highlight the greatly changed surroundings from 1918 to the present day.
The photographs show the corner of Store Street and Gower Street at the intersection where the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is housed now. Also shown is a Y.M.C.A building that was used as accommodation for troops during the First World War. The area looks almost unrecognisable from today with significantly less traffic!
The Institute of Historical Research was first housed in similar accommodation to that pictured in the photographs above, with the Institute only moving to a newly built Senate House when ‘Senate House lost its veil of scaffolding and University staff moved in’ during 1937. (Simpson, The University of London’s Senate House:Charles Holden, Classicism & Modernity, University of London, 2005, p37) Prior to this, the IHR building was frequently referred to as ‘the army huts’ because of its external resemblance to those provided for troops. The building was a single-storey structure and rested on the basements and cellars of houses that had been cleared before the war. Additionally, it should also be noted that at this time Malet Street was significantly narrower than it is presently, only being widened in the 1930s.
The secretary and librarian of the IHR from 1946-1971 recalled how the streets of Malet Street and Gower Street were made up of single-storey buildings. Mr A. Taylor-Milne remarked that, ‘In the academic year 1924-5 some of us undergraduates at University College used to walk down Malet Street to the headquarters of the University of London Union, temporarily housed at the corner of Montague Place, in what had been a large Y.M.C.A hut for the troops during the First World War. On the way we passed the first home of the Institute of Historical Research, a neat row of single-storied structures.’ (Birch and Horn, The History Laboratory: The Institute of Historical Research 1921-96, University of London, 1996, p 24).
The archives of the Y.M.C.A, housed within the collections of the University of Birmingham, contain many striking examples recording the cottage-style buildings that were located right along Malet Street. An example of these ‘huts’ is that of the ‘Shakespeare Hut’, a Y.M.C.A recreation hut built for the rest and recuperation of serving forces during the First World War with a remit to entertain the troops with dramatic performances of Shakespeare productions. The building was situated on the corner of Malet Street and Keppel Street, the site now occupied by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The history of the British Museum site occupying Montague Place also sheds light on the history of Bloomsbury, with the scope of the site mostly unchanged from its conception to the present. The north entrance (situated on Montague Place and facing Senate House today) was opened in 1914. Interestingly, however, the north entrance was never intended to be a public entrance. Instead the entrance and galleries on this side of the building were originally meant to face a long avenue which would be part of a victory parade route. The saluting gallery, a reminder of this grand scheme, can still be seen above the north entrance.
Following the end of the First World War, building work commenced across the Bloomsbury area. The IHR’s Secretary and Librarian from 1927-1943 recalled watching the works begin along Malet Street. He commented that, ‘the southern end of the Institute’s building faced to the west another vacant site, soon to be covered by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I watched its building from my office next to the Institute’s entrance and used to say that the names Frank, Pettenkofer and Briggs would be found graven on my heart!’ (Birch and Horn, p 40)
Similarly, in 1921 further along Malet Street, a new theatre was built by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art [RADA]. This building occupied land which backed onto the Academy’s existing buildings on Gower Street.
It is clear therefore, that the area underwent enormous transformation during this time. Indeed, the vast urban development projects that were taking place within the area can be evidenced through London County Council’s legislative directive to widen both Malet Street and Montague Place in 1928 (London County Council (General Powers) Act 1928 sections 48-53 (50.9) in Simpson, p19).
In many of the images Bloomsbury is unrecognisable in relation to its present-day form. The archival photographs in this way allow for a window onto an often forgotten past. However, whilst the architecture may have changed, the institutions lining Malet Street have remained and the work and research carried out within them provides a continuum to the present day.
This short introduction is only intended as an overview of the visual history of the area. However, several archives contain significant holdings on the changing architectural face of Bloomsbury and each respective institution’s history. Therefore, for more information please see:
– LSHTM’s project ‘Resurrecting the Shakespeare Hut‘ will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the YMCA Shakespeare Hut on the School’s Keppel Street site on 11th August 1916. The project, made possible by a joint-award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will include an audio-visual exhibition, performances and local First World War oral history testimonies.
The IHR Library is conducting a survey to help improve the services that we offer. Please take a few minutes to let us know your views, either by completing the survey online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ihrlibrary2016 or filling out a printed form available from the IHR library enquiries office situated on the first floor of the library, or at the main IHR reception desk.
Alternative copies of the form, including large print versions, can be obtained from the library enquiries office or by contacting library staff via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7862 8760.
The closing date for completed surveys to be returned is Friday 29th April 2016.
Please note that responses may be used for publicity material or for publicising results, however all comments will remain anonymous. Details of the results of the survey will be published on the survey page of the IHR library website in due course.
Thank you in advance for your time and help to improve the services of the IHR library.
This post was compiled by the IHR Library’s Collection Librarian Michael Townsend and Graduate Trainee Siobhan Morris
‘Over the fine building of the G.P.O. floated a great green flag with the words “Irish Republic” on it in large white letters…and a big placard announced “The Headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic”‘ (Correspondence of Mrs Hamilton Norway, 25th April 1916 in The Sinn Fein Rebellion as they Saw It, p. 39)
Over the last couple of months, communities throughout Ireland and across the world have been marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. This post will highlight some of the works available in the IHR library not only recounting the events of those days in April 1916, but also those that consider the subsequent impact the Rising would have on Irish historiography and the historical culture of modern Ireland.
Eye Witness Testimony Within the library’s Irish collection there are an array of diaries and memoirs from individual authors, for example: the account of Joe Good, a Londoner who enlisted as an Irish Volunteer and who would be stationed in the General Post Office throughout the course of the Rising, the Irish volunteer W. J. Brennan-Whitmore and the diaries of Seosamh de Brún and British officer, Major S. H. Lomas included in Mick O’Farrell’s The 1916 Diaries of an Irish Rebel and a British Soldier. Civilian accounts can be found in the letters of Mrs Hamilton Norway, who had recently moved to Dublin with her civil servant husband and in the accounts of women recorded within Women in Ireland, 1800-1918: a documentary history compiled by Maria Luddy. In addition, although neither a diary nor a memoir, researchers can gain some insight into one of the leaders of the Rising, James Connolly, by consulting a selection of his writings.
The library also has a selection of published collective accounts of the Rising. The accounts published in Keith Jeffery’s The GPO and the Easter Rising give voice to not only the Irish Volunteers who commandeered the building as their headquarters, but also to the bystanders who were working and using the post-office on that Easter Monday. In addition, a number of general source collections have been made possible in recent years when in 2003 the Irish Government’s Bureau of Military History released a multitude of witness statements taken in the 1940s and 50s by participants in the Rising. This forms the basis of the works Witnesses: inside the Easter Rising by Annie Ryan and Rebels: voices from the Easter Rising by Fearghal McGarry who both present selections from this newly available body of source material.
The Rising’s Influence after 1916
The rising has both been, and continues to be, a contested issue in the historiography of modern Ireland as well as a focus for commemoration and national identity. A number of works in the library’s Irish historiography collection consider both the scholarly debates about the Rising and its impact on Irish society as a whole throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Recently published, Who’s Afraid of the Easter Rising? 1916-2016 by James Heartfield and Kevin Rooney charts the impact of the rising both in Irish historiography and Irish collective memory over the past century, while Richard Grayson and Fearghal McGarry’s work, Remembering 1916: the Easter Rising, the Somme and the politics of memory in Ireland compares perceptions of the memory of the Rising with another event of 1916 that would have a profound impact on parts of Ireland, the Battle of the Somme. Mark McCarthy’s study, Ireland’s 1916 Rising: explorations of history-making, commemoration and heritage looks at how the Rising has been presented and re-invented over the last century with a special focus on the commemoration years of 1966, 2006 and 2016.
– For further details of the library’s holdings concerning the Easter Rising of 1916 please click on the interactive image gallery below.
– The IHR library has also compiled a guide to Irish History in the collections of the library, with additional information concerning the collection more generally.
Following the completion of the reclassification project for the Scottish local collection, the IHR Library team have discovered some exciting volumes within the library’s holdings. Examples of some of these are detailed below.
The Book of Dumbartonshire: a history of the county, burghs, parishes, and lands, memoirs of families, and notices of industries carried on in the Lennox district.
This three volume work by Joseph Irving dates from 1879 and comprises a comprehensive history of the region, complemented by in-depth parish reports and intricate maps. The work encompasses genealogical history, ecclesiastical notes and architectural observations on the area. In addition, the volumes include multiple images and illustrations beautifully documenting the history of Dumbartonshire.
Caledonia: or, A historical and topographical account of North Britain, from the most ancient to the present times with a dictionary of places chorographical and philological.
This eight volume work by George Chalmers includes maps of the country, a dictionary of places and also documents civil, agricultural, ecclesiastical, and trade history. The library’s copy of the work also contains a wonderful array of ephemeral sources including marginalia, newspaper cuttings and letters. Of particular interest, is a letter dating from June 1900 from Paisley-based publisher Alexander Gardner detailing the trials of attempting to publish for the first time an index volume to accompany the work and the time-scale of publication for the final volume.
Despite being just eighteen pages long, this work is nonetheless a valuable and rare holding in the library’s collections. Drawn up by Thomas George Stevenson in 1890, only fifty copies were printed for private circulation. The volume is an insight into the trading history of Edinburgh from 1403-1890. It includes an introduction to the origins of the word ‘Gild (with its varieties, Gield, Gilde, Gulde, Gyld)’, the origin of the gilde of the city of Edinburgh, a list of the ‘Denes of Gilde’ of the city of Edinburgh, and ‘a list of publications as to the guildry’. The library holds copy number one and the volume also bears an inscription from the compiler Thomas George Stevenson, who was then secretary to the Council of the Guildry of the City of Edinburgh, to the Right Honourable John Inglis Lord Justice General.
This single map of Edinburgh published in Edinburgh and Glasgow by John Menzies & Co. was an intriguing find during the reclassification project. Whilst the map itself unfortunately bears no date, the work has been in the IHR Library collections since 1922 when it was gifted to the library as part of the Martin Conway bequests. Measuring 56cm x 44cm with a scale of 2 miles to an inch, the map encompasses not only Edinburgh but also as far as Peebles in the south, Fife in the north and Alloa in the west.
For more information on holdings, click on the additional illustrations and maps from the works detailed above.
Until 30 April, readers in the IHR library will be able to access a trial version of Bridgeman Education, an online database of over 1.5 million images cleared for educational use. It’s not necessarily the sort of resource that we usually look at for the online collections, but we are aware of how difficult it can be to search for historical visual materials, either for research or for use in teaching, talks, theses and other educational contexts. This may be one solution to that need. And even if not, it’s certainly interesting to look at (for a topical search, try [Easter Cards]).