The IHR Blog |

Mexico-United States Relations: Porfiriato (1876–1910)

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The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 


Read the first blog post in this series here.

Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This blog post is the second in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, focusing on the rule of Porfiriato Díaz.

The rule of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911) was dedicated to the rule by law, suppression of violence, and modernisation of all aspects of the society and economy. Diaz was an astute military leader and liberal politician who built a national base of supporters. To avoid antagonising Catholics, he avoided enforcement of anticlerical laws. The country’s infrastructure was greatly improved, thanks to increased foreign investment from Britain and the US, and a strong, stable central government.

The first work being highlighted in this blog post is an electronic resource titled Creating Mexican 

consumer culture in the age of Porfirio Díaz by Steven B. Bunker. This work focuses on the Mexican experience of consumerism under the Porfiriato regime. Steven Bunker’s study shows how goods and consumption embodied modernity in the time of Porfirio Díaz, how they provided proof to Mexicans that “incredible things are happening in this world.”

 


Estadísticas económicas del porfiriato : Comercio exterior de México, 1877-1911 – Colegio de México

This volume gathers the statistics of Mexican foreign trade in the years from 1877 to 1911. The data was compiled  by the Seminar of the Modern History of Mexico. Prepared as part of the research on the economic life of the country during the Porfiriato, these statistics are also provide a useful study on the economic development of the country under the regime.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Archivo del general Porfirio Díaz, memorias y documentos : prólogo y notas de Alberto María Carreño by Porfirio Díaz.

The IHR library holds 30 volumes of this series of Porfirio Díaz’s documents and memoirs, published in collaboration with the Institute of History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. These epistolary works contain military correspondence, photos, maps and illustrations.

Letter from General Porfirio Diaz to Don Casimiro del Collado, asking for an opinion about his memoirs. vol. 1, pg.9

1. Manuel Iturribarria, Governor of the State of Oaxaca and Director of its Institute of Sciences. 2. Arms of the first Marquis of Montserrat, Don Joaquin Vasconcelos, who impelled the young Porfirio Diaz to pursue a literary career. Vol. 1, pg. 69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Latin American History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

New reviews: Slavery, Morocco, Carolingian Empire and Roosevelts

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We start this week with Emily West’s Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation. Kristen Brill recommends a book which masterfully presents the narrative of women’s lived experiences in slavery through the prism of gender (no. 2155, with response here).

Next up is The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam by Edmund Burke. July Blalack believes this story of the French colonial archive reveals many disturbing aspects of knowledge production (no. 2154).

Then we turn to Matthew Brian Gillis’s Heresy and Dissent in the Carolingian Empire: the Case of Gottschalk of Orbais. Scott Ashley gives thanks for an important study for scholars of the Carolingian world and of early-medieval religious culture (no. 2153).

Finally we have Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family by William J. Mann. Dario Fazzi praises an impressive 600-page volume scoping out the secrets, antagonisms, and feuds of the Roosevelts (no. 2152).

User Experience in the IHR Library: UXLibsIII

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As part of the IHR Library’s ongoing commitment to researching and improving user experience in the library, earlier this summer I attended the UXLibsIII conference in Glasgow. The two-day conference brought together 180 delegates from 19 countries and it was great to hear of user experience projects taking place in libraries across the world and to have discussions incorporate such an international dynamic. It was an exceptionally useful and inspiring experience, prompting several ideas for improving user experience in the IHR and ways to build upon the previous UX research undertaken by the library team.

Experience mapping during Anneli Friberg & Anna Kågedal’s training workshop

The conference began with an introductory address from Andy Priestner in which he commented that ‘user experience is too fundamental to be just one person’s job.’ Much as there is no one single common ‘user’ of a library, neither can there be one single member of library staff who can encompass UX for an entire institution. This observation struck the tone for many of the discussions that followed. It was noted that UX is an invaluable tool for libraries, yet frequently it is a tool that remains underappreciated.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was ethics and values, with both keynote lectures focusing on this. The keynote delivered by Dr Meredith Evans, Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library focused on ethics and social responsibility in archives and librarianship, most specifically in relation to the Documenting Ferguson project which she led at Washington University. The project is a freely available resource that aims to preserve and make accessible digital media captured and created by community members following the shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on 9th August 2014. Meredith explained how the project prompted key ethical questions: did people who had tweeted about the shooting give consent to their tweet being archived? How could documents be archived but not accessed and used by law enforcement agencies? How can libraries create a tool that can minimise the risk of using Twitter and such platforms for research?

In answer to these, Meredith related how her team had undertaken mapping exercises and created personas for each user group incorporated within the project. She also called for librarians and archivists to listen to users and not necessarily always your institution’s administration, noting that in establishing archives based around communities different voices can be incorporated into history. Her keynote was one of the undoubted highlights of the conference and succeeded in being both incredibly moving and engaging; highlighting ethical issues and offering practical advice and reminding us all to ‘walk in the shoes of today’s content creator’ and library user.

Similarly, Matthew Reidsma’s keynote address also focused upon conducting ethical UX research. He asked attendees to question what are our values as library workers, arguing that design reflects the values of its creator, therefore biases and values will be embedded within your work and your library whether intentionally or not. One of the most striking points that Matthew reinforced was that analytics make us think that people are predictable and cause us to lose sight of the individual person (or library user) behind such data. He commented that too often library staff are designing library spaces for happy smiling people who want to be at the library – this he noted does not reflect the true complexity of users of a library.

University of St Andrews poster from ‘UXLabs’

Aside from the keynotes, another highlight was the ‘UXLabs’ feature, in which libraries from across the UK presented current or on-going user experience projects at stalls during lunchtime. This was a great way to learn about projects taking place and see the diverse methodologies applied by each institution. It was also a very useful way of stimulating ideas for future projects by learning what had worked and what challenges projects had encountered or were in some instances still facing.

For my own part, I also presented at the conference on the UX work being undertaken at the IHR. My talk focused on the project’s impact, most especially in relation to diversity, both within the library and across the wider Institute. The IHR Library is continuing to work to improve the experience for all its users and is implementing several of the key findings from the UX research undertaken in November last year.

The conference ended with a Q&A in which discussion frequently turned to the question of ‘what next for UX in libraries?’ The panel were emphatic that user experience research and activities are not a fad, instead they argued UX should be regarded as a deeply ingrained practice and should be a part of every library’s thinking. After all, what is a library without its users?

Further information about the IHR Library’s User Experience project is available here. Details of the UXLibs conference series can be accessed here.

The Anglo-Saxon era and the wider world

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There has been much interest lately on the diversity of cultures in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon world, with many academics keen to promote research that highlights the positive interaction between communities, rather than existing as single homogenized societies. The Bibliography of British and Irish History can provide a useful platform for publication analysis, and give a general overview of trends and patterns on hot topics such as this. Taking the Anglo-Saxon period as a starting point, a search on the Bibliography of the period 450-1066 and the search term ‘other countries’ returns 1467 results, and by drilling down into publishing figures from 1970 to the present, it is clear that much more attention is currently being paid to Anglo-Saxon links with the rest of the world. There are only 250 resources published pre-1970, but statistical analysis after that time reveals the following results:

 

 

As the graph shows, there has been a steady increase in research, and an sharp rise in the mid 1990s, until the turn of the millenium when it plateaus at about the 235 mark. This may be due to the Bibliography becoming much more efficient in its indexing from 1992 onwards, and however encouraging these results, they do need to be assessed against the general rise in publications, which gives a more balanced view:

 

 

However, the percentage of resources published does show a steady increase, with figures doubling from the 1970s (at five per cent) to over ten per cent since 2000, showing that it is an area growing in interest. A map of the spread of resources further highlights how far-reaching the interactions were in the Insular world.

 

Click on images for more detail

These data visualizations show publication information, but looking at individual titles on the Bibliography is also vital to establishing the body of research out there.

Although physical geography may separate Britain and Ireland from other countries, it has never been left to develop in splendid isolation. All-important trade-routes and the growth of Christianity ensured that the Insular world had plenty of interaction with the Continent, and much further afield. Bede was keen to align the British Isles with the Roman Church (as opposed to the Insular Church), believing in a universal Catholicism, uniting all four corners of the known world. Despite never leaving Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, a constant stream of religious texts from the continent informed his global view, as Conor O’Brien’s book Bede’s Temple discusses. Never are these influences more apparent than in the Lindisfarne Gospels, the pinnacle of Anglo-Saxon culture. In her book chapter ‘The Cross and the book: the cross-carpet pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels as sacred figurae’, in Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World, Michelle Brown discusses the many influences that fed into the manuscript images, including the resemblance the carpet pages bear to eastern Mediterranean prayer mats, which may have been used in Britain in the early eighth century to pray towards the east, highlighting the blending of eastern and western cultures. She analyses the crosses embedded in the carpet pages, and suggests that each cross represents the concept of a universal church – St Matthew a Latin cross, St Mark a Celtic cross, St Luke a Greek cross, and St John a Greek-style cross that was popular in Coptic Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia.

Carpet page for St John (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 210v)

Carpet page for St Matthew (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 26v)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Codex Amiatinus, a magnificent copy of the Vulgate bible produced at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow that went missing on its journey to Rome, also indicates just how closely Christian England had aligned itself with Rome – the reason it remained undiscovered for so long was because it was assumed to be Italian, so completely had it emulated the Roman style. In his book chapter ‘Amiatinus in Italy: the afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon book’, in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent, Marsden explores the extraordinary journey of this manuscript. ‘Who introduced charters into England? The case for Theodore and Hadrian’ in Textus Roffensis: Law, Language, and Libraries in Early Medieval England is also a reminder that Theodore of Tarsus (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his companion Hadrian (Abbot of St Augustine’s, Canterbury) from north Africa were received very favourably as church leaders in England in the seventh century.

Leoba, correspondent of Boniface, was spiritual advisor to Hildegard, Charlemagne’s wife and following Boniface’s example, set up a monastery in Tauberbischofsheim, leading to further intellectual links between England and the Continent, as Lifschitz has discussed in Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: a Study of Manuscript Transmission and Monastic Culture. ‘Alcuin, Rome, and Charlemagne’s imperial coronation’, a chapter in England and Rome in the Early Middle Ages: Pilgrimage, Art, and Politics further explores the blending of cultural relations. Pilgrimage was popular among Anglo-Saxon Christians, with both men and women travelling to Rome and Jerusalem, as can be witnessed from names carved into the catacombs at Rome (see previous blog post), or from Willibald’s spiritual journey to Jerusalem, written down by his sister Hugeberg in Vita Willibaldi and analysed in ‘Images of Jerusalem: the religious imagination of Willibald of Eichstatt’, also in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent.

Byzantine solidus coin with bust of Leo I (457-474 AD)                   Image: Wikipedia

Trade was another major source for cultural interaction, and although the tin reserves in the south-west of England were much more heavily mined in the Roman era, there is evidence to suggest that it retained its trade links with the Mediterranean, as discussed in the book chapter ‘Early tin extraction in the south-west of England: a resource for Mediterranean metalworkers of late antiquity’ in Byzantine Trade, 4-12th Centuries. Another book chapter ‘Byzantine coins in early medieval Britain: a Byzantine’s assessment’ in Early Medieval Monetary History provides further links between the two worlds, as does ‘Britain and China at opposite ends of the world?: archaeological methodology and long-distance contacts in the sixth century’ from Incipient Globalization?: Long-Distance Contacts in the Sixth Century, which highlights the coinage found in eastern England in Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, and indicates the range of trade links from Byzantium. ‘Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region’ in the Journal of Archaeological Science also highlights the fact that it wasn’t just material objects, but people, who were relocating to the British Isles. See also the blog posts of Dr Caitlin Green, for excellent visualisations on early medieval trade routes.

Although the close connections between the Vikings and Britain and Ireland have been well-documented, a fascinating book chapter titled ‘Viking-age queens and the formation of identity’ in The Viking Age: Ireland and the West discusses the portrayals of Eadgyth, Gormlaith and Auðr and their regal roles. The ‘marrying-in’ to different cultures may suggest a keenness (or an unwillingness) to be politically allied, and the subsequent portrayals of these women symbolized the links being forged between English, Irish and Scandinavian cultures. Aquitaine and Ireland in the Middle Ages also offers interesting evidence of cultural and commercial links between Ireland and the south-west of France, who could use the Atlantic Ocean to bypass mainland Britain. ‘Innse Gall: culture and environment on a Norse frontier in the Scottish Western Isles’ in The Norwegian Domination and the Norse World, c.1100-c.1400 also highlights the blurred boundaries between the British and Scandinavian world, and how those links persisted well after the Anglo-Saxon era.

 

Anglo-Saxon map of the world (London, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius B V/1, fol. 56v)

 

For resources covering areas beyond Europe and Byzantium, a book chapter called ‘Architecture and epigraphic evidence for Christian Celts in Connecticut, c. 500-700 A.D.’ in Atlantic Visions presents archaeological evidence for a drainage system that may signify occupation by settlers from Ireland or the Hebrides, strengthened by the presence of preserved inscriptions of the Chi-Rho symbol and Ogham script. An article titled ‘The figure of the Ethiopian in Old English texts’ in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, which although it offers both positive and negative aspects, highlights how places as far as eastern Africa were present in the Anglo-Saxon mind.

The Bibliography of the British and Irish History is an extremely useful tool for exploring both qualitive and quantitive results in history publications, in this case to explore the wider boundaries of the Anglo-Saxon period in Britain and Ireland.

 

Reviews in History as a research aid for A-Level students and undergraduates

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This post has kindly been written for us by IHR Digital intern Tom Keidan.

I’m an undergraduate currently interning with the IHR Digital department, and as part of this I have been working on the online journal Reviews in History. This is a resource that I’ve used in the past, and the editor suggested that it might be interesting for other A-level and university students to hear how I’ve found it useful in my studies.

This was certainly the case during my A-Level studies, when Reviews in History proved to be an invaluable research tool, effectively and concisely summarising secondary material for a wider non-specialist audience.

When studying historiographical debates surrounding the Holocaust during both my A-Level and university studies, in-depth reviews of monographs such as Tom Lawson’s Debates on the Holocaust (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1160) and Dan Stone’s Histories of the Holocaust (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1068) proved invaluable in summarising wider concepts and debates which I was initially unable to fully grasp. Furthermore, the comprehensive bibliography provided at the end of each review enabled me to further research alternative studies which helped to develop my specialist knowledge of such a vast topic.

During my university studies, the reviews on Reviews in History have continuously proved to be highly useful in providing me with wider background material; in addition, being able to filter searches according to geographical area and period has allowed me to effectively and quickly gather reviews for material relevant to modules which cover a specific period and place.

Furthermore, Reviews in History includes reviews of various primary archival material which have been extremely useful when embarking on my dissertation research; by filtering by categories such as films, exhibitions and digital resources, the reader is able to easily and effectively look through relevant primary material reviews in order to supplement previous secondary reading. In particular, a review of the British Library’s Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1489) exhibition provided insight into the nature of state propaganda which proved highly useful in supplementing my existing university knowledge.

Ultimately, Reviews in History seems to me to be a highly useful tool for both general audiences as well as more specialist historians. I highly recommend this website whether you are looking for help with A-Level history studies or more complex university level material!

 

Latest reviews – shell shock, world’s fairs, Indian journalism and Europe’s India

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We start this week with Stefanie Linden’s They Called it Shell Shock. Combat Stress in the First World War. Michael Robinson and the author discuss a book of great interest to shell shock historians, specialists in trauma studies, and those interested in the social and cultural effects of the First World War (no. 2151, with response here).

Next up is Adam Matthew’s World’s Fairs: A Global History of Exhibitions. Anthony Swift profiles a valuable digital resource for those interested in the history of design, technology, architecture, imperialism, nationalism, gender, anthropology, consumer culture and more (no. 2150).

Then we turn to Amelia Bonea’s The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India. Anindita Ghosh praises a rich and informative book that opens out the way for further and interesting research into telegraphy and journalism (no. 2149).

Finally we have Europe’s India – Words, People, Empires, 1500-1800 by Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Tiraana Bains believes this book weaves together engaging narratives of early modern itinerancy and encounter with incisive criticism of existing historiographical grand narratives (no. 2148).

The king of King’s Cross

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The past decade has seen the rise of a vast property development in the King’s Cross district of central London. As its residential zone nears completion, Dr Philip Carter considers the life of Henry Croft – founder of the Pearly Kings, and a late-Victorian resident of King’s Cross – who features in the development’s marketing campaign. Recreating Henry’s life story owes much to a growing range of digitised resources now shaping microhistorical and prosopographical approaches to the past.

Step out of Senate House in Bloomsbury and you quickly encounter some exclusive real estate. Bedford, Russell, Gordon and Tavistock squares were among the most prestigious property developments of the late-18th and early 19th centuries, and their elegant terraces remain highly desirable. Keep walking from Tavistock Square and you come across their 21st-century equivalent, just north of King’s Cross station.

Read the full post on the School of Advanced Studies’ Talking Humanities blog.

Discover vampires and more at History Day: Vampires at the UCL SSEES Library

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This blog post was written by Dr Wojciech Janik, Assistant Librarian at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library. It is cross-posted from the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services blog. It is one of a series of blog posts on the theme of Magic and the Supernatural, as part of the History Day 2017 event on 31st October.

UCL SSEES Library is very happy to participate in History Day 2017. We will be contributing to the Day alongside number of libraries which hold collections that are particularly strong in the field of History. The History Day will take place on the 31st of October at Senate House, University of London. As the date coincides with Halloween, the organisers of the Day propose to use this opportunity and to “celebrate all that is scary, eerie and magical in libraries and archives”.

[Trans-sylvania.Hondius,Jodocus, 1563-1612. Probably from an English ed. of Hondius’ Atlas minor (1635, 1637 or 1639). Map 189. From the collections of UCL SSEES Library. Copyright UCL Library Services, 2010, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England and Wales Licence. For further information on this Licence please refer to: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/%5D]

At UCL SSEES Library we decided to take this opportunity to focus on vampires! Although it may sound a bit unusual, we actually do have quite strong collection on vampires. In fact UCL SSEES runs a course for our students entitled: Vampires, society and culture: Transylvania and beyond. If you would like to tuck into the subject, you can find the complete reading list here.

But what actually are vampires? According to Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic myth and legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy (the book is kept at SSEES: Gen.Slav.REF 3-e DIX) “the name itself is borrowed from the Serbian vampir, which is in turn related to the Turkish word ubir, “undead”, though some sources assert an association with the Slavic upir. In certain cases, the vampire had the ability to shift shape at will, its favourite animal manifestation being the wolf, although bats were also common. These vampires were known as vukodlak, which literally translates as “wolf’s hair”, a word that is still in common usage. Common superstition still holds that when a werewolf dies it becomes a vampire”[1].

The most well-known vampire character is of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula, whose archetype was Prince Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. In SSEES Library we have everything you may want to know about Dracula starting with Bram Stoker’s book Dracula (Misc.XXIV.7 STO). If you would like to know more about the origins of the book, please check The origins of Dracula : the background to Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece, edited by Clive Leatherdale (Misc.XXIV.7 STO ORI). Want to know more about Vlad Tapes the historical figure? Check Vlad the Impaler : in search of the real Dracula by M.J. Trow (Rou.IX.c TRO), or perhaps you are looking for a straight forward answer? Then maybe Dracula : sense & nonsense by Elizabeth Miller (Misc.XXIV.7 STO MIL) can help.

Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory (born in 1560) may be a lesser known vampiric figure. However it is enough to say that she has been described as “the most vicious female serial killer in all recorded history”[2] . If you would like to know more please check for example the following books: The bloody countess by Valentine Penrose (H.IX.c PEN) or Dracula was a woman: in search of the blood countess of Transylvania by Raymond T. McNally (Rou.IX.c MAC).

Of course there is much more in Eastern European folklore and mythology than vampires. If you are interested, please check for example A bibliography of Slavic mythology by Mark Kulikowski (Gen.Slav.II KUL), Russian myths by Elizabeth Warner (R.VIII WAR), The gods of the ancient Slavs : Tatishchev and The beginnings of Slavic mythology by Myroslava T. Znayenk (Gen.Slav.XVII ZNA), Mother Russia: the feminine myth in Russian culture by Joanna Hubbsand (R.XVIII HUB) and many others.

Finally if you would like to read about the Eastern Europe as seen by various travellers in XVI – XIX centuries, why not check out our digital collection of travel books? It contains a selection of printed accounts, dating from 1557 to 1860, focusing on journeys in Central Europe, South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. You can find more than three hundreds books here.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the History Day on 31st October!

Notes:

[1] Mike Dixon-Kennedy, Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend / Mike Dixon-Kennedy. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 298.

[2] Richard Cavendish: A vicious killer died on August 21st, 1614. In: History Today. Volume 64. Issue 8 August 2014 (http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-countess-elizabeth-bathory accessed on 02/09/2017)

Latest from Reviews in History – slavery, C19 America, Ancient Greece and factory fire

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We start this week with Alice Rio’s Slavery After Rome, 500-1100. Shami Ghosh and the author discuss one of the central questions in the historiography of early medieval Western Europe: how did the transition from slavery to serfdom take place? (no. 2147, with response here)

Next up is Divided Sovereignties: Race, Nationhood, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America by Rochelle Zuck. Nathan Cardon enjoys a book which puts politics and nation-making back into the conversation on 19th-century race and identity (no. 2146).

Then we turn to Johana Hannink’s The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity. Helen Roche praises a triumph of popularisation which should provide a fruitful starting-point for more detailed surveys (no. 2145).

Finally we have See You In The Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Ruth Sergel. Chloe Ward reviews a book which recounts the author’s attempts to commemorate the fire through a series of interlinked art projects-cum-social interventions (no. 2144).

Furniture history: the digital future

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This editorial originally appeared in the Burlington Magazine.

NEXT YEAR IS the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Chippendale, an event that will be marked in his native county by an exhibition at Leeds City Museum.1 The story of the study of Chippendale, perhaps the only furniture designer and maker whose name is instantly recognisable to a majority of the public, would be an interesting topic to research as it would shed light on the development of furniture history as a scholarly discipline in Britain. A turning-point was the foundation in 1964 of the Furniture History Society (FHS), and the publication from 1965 of its journal, Furniture History. Its 1968 volume was devoted to Chippendale (as its 2018 volume will be also). This included an article by Nicholas Goodison on archival material at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, relating to the designer, which was linked to a catalogue of the Chippendale furniture in the house, published as two articles in this Magazine by the same author, with Lindsay Boynton.2 The collaboration between the FHS and this Magazine was reinforced by the November 1969 issue, devoted entirely to articles by members of the Society. This was intended to demonstrate that furniture studies should be part of professional art history, and that the work of a leading furniture designer and craftsman deserved all the academic rigour that was taken for granted in the study of painters and sculptors. With the publication in 1978 of Christopher Gilbert’s two-volume monograph on Chippendale, that ambition was amply fulfilled.3

The study of British furniture could have proceeded entirely on such traditional monographic lines, but in fact that approach became subsidiary to a broader study of the furniture trade in all its aspects. This new direction owed a great deal to the publication by the FHS in 1986 of The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660–1840, edited by Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert. Its fifty thousand entries, assembled largely on the basis of information from the Society’s members, supply a brief history of each maker, with notes on documentary and other sources. This is an invaluable resource, but it has always been acknowledged that it represents only a fraction of the information that could be drawn out of the documentary record. To take just one example, the Dictionary contains the names of about five hundred London furniture makers at work between 1660 and 1725, but in a recent Ph.D. thesis Laurie Lindey was able to list twelve thousand names for the period 1640–1720.4

For some years it has been clear that the way forward was the establishment of a digital database to replace the Dictionary. This is now being undertaken by the British and Irish Furniture Makers Online Project (BIFMO). Announced last October, this is a collaboration between the FHS and the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH) at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. The first phase, due to go online on 30th September, is an open-access searchable database of all the entries from the Dictionary, together with the names from Lindey’s thesis. The project, which is being overseen at the IHR by Lindey as a post-doctoral research fellow, working with Mark Merry, acting director of the CMS, is highly ambitious. As well as extending the coverage to Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it aims to include other parts of the world from which British craftsmen originated or where local makers were influenced by British practices or immigrants. It also plans to extend the chronological range, initially to 1900 and eventually to the present day. The cost of the project’s first five years of operation is estimated to be £365,000, which will fund the post-doctoral research fellowship, additional junior research scholars, technical costs and related events, such as study days and conferences. Of this, £55,000 has already been pledged and the first year of operation has been temporarily underwritten by the FHS. It is to be hoped that funds can readily be found for a project that promises to reshape the future of British furniture studies.5

At present, none of the twelve thousand names in Lindey’s thesis can be associated with a known work. One of the many exciting possibilities raised by BIFMO, which will be illustrated, is that it will allow the names of makers to be linked to surviving furniture. For this to be achieved, catalogues of furniture must themselves be digitised. In England, a lead has been set by the National Trust, which in 2015 undertook a three-year Furniture Research Project. Funded by the Royal Oak Foundation and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, this is paying for additional staff to research and catalogue the Trust’s collection of furniture – which, with some 55,000 items, is the largest in the world in single ownership. Here again, funding will be sought, as it would be deeply regrettable if the project were allowed to lapse in 2018. Some eleven thousand furniture entries in the Trust’s online catalogue have already been fully revised.6 Among them will be the entries on Chippendale, in time for his three hundredth anniversary – an event that will, thanks to digital technology, coincide with advances in furniture history that may one day seem as significant as the launch of the FHS.

1 Thomas Chippendale: A Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 1718–2018, Leeds City Museum, 9th February–10th June 2018. For details of the exhibition, and of other anniversary events, go to www.chippendale300.co.uk.

2 L. Boynton and N. Goodison: ‘The furniture of Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory – I and II’, THE BURLINGTON MAGAZINE 111 (1969), pp.281–85 and pp.351–60.

3 Reviewed by Geoffrey de Bellaigue in this Magazine, 122 (1980), pp.440–42. Another significant event was the foundation in 1965 of the Chippendale Society.

4 L. Lindey: ‘The London Furniture Trade 1640–1720’, unpublished Ph.D. diss. (Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 2015).

5 Potential donors are asked to contact Keith Nicholls at the FHS: finance@furniturehistorysociety.

org.

6 www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk.

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