North Sea Networks: English and German Merchants in London’s Customs Accounts 1380-1560

The IHR’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community is developing a new area of research on London’s medieval customs accounts. London’s particular (detailed) customs accounts offer a uniquely detailed insight to flows and connections of shipping, skippers, merchants, and commodities to and from the Port of London across this period of transformational commercialisation and proto-industrialisation.

We are working with the transcripts of the accounts by Prof Stuart Jenks, published by the Hansischen Geschichtsverein, and exploring ways of analysing the information contained in them at scale, and through network-based approaches. Making these records more navigable, and linking them to other sources, will unlock the stories of people, their relationships, and their goods that will allow us to make sense of this key period of transnational exchange and interdependence.

We are looking for an intern to help us to:

  • Build example case studies of merchant networks, and material histories, from the 1480-1 accounts;
  • Scope and document the changing nature of the sources over the period;
  • Help explore the requirements for tracking and comparing commodities and units of measurement across the accounts.

This internship offers a unique opportunity to gain experience in research development and design, and in collaborating as part of a research team at the UK’s national centre for history.

We anticipate that this internship might be of particular interest to more experienced early-career academics, such as PhD students at an advanced stage of their studies, or post-doctoral or independent researchers, who work in medieval, early modern, or economic history. The intern should have familiarity with sources for medieval trade and merchants. They should also be comfortable with working with data in the form of not only texts, but also spreadsheets and digital humanities tools using coding schemes including XML and JSON.

The internship is designed to help build skills and offer career development opportunities in research. We particularly welcome applications from historians – working in any context – from under-represented groups, including those from minoritized ethnic groups, disabled people, LGBTQIA+ people, and those who are ‘first generation’ in Higher Education.

This internship is offered from late October 2023, and all outcomes should be complete by the end of February 2024. While the majority of the project can be completed remotely, the intern should be available to use physical library collections in London on occasion. The internship can be completed flexibly, and the intern will be free to organise their time spent on the project (for example, alongside part-time work or studying commitments). This should be agreed with the project supervisor at the start. The internship is not a job and is not defined in terms of number of a fixed number of hours commitment, but instead around the agreed goals and outcomes.

The internship will be supported with a total bursary award of £2500 (paid as £500 at the start of the project, £1000 at a midway review point and £1000 on completion and approval of the project). Objectives and milestones (including the midway review) will be agreed with the project supervisor at the start.

This internship is supported with some of the funds raised in memory of Derek Keene, Professor in Urban History at the IHR and founder of the IHR’s Centre for Metropolitan History (now part of the CHPPC). We are grateful to the donors for their generosity and are proud to continue Derek’s legacy of groundbreaking new research in urban history.

How to Apply

Please submit your application to by 12 noon, UK time, on Friday, 29 September 2023. Please mark the email subject line ‘Customs Accounts Internship Application’. You should include as a single attachment:

  • Statement of up to 500 words explaining how this opportunity will support your career development, and the skills and experience you would bring to the role.
  • A statement confirming that you identify as an early-career researcher / professional, and also confirming your availability to hold an internship during the period late October to late February 2023.
  • A CV of up to 2 A4 pages, including your current job or student status.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel including Professor Catherine Clarke and Dr Justin Colson. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by Wednesday 11th October, 2023.

If you have any questions about the internship or the application process, please contact the IHR Director of Studies, Dr Simon Trafford.