A few members of the IHR library staff recently travelled to the IHR’s offsite depository store at Egham in Surrey for the day in order to record the collections’ periodicals that remain stored offsite following the IHR’s move to its new location in the North Block of Senate House in 2014. The items that remain stored offsite mainly comprise pre-1950 journals and periodicals.
The visit was designed to enable us to update our catalogue with an accurate record of the library’s Latin American holdings. The Latin American collection will begin to be re-catalogued in the coming months and this will enable this fascinating and exceptionally diverse collection to be explored in greater depth.
The collections comprise materials from across Latin America, with significant areas of strength in Mexican, Brazilian and Colombian history. Journals and periodicals are collected however, from all countries in Latin America.
In addition, the depository itself is also of historical interest! The store contains many historical gems, with a personal favourite being the old style of library trolleys from Senate House Library that deck the halls of the depository.
Blog posts on the treasures unearthed during our re-cataloguing of the Latin American collections will follow – so watch this space!
See also: A full list of the IHR’s seminar series on Latin America, as well as links to several podcasts that are available for download from the seminar series, can be found here: http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/323.
An 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.
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.
This post was written by Charlie Berry, a doctoral student at the Institute of Historical Research and cross-posted from the History Collections website.
As a research student, a lot of my time is spent beavering away in libraries and archives. My thesis topic, neighbourhoods in fifteenth-century London, means that I am fortunate in having most of the material I need all in one city.
The collections available in London libraries and archives are extensive and usually remarkably well-catalogued. Since I mainly work with documentary sources, the majority of my research time is spent either at the London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell or The National Archives at Kew. The collections at both are vast, covering a broad range of periods and topics, and it’s easy to follow trails through the documents all in the one reading room. I’m also fortunate in that both the LMA and National Archives have printed and manuscript indexes available for a lot of the material I look at, which is invaluable for pinpointing the records I need.
Beyond the large archives, there is an amazing array of diversity in the collections available to researchers in London. My thesis research has also taken me to the Guildhall Library, which mainly houses the records of London’s livery companies. Local Borough archives too offer a wealth of material which is perhaps underused by historians. My local archive in Hackney is a wonderful resource I used during my MA as well as whilst recently taking part in a local history project. That project is itself creating an archive of material at the Bishopsgate Institute Library, which has archival collections specialising in radical history.
There’s such a large amount of material out there in London’s archives, large and small, that there must be a million untouched research topics hiding in the files and folders just waiting to be explored, with friendly archivists there to help you find them! History Day at Senate House is a great opportunity to find out more about the kinds of collections available in London (and beyond).
From John Britton’s The original picture of London, 26th ed. (1826)
Two years before Burlington Arcade opened, the Gentleman’s Magazine published an article describing some of the reasons for its construction:
It is said that after numerous deliberations, Lord George Cavendish [1st Earl of Burlington] has determined to appropriate a proportion of the grounds connected with Burlington House for the gratification of the publick, and to give employment to industrious females…What first gave birth to the idea was the great annoyance to which the garden is subject from the inhabitants of a neighbouring street throwing oyster-shells, &c., over the wall. The intended erections will prevent these nuisances in future and also block out their view of so delightful a place. (Gentleman’s Magazine, Sept. 1817, p. 272)
Going beyond the fact that Burlington Arcade served Lord Cavendish as a garden fence – a very ornate one, mind you – later visitors understandably commented on its merits as a fashionable, commercial space. In the 1822 edition of Samuel Leigh’s New Picture of London, the author states how Burlington Arcade, ‘is a handsome covered avenue…containing 72 genteel shops’ while during a trip to London, the Polish philosopher, Krystyn Lach-Szyrma (1790–1866) noted how:
High society only frequent places dedicated to fashion…a similar sight can be seen in Burlington Arcade in Bond Street, which is built in the shape of a long gallery lined on both sides with shops…
Both works, however, comment emphatically how the arcade is flanked by two doormen, ‘to keep out improper visitors.’
Turning away from these descriptive sources, the library’s collection of London directories allows a glimpse into who was trading in the arcade. Looking at Robson’s London Commercial Directory…for 1830, for example, we can see most of the shops specialised in the luxury clothing trade: listed were nine hosiers, two ladies shoe makers, eight milliners, two boot makers and one haberdasher. Moreover, although the directory only provides us with a list of names and their trade, one can make cautious, but educated guesses about some of the traders: at No. 15 Burlington Arcade was the hosier David Peden who also had another outlet on 228 Regent St. – presumably quite a successful retailer, while at No. 40 was the milliner Eliza Rainger, whose shop was next door to the jeweller, Frederick Raigner – possibly a late Georgian husband and wife business team?
From a facsimile of the 1812 Langley & Belch New Map of London.
Looking beyond Burlington Arcade to the streets to the north, the library’s directories reveal something of the early history of tailoring in Mayfair. Although Savile Row is now synonymous with luxury, bespoke tailoring, this was not always the case. According to Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide for 1817 Savile Row (or Street as it was still known) was the haunt mainly of medical professionals. It was nearby Cork Street where many tailors decided to trade. This trend is confirmed in Pigot’s Directory, 1826-7 and Robson’s London Directory, 1830 and 1835. However one does start to see a rise from 1830 (in 1830 four tailors were based in Savile Row, in 1835 this had risen to seven). Interestingly one of those listed, trading at No. 32 Savile Row was James Poole, whose son, Henry Poole (1814–1876) would go on to mark Savile Row as the destination for luxury tailoring in Victorian Britain and also invent the dinner jacket in 1865 for his friend, Bertie, the Prince of Wales.
In the 1923 Handbook to the Gold Coast, editor John Maxwell advises British crown agents and merchants moving to West Africa on what fashions were appropriate in those far-flung colonies. Some of his recommendations fit seamlessly into our Lawrence of Arabia stereotype of the empire’s explorers, like his worshipful praise of khaki, styled either as “shorts or long trousers.” “There’s nothing better,” Maxwell declares, though he warns that because “clothes deteriorate quicker in the tropics…it is therefore advisable to be on the safe side and take a small surplus rather than too little.”
However, his advice to bring “a housewife with a good supply of darning wool, thread, needles, buttons, etc.,” may be jarring for the modern reader unacquainted with the “housewife” sewing kits popular in the British army in the 19th and 20th centuries. Those young colonists who did pack up their human housewives were “advised to get in touch, through the Colonial Office, with the wife of some member of the department who has been to West Africa.”
The 1928 edition of the Handbook to the Gold Coast advertises the perfect underwear & shoes for the tropics.
Travel writing is full of the familiar and the strange, both for the author and the reader trying to piece together the history of fashion through letters and journals where clothes are described either meticulously or barely at all. If only those gentlemen on their Grand Tours had given us an archive of selfies, a repository of vanity that would have saved hours scrounging through cramped handwritten letters for the smallest detail.
While no such archive exists, we are lucky to have a prodigious supply of travel writing that illustrates a remarkable amount of fashion over the past few centuries. Though lacking the cultural nuance of someone speaking for their own country, these outsider perspectives offer a physical, and often blunt, description of how the people they met presented themselves.
Horror drove many of the writers to describe the fashions they saw, like the trauma of Baron Broughton during his travels through Constantinople. “Nothing can be more dissimilar than the appearance of a Turkish lady at home and abroad,” he says. “Her envelope is thrown off within doors, and…her under are then her upper garments, which, although covered with gold and other heavy ornaments, are certainly not contrived for the concealment of her charms.” Joseph Pitton de Tournefort was similarly baffled, though perhaps less scandalized, by the women of Turkey during his voyage through the Levant. “Though the Women in Turkey do not shew themselves in publick, they are yet very magnificent in their Habits,” he describes. “They wear Breeches like Men, which reach as low as the Heel in the manner of a Pantaloon, at the end of which is a very neat Sock of Spanish Leather.”
An illustration from Baron Broughton’s “A journey through Albania, and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia, to Constantinople, during the years 1809-1810″.
Though much of our travel writing comes from Europeans leaving the continent, their home countries are not spared from criticism. Muslim scholar Mirza Abu Taleb Khan was appalled by the women he saw in Paris during his 18th century travels, remarking that “the waists of their gowns were so short and full-bodied, that the women appeared humpbacked; that whilst the drapery in the front was so scanty as barely to conceal half their bosom.”
Not all comments were negative, of course, like the observations of Englishwoman Helen Maria Williams who marvelled at the ballroom fashions in Switzerland in 1798. “For a short time during the winter, in defiance of frost and snow, the costume of a few reigning balls was not à la Grec, but à la Sauvage. The bodice, under which no linen was worn (shifts being an article of dress long since rejected at Paris, both by the Greeks and the Savages)…was made of knitted silk, clinging exactly to the shape, which it perfectly displayed…and the feet, which were either bare, or covered with a silk stocking of flesh colour, were decorated with diamonds.”
Travel writing offers an invaluable resource for the history of fashion. To learn more, please see the IHR Library Collection Guide on Fashion History and check out our temporary exhibition located on the first and third floors of the library.
The IHR library’s focus on primary sources means that often we don’t hold material ‘about’ a particular subject such as fashion history. Instead, rich material for the history of a topic can commonly be found scattered across editions of documents that were never intended to be used by historians of that subject. An inclusive, wide-ranging, and laterally-thinking approach to identifying relevant works pays off. So when looking through the collections for material on fashion history to coincide with the forthcoming Anglo-American Conference we were not too surprised to discover a wealth of material in both obvious and unexpected places.
from The New York Mercury, 1758 in The arts and crafts in New York 1726-1776, p. 344
Here’s a couple of examples. A compilation of advertisements from New York newspapers contains an unusual source for fashion history, with details of the attire worn by runaway slaves and servants. Handbooks for British businessmen and officials travelling to the Gold Coast advised on suitable clothing. Fashion appears in the many editions that we hold of letters, diaries, and travel writing. Household accounts can include lists of clothing and information about costs and acquisition. Legal and parliamentary sources detail sumptuary laws regulating people’s attire, regulations for the textile industry, and trade agreements. Parliamentary reports and petitions cover the lives of workers in the industry. Lists and advertisements in trade directories are a rich source of information about businesses.
from A journey through Albania, and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia, to Constantinople, facing p. 855
A lot of digging is needed as the material isn’t all found in one place. Subject and keyword searching on the catalogue helps to find some specific material, but won’t track down things buried within other sources. Online resources such as the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, newspaper databases, British History Online and the wonderful Connected Histories – which cross-searches multiple resources – are all valuable for in-depth searching and complement the serendipitous pleasures of browsing the library shelves.
See our Guide to fashion history in the IHR library for more examples from our collections. Exhibitions showing works from the IHR and Senate House Library will be held on the 1st and 3rd floors of the IHR over the next month and there is also an online exhibition with beautiful illustrations of department store catalogues from the First World War.
The 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.
The exhibition is freely available at http://www.history.ac.uk/exhibitions/fashion/index.html, 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.
This 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback.
Next month, as you may have already heard, there will be a number of events held at the IHR to mark the bicentenary of Otto von Bismarck’s birth including an exhibition on the statesman and a lecture given by Prof. Jonathan Steinberg.
This is naturally, therefore, an opportune time to highlight some of the resources to be found in the library’s collections for those researching Bismarck and his impact on German and European politics. Given the central position Bismarck played in many different political arenas it would be feasible to write substantial guides on a number of different subjects (e.g. the nature of his relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm I, Friedrich III and finally Wilhelm II, the Kulturkampf, his attitude to the growth of German party politics, etc.). Yet here we concentrate on the three wars of the 1860s and early 1870s which would bring about the creation of a politically unified German state.
Text of Bismarck’s famous “Iron and Blood” speech.
Editions of speeches, letters and telegrams form the core of the library’s holdings on Bismarck where, understandably, one would find his words and thoughts on the prospect and viability of German unity and Prussia’s role within this process as well as the course of the wars with Denmark, Austria and France. The main editions include:
Moving on from the library’s extensive German collection one can find works of relevance in the Diplomatic History and Military Collections, especially regarding the Franco-Prussian War (the library now has over 250 published works on the conflict thanks in part to a large bequest from Dr. Vincent Wright). Other relevant works in the Diplomatic and Military collection include:
Additional material can also be found in some of the other national collections within the library. In the Scandinavian collection works on the war with Denmark currently include an account of the Battle of Dybbøl, the general work and source collection Manuel historique de la question du Slesvig and Den Danske Regering og Nordslesvigs geforening med Danmark by the Danish historian Aage Friis; a work about the repercussions of the war in Denmark. Besides the works already mentioned from the Diplomatic and Military collections additional material on the Austro-Prussian War can also be found in the Austrian collection, especially from the period of Richard Belcredi’s chancellorship. Additional sources on the Franco-Prussian War can understandably be found in the library’s French collection including a collection of the writings of Émile Ollivier, Prime Minister of France during the first few months of the war, as well as editions of Le Moniteur Universel from the years 1870-71.
For more information on the library’s German holdings see our guide on the collection or feel free to browse the shelves on your next visit (the German collection can be found on the second floor in the Peter Marshall and Past & Present rooms)
In 1921, the newly formed Institute of the Historical Research Research received a donation of Rivista Militare Italiana via “Miss M Froude from the library of Col. James”. An early donation, it made up items 780-864 of the library’s holdings – not only helping to fill the empty bookshelves, but marking the beginning of the IHR’s Italian collection.
94 years later, our Italian collection has expanded beyond Miss Froude’s donation by roughly 3500 volumes, all generally falling within the scope of early medieval to modern history. While the collection’s main strengths lie where one might suspect – for example, our extensive holdings on the city-states and kingdoms of Italy, particularly, Venetian, Tuscan, and Roman history – we also collect some specialties that make the IHR’s Italian collection unique within London and the UK. One such strength lies in our unrivaled collection of archival guides for Italy, ranging from the State Archives to the archives of little-known villages and monasteries.
Most of the collection is held on the second floor with our other European collections, where one can browse through the open stacks. However, to stay here – comfortable and easily navigated as this corner of the library is – would lead even the most eager reader amiss, for there are plenty of Italian books to discover outside of the EI class-mark.
The North American Collections Room on the second floor of the IHR opened its doors to readers last week. We are pleased to announce that over two-thirds of our American resources are now available on open access in the room. The resources are spread over 350 metres of shelf space and represent the strengths of the overall collection, including colonial North American History, Canadian history, the American Civil War, US western expansion, and early US constitutional history. The space is also home to the IHR’s English and Spanish Caribbean holdings.
Soon the room will be equipped with a projector and will provide a new base for several IHR seminars. It will also be used to host small workshops, book launches and other functions promoting American history in London. In this way, the library hopes that it will become a community space for students and researchers interested in early American history.
To mark the opening, the library will post a series of entries on the IHR blog devoted to a body of sources that constitute the backbone of our colonial American resources: archival series published by state and regional historical societies. All together, the IHR holds over 800 volumes of state historical society material relating to the history of the colonial and revolutionary periods. It is the largest open shelf collection of these resources in the UK. These volumes contain printed versions of a range of documents held in state archives, including – but by now means restricted to – personal correspondence, assembly minutes, and court records. The first blog post, to appear early next week, will focus on our New England resources.