As the year draws to a close, we at the IHR are looking forward to January’s research training programme, starting almost as soon as term begins with Public Speaking for Historians. Run by Dr Eliza Filby from KCL and Charlotte Endcott, a professional actor, this extremely interactive one-day workshop will blend acting techniques with academic practice and show how to communicate confidently, concisely and effectively in lectures, conference presentations, job interviews and all the many other contexts in which we need to put our views across. When this course ran for the first time last year, participant feedback was the ecstatically enthusiastic we have ever received!
Starting soon afterwards is An Introduction to Oral History, the IHR’s long-running and very popular guide to undertaking historical research by interview. Taught in ten weekly sessions by Dr Anna Davin from the History Workshop, this is a comprehensive outline of how to set about oral history research for those just starting out: it covers both the nuts and bolts of recording methods and more complex questions of ethics, questionnaire composition and how to get the most from respondents.
We still have one or two places left on the next running of our flagship archival course, Methods & Sources for Historical Research, which will be happening from 26-30 January. This intensive course consists of a day of lectures on how to find and use primary source material in archives, museums and other repositories, followed by four days of visits, where students will learn about a wide range of archives and the opportunity to talk in detail to archivists and curators about their own research.
Amedee Forstier, The Signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Christmas Eve, 1814 [John Quincy Adams (5th from left), Albert Gallatin (6th from left), and Henry Clay (10th from left, seated)].
Wednesday marks the bicentenary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the agreement that ended the War of 1812, the last open conflict between the US and Great Britain. The war was fought between the two countries over north Atlantic trading rights and territory in the North American interior. In celebration of this anniversary, this blog entry will examine the peace negotiations of 1813-1814 through the eyes of 17-year-old James Gallatin, the son of the chief American delegate during the negotiations and serving Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin. James accompanied his father to Europe and recorded the day-to-day challenges faced by the Americans in their dealing with the British and, perhaps more interestingly, in their attempts to arrive at a consensus strategy among themselves. James Gallatin’s diary reveals the human side of nineteenth-century diplomacy as a process of negotiation, not only between delegations representing rival nations, but also within each peace commission, where clashing egos among friends sometimes threatened to derail talks.
The Madison Administration sent several key members of the government to negotiate the end of the war alongside Albert Gallatin, including John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), James A. Bayard (1767-1815), Jonathan Russell (1771-1832) and Henry Clay (1777-1852). Adams, the future president of the US, was then serving as the US envoy to the Russian court. Bayard was a prominent Federalist senator from Delaware and Russell was the US envoy to Sweden. Finally, Henry clay was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and would later become Secretary of State during the Adams Administration.
The American delegation was beset with problems from the beginning, many of which were of their own making. The three men fought among themselves and with their British counterparts throughout the peace talks. James Gallatin recorded the first meeting between his father and John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg during the unsuccessful Russian-backed peace talks of October 2013. The two men had different thoughts about how to best advance the American position. James remembered: ‘After a stormy interview with Mr. Adams (Adams was the storm) father has decided to take his own course’ (12). To his frustration Albert Gallatin found himself marginalized by two of his compatriots. He, for example, wanted the negotiations to take place in London, thereby allowing the Americans direct contact with the British Foreign Minister, Lord Castlereagh. In this he was overruled by Clay and Adams who refused the suggestion ‘point blank’ arguing that, unlike Gallatin, they were ‘plain Americans and that in England they would only be treated as colonists.’ Geneva-born Gallatin did not understand their position. ‘You are a foreigner,’ they told him ‘which places you on an entirely different footing’ (21). From this moment onward the US delegation descended into regular bouts of in-fighting. Clay and Adams did not get along and often disagreed over how the negotiations should proceed. To make matters worse the Americans arrived in Ghent a month before their British counterpoints, leaving plenty of time for competing egos to clash and resentment to fester. James recorded these episodes in his diary. On 15 July he wrote: ‘Nothing to do. Mr. Adams in a very bad temper. Mr. Clay annoys him. Father pours oil on the troubled waters’ (27).
The situation worsened after the British delegation arrived in August. As Gallatin had feared when he objected to Ghent as the location for negotiations, the British, who had always viewed the American war as a sideshow in the larger conflict with France, sent relatively low level representation to Low Countries. Soon after their arrival Lord Gambier (1756-1833), an Admiral of the Fleet, and Henry Goulburn (1784-1856), Undersecretary of State for War and the Colonies, presented the Americans with a set of demands that they could not possibly accept. The British position regarding the North-Western Territory was utterly unreasonable from the American perspective. It required that the sovereignty of the region – which would eventually encompass the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois along with portions Indiana and Ohio – be returned to Native American control under the Guarantee of the British Crown. This would require the evacuation and repatriation of thousands of US citizens. A few days after this initial meeting, James recorded the despondency and frustration of the US delegation in his diary. ‘Father finds greater difficulty with his own colleagues’ he wrote ‘Clay uses strong language to Adams, and Adams returns the compliment’ (28). Gallatin clearly feared that both Clay and Adams could undermine the negotiations by making brash demands or by venting their tempers in the presence of the British. By late October the Americans began developing a treaty proposal among themselves. James’s diary reveals that this was, like everything else to that point, a tortured and exasperating process. ‘It is a most difficult task’ he claimed ‘both Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay object to everything except what they suggest themselves’ (32).
By November it appeared that negotiations were on the verge of collapse. At this point of despair for the Americans, Gallatin received a confidential letter from the Duke of Wellington, a man close to both the British Prime Minister and Lord Castlereagh. In it he reassured Gallatin that peace was attainable despite mistakes made on both sides. He informed Gallatin that the British ministry held him in high regard. The Foreign minister identified Gallatin as the senior member of the American delegation. ‘As I gather’, Wellington wrote:
Mr. Madison as well as Mr. Monroe [Secretary of State and future President] gave you full power to act, without even consulting your colleagues on points you considered of importance. I now feel that peace is shortly in view. Mr. Goulburn has made grave errors and Lord Castlereagh has read him a sharp lesson (34).
Two weeks later Gallatin received another letter from Wellington again stressing the Ministry’s faith in him: ‘I hear on all sides that your moderation and sense of justice, together with you good common sense, places you above all other delegates, not excepting ours.’ ‘I have always had the greatest admiration for the country of your birth,’ Wellington continued, ‘you are a foreigner with all the traditions of one fighting for the peace and welfare of the country of your adoption.’ Gallatin’s political opponents regularly questioned his suitability for office on the grounds that he was an immigrant and therefore harbored residual attachments to the land of his birth. He had been thrown out of Congress for this reason in 1793. James noted his father’s reaction to Wellington’s compliment: ‘Father, I think, was pleased. He is a foreigner and is proud of it’ (35).
Peace terms were agreed shortly after Gallatin received Wellington’s letters. Both sides agreed to the immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of the status quo antebellum. The treaty also stipulated that all border disputes be referred to territorial commissions (for Gallatin’s role in later border dispute see the blog). Having concluded the peace talks after several long months of stressful negotiation, the British and US representatives then sat together for Christmas dinner. This act initiated a period of peace and friendship between the US, Canada and the UK that holds to this day.
Every so often we get an enquiry about a natural history entry in a VCH red book. Largely completed before the First World War, the general volumes in each county series include natural history and provide a fascinating snap shot of the local ecology a century ago. The first natural history editor, Aubyn B.R. Trevor-Battye, recruited some of the most eminent naturalists of the day to write entries outside of his specialities. Notably the Revd T.R.R. Stebbing wrote the entries on crustaceans for all 40 counties.
Entries are often idiosyncratic and sometimes slightly bad tempered! Colbran J. Wainwright, in the introduction to the Lepidoptera section of Warwickshire Volume 1 (1904), bemoans the fact he has to rely on the Rugby School Natural History Society for a particular area as these are “..merely schoolboys’ records and naturally very untrustworthy”. Despite “many absurd errors which made one distrustful of the whole list” he admits that “no schoolboy is likely to be wrong about a species like Zeuzera pyrina, L.” and includes the reports “excluding the most improbable ones”.
Zeuzera pyrina. Photograph taken by Olaf Leillinger.
Whilst the charm of the writing alone often makes the chapters worth reading, there is still much valuable ecological knowledge to be gained. One of our more surprising requests came from the Kazkhstan Entomological Society looking for information on a particular spider (Sardinidion blackwalli). The researcher had found a reference to the entry in The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely: Volume 1 (1938) but could not find a copy in any library in Kazakhstan, Russia or Finland. In these cases we are happy to assist individual researchers when we can. For more on red book publications see our website www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk.
This post was kindly written by Rebecca Read, VCH Administrator.
We start with the latest installment in our occasional podcast series. Daniel Snowman talks to Professor Sir Ian Kershaw about his forthcoming contribution to the Penguin History of Europe series (no. 1705).
Next, following his original piece for us last year, Jasper Trautsch has revised and updated his overview of works on the War of 1812, taking into account a number of new publications (no. 1387).
Then we turn to David Carr’s Experience and History: Phenomenological Perspectives on the Historical World. Hanna Clutterbuck thinks this book will be a valuable resource for almost any historian interested in thinking more widely about his or her subject (no. 1704).
Finally we have The Transformation of the Psyche in British Primary Care 1880-1970 by Rhodri Hayward. Roger Smith and the author discuss a book which successfully marries the theoretically reflexive practices of science studies and cultural studies with the empirical precision historians necessarily demand (no. 1703, with response here).
• Junior Research Fellow Ian Stone has been awarded the inaugural 2014 Curriers’ Company London History Essay Prize for his essay ‘Arnold fitz Thedmar: his place in London’. The prize is awarded in association with The London Journal and the Institute of Historical Research. In addition to a cash prize of £1000, the winning essay will be published in The London Journal.
• Junior Research Fellow Courtney Campbell has three upcoming presentations:
“‘Ela vale um time de futebol’: Gender, Victory, and Loss in Brazilian World Cup and Miss Universe Press Coverage (1954-1962),” American Historical Association, New York, 3 January 2015
“Sixty-One Days at Sea: Fishermen, their Rafts, and Regional Identity in the Brazilian Northeast,” Latin American History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 10 February 2015
A panel that Courtney proposed to the Latin American Studies Association has been accepted. Courtney will be travelling to Puerto Rico to present her paper on “The Making of A Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” within the panel:
“Before and After a Pedagogy of the Oppressed: From Cold War Politics to 21st-Century Social Action,” for the XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015
Courtney also recently presented the following:
“The Latin American Region as Internationally Embedded: The Case of the Brazilian Northeast (1926-1968),” Latin America in a Global Context Workshop, University of Bern, Switzerland, 4 December 2014
A book chapter co-written by Courtney Campbell will be coming out soon. The book launch will be at the British Library on February 27. The book is titled From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.
[Jane Landers, Pablo Gómez, José Polo Acuña, and Courtney J. Campbell. “Researching the History of Slavery in Colombia and Brazil through Ecclesiastical and Notarial Archives.” In Maja Kominko, Ed., From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.]
• Visiting Research Fellow Cheryl Fury presented a paper in Hamburg in November at the “Early Modern Military-Medical Complex” conference called “You Make No Men of Us but Beasts”: Shipboard Diet & Health in the Elizabethan Maritime Community”.
Registration is now open for this major conference which will explore the ways in which London and its inhabitants were affected by, and involved in, the 1914-18 conflict. Organised by IWM (Imperial War Museums) in partnership with the Centre for Metropolitan History (IHR) as part of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, it will be held in the IHR new conference suite (20 March) and at IWM London on 21 March.
With a packed programme of wide-ranging papers, it is hoped that the conference will appeal to both academics and members of the public. Bookended by plenary lectures by Dr Adrian Gregory (Pembroke College, Oxford) on ‘London: a wartime metropolis in comparative perspective’ and Professor Jerry White (Birkbeck, University of London) on ‘London in the First World War: questions of legacy’, there will also be seven panel sessions over the two days, a conference reception on Friday evening, as well as the opportunity to view IWM London’s new First World War gallery before the Museum opens to the general public on Saturday.
On 20 March, the panel sessions will explore: ‘daily life and institutions’, with papers on local government and waste, policing and Kew Gardens; ‘enemy aliens’, focusing on riots, internment, deportations and the rise and fall of Sir Edgar Speyer; ‘transport’ – public transport, the Metropolitan Railway, and women war workers in the streets and railway stations; the ‘Empire view’, from the standpoint of Australian visitors, New Zealanders in London and African and Caribbean colonial troops. On 21 March, the session on ‘dissent’, will include papers on the peace campaigner, Caroline Playne, The Herald newspaper and anti-war trade unionists, the impact on the Anglican Church, and the East London Federation of Suffragettes; ‘air war’ will look at the interrogation of captured Zeppelin air crew, aircraft manufacturing and curating ‘The First World War in the Air’ at the RAF Museum; the final session will focus on ‘leisure’ – memory, work and leisure, Chelsea FC, and importing London to the Front.
This article examines the motivation, scope, findings and reception of the survey of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham which the French journalist Léon Faucher published in Etudes sur l’Angleterre (1843–5). Sources include Faucher’s letters, the original and revised text, the English translator’s notes, and reviews in the British, French and German press. Faucher’s fieldwork led him to question liberal orthodoxy and propose remedies to alleviate working-class distress. Exceptionally in eighteen-forties Britain, the continental socio-economic treatise was widely discussed and acclaimed. Elucidating Faucher’s thought and setting it in context illuminates the contrast between him and other writers, particularly Friedrich Engels.
Sir Charles Middleton, Lord Barham (1726–1813), occupies a pivotal place in naval history. His evangelical religiosity is well known, but while considerable attention has been given to how this shaped his administrative reforms, his manipulation of patronage to promote his co-religionists has, until now, been ignored or brushed under the carpet. This article uses contemporary correspondence, diaries and printed works to reconstruct for the first time a powerful nexus that bound Pittite politicians to Wilberforce and his circle, one that spanned parliament, the church, naval administration and the seagoing officer corps. In doing so it throws new light on how evangelicals gained such a strong foothold in late Hanoverian public affairs.
This article traces the adoption and ideological uses of the image of the pious Norman dukes in four consecutive hagiographical texts written in twelfth-century England. While this is a well-known topos of the earlier Norman tradition, its reception in England has been neglected in the existing scholarship. The article also examines further evidence of an interest in pious Norman dukes under Henry II, focusing on the translation of the remains of Richard I and Richard II at Fécamp in Normandy in 1162 and discussing whether the dukes’ official cult could have been established. The conclusion situates the material in the general context of the development of the cults of lay rulers in twelfth-century Europe and sheds light on the interplay between hagiography, historical memory and politics at the time.
The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London has promoted Dr Jane Winters, currently head of digital publications at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), to a personal chair in digital history. In the post below she explains a little bit about the development of digital history at the IHR.
In the summer of 1996 I was interviewed for my first job at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR). I can remember being asked whether I had ever used the web, to which the answer was an unqualified ‘no’. It’s a sign of how little penetration this new technology had that I got the job anyway. I might not have been familiar with it, but the IHR’s website (then called a ‘hypertext internet server’) had been up and running for almost three years. IHR-Info, which would become the current history.ac.uk website, was funded by Jisc as part of the Electronic Libraries programme (eLib), and this early investment laid the groundwork for twenty years of innovation in digital history within the Institute. In 1999, the IHR’s print and digital publishing activities were unified, although the IHR Digital brand was only applied in October 2010. During the past fifteen years, the department has been involved with a range of major digital research projects, including British History Online, the Bibliography of British and Irish History, Connected Histories, Early English Laws, Reviews in History and the History of Parliament Online. In keeping with the remit of the wider School of Advanced Study, its role has to been to promote and facilitate historical research nationally and internationally – by digitising primary sources, developing new tools, and identifying and mediating new developments in digital research.
All of this activity has been defined not just by innovation but by collaboration and partnership, whether with other institutes in SAS or with other universities, libraries and archives. It is also interdisciplinary, as evidenced by a project such as Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data, which brings together historians, political scientists, computational linguists, and computer and information scientists. As new Professor of Digital History, it is this collaborative and interdisciplinary activity which I am most keen to develop. The most interesting digital research tends to happen in the spaces between disciplines, involving people with a range of complementary subject and technical knowledge. The School of Advanced Study is well placed to foster such collaboration, and to act as a neutral space for the discussion of the significant issues facing us as humans in a digital age.
One of the exciting things about working in a field such as digital history is that you don’t know what will turn out to be important two or three years down the line. At the moment, I am particularly occupied with big data, through involvement with two projects funded by the AHRC (Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities and Traces through Time: Prosopography in Practice across Big Data) and the parliamentary history project that I’ve already mentioned, funded under the Digging into Data Challenge 3. Other areas on which I would like to focus include linked data, open access (of course!), the potential of the archived web for historical research, the communication of research using digital tools, making and materiality, and how humanities researchers engage with sound and moving image. I suspect that this list will look very different in a few years’ time, but it is probably enough to be going on with for now. I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
We start this week with Elizabeth Schmidt’s Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, as Jason Robinson and the author discuss a book which should prove useful and readable to many of those new to post-Cold War African history (no. 1702, with response here).
Next up is Medicine and Religion: A Historical Introduction by Gary B. Ferngren. Sophie Mann believes this work merits readership from any non-expert seeking a historical perspective on religious attitudes to sickness and healing (no. 1701).
Then we turn to Audrey Horning’s Ireland in a Virginia Sea. Emma Hart reviews a book which is a reminder that as historians move towards ever larger scales of inquiry, they should make sure that they integrate their approach with the insights provided by micro-history (no. 1700).
Finally we have a review article on Jazz Age New York by Christian O’Connell, in which he tackles Imperial Blues: Geographies of Race and Sex in Jazz Age New York by Fiona I. B. Ngô and Donald Miller’s Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America, which demonstrate that its history is a fertile ground for new scholarship, but also reveal the city’s ability to dazzle even the keenest minds (no. 1699).
British History Online (BHO) is pleased to announce version 5.0 of its website, launched December 2014. Work on the website redevelopment began in January 2014 and involved a total rebuild of the BHO database and a complete redesign of its website.
For over a decade, BHO has been a reliable and accessible resource for primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland. Throughout the years, the project has evolved and adapted to changing technologies, new user demands and a variety of content, but as an eleven-year old web project, it was starting to look its age. We faced a problem very similar to the one described by the Internet Archive: our project had evolved far beyond the capabilities of our website and it was time for a comprehensive redesign of British History Online.
In order to rebuild, we had to start over from scratch. We switched to a new content management system and set about reconstructing our site. All the content has remained the same, but we have created completely new interfaces through which to access it.
The new search interface has been designed in response to user requests to be able to narrow down their search results. By applying one or multiple filters, users can control the level of specificity in their searches. The title search queries series and publication titles, and can be combined with the keyword search to further refine results. The new browse interface allows users to see everything that BHO has at a glance. They can also browse by source type, place, subject or period.
All the changes that we have made to BHO have been to increase the usability and searchability of the site as a whole. We have stripped the site down to its core, but we are eager to add new features over the coming year.
We are also very excited to introduce new subscription levels. With version 5.0, we have added premium page scans to BHO for the very first time. These page scans will be available to institutional subscribers, and we have introduced several new subscription levels to make them available to individual subscribers as well.