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Researching Cold War espionage in the IHR Library

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My name is Tundun Folami, and I am the Institute of Historical Research Library’s current graduate trainee.

In an exercise designed to improve understanding of what it’s like to use the collections, each of the IHR library staff have been undertaking different research projects using the library. This exercise was particularly beneficial to me to see how easy it is to access the collections, as I only started at the IHR library a week ago.


Using the library catalogue

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I chose espionage during the Cold War as my research topic and as a starting point for my research, I searched the library catalogue using ‘Cold War’ as a keyword.
Searching ‘Cold War’ by keyword brings up 88 results. Some examples included:

Britain, Italy and the early Cold War : aspects of British foreign policy towards Italy, 1946-1949
The Cambridge history of the Cold War
Canada and the early Cold War, 1943-1957
Chronology of the Cold War at sea, 1945-1991
Chronology of the Cold War, 1917-1992
The CIA and the Cold War: a memoir
The Cold War reference guide: a general history and annotated chronology with selected biographies
The Cold War: a history in documents and eyewitness accounts

Next, I carried out a number of searches to try and narrow down the search results to resources related to Cold War espionage, with terms such as “cold war espionage” and “cold war intelligence”. This yielded the following results:
Encyclopedia of Cold War espionage, spies, and secret operations
Operation overflight: the U-2 spy pilot tells his story for the first time
Cold War Anthropology The CIA, Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual-Use Anthropology
The CIA and the Cold War: a memoir
On the edge of the Cold War American diplomats and spies in post-war Prague
Voices of decolonization: a brief history with documents

The first five results were most relevant to my research; three of which were books available on open access and two were e-books.
I felt narrowing down my search to Cold War espionage didn’t yield enough results, so I scrolled to the bottom of the page and found a link to the IHR library E-Resources page. Here I found a list of links to online resources available onsite. I went through the list and ultimately, the most relevant results were retrieved from JSTOR and Times Digital Archive. These included journal articles, reviews and newspaper articles.


 

Working in the IHR Library (Wohl Library – Lower Ground)
My topic for this exercise was on Cold War espionage and so I chose to work on the lower ground level of the Wohl Library, as this is where the International Relations collection is held. I sat at the desk closest to the entrance as it had a PC which I could use to browse the library catalogue and it was near to the rolling stacks holding the International Relations collection.                                                               _DSC7337
Working in this area was comfortable and quiet, though occasionally the noise from reception on the floor above would disturb the silence. The room housing the International collection was also poorly lit, especially further in towards the window.

 

 

 


 

Summary

The library has a large amount of material on the general topic of the Cold War, both in the library itself and online as e-books and e-resources. When I narrowed down my research topic to Cold War espionage, the majority of titles   found were_DSC7340 from a U.S perspective. A smaller number of titles were retrieved for the USSR, France, Germany, Italy and Latin America. I felt it would’ve helped my search if there had been a sub-category in either the Military or International Relations collection guides on the website. There were a few issues regarding noise and lighting were the International Relations collection is held, but overall, working in the IHR library was pleasant and largely problem free, and an ideal place to start research on the topic I’d chosen.

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From pseudocopulation to human flight – a BBIH 2016 top ten!

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As the year is drawing to an end, we thought we would compile a selection of the most interesting articles and books we have come across over the course of 2016. Some of them are amusing, some of them are touching, and some of them are downright disturbing, but we think that they represent the wide range of material that we cover in the Bibliography.

(The articles have been ranked chronologically and do not represent any favouritism on the part of the editors)

1. Off to a flying start, we have ‘Human Flight in Early Medieval England: Reality, Reliability, and Mythmaking (or Science and Fiction)’ an article by James Paz in New Medieval Literatures about Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Anglo-Saxon Benedictine monk. Supposedly, inspired by the story of Icarus, he took to the skies with some homemade wings, launching himself from the top of Malmesbury Abbey. Incredibly, he lived to tell the tale, and after gliding for a full furlong, landed almost intact, merely suffering two broken legs. The article examines the mythology surrounding the story, examining early medieval technology and questions whether there may be some truth in the tale.

2. Perhaps Eilmer would have benefited from the subject of our next article, ‘Evidence for the Continued Use of Medieval Medical Prescriptions in the Sixteenth Century: A Fifteenth-Century Remedy Book and its Later Owner’ in the journal Medical History. Margaret Connelly has studied a manuscript from the fifteenth century containing 314 medical remedies (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson c. 299) and has charted its progress into the sixteenth century, where it continued to be used and added to by a London lawyer who owned it. The article provides an interesting insight into medieval ailments, and also how manuscripts continued as useful, everyday objects in the era of print.

3.  Unfortunately, there is no known cure for our next subject, ‘We Should Dress us Fairly for our End’: The Significance of the Clothing Worn at Elite Executions in England in the Long Sixteenth Century’ a sobering article in History by Maria Haywood. The article discusses a neglected part of the process of trial and execution, and examines the possible statements aristocratic prisoners may have been making through their sartorial choices.

4. At number four, we have a collective volume, ‘The Senses in Early Modern England : 1558-1660’, edited by Simon Smith, Jackie Watson and Amy Kenny. The essays cover a wide range of genres such as literature, drama and art, considering each of the five senses and  examining how the sensory experience enhanced reactions to cultural life. Chapter headings such as ‘Thou art like a punie-Barber (new come to the trade) thou pick’st our eares too deepe’: barbery, ear-wax and snip-snaps’ throw an interesting light on early modern art and life.

5. Continuing the seasonal cheer (!), Steven Taylor’s article ‘Depraved, Deprived, Dangerous and Deviant: Depicting the Insane Child in England’s County Asylums, 1845–1907’, also from History, explores the developing ideas of childhood during the nineteenth century and how they related to mentally impaired children. The attitudes towards these children, both from the medical institutions and family members are discussed, and the possible motives that both sides may have had in institutionalizing minors.

train

Image from Wikipedia

6. Our sixth article ‘Shattered Minds: Madmen on the Railways, 1860–80’ also taps into the Victorian fascination with lunacy. In the Journal of Victorian Culture, Amy Milne-Smith describes the moral panic that ensued from a number of newspaper reports that travelling on the newly constructed railways could induce insanity among men. Although fear of train crashes may have been a reasonable anxiety, there was also a concern that perfectly sane men could go mad when faced with modern, industrialized culture. Milne-Smith discusses the attitudes towards the fragility of the mental health of the Victorian male in this fascinating article.

7. A festive theme for number seven, titled ‘The Christmas Truce : Myth, Memory, and the First World War’ is a book by Terri Blom Crocker, analysing the truces between German and Allied troops in the trenches in the First World War. Rather than being unofficial and defiant affairs, Crocker provides evidence that the ceasefires were supported by senior officers, and charts how the 1914 truces have been mythologised as heart-warming tales with little regard for the actual truth.

8. ‘Antipathy to Ambivalence: Politics and Women Police in Sussex, 1915–45’ by Derek Oakensen is our choice for number eight, featured in Sussex Archaelogical Collection. The article focusses on women’s changing role in society after the suffrage movement and the upheaval of the First World War, and whether this created greater opportunities in Sussex for women wanting to join the police force. Women  patrolling the streets was a serious change to the status quo, and Oakensen argues that due to the ambivalence and disjointed structure of the senior police force, women’s roles within the police force were not clearly defined until after 1945.

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Mirror bee orchid. Image from Wikipedia

9. Departing from authority and moving onto a botanical theme, at number nine is ‘Deceived by Orchids: Sex, Science, Fiction and Darwin’ by Jim Endersby. Published in The British Journal for the History of Science, this interesting article discusses pseudocopulation (the biological trick plants play on male insects, pretending to be female insects to entice the male to mate, thereby enabling the spread of pollen from flower to flower), a phenomenon that earlier natural scientists such as Darwin had failed to spot, assuming that plants were passive. However, as part of to the infiltration of science into mainstream culture, writers such as Grant Allen and H.G.Wells portrayed plants in a new way, as having identities equipped with the means to pursue their own survival. It was these literary innovations in the depiction of plants which enabled early twentieth century scientists to make the  conceptual leap to understand plants as active agents, and helped them further unlock their biological secrets.

10. And finally, at number ten, we have ‘Went into raptures’: reading emotion in the ordinary wartime diary, 1941–1946’ in Women’s History Review. Alison Twells highlights the importance of social class when looking at emotion, an often understudied category. Analyzing the diary of a working-class girl in the Second World War, the emotional and romantic life of an ‘ordinary’ person gives an insight into the daily trials and tribulations of a woman in the twentieth century.

There were many articles that didn’t quite make the top ten, but equally as interesting, such as:

They tell me they were in fashion last year’: Samuel and Elizabeth Jeake and Clothing Fashions in Late Seventeenth-Century London and Rye

Masters of Healing: Cocaine and the Ideal of the Victorian Medical Man

Thumb Wars: Hitchhiking, Canadian Youth Rituals and Risk in the Twentieth Century

When the smoke cleared: Tobacco supply and consumption by the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918

Changing Conceptions of the “Poor Child”: The Children’s Country Holiday Fund, 1918–1939

‘Inequality’ and ‘value’ reconsidered? the employment of post office women, 1910–1922

From the Bibliography of British and Irish History, we wish all of our researchers a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year

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Remembering Conrad Russell, Historian Of Stuart Britain And ‘Last Of The Whigs’

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This post was written by Penelope Corfield, and originally appeared on her monthly blog.

When remembering my colleague Conrad Russell (1937-2004),1 the first thing that comes to mind is his utterly distinctive presence. He was an English eccentric, in full and unselfconscious bloom. In person, Conrad was tall, latterly with something of a scholar’s stoop, and always with bright, sharp eyes. But the especially memorable thing about him was his low, grave voice (‘Conrad here’, he would intone, sepulchrally, on the phone) and his slow, very precise articulation. This stately diction, combining courtesy and erudition, gave him a tremendous impact, for those who could wait to hear him out.

He once told me that his speaking manner was something that he had consciously developed, following advice given to him in his youth by his father. In fact, given his life-long wish not to be overshadowed by his famous parent, Conrad spoke very rarely about the mathematician and public intellectual Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). Conrad, the only child of Russell’s third marriage, was brought up by his mother, who lived in isolation from the rest of the family. But the eminent father had once advised his young son to formulate each sentence fully in his mind, before giving voice to each thought.2 (Not an easy thing to do). The suggestion evidently appealed to something deep within Conrad, for he embraced the slow, stately style from his youth and maintained it throughout his lifetime.

One result was that a proportion of his students, initially at London University’s Bedford College (as it then was),3 were terrified by him, although another percentage found him brilliant and immensely stimulating. Only very few disliked him. Conrad was manifestly a kindly person. He didn’t seek to score points or consciously to attract attention as an eccentric. Yet his emphatic speaking style, laced with erudite references to English politics in the 1620s, and witticisms with punch-lines in Latin, could come as a shock to undergraduates. Especially as Conrad did not just speak ‘at’ people. He wanted replies to his questions, and hoped for laughter following his jests.

Because he thought carefully before speaking, he was also wont to preface his remarks with a little exclamation, ‘Em …’, to establish his intention of contributing to the conversation, always followed by a Pinteresque pause. That technique worked well enough in some contexts. However, when Conrad took up a prestigious academic post at Yale University (1979-84), a number of his American students protested that they could not understand him. And in a society with a cultural horror of silence, Conrad’s deliberative pauses were often filled by instant chatter from others, unintentionally ousting him from the discussion. A very English figure, he admitted ruefully that he was not psychologically at ease in the USA, much as he admired his colleagues and students at Yale. Hence his relief was no secret, when he returned to the University of London, holding successive chairs at University College London (1984-90) and King’s College (1990-2003). By this time, his lecturing powers were at their full height – lucid, precise, and argumentative, all at once.

And, of course, when in 1987 he inherited his peerage as 5th Earl Russell, following the death of his half-brother, Conrad found in the House of Lords his ideal audience. They absolutely loved him. He seemed to be a voice from a bygone era, adding gravitas to every debate in which he participated. Recently, I wondered how far Conrad was reproducing his father’s spoken style, as a scion of the intellectual aristocracy in the later nineteenth century. But a check via YouTube dispelled that thought.4 There were some similarities, in that both spoke clearly and with authority. Yet Bertrand Russell’s voice was more high-pitched and his style more insouciant than that of his youngest child.

The second unmistakable feature of Conrad’s personality and intellect was his literal-mindedness. He treated every passing comment with complete seriousness. As a result, he had no small talk. His lifeline to the social world was his wife Elizabeth (née Sanders), a former student and fellow historian whom he married in 1962. She shared Conrad’s intellectual interests but was also a fluent conversationalist. At parties, Elizabeth would appear in the heart of a crowd, wielding a cigarette and speaking vivaciously. Conrad meanwhile would stand close behind her, his head slightly inclined and nodding benignly. They were well matched, remaining devoted to one another.

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Fig.1 Conrad and Elizabeth Russell on the stump for Labour in Paddington South (March 1966).

My own experience of Conrad’s literal-mindedness came from an occasion when we jointly interviewed a potential candidate for an undergraduate place in the History Department at Bedford College. (That was in the 1970s, before individual interviews were replaced by generic Open Days). A flustered candidate came in late, apologising that the trains were delayed. Within moments, Conrad was engaging her in an intense discussion about the running of a nationalised rail service (as British Rail then was) and the right amounts of subsidy that it should get as a proportion of GDP. The candidate gamely rallied, and did her best. But her stricken visage silently screamed: ‘all I did was mention that the train was late’.

After a while, I asked if she’d like to talk about the historical period that she was studying for A-level. Often, interview candidates became shifty at that point. On this occasion, however, my suggestion was eagerly accepted, and the candidate discoursed at some length about the financial problems of the late Tudor monarchy. Conrad was delighted with both elements of her performance; and, as we offered her a place, commented that the young were not as uninterested in complex matters of state as they were said to be. The candidate subsequently did very well – although, alas for symmetry, she did not go on to save British Rail – but I was amused at how her apparent expertise was sparked into life purely through the intensity of Conrad’s cross-questioning.

His own interest in such topical issues was part and parcel of his life-long political commitment. At that time, he was still a member of the Labour Party, having stood (unsuccessfully) as the Labour candidate for Paddington South in 1966. But Conrad was moving across the political spectrum during the 1970s. He eventually announced his shift of allegiance to the Liberals, characteristically by writing to The Times; and later, in the Lords, he took the Liberal Democrat whip. He wanted to record his change of heart, to avoid any ambiguity; and, as a Russell, he assumed that the world would want to know.

Conrad’s literalness and love of precision were qualities that made him a paradoxical historian when interrogating written documents. On the one hand, he brought a formidable focus upon the sources, shedding prior assumptions and remaining ready to challenge old interpretations. He recast seventeenth-century political and constitutional history, as one of the intellectual leaders of what became known as ‘revisionist’ history.5 He argued that there was no evidence for an inevitable clash between crown and parliament. The breakdown in their relationship, which split the MPs into divided camps, was an outcome of chance and contingency. Those were, for him, the ruling forces of history.

On the other hand, Conrad’s super-literalism led him sometimes to overlook complexities. He did not accept that people might not mean what they said – or that they might not say what they really meant at all. If the MPs declared: ‘We fear God and honour the king’, Conrad would conclude: ‘Well, there it is. They feared God and honoured the king’. Whereas one might reply, ‘Well, perhaps they were buttering up the monarch while trying to curtail his powers? And perhaps they thought it prudent not to mention that they were prepared, if need be, to fight him – especially if they thought that was God’s will’. There are often gaps within and between both words and deeds. And long-term trends are not always expressed in people’s daily language.

In case stressing his literalism and lack of small talk makes Conrad sound unduly solemn, it’s pleasant also to record a third great quality: his good humour. He was not the sort of person who had a repertoire of rollicking jokes. And his stately demeanour meant that he was not an easy man to tease. Yet, like many people who had lonely childhoods, he enjoyed the experience of being joshed by friends, chuckling agreeably when his leg was being pulled. Common jokes among the Bedford historians were directed at Conrad’s unconventional self-catered lunches (spicy sausages with jam?) or his habit of carrying everywhere a carafe of stale, green-tinged water (soluble algae, anyone?). He was delighted, even if sometimes rather bemused, by our ribbing.

Moreover, on one celebrated occasion, Conrad turned a jest against himself into a triumph. The Head of Bedford History, Professor Mike (F.M.L.) Thompson, was at some date in the mid-1970s required to appoint a Departmental Fire & Safety Officer. It marked the start of the contemporary world of regulations for everything. Mike Thompson, with his own quixotic humour, appointed Conrad Russell to the role, amidst much laughter. Not only was he the caricature of an untidy professor, living in a chaos of books and papers, but he was, like his wife Elizabeth, an inveterate chain-smoker. In fact, there were good reasons for taking proper precautions at St John’s Lodge, the handsome Regency villa where the History Department resided, since the building lacked alternative staircases for evacuation in case of emergency. Accordingly, a fire-sling was installed in Conrad’s study, high on the top floor. Then, some months later, he instituted a rare emergency drill. At the given moment, both staff and students left the building and rushed round to the back. There we witnessed Conrad, with some athleticism,6 leap into the fire-sling. He was then winched slowly to the ground, discoursing gravely, as he descended, on his favourite topic (parliamentary politics in the 1620s) – and smoking a cigarette.

Later, Conrad referred to his years in Bedford’s History Department with great affection. Our shared accommodation in St John’s Lodge, five minutes away from the rest of the College, created a special camaraderie. The 1970s in particular were an exciting and challenging period for him, when he was refining and changing not only his politics but also his interpretation of seventeenth-century history. The revisionists attracted much attention and controversy, especially among political historians. (Economic, demographic, social and urban historians tended to stick to their own separate agendas). Collectively, the revisionists rejected the stereotypes of both ‘Whig’7 and Marxist8 explanations of long-term change. Neither the ‘march of progress’ nor the inevitable class struggle would suffice to explain the intricacies of British history. But what was the alternative big picture? Chance and contingency played a significant role in the short-term twists and turns of events. Yet the outcomes did not just emerge completely at random. In the very long run, Parliament as an institution did become politically more powerful than the monarch, even though the powers of the crown did not disappear.

By the 1990s, the next generation of political historians were beginning to revise the revisionists in turn. There were also new challenges to the discipline as a whole from postmodernist theory. In private conversation, Conrad at times worried that the revisionists’ critique of their fellow historians might be taken (wrongly) as endorsing a sceptical view that history lacks any independent meaning or validity.

Meanwhile, new research fashions were also emerging. Political history was being eclipsed by an updated social history; gender history; ethnic history; cultural history; the history of sexuality; disability history; world history; and studies of the historical meanings of identity.

Within that changing context, Conrad began to give enhanced attention to his role in the Lords. His colleagues among the Liberal Democrats appreciated the lustre he brought to their cause. In 1999 he topped the poll by his fellow peers to remain in the House, when the number of hereditary peers was drastically cut by the process of constitutional reform. And, at his funeral, Conrad Russell was mourned, with sincere regret, as the ‘last of the Whigs’.

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Fig.3 Conrad Russell, 5th Earl Russell, speaking in the House of Lords in the early twenty-first century.

There is, however, deep irony in that accolade. In political terms, it has some truth. He was proud to come from a long line of aristocrats, of impeccable social connections and Whig/Liberal views. Listening to Conrad, one could imagine hearing the voice of his great-grandfather, Lord John Russell (1792-1878), one of the Whig architects of the 1832 Reform Act. Moreover, this important strand of aristocratic liberalism was indeed coming to an end, both sociologically and politically. On the other hand, as already noted, Conrad the historian was a scourge of both Whigs and Marxists. Somehow his view of history as lacking grand trends (say, before 1689) was hard to tally with his belief in the unfolding of parliamentary liberalism thereafter.9 At very least, the interpretative differences were challenging.

Does the ultimate contrast between Conrad Russell’s Whig/Liberal politics and his polemical anti-Whig history mean that he was a deeply troubled person? Not at all. Conrad loved his life of scholarship and politics. And he loved following arguments through to their logical outcomes, even if they left him with paradoxes. Overall, he viewed his own trajectory as centrist: as a historian, opposing the Left in the 1970s when it got too radical for him, and, as a politician, opposing the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s, when they became dogmatic free-marketeers, challenging the very concept of ‘society’.

If there is such a thing as ‘nature’s lord’ to match with ‘nature’s gentleman’, then Conrad Russell was, unselfconsciously, one among their ranks. He was grand in manner yet simple in lifestyle and chivalric towards others. One of his most endearing traits was his capacity to find a ‘trace of alpha’ in even the most unpromising student. Equally, if there is such a thing as an intellectual’s intellectual, then Conrad Russell was another exemplar, although these days a chain-smoker would not be cast in the role. He was erudite and, for some critics, too much a precisian, preoccupied with minutiae. Yet he was demonstrably ready to take on big issues.

Putting all these qualities together gives us Conrad Russell, the historian and politician who was often controversial, especially in the former role, but always sincere, always intent. One of his favourite phrases, when confronted with a new fact or idea, was: ‘It gives one furiously to think’.10 And that’s what he, courteously but firmly, always did.

Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell (1937-2004), 5th Earl Russell (1987-2004), married Elizabeth Sanders (d.2003) in 1962. Their sons, Nicholas Lyulph (d.2014) and John Francis, have in turn inherited the Russell earldom but, post Britain’s 1999 constitutional reforms, not a seat in the House of Lords.

Conrad volunteered this information, in the context of a discussion between the two of us, in the early 1970s, on the subject of parental influence upon their offspring.

Merged in 1985 to become part of Royal Holloway & Bedford New College, these days known simply as Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), located at Egham, Surrey.

Compare the BBC Interview Face-to-Face with Bertrand Russell (1959; reissued 2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bZv3pSaLtY with Conrad Russell’s contribution to The Lords’ Tale, Part 18 (2009), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ_u1WM7CYA.

The intellectual excitement of that era, among revisionist circles, was well conveyed by fellow-panellist, Linda Levy Peck (George Washington University, Washington, DC).

Talking of Conrad Russell’s athleticism, some of his former students drew attention to his love of cricket. He could not only carry his bat but he also bowled parabolic googlies which rose high into the sky, spinning wildly, before dropping down vertically onto the wicket behind the flailing batsman, often taking the wicket through sheer surprise.

The term ‘Whig’, first coined in 1678/9, referred to a political stance which had considerable but never universal support throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in support of parliamentary constraints upon the unfettered powers of monarchy, a degree of religious toleration, moderate social and political reforms, and opposition to the more pro-monarchical Tories. The ‘Whig interpretation of history’, which again was never universally supported, tended to view the unfolding of British history as the gradual and inexorable march of liberal constitutionalism, toleration, technological innovation, and socio-political reforms, together termed ‘progress’.

On which, see S. Rigby, Marxism and History: A Critical Introduction (Manchester, 1987, 1998).

This point was perceptively developed by fellow-panellist, Nicholas Tyacke (University College London).

10  Conrad showed no sign of being aware (and probably would have laughed to discover) that this phrase originated with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, in Lord Edgware Dies (1933), ch.6.

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Being Human: Night at the Library

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Night at the Library

All images © Lloyd Sturdy

We would like to thank regular Friday night library readers for their induldgence over a few evenings in November. Regular visitors to the library may have noticed the odd room closed for mysterious purposes, spotted our Low Countries post-doctoral fellow poring over the typography of the London Gazette from 1666, or been bemused by members of This&That Productions looking for trapdoors and other hiding spots. All this preparation was in advance of ‘Night at the Library: books of hope and fear’, part of the IHR’s contribution to the 2016 Being Human festival of the humanities (you can also read about the IHR’s other event and exhibition, ‘Beside the Seaside’ here).

The festils1432_0145val seeks to communicate the excitement of current humanities research, laced with the occasional dose of enjoyment. We wanted to do something in the library that explored the process of research, and perhaps introduced some new people to the richess and usefulness of the collection here. After thinking about some questions based around the collections, and making use of the library’s physical space, we very quickly realised that what we had in mind was a type of ‘Escape Room’, something that has rapidly become very popular since its origin in Japan in 2007 (and which can arguably be traced back to a series of popular TV shows in the 1980s and 90s). Ours involved a twist: we wanted to use a relatively new technology that uses small pucks to beam a geographically-specific message to a phone (or track participants around the room) via iBeacon or Eddystone protocols. Typically found at IT conferences, but also at a few cultural or heritage sites, such as Kew Gardens, it offered the chance to link the physical environment with digital resources. And with that, the ‘Book Sniffer’ was born (you probably had to be there.)

We also needed a theme. Being Human’s exploration of hope and fear quickly suggested the Great Fire of London, not least because of the 350th anniversary year, but again to pin the event down in geographical terms: the wNight at the Libraryinners would be offered a night-time view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the top of the Senate House Tower. An application to Being Human was submitted, and we were fortunate enough to receive a grant, enabling us to secure the services of This&That Productions to help produce the event and develop scripts for four actors would posed the challenges to participants as they made their way through the three rooms. These included an audience with a lascivious Charles II, full of hope for his new capital city, a concerned printer to the king, trying to keep abreast of the destruction as the fires raged, and a Dutch immigrant, fearful for her son who had been arrested and accused of arson.

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The challenges included the complexities of a name/place/subject index, the clues to the burning of the London Gazette‘s printing office left in its typography, operating a venerable microfilm reader, sorting early modern maps, thermochromatic love letters, and old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles. Props included real tennis balls (mistaken at the time for fire balls), and special recordings and playback machines created by the SAS sound artist in resident, Hannah Thompson.

We also had a visit from Radio 3 Free Thinking‘s Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott, who proved to be excellent guinea pigs for the event before our 70 guests arrived for the proper event. You can hear how they fared at the end of the episode that aired on 16 Nov 2016 (about 36 minutes in).

What next? It’s possible that the event, or something like it, may return to the IHR. We will certainly look at how the puzzles and ideas might be used in library induction or training, as well as think a bit more about how escape games might relate to historical teaching, and even research, in the future. The Atlantic reported on the rise of educational escape games, Cambridge Science Museums have run several succesful games, and there is even a blog dedicated to educational library escape games. Finally, there are question about heritage and the use of the past: what are we really doing when we are playing historical escape games? Perhaps we are as much escaping the fear of the present as recreating a hopeful past. As the reading rooms return to their normal scholarly hush, we look forward to reading a book on the subject.ls1432_0116

Finally, thank you for the team at the IHR, Senate House estates and Being Human who made the event possible, along with Hannah Thompson for the sound recordings and interactives, Rebecca Rideal for her suggestions and introductory talk on 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire, the Middlesex University Real Tennis Club (for the real tennis balls), Jon-Paul Little for sharing his iBeacon knowledge, and Professor Matt Dillon, for his reading of Terence: a text once read by a schoolboy by the light of a burning St Paul’s.

The winning team atop the Tower

The winning team atop the Tower

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Discounted subscriptions to the online Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Discounted subscriptions to the online Bibliography of British and Irish History are available to Friends of the IHR who may not have access to the Bibliography through a university or other institution.

 

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The Bibliography is a joint project of the IHR, the Royal Historical Society and Brepols Publishers, and is the most extensive guide available to what has been published on British and Irish history. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British empire and the Commonwealth, as well as British and Irish domestic history. It includes not only books, but also articles in journals (over 770 journals are searched) and articles within collective volumes. It is updated three times a year and currently includes over 579,000 records, with a further update expected in February 2017; subscribers can sign up for email alerts notifying them when new records are added on subjects, people, or places in which they are interested.

Friends of the IHR (including American Friends) can subscribe to the Bibliography for one third of the normal cost of an individual subscription. The sign-up period for the Friends’ discounts starts on 1 October and runs until 15 December 2016 for the 2017 subscription year. New subscribers will have access to the Bibliography from 31 December 2016 and subscriptions will run until 31 December 2017. To apply please contact the Development Office or by telephoning (0)20 7862 8791.

For more information about the Friends, and the other benefits of joining, please visit the Friends’ web pages. Similar discounts are available to Fellows and Members of the Royal Historical Society who will receive information in their autumn mailing, as usual.

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November issue of Historical Research

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Historical Research, vol. lxxxix, no 246220px-William_and_Mary

Contents:

‘A mission he bore – to Duke William he came’: Harold Godwineson’s Commentumand his covert ambitions. Ad F. J. van Kempen

The chronology of the de Mortemer family of Wigmore, c.1075–1185, and the consolidation of a Marcher lordship. Ian Mortimer

Magna Carta, canon law and pastoral care: excommunication and the church’s publication of the charter. Felicity G. Hill

The English parishes and knights’ fees tax of 1428: a study in fiscal politics and administration. Alex Brayson

‘Per peli e per segni’. Muster rolls, lists and notes: practical military records relating to the last Florentine ordinanze and militia, from Machiavelli to the fall of the Republic (1506–30). Andrea Guidi

Penitence, preachers and politics 1533–47: Thomas Cranmer’s influence on church teaching on penance during the Henrician Reformation. Eric Bramhall

Memories of violence and New English identities in early modern Ireland. Joan Redmond [OPEN ACCESS]

An inflammatory match? Public anxiety and political assurance at the wedding of William III and Mary II. Catriona Murray

Lord Kames’s analysis of the natural origins of religion: the Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1751). R. J. W. Mills

‘We have to compliment the Aristocracy on the exhibition of their morals’: the Ellenborough divorce case (1830) and the politics of scandal in pre-reform London and Vormärz Vienna. Greet De Bock

War, religion and anti-slavery ideology: Isaac Nelson’s radical abolitionist examination of the American civil war. Daniel Ritchie

British humanitarianism and the Russian famine, 1891–2. Luke Kelly

A man called Mahaffy: an Irish cosmopolitan confronts crisis, 1899–1919. Tomás Irish

Combined operations and British strategy, 1900–9. Shawn Grimes

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Inaugural Kehoe Lecture in Irish History

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Inaugural Kehoe Lecture in Irish History 2016

“Never so simple and clear again”: Memory, Disillusionment and the Aftermath of the Irish Revolution.

Speaker: Professor Roy Foster (University of Oxford)

The IHR invites you to join us in Beveridge Hall on Tuesday 15 November 2016, for the Inaugural Kehoe Lecture in Irish History 2016 by Professor Roy Foster.

The lecture is free to attend, but advanced regisration is required. Register now

Lecture: 6.00-7.30pm
Reception: 7.30-8.30pm


Professor Roy Foster is Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and the author of many books on modern Irish history and culture, including Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (1989), Paddy and Mr Punch (1993), The Irish Story: telling tales and making it up in Ireland (2001), Luck and the Irish: a brief history of change, 1970-2000 (2007) and the two-volume biography of W.B.Yeats, The Apprentice Mage, 1865-1914 (1997) and The Arch Poet, 1915-1939 (2003) and Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances (2011), based on his 2009 Clark Lectures at Cambridge, which deals with a number of Irish writers of the nineteenth century, including Sheridan LeFanu and Bram Stoker. His most recent book is Vivid Faces: the revolutionary generation in Ireland 1890-1923 (2014).
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Oxford Dictionary of National Biography adds its 60,000th person in the latest update

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Two_Women_in_a_Garden_(Ravilious)The latest update to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography—published on Thursday 6 October 2016—adds biographies of 89 men and women active over 500 years of British history.

October’s update includes an entry on the artist Tirzah Garwood (1908-1951), who was married to Eric Ravilious, who becomes the 60,000th person to be added to Dictionary.

The October update also adds 35 biographies of early nineteenth-century slave-owners, who were recipients of compensation from the Commissioners of Slave Compensation after the passing of the Abolition Act in 1833. These biographies have been researched and written in collaboration with the new Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership at University College London.

New figures include John Stewart (1789-1860), a slave owner in Berbice, who was probably of African descent. As an MP, Stewart represented the concerns of the West India interest while establishing business interests in the City of London: he is thought to have been the first MP of black or mixed race.

The October update also adds 40 biographies of men and women associated with the city of Hull, which is UK City of Culture, 2017. Among those now added to the Dictionary are Ethel Leginska (1886-1970)—who was born in Hull, and became a noted composer and the first woman to conduct some of the world’s leading orchestras—and Jean Hartley (1933-2011) who published The Less Deceived—the first volume of poems by Philip Larkin, following the poet’s arrival in Hull.

October’s update also adds 2500 new links from ODNB entries to external resources, offering additional biographical information. These include:

Highlights from the new edition are available here. The Oxford DNB is the national record of 60,000 men and women who’ve shaped all walks of British life, worldwide, from the Roman occupation to the 21st century.

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Bibliography of British and Irish History updated (September 2016)

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An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 30 September. There are 4,962 new records, some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 240 deal with the history of London, 324 with the history of Scotland and 262 with the history of Wales.  The overall total of records available online is now 579,638.

We are pleased to welcome a new section editor to our editorial teamDr Colin Veach  Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Hull, who will be dealing with Irish history to c. 1640. He succeeds Dr Beth Hartland, for whose expert help over the last few years we are very grateful.

We also welcome Dr Adam Chapman, Editor and Training Co-ordinator with the Victoria County History based at the IHR, who will be dealing with England 1066-1500.

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We expect to release the next update in February 2017.  You can always find out more about the Bibliography at http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/bbih or, if you already have access to the Bibliography, you can sign up for email alerts so as to be notified each time the Bibliography is updated with records on a subject or subjects of your choice.

 

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More than just drama – Shakespeare and BBIH

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You can’t help avoiding Shakespeare and the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of his death, especially when entering Senate House and its ceremonial staircase. Each morning I am greeted by the playwright’s staring eyes and, each morning, I think I ought to write a post. So here goes.

Knowing I loved my books, he furnished me / From mine own library with volumes that / I prize above my dukedom.

Senate House Shakespeare celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare has 1860 references on BBIH, surpassing Elizabeth I (1158 references), Winston Churchill (1273) and Geoffrey Chaucer (650). But, as I alluded to in my title, there is more to Shakespeare than drama.

A Person as subject search for “Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616” brings up the aforementioned 1860 references.  However if I add in Subject tree “Representations of politics” there are over 200 references.

Brepolis  BBIH(6)

Picking out some titles, we can further narrow the search down. So Silences of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare’s Isabella discusses royal marriages or lack thereof; while  Shakespeare’s curse : the aporias of ritual exclusion in early modern royal drama  explores royal ceremonial; and  Hamlet and Succession discusses royal succession.

 

Shakespeare and rp

 

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Shakespeare and Royal succession (click to enlarge)

 

 

So by narrowing the search in the subject tree for “Succession, royal” we get 15 hits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare Roman catholic

Shakespeare and Roman Catholicism (click to enlarge)

 

 

Shakespeare’s reputed Roman Catholic sympathies can be examined and the research further extended by looking for biographies of the writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare biography

Shakespeare biographies (click to enlarge)

 

 

After a quick straw poll of the office, and in no particular order, here are our top three references to Shakespeare.

From Jew to Puritan: The emblematic owl in early English culture by Brett Hirsch, which discusses the image of the owl to portray Jews, Puritans and Catholics in pamphlets, prints and drama.

Coverture and its discontents: legal fictions on and off the early modern English stage by Natasha Korda, which outlines the law as represented in plays by Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson and Shakespeare.

And, finally, The Shakespeare circle : an alternative biography by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells,  covering in detail his family (including his parents and siblings) as well as his friends and collaborators.

 

 

 

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New Historical Research Early View articles

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William_and_MaryAn inflammatory match? Public anxiety and political assurance at the wedding of William III and Mary II. Catriona Murray

There were undercurrents of discontent amidst the public rejoicing which met the marriage of the future William III and Mary II in November 1677. This article examines the nature of those public misgivings and assesses how Stuart and Orange propaganda responded to the ensuing doubts and anxieties. Through detailed analysis of public festivities, medals and prints, it explores the development of complex images which endorsed the policies and personalities of husband and wife. Ultimately, these hitherto neglected representations of William and Mary were both persuasive and influential, providing the foundations for their regal portrayal, following the 1688 revolution.

Penitence, preachers and politics 1533–47: Thomas Cranmer’s influence on church teaching on penance during the Henrician Reformation. Eric Bramhall

This article examines the reform of the penitential system during the reign of Henry VIII. It considers the call to reform, and analyses official statements from the Ten Articles (1536) to the King’s Book (1543), which is usually regarded as a victory for traditional religion. A careful assessment of the section of the King’s Book on the sacrament of penance, and of the King’s Primer, reveals that in this area evangelical reformers made gains. It shows Cranmer influencing Henry’s religious policy, and as such challenges George Bernard’s position. The article therefore argues for the major significance of penitential reform in the English Reformation.

Lord Kames’s analysis of the natural origins of religion: the Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1751). R. J. W. Mills

This article investigates the discussion of the origins and development of religious belief within the Scottish jurist and philosopher Henry Home, Lord Kames’s Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1751). Kames’s work is argued to be a significant yet understudied contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment’s examination of religion as a human phenomenon. The Principles contained one of the lengthiest analyses on the topic published by a Scottish literatus. In particular, Kames placed into a historical trajectory the internal sense theory’s account of the non-rational origins of religious belief. In doing so, he provided an apologetic account of the progress from polytheism to monotheism resulting from the emergence of civil society, which set the tone for later Scottish discussions of religion.

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