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‘Home: New Histories of Living’: announcing the IHR’s Winter Conference


The IHR’s forthcoming Winter Conference, to be held on 8-9 February 2018, takes as its theme Home: New Histories of Living.

The title reflects the event’s two main aims: to bring together those working on past domesticities (and above all on the experiences of home life); and to focus especially on new and innovative research which explores how the home has been thought about, utilized and lived in. This focus on research and methodological enquiry will, we hope, become an important strand in future IHR events and conferences—in line with the Institute’s standing as a national centre for training in established and emerging forms of historical research.

Over two days in February 2018, ‘New Histories of Living’ will address four interrelated subject areas currently of particular interest to historians of domestic life. Each panel will comprise three papers relating to the principal theme, interconnected and set in context by a specialist convenor. Panels will bring together scholars whose work provides insights both into historical domestic experiences and historians’ approaches to these pasts.

Day One will offer two sessions, beginning with ‘Reconstructions: imagining domestic experience’—a survey of new ways to recreate medieval and early modern interiors, convened by Professor Catherine Richardson from the University of Kent. This will be followed by ‘Rooms’, which—under the guidance of Sonia Solicari, director The Geffrye Museum, London—considers how historians tackle the changing forms and uses of spaces to accommodate family life, from birth to death, and for cooking, cleaning, resting and entertaining.  Given our interest in recreating the uses and experience of household artefacts and furnishings, museum designers and curators are an important constituency—as speakers and delegates—at this Winter Conference.

Day Two will begin with the ‘Home-work: reimagining gendered domesticity’ panel (Dr Lynne Walker, IHR), a survey of male and female domestic environments. The fourth panel, ‘Dream homes: alternative futures for residential experience’, is convened by Dr Elizabeth Darling of Oxford Brookes University. This session will consider the history of lives lived in the ‘homes of tomorrow’.

Alongside the themed sessions we have four plenary lectures. These will be delivered by Professor Jane Hamlett of Royal Holloway, University of London, a specialist in nineteenth-century domestic and institutional living; the art historian and BBC presenter Dan Cruickshank; the historian of early modern London, Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck); and the architectural historian Owen Hatherley, whose latest book, Landscapes of Communism, is a history of a political ideal told through its buildings.

In addition to lectures and panels, the Winter Conference will offer ancillary events on the subject of research practice and methods. We also expect to make available new technologies for visualizing the historical home. Digital research tools are an interest shared by several of our panellists, and by IHR staff who’ll demonstrate how to make, and use, 3D images and printed models of household artefacts—as well as virtual reality (VR) recreations of complete interior spaces or structures.

Tickets for ‘Home: New Histories of Living’, the 2018 IHR Winter Conference, are now on sale. A small number of bursaries are available for Masters Students, PhD researchers and ECRs to help with conference fees and travel expenses. For more information on how to apply for this please visit the conference website.

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Latest Reviews – Burgundy, Holocaust, election agents and paupers


We begin this week with Robert Stein’s Magnanimous Dukes and Rising States: the Unification of the Burgundian Netherlands 1380-1480. Katherine Wilson and the author discuss a huge contribution to the scholarship of the Burgundian Dominions (no. 2177, with response here).

Next up is The Holocaust: A New History by Laurence Rees. Joseph Cronin praises a gripping narrative interspersed with compelling, moving and relatable testimony (no. 2176).

Then we turn to Kathryn Rix’s Parties, Agents and Electoral Culture in England, 1880-1910. Iain Sharpe enjoys a book which manages to break new ground and make a significant contribution to current historiographical debates (no. 2175).

Finally we have Pauper Policies: Poor Law Practice in England 1780-1850 by Samantha Shave. Joseph Harley finds this book largely convincing and well-researched, and believes it to be a strong platform for further research on pauper policies (no. 2174).

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Heritage Lottery Fund awards Stage 2 funding for ‘Layers of London’ project


The IHR is delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Stage 2 funding of £929,800 for the ‘Layers of London’ project. An additional £600,000 will come from matched funding and other contributions. Thanks to support made possible by National Lottery players, Layers of London, which began in 2016, will build an innovative digital platform to enable the public to create and upload heritage content, linked to digitised historic maps of London from the Romans to the present day. The team will be coordinating a large number of volunteer projects across London, including in schools.

The IHR’s project partners are Birkbeck, University of London, London Metropolitan Archives, the British Library, The National Archives, Historic England and Museum of London Archaeology. The project team, based at the IHR, is led by Professor Matthew Davies of Birkbeck, University of London and the Project Manager is Seif El Rashidi at the IHR. For more information, and to get involved in the project see

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Latest from Reviews in History – race, Lincoln, early Lancashire welfare and Mormons


Anyway, we begin this week with Richard McMahon’s The Races of Europe: Construction of National Identities in the Social Sciences, 1839-1939. Ian Stewart and the author debate a valuable contribution to the histories of ideas and science, linking them to the cultural history of national identities (no. 2173, with response here).

Next up is Lincoln, Congress, and Emancipation, edited by Donald R. Kennon and Paul Finkelman. Susan-Mary Grant and the editors discuss a collection largely dedicated to the heroes of America’s national story (no. 2172, with response here).

Then we turn to Jonathan Healey’s The First Century of Welfare: Poverty and Poor Relief in Lancashire, 1620-1730. David Hitchcock recommends an history of poor relief in Lancashire across the 17th and early 18th centuries (no. 2171).

Finally we have Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory by Brent M. Rogers. James Williamson believes any historian seeking to understand debates over sovereignty within antebellum America should consult this work (no. 2170).

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Latest from Reviews in History – nuclear protest, Thomas Jefferson, slave owners database and medieval ritual


We start this week with Better Active than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany by Andrew S. Tompkins. Sinead McEneaney and the author discuss a work which places the focus squarely on the transnational connections between activists and activist groups (no. 2169, with response here).

Next up is Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf’s ‘Most Blessed of the Patriarchs’: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. David Houpt enjoys a fascinating look into the psyche of one of America’s most enigmatic figures (no. 2168).

Then we turn to the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership database. Daniel Livesay praises a tremendous resource and tool for the history of slavery, the West Indies, Britain, and the Atlantic World (no. 2167).

Finally we have a response by author Dušan Zupka to Nora Berend’s review of Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty.

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Latest from Reviews in History – nuns, bishops, racist ideas and public health


We start this week with Tom Crook’s Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830–1910. Christopher Hamlin and the author discuss a book big in scope, range, and thought (no. 2166, with response here).

Next up is Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. Richard King and the author debate a National Book Award winning attempt to re-cast of the framework of assumptions and vocabulary of concepts used in writing about slavery and race (no. 2165, with response here).

Then we turn to S. T. Ambler’s Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272. Robert Swanson thinks that although this book is not totally successful, it offers a stimulating approach which merits serious attention (no. 2164).

Finally we have English Benedictine Nuns in Exile in the Seventeenth Century by Laurence Lux-Sterritt. Kristof Smeyers believe the themes of this book – diaspora, displacement, abandon, isolation, community – are universal (no. 2163).

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Latest from Reviews in History – Irish & German nationalism, British war planning, New Orleans slavery


We start this week with Shane Nagle’s Histories of Nationalism in Ireland and Germany: A Comparative Study from 1800 to 1932. Jean-Michel Johnston and the author debate a book which reveals interesting similarities and differences between important texts in the national historiographical traditions of Ireland and Germany (no. 2162, with response here).

Next up is The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914 by David G. Morgan-Owen. Christian Melby and the author discuss a book which offers new insights into a leadership who tried to balance an offensive military policy with defending the heart of the empire itself (no. 2161, with response here).

Then we turn to Rashauna Johnson’s Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans During the Age of Revolutions. Matthew Stallard believes this book offers scholars of the African diaspora and many other areas a fruitful conceptualisation with which to frame future projects (no. 2160).

Finally we have an expanded response to last week’s review of An African Volk by author Jamie Miller.

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Professor Michael Thompson


Please note: There will be a service for Michael on 14 September at St Helen’s church in Wheathampstead at 3pm. The service will be followed by tea at Anne and Michael’s home in Holly Cottage, Sheepcote Lane, Wheathampstead, A14 8NJ.

It is with very great sadness that the Institute of Historical Research announces the death of Professor F. M. L. (Michael) Thompson who was Director of the Institute between 1977 and 1990. Michael was a much-admired and much-loved historian, teacher and mentor. He was born in 1925 and educated at the Bootham School in York. After war service with the Indian artillery he read History at the Queen’s College, Oxford where he shared rooms with the future historian of the United States, Jack Pole. After taking his doctorate at Oxford he was successively Lecturer and Reader in History at University College, London; Professor and Head of Department at Bedford College, London; and Director of the IHR. He was also a most active figure in the historical profession, serving as President of the Economic History Society (1983-86) and then of the Royal Historical Society between 1988-92. He was editor of the Economic History Review 1968-80, and he gave the Ford Lectures in English History in Oxford in 1995.

His first book, English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (1963) opened up  the subject that he was to shape and make his own across the whole of his career, the history of the land, including the history of its owners and tillers, in the modern era. It was a brilliant start, mixing hard economic history with entertaining anecdote in an always lucid style. Michael Thompson went on to publish equally important studies of the landed classes in the twentieth century, the subject of his presidential lectures to the Royal Historical Society; to produce a history of Hampstead, Hampstead: Building a Borough, 1650-1964 (1974) as full of fascinating details and historical byways as is the place itself; to write the social history of the nineteenth century in The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830-1900 (1988); and to publish his Ford Lectures as Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture: Britain 1780-1980 (2001). He was the editor of the 3-volume Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950 (1990). There was even time for a history of the University of London – The University of London and the World of Learning (1990) – which he had graced for the whole of his teaching and research career. All the while he was also publishing articles in learned journals, chapters in books, and delivering formal lectures in which he tried out new ideas and excavated small corners of his very large field. These pieces, some 24 in total, have been collected together and have just appeared in two volumes entitled English Landed Society Revisited published by Edward Everett Root ( The last of the essays chronologically, a brilliant account of the decline of ‘land’ as a political issue in the early twentieth century, was published as late as 2010 when FML was well into his ‘eighties. It was fitting and altogether satisfying that Michael’s collected essays should have been in his hands a few weeks before his death.

The thoughts and condolences of the whole IHR community are with Anne, Michael’s wife, and all his family.

Lawrence Goldman

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Latest from Reviews in History – Apartheid, Aelred of Rievaulx, Vietnam and Samuel Marsden


We start this week with Jamie Miller’s An African Volk: The Apartheid Regime and Its Search for Survival. Robert McNamara and the author discuss what is perhaps the most important book written about South African foreign policy in the mid-Cold War era (no. 2159, with response here).

Next up is A Companion to Aelred of Rievaulx (1110–1167), edited by Marsha L. Dutton. Charlie Rozier believes this companion makes essential reading for students and scholars seeking to explore Aelred for the first time (no. 2158).

Then we turn to Jessica Frazier’s Women’s Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War. Jon Coburn finds this book persuasively asserts that the example shown by Vietnamese women during the war fundamentally influenced the development of women’s liberation in America (no. 2157).

Finally we have The World, the Flesh and the Devil: the Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765-1838 by Andrew Sharp. Ged Martin and the author disagree as to whether the controversial Marsden should be allowed tell his own story without a larger measure of independent commentary (no. 2156, with response here).

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New reviews: Slavery, Morocco, Carolingian Empire and Roosevelts


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).

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