The IHR Blog |

New Historical Research article

by

Flag_of_Comecon_svgThe creation of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance as seen from the Romanian archives by Elena Dragomir

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.

New reviews: police control, British wildlife, communism, and child emigration

by

policeIt’s all change at the moment at the IHR, with a new Director, Professor Lawrence Goldman, starting yesterday, our Events Officer Manjeet leaving (she’s only going across the corridor to the Institute of English Studies – as our receptionist Beresford brilliantly described it, she’s ‘leaving for pastures new. Well, pastures, anyway’), and a new venue being selected last night for departmental drinks.

On with the reviews, anyway, and we begin with Police Control Systems in Britain, 1775–1975: From Parish Constable to National Computer by Chris A. Williams. Kevin Rigg and the author discuss a book which helps fill a clear gap in the historiography of policing (no. 1666, with response here).

Then we turn to Tom Williamson’s An Environmental History of Wildlife in England 1650-1950. Terry O’Connor praises an engaging read, written with clarity and care, and with only the minimum use of specialized vocabulary (no. 1665).

Next up is The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, edited by S. A. Smith. Jennifer Cowe believes this excellent book gives the reader the opportunity to see the global nuances of Communism (no. 1664).

Finally Christopher Bischof reviews Empire’s Children Child Emigration, Welfare, and the Decline of the British World, 1869–1967 by Ellen Boucher, an ambitious book of wide-ranging research and powerful analysis, which firmly establishes the importance of child emigration to modern British history (no. 1663).

Copying and Wifi facilities in the IHR – update

by

Our Wifi network is now in operation- we have coverage in all areas apart from the Foyle room. Please ask at library office or reception if you need details on how to connect.

Work on setting up the copiers/printers is still ongoing. Sorry for the continued delays and inconvenience caused while these facilities have been unavailable.

Discounted subscriptions to the Bibliography of British and Irish History for IHR Friends

by

Looking down from the top of the IHR stairs.

Looking down from the top of the IHR stairs.

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. 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 and articles within collective volumes. It is updated three times a year and currently includes nearly 550,000 records, with a further update expected during October; subscribers can sign up for email alerts notifying them when new records are added on subjects 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 2014 for the 2015 subscription year. New subscribers will have access to the Bibliography as soon as their subscription has been processed but all subscriptions will run until 31 December 2015, so you can enjoy nearly fifteen months’ access for the price of twelve. To apply please contact the Development Office by email 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.

Connected Histories, Lunatic Asylums and Witches in Early Modern England

by

witchesThis review was kindly written for us by our intern Grace Karrach Wood.

My original intention was to use Connected Histories in order to research lunatic asylums during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as this is my dissertation topic and therefore I already hold some knowledge about it. In order to go about this I input the keyword ‘asylum’ and the dates 1700-01-01 – 1900-12-31, using the ‘simple search’ function and reviewed the 5 matching resources from which the 7,908 matches came. However, it came to my attention that of these 5 resources, the authorisation failed for British Newspapers, the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers required a login and 19th Century British Pamphlets directed to JSTOR which displayed a preview of the front cover only. These set backs were impractical in terms of completing my research imminently, though still highlighted places which would be useful if I were accessing the sources from my university, which holds a subscription, or if I were in a position to subscribe to these resources as an individual. Nonetheless as a result I decided to change my topic to one which would have more accessible resources.

In order to choose a new research topic which was likely to have hits from large amounts of easily accessible resources I went back onto the Connected Histories homepage and scrolled along the ‘other resources’ bar until I found one specific enough to inspire me and have sufficient, relevant results. It was this method which helped me find the Witches in Early Modern England resource, which is free to use and covers the time period 1540 to 1700. Selecting this resource allowed me to read a description of the records, strengths and weaknesses of the content and the technical method by which the sources had been accessed and uploaded. This was particularly helpful as it allowed me to get a better idea of the records I would find when using this resource. As a result of this promising source suggesting a large amount of relevant content on witches I returned to the home page and searched ‘witch’ within the dates ‘1600-01-01 to 1800-12-31’. This search returned 44,586 matches across 16 resources, with Witches in Early Modern England appearing at the top, due to Connected Histories displaying the sources in order of relevance.

Searching through these 16 sources was particularly easy due to the layout of the site enabling you to preview 3 records from the source in addition to the option to ‘view more’, which shows additional hits without leaving the page. This allowed me to quickly decide whether the sources looked relevant without too much difficulty and saved time.

The sources which I found most useful were from John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments Online, Witches in Early Modern England, British History Online and Transcribe Bentham. Witches in Early Modern England was particularly useful due to the large number of first-hand accounts of witches it held from different perspectives, while Transcribe Bentham was advantageous because it showed the original document alongside the typed up text, allowing you to zoom and check for errors in the transcription yourself.

Overall I found that the Connected Histories page was useful in terms of identifying relevant sources in order to work from and discovering topics and details which you might not have been aware of before, however, the use of so many sources which needed subscriptions meant that it is only useful if you have a subscription. Furthermore, the fact that some of the resources had been published using inaccurate scanning processes meant that they were inaccurate and difficult to read.

British History Online welcomes new Publishing Manager

by

Sarah Milligan, Publishing Manager

Danny asked me to introduce myself to IHR blog readers so I figured I would tell you a little bit about myself and my position as Publishing Manager for British History Online (BHO). My name is Sarah Milligan and I joined BHO four weeks ago. Before that, I was a research assistant for two digital projects, the Map of Early Modern London and the Internet Shakespeare Editions, both of which are based at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. My background is in English literature (I did my MA degree on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese) but English and History tend to intersect quite a bit and I was a long-time user of BHO before I ever came to work here.

I only recently moved to London so I have been settling into the city just as I have been settling into the IHR. Luckily, everyone has been very welcoming and I think things are off to a good start. Here are some of my favourite things about working for BHO:

  • Receiving emails from readers telling me about the myriad of unique ways that they use BHO. On the one hand, having such a wide variety of readers makes it challenging to create a resource that meets all of their needs, but it is also wonderful to see BHO’s texts being searched and consulted in ways that we may have never anticipated.
  • The IHR encourages collaboration, both formally and informally. Whenever I have a question, I can usually pop into the office of whomever specialises in that topic and receive a quick answer. I love the sense of teamwork here.
  • Working in Senate House, in the heart of Bloomsbury, is pretty fantastic. I can’t help but thinking about all the great minds that have lived and worked on the streets surrounding our BHO office.
  • I am joining BHO at a really exciting time. We are in the middle of redeveloping our website and we are thinking about how to make BHO easier to search and more intuitive to use. We also want to develop a stronger sense of community amongst our BHO readers.

I am looking forward to letting you know about all the new developments we are working on. If you want to stay up to date on what we are up to, please follow us on Twitter @bho_history.

New Historical Research articles

by

Anthropometry_exhibit

Sterilization and the British Conservative party: rethinking the failure of the Eugenics Society’s political strategy in the nineteen-thirties. Bradley W. Hart and Richard Carr

This article argues for a revised view of the British eugenic sterilization campaign, proposing that a failure to maximize the contemporary political terrain significantly contributed to its lack of legislative success. The Eugenics Society’s unwillingness to alienate Labour or overtly to link sterilization to concerns articulated by Conservative M.P.s rendered it somewhat rudderless when, actually, it could have been attached to broader concerns (including the economic depression). While there were key elements arguing for a more aggressively pro-Tory stance, the fact that the strongest advocate of this course, George Pitt-Rivers, was so sympathetic to Nazi Germany undermined this strategy’s chances.

Representing commodified space: maps, leases, auctions and ‘narrations’ of property in Delhi, c.1900−47. Anish Vanaik

This article examines three ways of representing space as a commodity that played key roles in colonial Delhi: maps, lease deeds and auctions. These representations were related to the buying and selling of real estate in distinct ways. At the same time, they also referred to and relied on each other to give effect to their pronouncements. Two elements can be traced running through these disparate representations: connections between space and time, and the imbrication of state and property market. This article argues that the ability to utilize these elements in order to develop narratives about urban space was a critical constituent of state power

Patrick Wormald, Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law, vol. 2

by

EEL

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/>

Papers Preparatory to the Making of English Law, vol. 2 is available to read for free at http://www.earlyenglishlaws.ac.uk/media/cms_page_media/49/Papers%20Preparatory%20to%20MEL2.pdf (PDF, 2.1 MB).

New reviews: Childbirth, Melbourne’s youth, Justinian social conflict and early modern landscapes

by

michaels2Your deputy editor is working at home today, while builders, tasked as far as I can see with knocking an ever-bigger hole in the wall of our flat, toil around me. In the office, tapping away with other desk-based types, it’s possible to think that we’re actually doing real work. Next to someone with a sledgehammer, I just feel a bit silly…

Anyway, back to the pretence. First up this week is Paula A. Michaels’ Lamaze: An International History, and Salim Al-Gailani and the author debate a book which deserves a wide readership (no. 1662, with response here).

Then we have Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 by Simon Sleight. Andrew May believes this book is important because it reminds us to constantly ask who and what the city is for (no. 1661).

Next we turn to Peter Bell’s Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian: Its Nature, Management, and Mediation. Douglas Whalin and the author discuss a study which self-consciously embraces a unique paradigm for the understanding of the age of Justinian (no. 1660, with response here).

Finally, James Mawdesley hopes that Earls Colne’s Early Modern Landscapes by Dolly MacKinnon will encourage other scholars to visit the rich treasure trove of evidence of early modern England’s rural landscapes (no. 1659).

Interning at the IHR

by

internThis post was kindly written for us by our intern Grace Karrach Wood.

During September 2014 I spent 3 weeks working as a ‘digital humanities’ intern at the IHR in Senate House, London. Though most of the previous interns here had opted to work for 3 or 4 days a week for the full month, I instead opted for 5 days for 3 weeks, meaning that the experience was particularly full on and almost felt like I had already graduated and this was my new graduate job – though panicking about my dissertation at the weekends begged to differ.

On my first day I caught a far-too-early train up to Euston and spent half around half an hour pacing around London wondering how early was too early to go in and eventually arrived at reception. I filled out a few preliminary forms and was told that everybody ‘drank a lot of tea’, (which was most definitely an understatement) and that I should ‘feel free to ask lots of questions’, which I certainly did.

Throughout the weeks I was slowly given more and more tasks to work on, from listening to podcasts and writing their abstracts to proofreading and checking footnotes on unpublished journal articles. Some of my favourite tasks included learning to use Photoshop in order to edit scanned Parish maps and retouching and sizing book images for Reviews in History, as well as assessing and indexing collective volumes, as the books themselves were interesting to read and it required lateral thinking.

Although some of the tasks were less interesting than others, such as renaming map sheets, I always had a choice in what I wanted to do and was also given some more simple background tasks in order to break the day up, which meant that I always had at least 2 or 3 choices of tasks to undertake.

Overall my time spent there was enjoyable and I felt like I gained a lot experience, in terms of practical editing and writing skills as well as simply understanding what it’s like to work in an office environment and actually be awake and on a train before 9.00am. Everyone was really helpful and welcoming and the casual work wear and flexible days and hours meant the whole process was far more relaxed than stressful.

< Older Posts

Newer Posts >