We start this week with Christopher Strains’s The Long Sixties: America 1955-1973. Louisa Hotson praises a textbook that lives up to the best ideals of the genre (no. 2113).
Next up is a review of the current Imperial War Museum exhibition People Power: Fighting for Peace. Alison Wilcox reviews this depiction of the history of peace movements and the anti-war cause (no. 2112).
Then we turn to Heligoland: Britain, Germany, and the Struggle for the North Sea by Jan Rüger. John R. Davis believes the reader of Rüger’s volume will be fascinated, surprised, horrified and moved (no. 2111).
Finally we have a response by author David Haven Blake to last week’s review by Thomas Tunstall Allcock of Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising and the Rise of Celebrity Politics (response to no. 2107)
The Directory appears as a searchable and browsable text within British History Online (BHO), the IHR’s digital library of key printed and primary and secondary sources in medieval and early modern British and Irish history. It recreates the lives and military careers of many hundreds of previously little-known Parliamentarian officers, with a particular focus on the years 1642–45 before the creation of the New Model Army. Entries range from a sentence for the most obscure individuals to close to 1,000 words for major figures.
Where known, information is provided on family background and social networks, as well as details of the armies in which each officer served and the sources used to assemble a life. These biographies are freely available via British History Online and are published using a Creative Commons licence which also permits the downloading of the full text in its XML-mark up version. With this, historians will be able to undertake new research by searching and grouping the officers by age during military service, the armies in which they served and other attributes.
The Directory has been prepared for publication by the British History Online editorial team, who are members of the IHR’s Digital research department. The new collection is one example of a growing number of titles added to BHO as ‘born-digital’ resources – works created specifically for online publication or which, having existed online in other formats, now find a permanent home as part of this widely-used resource for the study of British and Irish history.
Similar titles recently added to BHO include The Court of Chivalry database which records trials brought for defamation and insult during the 1630s. Born-digital publications of this kind highlight the increasing importance attached to preserving and promoting web-based research, together with BHO’s contribution to digital sustainability for completed and current projects.
The Cromwell Association Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers was launched on 17 May at an event organised jointly by the IHR and the Cromwell Association and held at the Institute. Research and publication was funded by the Cromwell Association with generous assistance from the Marc Fitch Fund and the Aurelius Trust. You can read more about the research for and aims of the project in Lives of the Civil War by the Directory’s general editor Dr Stephen K. Roberts.
We kick off with Robert Bickers’ epic Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination. Phoebe Chow tackles a well-written, exciting and important book on the Sino-Western relationship (no. 2108).
Next up is A History of Drink and the English, 1500-2000 by Paul Jennings. Pam Lock praises a valuable addition to drink history literature which provides a much-needed introduction to the subject (no. 2110).
Then we turn to Carlos Eire’s Reformations: the Early Modern World, 1450-1650. Sam Kennerley finds this volume provides a readable and stimulating overview of European history between 1450 and 1650 (no. 2109).
Finally, we have Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising, and the Rise of Celebrity Politics by David Haven Blake. Thomas Tunstall Allcock enjoys a book which prompts the reader to consider how we choose our political leaders and the means by which the foundations of presidential images are created (no. 2107).
We start with Matthew Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy. David Tiedemann explores a good example of how to combine a study of American ideas about world power, and the global economy, with a study of federal policy (no. 2106).
Next up is From Empire to Exile: History and Memory Within the Pied-Noir and Harki Communities by Claire Eldridge. Sung eun Choi believes this book will remain indispensable reading for those interested in the role played by memory in decolonization (no. 2105).
Then we turn to Ellen Gill’s Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820. Catherine Beck recommends this book to anyone looking to incorporate a naval dimension to 18th-century patriotism, family and friendship (no. 2104).
Finally, we have Voices of Conscience: Royal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France by Nicole Reinhardt. Jonathan Dewald praises a fine exploration of political advice-giving in the early modern centuries (no. 2103).
We start this week with Four Histories About Early Dutch Football 1910-1920: Constructing Discourses by Nicholas Piercey. Matthew McDowell and the author discuss a radical post-modern work of sport history (no. 2102, with response here).
Next up is Twilight of History by Shlomo Sand. Beverley Southgate praises an eminently readable book of clear importance for both politics and education (no. 2101).
Then we turn to Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty by Dušan Zupka. Nora Berend reviews a patchy study of rituals and symbolic communication in medieval Hungary (no. 2100).
Finally, we have a response from author Christian McMillen to last week’s review of his Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present (see response here) .
This post has kindly been written for us by Seif El Rashidi, Project Development Officer for the HLF ‘Layers of London’ Project.
Charles Booth’s London (http://booth.lse.ac.uk/) is a new digital resource created by the London School of Economics and Political Science as a means of sharing Charles Booth’s great work, his Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the people of London, undertaken between 1886 and 1903.
The Inquiry was a survey of working class London, best known for one of its outcomes: The Booth Poverty Maps, which show poverty levels on a street-by-street basis. What is remarkable about the survey is its thoroughness – it looked at the both working and living conditions, as well as at the religious life of the city, going into an extraordinary level of detail in order to produce simple, clear colour-coding denoting the economic and social status of the residents. Even more significant is that 450 of Booth’s field books survive, providing rare insights into the lives of Londoners of all walks of life at the end of the Victorian period, as experienced from this ambitious and rigorous first-hand survey. Most of these field books have been digitised and are available as an integral part of this website.
Sample entries include: “Oak Place – flagged passage, gas workers, clean faces, well fed….. (Booth/B/367)
…. “on the side is a common lodging house for women of a disorderly character. Two specimens were parading the street and objurgating the deputy with a very choice selection from their vocabulary.” (Booth/B/354)
and “All good working class, Kinnerton is a great street for letting; the public house at the corner of Motcombe Street is used as is the small barber’s shop on the west side. (Booth/B/362)
These illustrate just how valuable this survey is in capturing the life of London at the end of the 19th century, bringing the city alive through brief but telling descriptions, many of which fuel the imagination. Many of these accounts were obtained by following the police on the beats around different neighbourhoods of the city. Incidentally, the City (capital C) was not included in the survey, which otherwise spans the area from Chiswick to Greenwich, and from south Brixton in the south to Upper Holloway in the north.
The new website is truly a visually-appealing, user-friendly creation, with the contextual blurbs broken down into short paragraphs, providing clear information, and ensuring that all the practicalities, like referencing, are easy to find. The two main components of the website are the map and the notebooks, the latter with specific sections on Jewish London, Stepney and Bromley Workhouses, and Police notebooks.
Notebook pages are summarised to indicate which streets are mentioned on each page, as well as any other key information, for example:
Users can search the map by place name. The results appear with three distinct classifications: place names in contemporary usage, 1898 landmarks corresponding to that name, and 1898 parishes. This is just one example showing the thought that has gone into making this website easy to use. It pre-empts problems that commonly arise in searches for place names on a historic map.
Relevant content from the notebooks appears across the map and is very easy to access. Even better, notebook content has been digitised at an excellent resolution, and can be downloaded and printed. Furthermore, material is in the public domain.
The Highlights section present a thematic selection of excerpts, focusing on drinking and drugs, prostitution, and immigration –evidently a pertinent topic, even then.
Charles Booth’s London is, in many respects, an exemplary project, especially in its aims, and ease of use, omitting the need for lengthy instructions. Many a project could learn volumes from its slickness, and its commitment to sharing valuable information. It is positively helpful – like an enthusiastic and supportive librarian, except digital. As such, the only shortcomings seem to be trivialities (that the ‘About’ section is at the bottom of the page, and maybe a brief introductory blurb at the top would have been useful; and that subheadings are not clickable, necessitating lots of ‘Discover’ buttons instead). In spending a good deal of time discovering the work of Charles Booth and his team, my one grievance is that their handwriting was often spidery and hard to read – with a generous sprinkling of abbreviations like 3 ½ st. (presumably storeys?) To LSE library’s credit is the fact that these are the few anomalies on an otherwise highly-legible website.
We start this week with From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism by Amanda B. Moniz. Eric Herschthal and the author discuss a new and important book for anyone interested in the history of human rights (no. 2099, with response here).
Next up is Christian McMillen’s Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present. Vivek Neelakantan thinks this book should be recommended reading on any course on international health (no. 2098).
Then we turn to Forging Islamic Power and Place: The Legacy of Shayk Da’ud bin ‘Abd Allah al-Fatani in Mecca and Southeast Asia by Frances Bradley. William Noseworthy believes this book provides a rich new analysis of Islam in the context of global history, which will resonate within the walls of the classroom and beyond (no. 2097).
Finally, in the latest of our occasional podcast series, Jordan Landes and Laura Beers chat about the latter’s new biography Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist (no. 2096).
We start this week with The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany by Greg Eghigian. Janet Weston and the author debate an excellent book which aims to disrupt Anglo-centric versions of penal welfarism (no. 2095, with response here).
Next up is The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124-1290 by Alice Taylor. Toby Salisbury praises an ambitious and thorough first full-length study of 12th- and 13th-century Scottish government (no. 2094).
Then we turn to Martial Law and English Laws, c.1500-c.1700 by John M. Collins. Ian Williams and the author discuss a book which demonstrates the importance of martial law to the English and imperial polity (no. 2093, with response here).
Finally, we have a review of Russia and Courtly Europe: Ritual and the Culture of Diplomacy, 1648-1725 by Jan Hennings. Tatyana Zhukova welcomes a new perspective on the complex relations and direct encounters within the world of princely courts (no. 2092).
We start this week with Everyday Renaissances: The Quest for Cultural Legitimacy in Venice by Sarah Gywneth Ross. Thomas Goodwin and the author discuss an important, innovative and thought-provoking contribution to the history of Renaissance Italy (no. 2087, with response here).
Next up is Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London c.1850 to the Present, edited by Simon Avery and Katherine Graham. Harry Cocks has reservations about a volume which shows the kaleidoscopic effect of queer as a method (no. 2086).
Then we turn to An Age of Risk: Politics and Economy in Early Modern Britain by Emily C. Nacol. Aidan Beatty thinks this book provides a well-versed and coherent intellectual genealogy of risk and of the social experience of living with risk (no. 2085).
Finally, we have Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford’s Rage for Order: the British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850. Alex Middleton enjoys a book that deserves to have major implications for international legal history (no. 2084).
This post has kindly been written for us by Joseph Harley, EHS Postan Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
Since I was an undergraduate student I have been interested in researching poverty. The poor made up well over half of the British population during the early modern period, yet archives contain very little information on these people as the majority of records were made by the middling sort and the elite of society. This means that I have had to make long and frequent trips to archives throughout my PhD and Post-Doc to find sources.
I have calculated that over the past four and a half years, I have spent around six months of those, from opening to closing time, working at nearly 20 different archives. This number does not even include the months I spent searching online catalogues for records or the time I spent sorting through the thousands of photographs I had taken. This has been very rewarding but also very frustrating. Starting with the negatives: there is the considerable cost of visiting archives. On average, I have spent around £250 for every week that I have been away, even when I have found cheap hotels and economical forms of transport. I have been very fortunate to receive stipends and funding during my PhD and Post-Doc work, but even with this more often than not I am out of pocket. There is also the huge toll that these trips have on your body. For example, I am currently writing this blog on the 4.45am train from Leicester to London, to get to an archive in Maidstone for 9am. Once I am away, I will be eating a greasy cooked breakfast at the hotel every morning and will probably be eating something quick, cheap and thus unhealthy in the evenings.
Most of the archives I have visited are not nearby to where I live. This means that trips can be lonely and isolating as the only face-to-face conversations I have is brief chats with archive and hotel staff. I also do not actually conduct much research while I am away. I am simply someone who finds something, photographs it, and worries about using it later. Every archive has their own quirks, which are funny but also make you want to bang your head on the table. At one archive the staff thought that I was odd when I asked for a pillow to place a source with a broken spine on to. Another brought me out a trolley of sources to see, but would not let me lift things from the trolley to the table for health and safety reasons, even though they were very light and the distance was centimetres. Meanwhile, other archives are carefree and have even offered to bring me coffee and allow me to eat my lunch while looking at fragile documents (I didn’t). It is no wonder that some early-career historians struggle and can suffer from anxiety and depression.
There is a moral to this story. By working so extensively at archives I have had lots of practice of writing funding applications, which looks great on my CV and later helped when it came to writing my for the Economic History Society fellowship. People I have spoken to at archives have offered me opportunities to present my research at talks and write for journals. It has meant that I have the materials to write a dozen articles and ideas for three books. Many of these proposals are also easier to sell to prospective publishers and editors as they revolve around underutilised sources which would never have been found unless I undertook this work.
Moreover, it has allowed me to see the people that I am studying in a new light. One of my favourite things to find is doodles. It helps to remind me that the people we study were once alive and like us, sometimes got bored and would jot random pictures of anything and everything. One of the main sources I use is overseers’ accounts and these list hundreds and thousands of people that received payments from poor law authorities. It is easy to lose sight of who these individuals were when they are listed in such an emotionless way, but these doodles help me to see past that.
I have also found numerous examples which I will probably not otherwise use, but which have helped to remind me that I am studying people who were once alive and had worries, problems and dislikes of their own. In some parishes, for example, people would not be given poor relief unless they gave up their beloved pet dog. The elderly or single pregnant women were sometimes only helped by authorities if they entered the workhouse. Workhouse residents who tried to commit suicide were subject to criminal prosecutions if they managed to survive. I can’t imagine the sort of emotional turmoil and dilemmas that these people would have felt. Life could also be very unpredictable and peculiar. In Farningham, Kent, for instance, the parish constables were accused of neglecting their duties in 1827 after children were seen playing with gunpowder in the village. In Rothley, Leicestershire, in 1795, two people were given poor relief after one was bitten by a ‘Mad Dog’ and after the other was shot!
Overall then, as much as I dislike the costs, bad food and long days away from home, these trips have proved to be useful in other ways than providing sources for publications. They have helped me to become a more conscious historian who is appreciative of the challenges and complexities of contemporary society.