We’ve now been open for two weeks, and the library staff are getting used to the new layout just as much as readers are. The book move took months of planning, and it’s pleasing to see how well the new arrangement works in practice and that most readers have been happy with it. A few books ended up being shelved in the wrong order, inevitable in such a big move. The library staff have been finding time to tidy these sections at times when there are few readers about. Much of the shelf signage is complete. The folio sections were especially disrupted while in store, and we are pleased that they are now back on open access and upright.
We’ve moved as much of the collection as possible to the open shelves, and regret that many periodicals have had to remain in closed access. Exceptions include the four most frequently requested periodicals (see below) and many record society and similar source-based series. The Current Periodicals room on the ground floor houses the last three or four years of most titles.
As most people will already have discovered, the 1st floor houses British (including local), Irish, Crusades, Byzantine and Church history. On the 2nd floor are the other European collections. The Military and International Relations collections are in the basement. Still under construction is a further room on the 2nd floor which will contain substantial parts of the American and Colonial collections. Watch this blog later in the year for news of its completion and opening.
Please note that three collections – Scottish, Spanish local and German – are shelved in rooms which double up as meeting rooms. Please check the IHR diary if you are planning to use these collections. Items can be reserved in advance of your visit if necessary. The rooms are:
Scottish History: Professor Olga Crisp room (room N102)
Spanish Regional: John S Cohen room (N203)
German History: Peter Marshall room (N204)
German local: Past and Present room (N202)
Some of the older (pre-1750) and rarer material has been classmarked S and is being kept in closed access for reasons of security. These books can be requested as usual, and will be stored in the library office when not in use.
The main changes to where items are shelved are as follows:
Collections moved from closed access to open access
Four heavily-used periodicals – Historical Research, English Historical Review, Past and Present and History
Most folios (BB and other double letters)
A new sequence of oversized folios (BBB and other triple letters)
Most International Relations and Military History
Most German and Low Countries
Selections from the general collection (all of E.1 Historiography, E.4 Holy Roman Empire, E.6 Medieval European history, selections from E.2 Reference works, E.3 General European history and E.7 Modern European history)
Collections moved from offsite to onsite store
European Universities (E.8)
Other selections from the general collection (the parts of E.2, E.3, E.7 not on open access)
Signage, catalogue and website updates are still ongoing, but do pop in and see staff in the library enquiry office if you have any questions.
Henry Littlejohn, a great man to have at any party
This week, along with the rest of the country’s media, Reviews is focussing on Edinburgh – but rather than referenda, it’s the sewers we’re interested in, as Tom Crook and authors Paul Laxton and Richard Rodger discuss Insanitary City: Henry Littlejohn and the Condition of Edinburgh (no. 1654, with response here).
David Cameron was up there too, and one wonders what his predecessors in the Conservative and Unionist Party would have made of the prospect of a break-up of the union. Many of these feature in Stuart Ball’s Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918-1945. Andrew Thorpe finds this to be as much a major contribution to historical method as it is to the history of 20th-century Britain (no. 1652).
Then we turn to London Zoo and the Victorians, 1828-1859 by Takashi Ito, which Andrew Flack believes sets the agenda for future research in this area (no. 1653, with response here).
Finally Shami Ghosh reviews two works of medieval history which will stimulate many questions for future scholars and students, as he compares and contrasts Reframing the Feudal Revolution: Political and Social Transformation Between Marne and Moselle, c.800-c.1100 by Charles West and Episcopal Power and Ecclesiastical Reform in the German Empire Tithes, Lordship, and Community, 950-1150 by John Eldevik (no. 1651).
We’re still waiting for the photocopying/printing equipment to arrive, and for the Wifi to be connected. We apologise for the inconvenience the delay has caused. We will provide updates when we have further information. You are welcome to use your own photographic equipment to make copies.
Reader desks are provided around the library. We expect the first floor reading room to be the most heavily used. If you find it fully occupied, remember that there are plenty of desks on the same floor in the Foyle reading room and upstairs on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
The Foyle reading room has book supports and a large table making it ideal for consulting large and fragile material as well as maps.
We have eight PCs currently available and three more will be added once some network faults are fixed. Two of these PCs have our new microfilm scanners attached, but are also available for general use when not required for this purpose.
Thanks for your patience during this time. We will put updates on the blog but please contact us if you’d like any further information on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7862 8760.
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.
This post was kindly written for us by Katie George, archivist of The Salters’ Company, with the help of the CMH’s very own Mark Merry.
September sees another new update to the Records of London’s Livery Companies Online (ROLLCO) project, with the publication of the membership records of two new Livery Companies and the expansion of the records of two already participating Companies. We welcome the apprentices and Freemen of the Musicians’ and Tallow Chandlers’ to the ROLLCO database across the period 1620 to 1900, as well as those which expand the Goldsmiths’ (from 1700 to 1708) and Salters’ (to cover the period 1636-1656) Companies’ records.
The records in this update form a good example of both the vagaries of archival survival amongst the Livery Companies (and indeed more generally), and of the way in which the ROLLCO project has obtained information about membership of the Companies across their long history. The apprenticeship and freedom records of the Musicians’ Company show a number of significant gaps during the 17th century, at least until the 1690s from which point they seem to have survived in a more complete form. This is by no means uncommon amongst the Livery Company archives. What this archive lacks in quantity, however, it more than makes up for in quality, especially later in the 18th and 19th centuries when the records are laden with consistently rich detail about the individuals making up the membership of the Company. The Musicians’ were clearly one of the Livery Companies where the members did not pursue their ‘craft’ as their principal means of making a living, as a glance at the occupations recorded in the registers indicate. Most numerous amongst the Musicians’ membership were individuals – men and plenty of women too – identifying themselves as victuallers (142), but almost every other occupation can be found too, from haberdashers to farmers, from butchers to apothecaries, and from perukemakers to tripe dressers. Only 56 out of the 6829 named individuals in the records are listed as musicians by occupation, although there are 12 musical instrument makers, 6 music sellers, 2 music masters and a Professor of Music. Another pattern that emerges from the Musicians’ records, and one that would perhaps bear closer inspection, is that a surprising number of their members gave as their address the name of an inn or tavern. Whether this was their place of abode or place of employment is unclear, but the pattern might suggest the broad involvement of the Musicians’ members in what we might now call the ‘service industries’ of the late 18th and 19th centuries.
The 9,650 apprenticeship and freedom records of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company begin in the 1620s, and do not appear to have been materially affected by the vicissitudes of the mid-17th century, despite the Company losing its Hall to the Great Fire. The information contained on the 22,162 individuals mentioned in these records benefits greatly from a vast and ongoing research effort undertaken by members of the modern-day Company, and the ROLLCO project is very grateful to Liveryman Lorraine Green in particular for making her work available. As with the Musicians’ records, the Tallow Chandlers’ are full of the kind of biographical detail that researchers crave – places, occupations, and career information are available for a high proportion of individuals mentioned in the registers. Many inter-generational and family connections can be traced in the records of the Tallow Chandlers’ membership. One such ‘dynasty’ can be seen in the Turner family, which included Benjamin Brecknell Turner (apprenticed to his father in 1830 and made free of the Company seven years later), one of Britain’s first photographers, a specialist in rural compositions whose work can be found in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Hale family is another example, which includes the twice Master of the Company and Lord Mayor of London Warren Stormes Hale, made free in 1814.
The new Salter’s records for 1636 to 1656 have been drawn from a manuscript volume catalogued under the title Index to Freedom Register No Longer Existing, 1636-1656, a calendar of now lost volumes offering a tantalising glimpse of the life of the Company and its members. Historical researchers are used to working with incomplete archives, and hints and clues and theories – indeed the detective work is one of the attractions for many – and often indexes which survive in place of their parent volumes can form vital sources for crucial periods. As Katie George, archivist of the Salters’ Company, suggests, slender volumes such as this Index are vital components of reconstructing ‘history in the gaps’:
‘When I needed to identify some mysterious initials, ’FM’, on a very beautiful 17th century delftware plate belonging to the Salters’ Company, the equally mysterious ‘Index to Freedom Register No Longer Existing, 1636-1656’, held in the Company’s archives, gave me the lead I sought, and thus enabled me, with the help of external source material and the invaluable assistance of others, to gradually reconstruct the life of a hitherto unknown Salters’ freeman. Francis Mercer, (made free in 1638), lived in Southwark. He was a mealman and soldier by trade, serving as an officer in the civil wars. From 1654-56 he served in Barbados and Jamaica as part of Cromwell’s Western Design expedition, in 1658 married widow Elizabeth Townsend in Southwark and in 1660 was arrested under suspicion of involvement in an anti-restoration plot. In the 1660s he and his wife finally settled for a quieter (but no doubt quite lucrative) life of delftware production in Southwark. He died in 1669, survived by his widow and three children, including a married daughter from an earlier, mystery relationship. A colourful life indeed!’
For many Livery Companies the middle decades of the 17th century comprised the period of the greatest expansion in their membership, trade activities and influence within London and further afield. For some Companies, this is also the period when sporadic gaps appear in their archives, for reasons of administrative, political and actual physical crisis. The Salters’ archive has fallen victim to the destruction of their new Hall in the Great Fire of 1666 for example, but as Katie has commented, it is interesting to note that the Index was one of the records saved, when others were not. One can almost visualise the Clerk and colleagues dashing into the Hall by the church of St Swithin as the fire approached, rapidly determining which records were important to save and which could be sacrificed…
Our featured piece this week is on The Modern Origins of the Early Middle Ages by Ian Wood. Paul Fouracre and the author discuss a thoroughly researched and written tour de force (no. 1650, with response here).
Next up is Benjamin Smith’s The Roots of Conservatism in Mexico: Catholicism, Society, and Politics in the Mixteca Baja, 1750–1962 , and Thomas Rath recommends a book which is necessary reading for historians of modern Mexico, and makes a lasting contribution to Latin America’s agrarian, political, and religious history (no. 1649).
Then we have Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell by Jonathan Reinarz. William Tullett finds this book neatly summarizes many current historical perspectives on smell (no. 1648).
Finally William Haydock reviews two very different approaches to the history of alcohol consumption and control, Pubs and Patriots: The Drink Crisis During World War One by Robert Duncan and Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44 by Dan Malleck (no. 1647).
This post was kindly written for us by Caitlin Brown, one of our interns via the Leicester University / IHR Digital programme.
I decided to use Connected Histories to research an area that I knew something about, but that I would like to investigate more. I picked the Crimean War as I had studied it from a Russian perspective but not from a British point of view, and I knew Connected Histories provided links to British Newspapers, 1600-1900. I used keywords such as ‘Crimea’ and narrowed down the date to between the 1850s and 1860s, as I wanted perspectives of the situation from both before and after the conflict. A problem I noticed straight away was that while many of the results were from British Newspapers, this was a resource that was restricted. This meant that these results were impossible to access from the IHR. However, if I had been researching from my own University Campus which has a subscription to British Newspapers, I would have been able to look at these resources. Apart from the newspapers and a picture from the British Museum, there were a limited number of resources available to investigate this topic further. I wondered if this was because I had selected a topic towards the end of the time period covered. Therefore, I decided to use the same methods as before, but instead investigate a topic firmly within the time period covered by Connected Histories.
I changed my topic to the Great Fire of London, and, using the date filters and the use of keywords, I searched ‘1666’ and ‘fire of London’. These results were more useful, as they were not all from restricted resources which required a separate login. Lots of results were thrown up, particularly when I narrowed the dates down to a few years around the actual date of the Fire of London (1666). A particularly useful resource I found was John Strype’s ‘A Survey of London and Westminster’, which not only accounts for the state of London, but also talks about the damage that the fire created, as well as Parliamentary acts that were put into place to deal with the damage created by the fire. It also gives specific numbers about what was damaged in the fire; for instance, 12,000 houses were burned down. Not only was this useful for learning more about the fire, it was a source I had not heard of before but was one that would be extremely useful in investigating London as a whole in this period. Similarly, I found a Dutch etching which portrayed the fire itself and its permeation throughout the city. Another resource I discovered through Connected Histories was a link to British History Online, which has several Journals of the House of Commons. This provided purely parliamentary perspectives on the handling of the impact of the Fire of London, for instance compensating people whose houses had to be blown up to prevent a further spread of the fire.
A problem I noted during both searches was that due to the process involved in putting some documents online, they were often unreadable and therefore not very useful. Also, sometimes the search engine can be slow, as it has a lot of information to process. Overall, using Connected Histories as a starting point for researching a particular subject is very useful, as it provides a wide range of sources. Some areas are more difficult to look into when you cannot access the restricted content, however this would not always be an issue, depending on location. There is some limitation in the amount of sources, but even these provide a stepping point by which to continue research.
We’re on schedule to reopen on Monday morning and looking forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. Over 3.5 kilometres of books have been moved during the last 2 weeks and merged from 3 locations into the new library, and the movers have done an amazing job and stayed cheerful throughout!
The catalogue and finding aids are in the process of being updated, but staff will be on hand on Monday to help with locating material, and we are happy to give tours around the collections and facilities. We welcome our new library trainee Alex Zaleski on Monday as well, and she will be learning the new layout with the rest of us.
Please bear with us as we get things straightened out over the coming weeks. Photocopiers and Wifi are not yet available but will be installed as soon as possible. There are some new PCs ready to use on the 1st floor (the rest will be installed next week) and brand new microform scanning facilities.
The much loved common room is fully refurbished and will have catering provided at lunchtimes and afternoon tea. We hope you will enjoy using the new facilities.
Just back from the other side – no, not a near death experience, but a quick visit to the almost finished new look IHR! There’s a smell of fresh paint, the books are in place, and the librarians have the thousand-yard stares that come with weeks of twelve-hour days spent calculating shelf yardage. For more on the move see David’s blog post here: http://blog.history.ac.uk/2014/08/library-move-under-way/ – and we’re due to reopen on Monday…
Anyway, life continues all the same for us on the mezzanine floor, and we start our reviews this week with Mark Glancy’s Hollywood and the Americanization of Britain: From the 1920s to the Present. Jonathan Stubbs and the author discuss a book which is likely to be enjoyed and admired by a wide readership (no. 1646, with response here).
We then have a nice cluster of early modern reviews for you to enjoy, starting with The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, edited by Allyson M. Poska, Jane Couchman and Katherine A. McIver. Alice Ferron finds this book provides a truly inter-disciplinary review of historiography pertaining to the study of early modern women in Western Europe (no. 1645).
Next we turn to David Loewenstein’s Treacherous Faith: The Spector of Heresy in Early Modern English Literature and Culture. David Manning believes this book highlights some of the perils of both cultural history and interdisciplinary scholarship between literary and historical studies (no. 1644).
Finally Sara Wolfson reviews Reading Authority and Representing Rule in Early Modern England by Kevin Sharpe, a volume which is an essential read for scholars working on the history of political culture, and a fitting representation of a distinguished career (no. 1643).