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Latest reviews – outlawing war, Victorian surgery and Lincoln’s jokes


We begin this week with The Internationalists and Their Plan to Outlaw War, edited by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro. Peter Yearwood believes this book fails as a work of history, bound up as it is with a deeply flawed and greatly overstated thesis (no. 2257).

Next up is Lindsey Fitzharris’s The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine. Agnes Arnold-Forster has issues with a commercial and critical success which ignores much of the recent research on late-19th-century science, medicine, and surgery (no. 2256).

Finally we have Lincoln’s Sense of Humor by Richard Carwardine. Graham Peck highly recommends a reminder of how gifted historians stitch together the remnants of a lost past to deepen our understanding of the human condition (no. 2255).

Bibliography of British and Irish History June 2018 update: “To cite this record” and user survey


An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 11 June 2018. 2,724 new records have been added. Some 297 new records relate to Irish history while 120 deal with the history of London, 152 with the history of Scotland and 138 with the history of Wales. The overall total number of records available online is 600,394.

Users can export references to RefWorks, Endnote and Zotero. BBIH has a new export feature: “To cite this record.” This feature allows users to copy a citation for a single reference in MHRA, MLA APA or Chicago formats. The feature was developed thanks to user feedback and with the approval of our Project Board.

And talking of user feedback, Brepols, the publisher of BBIH and other bibliographies including the International Medieval Bibliography, are conducting a user survey. The survey will take no more than 5 minutes of your time. Brepols would be grateful for any feedback so that they can improve their products.

The next update to BBIH is planned for October 2018.

Latest reviews – 1860 election, anti-slavery, American Revolution and Catholic queens


We begin this week with Susan Dunn-Hensley’s Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria: Virgins, Witches, and Catholic Queens. Aidan Norrie and the author discuss an interesting, if sometimes simplistic, reconsideration of these two queens (no. 2253, with response here).

Next up is Experiencing Empire: Power, People, and Revolution in Early America, edited by Patrick Griffin. Hunter Harris praises an insightful collection of essays, covering consumerism and the American Revolution, with the central theme of the collection being the experience of empire itself (no. 2252).

Then we have Graham Peck’s Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Battle over Freedom. John Hammond believes this book elucidates overlooked or underemphasized dimensions of the shifting set of beliefs about freedom and slavery that cohered into Lincoln’s ideological vision of an anti-slavery nation (no. 2251).

Finally we have The Election of 1860: “A Campaign Fraught with Consequences” by Michael F. Holt. Aaron Astor enjoys a slender, nuanced and highly readable account of a grand democratic exercise unlike anything witnessed on that scale in the world (no. 2250).

Latest reviews – medieval prophets, British Atlantic Jacobitism and Indian railways


We begin this week with Railways and The Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India by Christian Wolmar. Aparajita Mukhopadhyay and Christian Wolmar discuss a history of Indian railways which attempts to straddle the world of academic monographs and popular history (no. 2249, with response here).

Then we turn to David Parrish’s Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727. Simon Lewis recommends a valuable and original contribution to the growing literature on the exiled Stuarts and their supporters (no. 2248).

Finally we have Brian Fitzgerald’s Inspiration and Authority in the Middle Ages: Prophets and their Critics from Scholasticism to Humanism. Lesley Coote believes this work gives the reader an idea of prophecy’s importance for the Church herself, her texts, her unity and her place in history (no. 2247).

Latest reviews – British C17 Empire, nuclear armageddon, C18 Italian anatomy & Herbert Gladstone


We begin this week with Advancing Empire: English Interests and Overseas Expansion, 1613-1688 by L. H. Roper.

David Hope and the author discuss an accomplished book that has much to offer those interested in state formation, political economy, overseas trade, and the development of the English/British Empire (no. 2246, with response here).

Then we turn to Rodger Braithwaite’s Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation. 

Despite some lapses in detail, Mattias Eken believes this is still a very good work which provides a clear and accessible analysis of the key themes concerning nuclear weapons (no. 2245).

Next up is Malleable Anatomies: Models, Makers and Material Culture in Eighteenth-Century Italy by Lucia Dacome.

Kathryn Woods enjoys a wonderfully illustrated and intricate history of the ‘diversified’ world of mid-18th century Italian anatomy (no. 2244).

Finally we have Kenneth D. Brown’s The Unknown Gladstone: The Political Life of Herbert Gladstone, 1854-1930.

Iain Sharpe finds this to be a missed opportunity to make a greater contribution to the historiography of Liberal politics (no. 2243).

Latest reviews – William of Malmesbury, Civil War, Nostradamus and New England


We start today with Discovering William of Malmesbury, edited by Emily Dolmans, Rodney M. Tomson and Emily A. Winkler. Charlie Rozier assesses a wide-ranging re-examination of a leading contributor to the 12th-century Anglo-Norman historiographical turn (no. 2239, with response here).

Then we turn to Robert J. Cook’s Civil War Memories: Contesting the Past in the United States Since 1865. Jack Noe welcomes a book which demonstrates the shifting yet persistent current of war memory (no. 2238).

Next up is Nostradamus: a Healer of Souls in the Renaissance by Denis Crouzet. Jan Machielsen and translator Mark Greengrass have very different takes on Denis Crouzet’s study of the famous astrologer (no. 2237, with response here).

Finally we turn to New England Federalists: Widening the Sectional Divide in Jeffersonian America by Dinah Mayo-Bobee. Stephen Symchych believes this work offers a fresh perspective on a somewhat under-followed area (no. 2236).

Women’s suffrage at home and away


Although the women’s suffrage movement (and particularly the Suffragettes) often focusses on London, there was huge amount of activity throughout the U.K. and further afield in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. An indispensable guide to the nationwide groups can be found in Elizabeth Crawford’s The Women’s Suffrage movement in Britain and Ireland: a regional survey, a book which highlights how women were engaged in the movement throughout the regions.


Manchester in particular was a centre of radical and liberal thinking in the mid nineteenth century, and in 1867 they established the Women’s Suffrage Committee. In the same year, Lily Maxwell, a Manchester shopowner whose name was accidentally added to the electoral roll was allowed to vote at Chorlton Town Hall. Although she probably was not the first female voter in England, her example prompted other female property owners to apply for the vote, who were subsequently denied the vote the following year after the case was heard at the Court of Common Pleas. More about this can be found in the book chapter ‘Who was Lily Maxwell? Women’s suffrage and Manchester politics, 1866–1867’ by Jane Rendall, in Votes for Women.


The protest movement was also strong even in the remoter areas of Britain, as is demonstrated in the works by Katherine Bradley Friends and visitors: History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Cornwall, 1870-1914 and Marsali Taylor Women’s Suffrage in Shetland. The latter demonstrates how the small group of islands willingly adapted to the changes brought by the suffrage movement, founding its own society in 1873 and having women on its education boards at least as early as London. A book by Barbara Lawson-Reay titled Votes for women: North Wales suffragists’ campaign 1907–1914 documents the seven year period before the First World War, when the campaign started as a small cell in Llandudno and subsequently gathered pace across North Wales, despite class and language barriers. Other geographical aspects are explored in an article by J. G. Macdonald in Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions called ‘Women’s suffrage: A Border perspective’. A song of their own : the fight for votes for women in Ipswich is a fascinating book by Joy Bounds, who shows how the women of Ipswich were just as brave as their London contemporaries, standing up to opposition and even violence to attend meetings, fairs and suffrage plays.



Even more interesting is the spread of networks and interaction throughout the wider political world. ‘Woman Suffrage and Irish Nationalism: ethnic appeals and alliances in America’ is an article by Tara McCarthy in Women’s History Review that explores how suffragists sympathised with the Home Rule movement, which led to a group of Irish nationalists and suffragists working together. Also from the same journal, Helen Dampier’s ‘Going on with our little movement in the hum drum-way which alone is possible in a land like this’: Olive Schreiner and suffrage networks in Britain and South Africa, 1905–1913 looks at the letters of South African feminist Olive Schreiner. The article considers the differences between British and colonial suffrage movements, with Schreiner fighting for better education for women so that they wanted the vote. It also highlights Schreiner’s quest for universal suffrage, which brought her into conflict with those who were willing to accept a racially-segregated system.


Girls of liberty: the struggle for suffrage in Mandatory Palestine is a book by Margalit Shilo that looks at a group of feminist Zionist activists who created a political party under the British Mandate, resulting in equal rights for women in 1918. Sophia: princess, suffragette, revolutionary by Anita Anand is about the extraordinary life of Sophia Duleep Singh, daughter of a maharajah and god-daughter to Queen Victoria, who was raised in England after her father’s Indian lands were plundered by the British. After travelling back to India, she became a pioneer against social injustice and returned to Britain to fight for Indian rights and women’s suffrage. By all accounts, Singh was a fearless champion for the cause, and the book offers an important perspective on British and colonial ties.


To finish with, The role of petitions in the mobilization of women for the right to vote: The case of Queensland, Australia, 1894, 1897 by Deborah Jordan in Journal of Women’s History concentrates on the tactics of suffrage groups, including the Women’s Equal Franchise Association (WEFA) in Brisbane. The article examines the use of petitions, and underlines the success of various groups in gaining support and legitimacy for their cause against a backdrop of harsh media representation.


This selection of resources from the Bibliography demonstrates how widespread women’s suffrage was, from the Shetland Islands to India to Australia, and shows how the movement found common ground with other political campaigns fighting for civil justice.

Wohl Library Seminar 2018: Workshop on Digital Archives




On March 21st the IHR Wohl library held a Digital Archives event giving a chance for researchers, archivists, historians and anyone with an interest in history to come and listen to three experts showcase how to use their digital archival tools. Each speaker offered a taster session on the different resources available through these fascinating digital tools.


First of all, we heard an interesting talk from Jane Ronson who presented ‘Discovering UK Archives Online’ and showcased what Archives Hub  is able to offer researchers. Archives Hub brings together descriptions of thousands of UK’s archive collections – held in a variety of UK repositories, examples included both Cymru1914 and the War Child project as well as a plethora of other collections. The Hub is a free resource, and gives researchers the ability to discover unique sources that are often little-known. Although it does not hold any archive material itself, it does provide the means to cross-search archival descriptions from different institutions. To use it you can search using keywords, such as ‘refugee’ and fine-tune results using a variety of filters. As a continually expanding resource, it is a good idea to visit the site regularly. Jane’s talk and introduction to the Archives Hub displayed just how interesting and a useful resource the Archives Hub can be.




Louise Seaward presented on the different work the Transkribus team have been doing, and the ways in which the Transkribus tool can be used. Transkribus is a comprehensive platform for the automated recognition, transcription and searching of historical documents. This project is part of Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents project (READ). Transkribus is another free tool with over 10, 000 users and is a resource that will continue to grow and adapt. Automated text recognition (ATR) enables computers to automatically transcribe and recognise text. The tool processes by line rather than by character so needs to be trained by showing document images and transcripts. The more training data it is able to gain and analyse the more accurate the recognition. For example, you can train a model to transcribe and search documents, such as ‘the Bentham model’ and also to recognise other languages such as Cyrillic, French and Swedish. Although the transcription can have errors measured by the Character Error Rate (CER) – these transcripts can be understood, searched and corrected quickly. There are also a variety of tools that you can use to search documents such as Keyword spotting – detecting similarities in images of words rather than transcripts. These searches can be made with precision or broad searches to find all possible matches. The more users of Transkribus, the stronger the technology becomes. Documents do remain private as do any transcriptions. Louise’s talk and introduction to Transkribus displayed a useful and fascinating resource that will certainly be of use to anyone who is looking to transcribe documents and provide a searchable resource.

Marta Musso, the Communication Manager of Archives Portal Europe, gave an introduction to the fantastic archival resource, Archive Portal Europe. This resource is the largest online portal in European archives and collates archives across Europe to allow researchers to search them at the same time. Previously researchers had to visit various archival websites for their research but this resource allows them to find information from millions of archival materials stored in hundreds of archival institutions in one place – a ‘one-stop web service’. The Portal allows you to search multilingually, to refine your search and to save your searches (you can save them as long as you are signed into the website). The advantages of using this resource are enormous – it gives you the chance to research transnational aspects of European History, to compare isolated European communities and parallel lives and to view historical events and characters as they are narrated by different archives. This wonderful resource allows you to conduct multilingual and qualitative research and allows for different narrations of historical events. Similar to Archives Hub, it is easy to use, to search and you can refine your results to help you find the documents that you need. Marta’s talk and introduction to Archives Portal Europe showcased a beneficial and fantastic resource that all researchers should look at.


We would like to thank everyone who came to this well attended event, their additions to the discussions and for their tweets. We would also like to thank Marta Musso, Jane Ronson and Louise Seaward for their fascinating tour around some extremely useful digital resources. We had an interesting afternoon and we hope all the people who attended the event enjoyed it too!


Latest reviews – crusades, workhouses, bishops and Richard the Lionheart


We start today with Reconfiguring the Fifteenth-Century Crusade, edited by Norman Housley. James Doherty reviews an exploration of the interplay of established crusading ideals and practices with the issues that occupied the attention of 15th-century Christendom (no. 2235).

Then we turn to Jacques Carré’s La prison des pauvres: l’expérience des workhouses en Angleterre. Pierre Botcherby tackles a fine example of foreign-language scholarship on British society and history (no. 2234).

Next up is Episcopal Power and Local Society in Medieval Europe, 900-1400, edited by Peter Coss, Chris Dennis, Melissa Julian-Jones and Angelo Silvestri. Philippa Byrne praises a well-judged and timely volume which highlights the excellent work being done on the bishop and his diocese (no. 2233).

Finally Emily Winkler enjoys the Richard the Lionheart Exhibition at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer, where pageantry, stateliness and effective design help create a compelling narrative (no. 2232).

Pollard Prize 2018


Entries are invited for this year’s Pollard Prize (sponsored by Wiley) awarded for the best paper presented at an IHR seminar 2017-18 by a postgraduate student or by a researcher within one year of completing the PhD.1096214263368_PXYJwtsF_l

First prize

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.

The closing date for submissions is  24 May 2018.

Enquiries and submissions should be directed to the Executive Editor, Historical Research (

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