Dr Simon Trafford, head of research training at the IHR, in his natural environment
Training in research skills for young and aspiring researchers has been central to the IHR’s remit since its foundation in 1921. In recent years, the training programme has expanded and diversified, reflecting both a great broadening in the scope of historical enquiry and also the increasing prevalence of highly specialised approaches that require of their practitioners detailed technical knowledge or computing skills. In the 2014-15 programme, which has just been announced, we have courses covering every aspect of current historical practice, ranging from the very traditional skills of archival use and analysis of written sources through to the currently burgeoning area of historical GIS.
Taught by University of London historians and other expert practitioners from national institutions, the programme has been designed to help students to acquire all the techniques necessary to their research quickly and inexpensively. The Institute’s training will also be of interest to those already established in an academic career but wishing to acquire or renew skills in particular types of specialist analysis. New courses will be announced throughout the year, but please see here for a complete listing of the current programme.
This article presents documents from the archive of the central committee of the Romanian Communist party, recording the January 1949 Moscow conference that established the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (C.M.E.A.). It argues that the creation of the C.M.E.A. began as a Romanian initiative and presents the process by which the document constituting the C.M.E.A. was elaborated in early 1949. There is generally very little information on the creation of the C.M.E.A., so while it was not possible to use evidence from the Moscow archives, these findings, corroborated by studies involving sources from other communist archives, will help to create a better understanding of this event.
The publication in 1999 of Patrick Wormald’s first volume of The Making of English Law changed unalterably the ways in which scholars approached the evidence of English law codes. When Patrick died five years later, the second volume of Making, which was intended to consider the real life meaning and practices of English laws, was left unpublished. Fortunately, Stephen Baxter and John Hudson have reconstructed as much of volume 2 as is possible and have offered it to Early English Laws for publication online, where it will serve as a reference work of tremendous importance for all who are interested in the legal world of the English up to the time of Magna Carta. In their introduction to Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law, Baxter and Hudson explain the genesis of the book and the nature of its parts.
We are especially grateful for the privilege of publishing Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law on the Early English Laws site because of a piece of the project’s own history. Our project started as an idea that arose at the memorial conference for Patrick held at St. Hilda’s College Oxford in 2006. All recognized because of Patrick’s work how much could now be done with the texts of English law. By the end of the conference, most of the literary board had been recruited, and soon thereafter the collaboration between the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London and the (then) Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College London (now the Department of Digital Humanities) had been agreed. Funding from the AHRC made this pious gesture intended to honour Patrick, and to extend his work, a reality. It seems, then, particularly appropriate that we are also able to bring Patrick’s final work to those of you who are fascinated by the intricate and challenging world of early English law.
One final point. Although Papers Preparatory is a conglomeration of papers, chapters, outlines and proposals Patrick had drafted at various stages of the second volume’s development, it should be cited as a whole with the following elements (according, of course, to the dictates of individual style guides): Patrick Wormald, Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century, vol. II: From God’s Law to Common Law, edited by Stephen Baxter and John Hudson (University of London: Early English Laws, 2014) <http://www.earlyenglishlaws.ac.uk/reference/wormald/>
This article looks at two ‘oaths of the community’ of 1258. First, it shows that the oath of the community at Oxford has been widely misinterpreted by historians: it was an oath of mutual aid, not an oath binding the community to reform. Second, it looks at the order for all in the realm to take an oath in October 1258, which has never been fully examined before. This order aimed to bind the entire realm to the reform movement – it was proclaimed in Latin, French and English – yet no chroniclers mentioned it and no mechanism was provided for its enactment.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the spread of what we now know as the cold chain sparked controversy in both Europe and North America. This article examines popular distrust of early refrigerated transport and storage in light of larger debates about how best to procure good food at a fair price. Expanding on E. P. Thompson’s concept of moral economy, the article shows that refrigeration proved controversial not simply because it helped de-localize and industrialize food supply. It also challenged norms that had previously governed trade in perishables, especially those concerning transparency, naturalness and freshness.
My colleagues in the library have already blogged about History Day, however I thought I’d follow it up from the perspective of the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) as I’ve had a number of enquiries which I can address here.
After an outline of the history of the Bibliography and its coverage I usually emphasise three points:-
1. The Bibliography has links (where possible and where institutional subscriptions allow) to a variety of sources including to full text via doi (digital object identifier); online collections of journals such as JSTOR and Project Muse; links to publishers; and links to other digital resources such as the National Register of Archives and union catalogues (e.g. Copac).
2. The ability to set up email alerts for specific subjects or authors or places (or a combination). Users can easily set up an email alert by following the instructions. The email alerts can then be managed by clicking on the “My email alerts” on the banner of the homepage. It’s a simple and effective way of keeping informed about developments in your research area (you’ll get an update three times per year). As an example I have an email alert for subject keyword “Intelligence” and period covered “1880-1945”.
3. The ability to export data to a range of reference tools, such as Microsoft Word, RefWorks, Endnote and Zotero. Again there are online tutorials demonstrating how to use these tools.
Additionally from History Day, some useful tips were picked up from Paul Horsler (LSE) who discussed reference tools. He also made three key points. Use the reference manager as you start your research, you’ll become accustomed to it sooner and it will save a lot of time at the end of research. Choose a tool you feel comfortable with and one that is supported by your research institution (if in doubt, ask your librarian). And finally, as with all software, make sure you do backups – you don’t want to lose all that research.
Last year British History Online published the complete series of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England. To introduce these volumes for readers who may not be familiar with the RCHME, we asked a number of experts to write introductions to particular counties. Here Charles O’Brien, one of the general editors of the revised Pevsner series from Yale University Press introduces the Huntingdonshire volume. Charles revised the volume Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough (forthcoming), so is the ideal person to put RCHME, Hunts in context. Charles writes:
Huntingdonshire was one of the smallest counties of England. In 1965 it was merged with the Soke of Peterborough as a new county but both were abolished in 1974 and absorbed into the newly reconstituted county of Cambridgeshire. Huntingdonshire’s identity is preserved as a district within Cambridgeshire but appreciation of local architectural identity is easily lost and so historians should still value the coverage given to it in one of the earliest RCHME inventories, published in 1926.
Nikolaus Pevsner, in his survey of Huntingdonshire for the Buildings of England series (1st ed. 1968) relied heavily on the Commission’s inventory while admitting ‘I am only too well aware of the inadequacies of my gazetteer. Anyone who studies the volume [of the RCHM] can see for himself how many timber-framed houses, how many staircases, how many domestic fitments are left, and guess from that how much more is missing for the C18 which the Royal Commission at the time …did not include’. Pevsner’s copy of the volume remains in the Pevsner Architectural Guides office at Yale University Press, and throughout the volume are his minute annotations and strikings out, indicating that the RCHME volume was in his hands as he carried out his visits during the spring of 1967.
Staircase at Stibbington Hall, 1625
A notable contribution to the Hutingdonshire volume was provided by Sidney Inskip Ladds (1867-1950), architect and local historian who became one of the authors for the three volumes of the Victoria History of the Counties of England (1926-1936). Ladds came from a local family, his grandfather was rector of Ellington, one of the many stone churches with a tall Perp spire for which Huntingdonshire is, or should be, well-known, and his father John Ladds was also an architect, with a modest living from church restorations in the later years of his life, an area of practise which would dominate Sidney’s working life. Partly as a consequence of his church work Ladds accumulated a very considerable body of knowledge of Huntingdonshire’s buildings and his voluminous files of scraps of paper recording his observations, names of architects, genealogy, recollections of incumbents and others are lodged at the Norris Museum, St Ives. Much of his close interest in buildings of every period is reflected in the coverage of the VCH volumes and clearly expressed in the RCHME inventory.
At least part of the pleasure to be taken from the RCHME volumes of the earlier period is in making comparisons between the photographs with the present day, especially the village scenes with their car-less and thus immensely spacious streets but also in the general character of the vernacular buildings of the locality many of which have been significantly altered since the early C20, if not demolished. Others are pleasantly unchanged (the interior of the Lion Hotel, Buckden of c.1500 is an example) and for churches and major houses there is little to record in the way of loss. Only a small proportion of the county’s buildings recorded by photos in the volume have disappeared, notably Conington Castle, but among the timber-framed buildings there had even by the 1960s been a higher rate of attrition and one will search in vain for some of the houses recorded in the plates section of the volume or at least deplore the often insensitive restoration to which they were later subjected, e.g. a seventeenth-century house at Offord Cluny (plate 102) which is now hardly recognisable.