Go back to the 1970s and you might see Ted Heath riding around on a ‘Noddy’ car. Depending on which generation you come from you will either know what this is or not.
What has this got to do with a History SPOT podcast I hear you ask? Well, the voluntary action history seminar held a session back in January 2012 in which Gareth Millward mentioned Ted Heath’s ride in a Noddy car as part of a talk on the role of voluntary organisations in the adaptation of disability legislation between the 1960s and 1990s. It seems, on this occasion at least; only through practical experience did politicians listen to those arguing that the Noddy car was unsafe. The car was withdrawn soon afterwards.
In this paper Millward investigates the political climate leading up to the disability acts and in particular the role of various types of voluntary organisations and individual networks that played a role either through lobbying or via provision of expert evidence. Millward looks at the topic through the lens of the polar-opposite models of the medical (i.e. that disability is a medical issue) and social (that disability is a construct of society and that the main issue is that a person cannot perform a specific social function and thus is discriminated against). These models formed the bank-bane to discussions, debates and lobbying around the issue of disability.
A ‘Noddy car’ or invalid Carriage c. 1976 (wikipedia)
Several organisations are singled out as particularly important to the discussion. First are those organisations who actively lobbed government through the use of academic research. First are the Disability Income Group (DIG) who were founded in 1965, then the Disability Alliance and Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) both founded and active in the 1970s. Then there are the groups formed by those actually with disabilities some of which were not prone to lobbying or playing politics but to actively helping those who needed their help on the local or national level. This second group included the Union of Physically impaired against Segregation who would later become part of the British Council of Organisations of disabled people. The third group were societies such as the Spastics Society (now renamed SCOPE).
Millward’s podcast is well worth listening to if you have even a passing interest in the subject. Taken in context of other podcasts by the Voluntary Action History seminar it acts as a reminder that history is not just an academic subject to be studied but a subject that should enable debate on current day affairs. Great strides have occurred in enabling people with disabilities to overcome those difficulties and reach an equal level of activity in society. However, there is more work to be done and podcasts such as these can be taken to help formulate new debates and discussions based upon older ones.
Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel, Hudson River (Wikipedia)
Abstract: Not long after the London Underground opened, American railroad companies sought to tunnel under the Hudson River, so they could connect their lines from New York City to all points west. Although the earliest, failed tunnelling effort in 1874 was strictly American, the second attempt was decidedly British. The 1888 Hudson River Tunnel Company was not only backed by British capital, but also relied upon the “greathead shield”, important for London’s Tower Subway. It also failed to complete the tunnel under the mile-wide Hudson, but the half-finished sections it left behind facilitated the completion of a railroad tunnel in 1908. The Chief Engineer for this final push was none other than Charles M. Jacobs, a brit.
This paper is about trans-Atlantic transfers of knowledge and capital in late 19th and early 20th century tunnel projects, with a focus on the efforts to tunnel under the Hudson River. Charles M. Jacobs, the British mastermind behind New York’s first subaqueous gas tunnels in 1894, the 1908Hudson & Manhattan tunnels, and the 1910 tunnels of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was certainly a key player in these transfers, but the paper is not just about him. In addition to Jacobs, Norwegian-born Ole Singstad was crucial to both the 1908 project and the Holland Tunnel, while the subterranean tracks of the original Pennsylvania Station were inspired by the Gare de Orsay in Paris. For too long, American transportation historians have written about tunnelling without a proper trans-Atlantic lens. This paper will redress this imbalance.
Biography: Tim White completed his Ph.D. in History at Columbia University with Kenneth Jackson in 2007, and is now an Assistant Professor of History at New Jersey City University. As a scholar, he has published a review essay in the Journal of Urban History, a full-length, peer-reviewed essay in Performing Arts Resources, and has a manuscript under contract and forthcoming from The University of Pennsylvania Press. This manuscript chronicles the theatre-related craftwork (costumes, scenery, lights, shoes, etc.) of the American stage from 1880-1980. By highlighting these activities as they dominated and then abandoned Times Square over the course of many decades, White argues that planning policy and structural economic shift transformed Times Square, if only briefly, into the Flint, Michigan, of American popular culture. It presents the departure of theatre-related craft from Times Square in the 1960s and 1970s as a major cause of the larger theatre district’s struggles with crime, prostitution, and drugs. His new research focuses on New York Harbor, its regional economy, and the late 19th and early 20th century tunnelling projects that were crucial to its continued growth.
Abstract: 1820 was a year of European revolutions. The events of these twelve months were probably the greatest test any British peacetime government confronted during the nineteenth-century. However, historical understanding of this pivotal year has long been fractured by over-emphasis on the constitutional crisis caused by the attempt of King George IV to divorce his Queen (Caroline). The continuing problems of post-war economic and social dislocation are less clearly understood. The attempted mass assassination of the British Cabinet (‘Cato Street’) is typically dismissed as the work of isolated psychopaths, when it was an ill-judged consequence of a much wider conspiracy. Other episodes are largely neglected, for example the general election caused by the death of George III, uprisings in northern England and Scotland, and the dramatic acceleration of violent unrest (“Ribbonism”) in western Ireland. The Government was constantly alert to the possibility of concerted links between British and Irish – and even French – unrest.
As part of the postmodern turn in the study of history, the focus on space (alongside the usual questions of who, when, why) has become a mainstream topic of study. Justin Coulson summarises some of the latest studies to involve spatial data and in particular looks at how the digital is helping to transform what can be achieved and discovered through such studies. Coulson notes current projects such as Locating London’s Past and Mapping London – both of which use geo-referencing to create accurate maps of pre-modern London. Then there are postgraduate and postdoctoral studies such as Tim Bishop’s use of the Antwerp Alderman register to enable him to create an accurate map of the property boundaries in the fifteenth century city. At the University of York, Gareth Dean is using tenement records to spatially understand nearby Swinegate, whilst Nick Holder is locating London friaries and their development through time. Carley Dearing (Liverpool) is creating 3D maps of medieval Winchester and Marlas Craine is employing ‘space syntax’ to understand public spaces in the nineteenth century.
Coulson’s own research is focused on neighbourhood in medieval London. Early modernists claim that the rise of the self (amongst other things) led to the decline in neighbourly activity that had previously existed. However, this previous existence of a neighbourhood community is generally taken for granted and has yet to take on any properly understood shape. Coulson therefore has sought to use spatial technologies to find out to what degree there actually existed a neighbourhood in late medieval London. To achieve this Coulson needed to find out who lived where and map this onto an accurate medieval layout of the city.
Abstract: English Modernism has been neglected for a long time. It is only recently that researchers developed an interest in that field. London’s Underground tube stations of the interwar period are one of the earliest examples, which demonstrate one kind of development of Modernism. In Interwar Britain the leading figure at the London Underground Group was Frank Pick (1878-1941). In the same time he was involved in a small organisation, called the Design and Industries Association (DIA). Pick adopted the theoretical background laid by the DIA for his commercial aims and carried it out step by step. He commissioned an external architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) together they developed a new architectural style for the London Transport system. Primarily this style was meant as a corporate identity for the London Underground Group. But because both Pick and Holden were involved in the DIA it should act as an example of an architectural identity for London as a whole city and by 1930 was eventually changed to an architectural idiom of the British nation. Therefore the stations of the Piccadilly Line can be seen as Pick’s development of a national architecture. But since European developments had played such a huge role it became a European style and, compared with American architecture, even international. Nevertheless the Underground architecture stands for the importance of the DIA, the strong influence that Pick and the world of commerce has on the architectural development of the interwar period and lastly, for architectural developments in the context of national identity.
Biography: Dr. des. Weber studied art history at the Technical University Berlin and archaeology at Humboldt University of Berlin. She graduated in 2004 in medieval architectural history. She undertook a course in Digital Art History in Munich between 2005 and 2007 and has received DAAD scholarships for research stays in London. She is a freelance art historian and has attended numerous conferences and written articles and reviews including those for the German architectural magazine, Bauwelt. Since 2009 she has been an assistant professor at Technical University Kaiserslautern in the Department of Architecture. She received her Ph.D. from the Technical University Berlin in 2012 with the thesis ‘Frank Pick, Charles Holden and the DIA: the significance of cultural transfer in English Modernism’.
Rachel Hammersley (Newcastle)
Franco-British History seminar
21 March 2013
Nathaniel Bacon c. 1760-1800 (wikipedia)
Abstract: This paper seeks to widen and complicate understandings of early-modern republicanism by challenging two of the most deeply entrenched assumptions about it: that it was inherently anti-monarchical and that it was emphatically anti-democratic. Detailed analysis of the ideas of a range of British and French thinkers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (including Nathaniel Bacon, James Harrington and the Abbé Mably) will be deployed in order to demonstrate on the one hand, the survival of older pluralist understandings of republicanism during the seventeenth century and beyond, and on the other, the fact that a positive understanding of democracy was already developing among republicans as early as the 1640s and 50s long before the ‘age of the democratic revolution’. Moreover, the paper shows that, paradoxically, it was often the same figures advocating both monarchical and democratic republicanism.
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Abstract: The work of the Almoning profession within the medical system of the late nineteenth century has been seriously neglected in historical study. Few references to the occupation have been made in previous studies, which have made no attempt to comprehensively consider the role and importance of the first Almoner in establishing the profession. The first Lady Almoner was Miss Mary Stewart, a member of the Charity Organisation Society appointed at the Royal Free Hospital of London in 1895. The decision to create the office of Almoner came jointly from the Royal Free Hospital and the Charity Organisation Society in response to fears that patients were abusing the system of free medical care provided at the Royal Free.
Royal Free Hospital (wikipedia)
The role of the Almoner was to act as a gatekeeper to the hospital, means-testing patients in order to decide if they were eligible to receive treatment at the Royal Free (and if so, to decide whether they could make a contribution to their care), or whether they were better suited to treatment provided elsewhere. No work to date has been carried out into the developing role of Miss Stewart or into the findings of her investigations. Miss Stewart kept an Almoner’s Record Book containing the fourteen reports she produced between the years of 1895 and 1899, when she retired due to ill health. Each report recalled the work undergone in the previous few months, and was presented to a Weekly Board Meeting at the Royal Free once completed. The book also contains the reports of the subsequent Almoners up until the year 1913. This paper however, is concerned only with the reports of Miss Stewart, in order to address both the initial and perceived role of the original Almoner in relation to the actual day to day activities she undertook. By the time she resigned in 1899, Miss Stewart had interviewed thousands of patients as to their financial standing, made countless visits to people homes in order to check their means and to follow up on their progress, and continually remodelled the classification as to who should be made to pay for medical treatment.
The Almoners book is abundant with information as to the occupation, earnings, demographics and living conditions of the thousands of patients interviewed at the Royal Free Hospital. The findings of the Almoner are therefore crucial in understanding the quality of life possessed by those people who attend the Royal Free for medical assistance. Moreover, the Almoner’s reports are also telling as to Miss Stewart’s conception of the patients, and in turn, of her opinion as to the amount of abuse the system suffered at their hands. Overall, this paper will examine the appointment, role, authority, and findings of Miss Stewart in order to create an understanding of the life, work, and legacy of the first hospital Almoner.
The next Digital History seminar will be streamed over live video link on 29 October 2013 at 5.15pm (GMT). See details below:
Title: Ideology and Algorithms: The uses of nationalism in the American Civil War and topic Modeling in historical Research
Speaker: Robert Nelson (University of Richmond)
Venue: Athlone Room, 102, Senate house, first floor
Time: Tuesday, October 29th, 5:15 pm GMT (please note that time differences between UK and USA are one hour less than usual)
The 9th New York Infantry Regiment charging the Confederate right at Antietam. (wikipedia)
Abstract: This presentation will explore the instrumental functions of nationalistic and patriotic rhetoric during the Civil War. Using an innovative text-mining technique called topic modeling to analyze the entire runs of the Richmond Daily Dispatch and the New-York Times during the war, it will suggest that the two newspapers used the same language of patriotism and nationalism but to different ends: the former to draw men into the army, the latter to draw voters to the polls to support the Republic Party. It will also reflect upon the broader methodological value of topic modeling, suggesting how cultural and intellectual historians can use the technique to interpret the concrete political, social, and emotional functions of elusive ideological discourses.
Rob Nelson is the Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab and affiliated faculty in the American Studies program at the University of Richmond. He has directed and developed a number of digital humanities projects including “Mining the Dispatch,” “Redlining Richmond,” and the History Engine. He’s currently working on a couple of projects. One uses a text-mining technique called topic modeling to analyze nationalism in Civil War newspapers. The other is an multi-year, collaborative project to develop an extensive digital atlas of American history.
Robert will be speaking via live video link. The seminar will be streamed live online at HistorySpot. To keep in touch, follow us on Twitter (@IHRDigHist) or at the hashtag #dhist.
By American standards, Philadelphia was a large, dense, and old city by the late nineteenth century. Concentrated at the narrow point of land bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, the city proper held a population of some 850,000 people in 1880 and nearly double that in 1910. One of the most pressing questions for political and financial leaders was how to move people and goods through such a congested city. Their answers were not so different from, and in some ways drew on, what they saw in London.
Subway–Surface trolley car travels along Market Street tunnel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (wikipedia)
As early as the 1860s and for half a century afterwards, representatives involved in transportation policy in the two cities exchanged correspondence about trams and subways. In particular, they discussed technological innovation, the public reception of and resistance to transportation, and the connection between transit systems and urban growth. To Philadelphia boosters, many of whom worried about falling behind New York City and harbored a certain Anglophilia, London offered a model of modernization and growth. Swift, economical transportation was at the core of that model.
This paper focuses on the development of Philadelphia’s transit system a century or more ago, while highlighting the connections between the Quaker City and London. The two cities participated in a transnational exchange of ideas that Philadelphians believed would help them keep up with the modern world. By offering an international comparative perspective, this paper should fit well with the conference’s call for papers that examine the political, social, and planning histories of subways.
Biography: James Wolfinger is an associate professor of History and Education at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. His research and teaching focus on urban, political, labor, and African American history in the twentieth century. He is the author of Philadelphia Divided: Race and Politics in the City of Brotherly Love (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) as well as numerous articles and reviews. He has received fellowships and grants from the Organization of American Historians, American Philosophical Society, and the Newberry Library. He is currently working on an urban and labor history of public transportation in Philadelphia from the 1880s to the 1960s tentatively titled “Capital’s Quest: Management, Labor, and the Search for Social Control in Philadelphia’s Mass Transit Industry.”
This year the Digital History seminar will again be streaming live over the internet. The first of these will be this coming Tuesday (15 October) when long-time attendee Adam Crymble (King’s College London) will be discussing his doctorate study. Please feel free to join us either in person (in the Bedford room G37, Senate House) or live online at History SPOT. Full details below:
The Programming Historian 2: Collaborative Pedagogy for Digital History
Adam Crymble (King’s College London)
Digital History seminar
Tuesday, 15 October 2013, 5:15pm (BST/GMT+1)
Bedford Room G37, Senate house, Ground floor
The Programming Historian 2 offers open access, peer reviewed tutorials designed to provide historians with new technical skills that are immediately relevant to their research needs. The project also offers a peer reviewed platform for those seeking to share their skills with other historians and humanists. In this talk, Adam will discuss the project from behind the scenes, looking at how it has grown and hopes to continue to grow, as an enduring digital humanities project and alternative publishing and learning platform.
Adam Crymble is one of the founding editors of the Programming Historian 2. He is the author of ‘How to Write a Zotero Translator: A Practical Beginners Guide for Humanists’ and is finishing a PhD in history and digital humanities at King’s College London. Adam is also a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute.