Entries are invited for this year’s Pollard Prize (sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.) awarded for the best paper presented at an IHR seminar 2015-16 by a postgraduate student or by a researcher within one year of completing the PhD.
Fast track publication in the prestigious IHR journal, Historical Research, and £200 of Blackwell books.
Runner up prizes
Publication in Historical Research, and a selection of Blackwell books.
Applicants are required to have delivered a paper during the academic year in which the award is made. Submissions should be supported by a reference from a convenor of the appropriate seminar. Papers should be fully footnoted, although it is not necessary at this stage to follow Historical Research house style. All papers submitted must be eligible for publication.
– New research guide for the Scottish and Scottish Local Collections –
Frank E Jamieson, Scottish Lake Landscape in front of Mountains
The Institute of Historical Research Library team have recently compiled a guide to the Library’s Scottish history holdings. The guide gives an overview of both the Scottish and Scottish local collections, provides details of classmarks and locations of materials, and highlights selected themes within the collections.
The Library’s Scotland holdings contain significant collections of travel diaries, private correspondence and diaries. In addition, the collection also holds a large selection of the records of Scottish government dating from the medieval period to the end of the seventeenth century alongside a collection of biographical reference works.
The collections also comprise strong holdings in Scottish local history, as well as a selected collection of journals and periodicals relating to the history of Scotland.
The guide complements and refers to other collections within the Library, most notably the general British collection and the Colonial Africa and North American collections – both of which contain several items relating to the emigration and exploration of Scots around the world. The guide concludes with details of other relevant libraries and institutions with extensive holdings on the history of Scotland.
We begin this week with Russia in the Microphone Age: A History of Soviet Radio, 1919-1970 by Stephen Lovell, as Allan Jones and the author debate an engrossing history of Soviet broadcasting (no. 1907, with response here).
Next up is Angela Woollacott’s Settler Society in the Australian Colonies: Self-Government and Imperial Culture. Bernard Attard and the author discuss a stimulating and thought-provoking study of the nature and dynamics of settler colonialism (no. 1906, with response here).
Then we turn to Germany 1916-23: A Revolution in Context, edited by Klaus Weinhauer, Anthony McElligott and Kirsten Heinsohn. Alex Burkhardt believes the editors have fulfilled their brief to provide an impetus for new ‘cultural-historical’ directions in research on the German Revolution (no. 1905).
Finally we have E. R. Truitt’s Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art, which Stefano Gulizia praises as an evocative book, the first survey of its kind in the English-speaking academic world (no. 1904).
This article is a reassessment of Anne of Kiev as mother and guardian in the early years of the minority reign of her son, Philip I of France. The available chronicle evidence is re-examined and more emphasis is given to documentary sources which have previously been disregarded or overlooked. The article addresses outdated judgements about Anne’s role which are still prevalent in the historiography and aims finally to put them to rest, while arguing that Anne played a far more active role than has been suggested before. [OPEN ACCESS]
A comprehensive analysis of Bede’s references to ‘hides’ provides insights into his sources. Bede’s references are of two different types, revealing two different kinds of sources, which might most simply be termed ‘charter type’ and ‘tribute type’. Examining the first set reveals that in writing the Historia Ecclesiastica and especially the Historia Abbatum, Bede had access to documentary sources, some of the language of which is probably preserved in his works. In the absence of separately surviving Northumbrian charters, these elements give hints about the nature and content of such texts. The second group, the ‘tribute type’, points to Bede’s possession of a document along the lines of the ‘Tribal hidage’, probably originating in one of the periods of Northumbrian hegemony in the mid seventh century.
This article explores the problem of recovering early modern utterances by focusing upon the issue of how the ‘kingship debates’ of 1657 between Oliver Cromwell and a committee of ninety-nine M.P.s came to be recorded, reported and printed. Specifically, it investigates the two key records of the kingship debates which, despite being well known to scholars, have extremely shady origins. Not only does this article demonstrate the probable origins of both sources, but by identifying the previously unknown scribe of one of them it points to the possible relationship between the two. It also questions whether the nature of the surviving sources has exacerbated certain interpretations about the kingship debates and their outcome.
Isaac Nelson’s response to the civil war represented the fruit of twenty years’ reflection on the issues of slavery and emancipation. Perhaps surprisingly, he did not support the Federal government’s efforts to restore the Union, even after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Nelson’s analysis of the struggle helpfully illuminates the complexity of radical abolitionist responses to the civil war, while it also serves to correct hasty generalizations concerning British and Irish evangelical support for the Federal government. Thus, by means of a biographical case study of Ulster Presbyterianism’s most zealous abolitionist, a wide number of thematic issues can be freshly examined.
Across the seventeenth century medical self-help manuals noted that aromatic substances were a suitable remedy for female barrenness. It has often been suggested that in the early modern period physicians did not touch their patients but instead relied upon patient narrative to diagnose and treat the sick body. This article problematizes this issue by investigating the multi-sensory approach to treating infertility, a disorder invested with concerns of gendered bodily access. It will be demonstrated that the recommendation of aromatic treatments for infertility allowed male physicians a means to negotiate the complex gender boundaries that restricted their access to women’s bodies
This article examines associations between fat bodies and reproductive dysfunction that were prevalent in medical, midwifery and other literature in early modern England. In a period when fertility and successful reproduction were regarded as hugely important for social, economic and political stability such associations further contributed to negative attitudes towards fat bodies that were fuelled by connection with the vices of sloth and gluttony. Fat bodies were categorized as inherently, constitutionally, less sexual and reproductively successful. Consequently they were perceived as unhealthy and unfit for their primary purpose once they had reached sexual maturity: marriage and the production of children.
This article highlights the parameters of a lifecycles project that was funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, entitled ‘From the cradle to the grave: lifecycles in modern Ireland (pilot study: maternity)’. The project used individual hospital records to bring the regional effects of ‘medicalization’ outside metropolitan areas into a sharper focus. With an emphasis on rural Ireland from 1926 to 1956, this ‘pilot’ study used longitudinal data modelling to explore the medicalization of the female reproductive cycle in a general hospital and again in a psychiatric hospital setting. The project team chose disparate clinical settings to test how people understood their functions, to see, for example, if medical cases were presenting to the psychiatric setting. This article describes the digitization and data modelling processes and the parameters of the research agenda. It locates the broader medical and statistical findings of the project in their socio-economic context to highlight whether such matters conditioned when and how women resorted to medical care. It discusses the analytical challenges that the project posed and points to avenues of further research and future publications. It concludes that for historical reasons, in the rural Irish context, people engaged more freely with the asylum than the general hospital setting.
Dr Stuart Handley of the History of Parliament writes about an eighteenth-century pamphlet in the IHR Library. This collection of pamphlets was bound using a donation to the conservation fund.
Among the IHR’s holdings of historical pamphlets is one from the early eighteenth century called, simply, A Collection of Papers. As the library catalogue shows, it was published in 1712 and starts by reprinting Bishop William Fleetwood’s preface to his “Four Sermons” (first published in the same year); running on from that, however, are some papers of interest to me as a historian of parliament which relate to debates of 1712 concerning the war with France. The IHR was given this copy of the pamphlet by Dr Doreen Milne, whose doctoral thesis on The Rye House Plot is in the library.
Dr Clyve Jones, formerly a librarian at the IHR, has already drawn attention to one of the items, a division list for a vote in the House of Lords of 28 May 1712. The matter at issue was whether to address Queen Anne with a request that she overrule the orders sent to the duke of Ormonde in Flanders not to engage with the French army. No political historian had previously realised that the pamphlet contained such important material. Clyve published the division list in his article on ‘The vote in the House of Lords on the Duke of Ormonde’s “Restraining Orders”, 28 May 1712’, in Parliamentary History, 26 (2007), pp. 160-183.
The pamphlet could not easily be made available to readers in the library as it needed conservation. I knew about it from my previous role in the IHR library, and have recently paid for the pamphlet to be conserved. It has now been placed into a secure binding and is kept in the IHR library’s special collections store. The pamphlet can also be viewed on Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), available at the IHR through JISC Historic Texts.
The IHR is extremely grateful to Dr Handley for his generous support of the library. If you would like to give to the library’s conservation fund, there is much material on the open shelves in need of conservation. Further information about giving to the IHR library is available at http://www.history.ac.uk/support-us/campaign/library.
This year’s Oral History Spring School is almost upon us, and offers a unique chance to spend three days getting stuck into some in-depth discussions about oral history theory. Professor Paul Thompson will be starting off with discussion of oral history worldwide, while other tutors and topics include Professor Joanna Bornat on analysis and reuse of oral history archives, Dr Joel Morley on issues of representativeness, and Professor Jenny Harding on emotion and intersubjectivity. For more information you can see the full programme which is now available here.
The three day course is aimed at students with some prior knowledge of and experience in recording oral history, who would like to develop their understanding of oral history theory and practice at an advanced level (excellent introduction courses are provided at the British library).
The course is now in its fifth year, and we always learn something new and enjoy discussing the experiences and fascinating projects of the participants, who have come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Previous students’ enthusiasm for the course is clear in their feedback:
‘There was an enormous amount of fascinating discussion. I was particularly pleased to get a basic grounding in the theoretical developments and turns in oral history’.
‘There is a general lack of training related to using oral history in an academic context. This course was a very welcome development’.
‘Thank you so much. I learned a lot and enjoyed the atmosphere’
‘I would definitely recommend it to others’
The course has always recruited well so if you’re keen then we recommend booking promptly to secure a place. Hope to see you there!
The theme of graffiti seems to be a popular topic of late, and a search on the Bibliography reveals the interesting array of material that has been published recently. The term ‘graffiti’ often has negative connotations in our modern society as an act of vandalism, but the OED definition of a graffito is ‘a drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface’, and, as the following resources show, represent a number of different purposes.
A book chapter inEngland and Rome in the Early Middle Ages titled Anglo-Saxons Underground: Early Medieval Graffiti in the Catacombs of Rome explores the Anglo-Saxon trend of pilgrimage to the sacred burial tombs of the early Christian martyrs. As the catacombs of Rome were manipulated architecturally and visually to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of worshippers, pilgrims added their own marks by way of graffiti; creating an eternal link between themselves and the saint, long after they had returned to their homeland. From the four hundred or so medieval inscriptions identified, twenty-six Anglo-Saxon names have so far been recorded, including one female name. The names have been written in an uncial script with insular letter forms (four in runic letters), suggesting they were etched between the 7th-9th century. In the catacombs of Commodilla, twelve Anglo-Saxon inscriptions have been found grouped together on the fresco of St Luke, suggesting a band of English pilgrims travelling en masse. In the tombs of SS Marcellinus and Peter, the female name Fagihild was found written in runic letters among ten Anglo-Saxon names. From sources such as theThe English Correspondence of Saint Boniface, it is clear that women often made pilgrimages to Rome, yet it is still satisfying to find physical evidence of Anglo-Saxon women travelling alongside their male peers. Further analysis is required to discern whether the name was inscribed by the woman herself or by a companion, raising further questions of literacy amongst women in this period
However, not all acts of inscription had a spiritual purpose. The book chapter Amiatinus in Italy : The Afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon Book in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent charts the story of the Codex Amiatinus, a vulgate bible created in Wearmouth-Jarrow under the abbacy of Ceolfrith in the eighth century. Intended as a gift for Pope Gregory II, the codex disappeared shortly after Ceolfrith’s death en route. The huge manuscript, measuring almost twenty inches high, re-emerged in the ninth century in an abbey in Tuscany. Close scrutiny of the dedication page in the Amiatinus has revealed that the original name ‘Ceolfrith of the English’ was deliberately erased, and replaced with ‘Peter of the Lombards’, concealing its Anglo-Saxon origins for centuries (pictured left, click to enlarge).
Medieval graffiti in churches has inspired much academic interest of late, with the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey documenting a growing corpus of inscriptions that have formed the basis of several articles. Matthew Champion has produced an abundance of material, such as Medieval Graffiti : the Lost Voices of Britain’s Churches, The Graffiti Inscriptions of St Mary’s Church, Troston and Medieval Ship Graffiti in English Churches : Interpretation and Function. The ship motif features significantly in medieval churches and is explored further in Graffiti and Devotion in Three Maritime Churches. While it is clear that these etchings have an apotropaic function, serving as a symbol to avert evil, these marks are open to multiple interpretations. Are they requesting protection for or giving thanks for a safe voyage? Could they be associated with a maritime guild? Churches are intrinsically linked to the nautical world, with the word ‘nave’ coming from the Latin word ‘navis’ meaning ship, which may go some way to explain why so many ship images appear in churches so far inland. To modern tastes, the act of carving a personal image (particularly in a church) may seem like an act of vandalism, but to medieval thinking it was an act of piety; a way of interacting with very fabric of the church. This is demonstrated in primary sources such as The Life of Christina of Markyate, where Christina is recorded as scratching the sign of the cross on a monastery door with her fingernails to mark her devotion to the church.
While most graffiti in churches serves as an act of piety, there is a dark side. The article Ill Wishing on the Walls: the Medieval Graffiti Curses of Norwich Cathedral highlights three inscriptions found in different locations in the cathedral, written in pre-reformation script with inverted lettering. Of the three inscriptions, one is particularly well preserved, clearly spelling the name ‘Keynfford’ upside down and back-to-front, with an astrological symbol underneath (See NMGS image 37). Whilst examples of book curses from this period have been well documented, curses in churches may prove an interesting new area of research.
Book Destruction from the Medieval to the Contemporarycontains an extremely entertaining chapter titled Belligerent Literacy, Bookplates, and Graffiti: Dorothy Helbarton’s Book, concerning a 16th-century text of the Brut Chronicle, with the interesting addition of more than 60 marginal inscriptions bearing the name Dorothy Helbarton. While marginalia or glosses were considered helpful additions to the understanding of texts, as in the C version of Piers Plowman pictured on the right, in this instance the scrawling of Dorothy (or rather her scribe), seems to be an aggressive act of declaring ownership, with little interest in the textual material.
Moving on from early modern times, Graffiti of British Ships at La Aljaferia Castle details the intricate inscriptions left behind by prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars on the walls were they were held captive, and Gendered Graffiti at Kilmainham discusses the graffiti left by the women prisoners during the Irish Civil War. Words and phrases of nationalist sentiments were feminised by the women to represent their involvement, and perhaps as a way of avoiding being airbrushed out of the historical narrative. Finally, ‘Hitler Loves Musso’, and Other Civilian Wartime Sentiments : the Archaeology of Second World War Air-Raid Shelters and their Graffiti in Beyond the Dead Horizon: Studies in Modern Conflict Archaeology gives an insight into how air-raid shelters served as communal places to while away the time during the bombings; amongst the anti-Hitler daubings, there are drawings of Disney characters, mathematical sums for children and games of noughts and crosses.
Through all of these resources, what is notable is that while graffiti marks serve a wide and varied purpose, they also represent the often unrecorded story of the ordinary people, who may have been illiterate or poor, but have nevertheless made their voice heard through the scratchings on a surface. For a comprehensive list of all resources available, please visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History.
This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Philip Carter of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
For 135 years the Dictionary of National Biography has been the national record of noteworthy men and women who’ve shaped the British past. Today’s Dictionary retains many attributes of its Victorian predecessor, not least a focus on concise and balanced accounts of individuals from all walks of national history. But there have also been changes in how these life stories are encapsulated and conveyed.
In its Victorian incarnation the Dictionary presented each life as a double-column printed text. 2004 saw the publication of the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) with the addition of portrait images. Today the Dictionary includes portraits of 11,500 of its 60,000 subjects. Every image is a depiction of the sitter from life, so as to convey an aspect of his or her personality.
Now the Oxford DNB is moving on—this time with the inclusion of sound—in a project to link biographies to voice recordings made by an initial selection of 750 historical individuals. The earliest clips—including the suffrage campaigner Christabel Pankhurst and the Liberal prime minister, Herbert Asquith – are held in the ‘Early Spoken Word’ archive at the British Library.
As the crackling on these wax cylinders makes clear, this was a pioneering form of communication reserved for periods of political drama. Speaking in December 1908, Christabel Pankhurst issued a rallying call to every ‘patriotic and public spirited woman’ to take up ‘militant’ tactics in the hope that ‘1909 must, and shall, see the political enfranchisement of women.’ In his speech on the 1909 ‘people’s budget’ Herbert Asquith acknowledged the intersection of technological novelty and looming political crisis: ‘I have gladly accepted this invitation to speak to you in this unusual manner to reach as many of my fellow countrymen as possible’.
Two decades later the availability of ‘wireless’ instilled a new pioneering spirit. It’s captured in George V’s opening words to the first Christmas message of 1932: ‘Through one of the marvels of modern science, I am enabled … to speak to all my people throughout the Empire’.
Other British Library clips reveal how voice recordings took on new formats in the 1930s: the personal travel documentary by Amy Johnson; chef Marcel Boulestin’s guide to perfect omelettes (‘practice, quickness, a thick iron pan and a good fire’); and the celebrity interview with Arthur Conan Doyle (‘how I came to write Sherlock Holmes’).
This ability to catch a person’s accent, and indeed to hear a person speak, is the principal attraction of linking ODNB biographies to sound recordings. Hearing the voice reminds us that a distant historical figure was a living person as well as the subject of a biographical text. Listening to voices recorded more than a century ago conjures up something of the ‘marvels’ and delight alluded to by George V.
The effect is particularly striking in the Oxford DNB’s earliest link to the British Library sound archive—that for Florence Nightingale who spoke in support of the Light Brigade Relief Fund in July 1890. Barely audible over the hiss, she concludes her short, carefully enunciated message: ‘When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice may perpetuate the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaclava and bring them safe to shore. Florence Nightingale’.
Philip Carter is the Oxford DNB’s Senior Research and Publication Editor and a member of the History Faculty at Oxford University.
Find more on the ODNB’s Sounds project, together with a list of all 750 archive recordings. Coming updates will link ODNB biographies to digitized collections of manuscripts, creative works by artists, funeral memorials, and further voice recordings—in partnerships with the British Library, Poetry Archive, Royal Collection, and Westminster Abbey among others.
We start this week with Miles Taylor’s long-anticipated review of Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, as he praises a thought-provoking exhibition (running until 10 April), one of the best historically-themed shows that Tate Britain has done for some years (no. 1903).
Next up is Anglican Enlightenment: Orientalism, Religion and Politics in England and its Empire, 1648–1715 by William Bulman. David Magliocco and the author discuss one of the most important interventions in late 17th–century studies in the last decade (no. 1902, with response here).
Next up is David French’s Fighting EOKA: The British Counter-Insurgency Campaign on Cyprus, 1955-1959. Andrekos Varnava reviews an engaging, thorough and, thankfully, not overly long read (no. 1901).
Finally, we have The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen, and Peter Yearwood recommends a book written with clarity and precision, and featuring compelling themes and illuminating detail (no. 1900).