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Author Archives: katewilcox


Libraries Week: Thursday

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This post was written by Kate Wilcox (IHR) and Jordan Landes (Senate House Library) during Libraries week 2017.

We are excited that the fifth History Day event will be held on 31 October. The event began in 2014 as a way to bring  libraries and archives together in promoting collections and enabling researchers to discover more about them. Information professionals regularly direct researchers to sources in other places, so it seemed a natural progression to bring displays about those collections and the people involved together in one location.

The day includes a history fair where libraries, archives, historical organisations and publishers have stands, a one-stop celebration of history collections. Researchers can browse the materials, chat to staff members and discover more about sources for their research. Librarians and archivists can meet users and colleagues and refresh their knowledge of other collections.

The first History Day was held in conjunction with the Committee of London Research Libraries in History, a group of history librarians from around London, and the number of stands has grown steadily from 22 in 2014 to around 50 this year. Organisations range from the large to the small, and cover both general and specific subjects areas as well as networks of libraries and archives such as the Feminist and Women’s Libraries and Archives Network and the Engineering Institutions’ Librarians Group.

The organisations attending have expanded beyond London. This year, Gladstone’s Library, Historic England Archive & Library, St Peter’s House Library of the University of Brighton, US History collections at the Bodleian Libraries and the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) Archive Collections are all coming for the first time. Other types of organisations include the History of Parliament and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and we will be welcoming our first European organization, Archives Portal Europe. A full list of participating organisations can be found on the History Day 2017 event page.

Alongside the history fair there will be panel sessions on topics useful and interesting to postgraduate and early career researchers. This year’s sessions are on the themes of Public History, Discovery in Libraries and Archives, and Digital History.

Throughout the year we share blog posts on a range of subjects on the related History Collections website. A special theme this year, given the date of History Day, is ‘Magic and the Supernatural’. Recent posts have covered the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature in Senate House Library, records of witchcraft at the London Metropolitan Archives, and vampires at the UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies.

Free registration is open to everyone. You can also follow and post about the event on twitter using #histday17 and we will be sharing podcasts after the event.

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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)

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Notice of closure of areas within IHR library: 8-10 August

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There will be some disruption and short-term closure of parts of the IHR library during the period 8th – 10th August while we have some extra shelving installed. A more precise timetable will be available nearer the time. Library staff will assist with access to collections within the affected areas. There will be unaffected areas for readers to work at all times.

The areas affected are:

  • Lower ground reading room: this room will be completely closed for the whole period.
  • Foyle room Floor 1: some noise and short-term closure.
  • Wohl Library Floor 1: this room won’t be closed but there will be some disruption.
  • North American room Floor 2: some noise and short-term closure.
  • 3rd floor reading room: short term closure.

Sorry for any inconvenienced caused. We will try to ensure that disturbance is kept to a minimum.

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New printing, scanning and copying system in the IHR library

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The University of London is implementing a new printing, scanning and copying system on Monday 12th – Tuesday 13th June.

There will be some disruption to services on those days and some periods when facilities will be unavailable. Staff may be able to assist if you need to copy or print at that time.

The new system will be shared across Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Historical Research so if you are a member of multiple libraries you will be able to use your account for printing and copying at all of them.

A new user account will be required for the new system and further instructions and help with this will be available. Balance(s) from your existing account(s) can be transferred.

 

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Women in church courts: Undergraduate research project at the IHR library

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This post was written by a group of undergraduate students from the University of Southampton who recently visited the IHR library to complete a research project. We are happy to welcome students doing group projects to the IHR, so please get in touch if you would like to arrange something similar.

We are second year History undergraduate students studying at the University of Southampton, currently undertaking a group project titled ‘Thou art a fals preestes whore’- The Medieval English Church Courts, with a focus on the treatment and role of women within these courts.  In order to complete our research on such a wide-ranging area of study, we travelled to the Institute of Historical Research hoping to find a greater collection of sources and literature than is available to us locally in Southampton.

The institute was very happy to grant us admission and give us access to collections relevant to our research, and were extremely helpful in assisting us in the process.  As we are all currently based in Southampton, we decided to take advantage of the Institute’s online catalogue which was both informative and easy to navigate, so we could optimise our time spent in the library reading the material rather than searching the collection.

Predominantly, our research covers the medieval period, but increasing material we found pointed to the 17th century onwards, so we decided to comment on the change of treatment of women by the courts from the Medieval period into early Modern. Whilst we all concluded that women were not on an equal playing field to men for a variety of reasons, our research does conclude that despite this, women enjoyed more rights than we originally assumed when beginning the project.

Women and Church Courts in Medieval England

English Church Courts in the Middle Ages stood as a pillar of most communities, under a far less power centralised state than we have today. This meant that the ruling of a Church Court could be damning to your position in society, particularly in more rural locations as communities tended to be smaller and more isolated. The existence of Church courts also spanned over a large period, stretching all the way to the eighteen-fifties, when the final ecclesiastical courts were given over to state courts. By the end of the eighteenth century the Church Courts had lost almost all power in the legal process but it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that there were reforms. It was actually matrimonial matters which were the last to be transferred, moved to the newly created Divorce Court. It can be seen that in fact there was a decline in Church Court’s jurisdiction since the Reformation of the sixteenth century, as Henry VIII ruled out the use of Papal law in favour of Roman Civil law. Although the ecclesiastical courts survived this change, it did mark a change in tradition and to most the end of the medieval period. Therefore, it is interesting to consider cases from within and beyond the Middle Ages to discuss if there is change not only in the outcome of the trials but also the impact of their ruling on people in society. Our research focuses on women, typically seen as more vulnerable members of society, evaluating whether changes in Church jurisdiction affected them.

The most important part of establishing our project and our argument was looking at primary sources, as without Latin at our disposal, we obtained these mainly in translation within secondary source books. Here are some of the books that we studied during our time at the IHR and how they helped us to develop our project further. This is just a small sample of our research:

One book that was useful for our project from the IHR was Anne Tarver’s Church Court Records: An Introduction for Family and Local Historians, (Chichester: Phillimore, 1995). Tarver’s chapter on marriage was particularly helpful due to the clear breakdown of areas the church courts dealt with: contracts, divorce, conjugal rights and jactitation. Whilst the book exceeds our time period, Tarver comments on changes into the nineteenth century and includes relevant primary evidence. A particularly interesting case that Tarver mentions is one of servant, Cordelia Ball, who gives a statement witnessing the cruelty of her master Andrew Dunton to his wife. She suggests to witnessing physical and verbal abuse. (p. 90) The fact that a servant should be called as witness is something we have found to have been a regular occurrence in the Middle Ages to provide evidence in court, so despite going beyond the medieval period it demonstrates that the workings and dealings with church courts actually remained rather similar. As with many sources the issue we have found is a lack of conclusion, as many sources have been damaged, lost or not complete in their recording, which we have had to take into consideration when evaluating these sources.

R.H. Helmholz’ book Marriage Litigation in Medieval England (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1974) gives an overview of particular aspects of marriage litigation including marriage records, divorce cases and witnesses used within the English Church Courts. Helmholz summarises records and provides statistics that clearly summarise the amount of cases in specific areas across England. For example, ‘at Lichfield between 1465 and 1468, suits brought to establish the existence of valid marriages outnumbered suits for divorce by a margin of thirty to fifteen.’ (p. 11) Comparisons such as this helped to summarise the vast amount of marriage records and explain how these related to other cases the courts dealt with such as divorce or impotence. Helmholz mentions the case of Edmund Dronefeld of York from 1364 who appealed to divorce his wife Margaret due to the belief she was married to another man eighteen years prior, making their current marriage void (p. 77).  This was helpful as he cites the original York Cause Paper record, meaning it was easy to corroborate the primary evidence to Helmholz’ writing, especially as this database has recently been uploaded online for easy access.

These previously discussed sources, along with others and our extended research, we concluded that across areas of marriage, impotency, prostitution and heresy, women were at a clear disadvantage in church court cases as they were seen as less reputable than male defendants. Although the change in jurisdiction that church courts held after the reformation may have affected their ability and the impact of a case’s outcome, the church courts were not fully disbanded until the eighteen-fifties and still held an element of power but with a definitive decline. However, in many cases we have come across, church courts in fact provided an environment in which women could express their opinions and challenge men, with higher status women affording male lawyers prosecuting on their behalf. Even if a case did not go in favour of the woman, having a platform in which to defend themselves publicly was an achievement in itself, especially in a period where women often were limited to a domestic sphere.

This is only a small extract from a much wider project and if interested please visit our website to explore women and their role and treatment in English medieval church courts further at: churchcourts.co.uk

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Public copying facilities

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The University of London is implementing a new printing, scanning and copying system in mid-June 2017.

The present public copiers will be replaced.

The new system will be shared across Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Historical Research so if you are a member of multiple libraries you will be able to use your account for printing and copying at all of them. Balance(s) from your existing account(s) can be transferred.

Further details will be provided nearer the time.

 

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History of Art and Design in the IHR library

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While researching a collection guide on art history in the IHR library, we have been interested to see the range of material available in a library which doesn’t in itself specialize in the subject. The importance of art and culture within society means that our collection contains lots about the social, economic, political and ecclesiastical background of artists, patrons and consumers of art. Our collections complement the more specialist resources at the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Senate House Library, the National Art Library and elsewhere, and are especially strong in primary sources giving context to the history of western art since the fall of Rome.

Material can be found in a variety of sources, including letters and diaries, travel narratives, and the administrative records of households, local and national government and businesses. Among our online resources, newspapers carry contemporary reviews of exhibitions such as the Nazi ‘Exhibition of Degenerate Art’ held in Berlin in 1938. This can be found alongside a piece about the unveiling of three decorative panels designed and executed by students of the Hornsey School of Art for Muswell Hill Branch Library (The Times, 25 Feb 1938, p.18). Material in the North American collections includes exhibition records for the American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art-Union and The National Academy of Design, and an annual review of art in the Dominion Annual Register.

Mortimer, The Universal Director 1763

Parliamentary records also have a lot to offer, as varied as the petition associated with William Hogarth that led to ‘Hogarth’s Act’ introducing copyright protection, patents on art materials, and official reports on the provision of national galleries of art. From a parliamentary paper we learn of campaigns to provide artificial light in the newly opened South Kensington galleries, enabling them to open later “so that the members of the industrial classes may have opportunity of visiting them in the evening, which is their only time for such recreation and instruction.” (Letters and Memorials on Admission of Public in Evening to Turner and Vernon Galleries of Pictures, House of Commons Papers, 1859, accessed via Proquest UK Parliamentary Papers)

Our rich biographical collections help with identifying patrons and better understanding their backgrounds and motivations. There are a number of specialist dictionaries of artists, useful for seeing the backgrounds of people practicing in different fields.

The guide draws out several themes. There are collections on war and political art, with compilations of posters, accounts of war artists and records for political patronage of art. There is material on iconoclasm across the collections, especially in the sections for Byzantine, Ecclesiastical, Latin American and Northern European history, including the writings of reformers, legislation and town and church records. The history of collecting and display is also a strong theme, as discussed in more detail in the Guide to Museum and Heritage studies. Alongside some subject specific works such as catalogues of collections, guides to using art as a source and secondary texts, a wealth of material can be found in sources that aren’t in themselves about art, and the guide highlights some examples.

 

 

 

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Charles Booth’s London

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This post has been reposted from the LSE website to highlight this exciting new resource.

booth1898websiteexhCharles Booth’s Inquiry Into the Life and Labour of the People in London was a path-breaking investigation into the social conditions faced by Londoners living in the late-Victorian era. To mark the 2016 centenary of Booth’s death, LSE has relaunched the website dedicated to Booth’s life and work as Charles Booth’s London (https://booth.lse.ac.uk/).

Booth’s famous poverty maps were pioneering in the use of colour to detail the street-by-street disparities of wealth and poverty in London. The maps were drawn from a series of “police notebooks” that Booth and his team produced by walking the streets of the Victorian metropolis. The newly redeveloped website makes available both the police notebooks and the poverty maps.

The poverty maps are available as a single interactive version using modern online mapping techniques, and are also available individually for download. The interactive version of the map allows users to search by location, and offers the ability to geo-locate individual notebooks according to the streets Booth and his team walked when doing their research. The police notebooks are available to browse and search, can be read using state-of-the-art manuscript viewer technology, and are available for download.

In addition to making available the maps and notebooks, the site has been thoroughly redesigned to reflect modern web design and accessibility standards, and features responsive design allowing it to be accessed on desktop computers, on tablets and on mobile devices. The site also includes contextual information about Booth’s life and times and about the Inquiry, and provides a series of highlights offering a “way in” to the rich archival material.

Nicola Wright, Director of LSE Library commented: “This was a pioneering study and I am thrilled to see this important archive reinvented again and made even more engaging and accessible. The innovative work of the LSE Library team and our partners is a fitting tribute to Booth’s great endeavour.”

In July 2016 the Booth archive was inscribed on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register, which recognises culturally significant heritage material from across the UK, joining other material such as the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. The redeveloped website reflects LSE’s ongoing commitment to make available LSE Library’s collections as widely as possible and via new and innovative means.

Find out more on the About and Learn More sections of the Charles Booth’s London site.

 

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Researching women historians in the IHR library collections

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Kate Wilcox is Reader Experience and Technical Services Manager at the Institute of Historical Research Library.

women-historiansThe IHR library staff have each been researching a topic, in an experiment designed to improve our understanding of what it’s like to use the collections. I’ve been looking at our holdings for the historiography of women historians, something I didn’t know much about and thought would be interesting. As a starting point I searched the catalogue, using ‘Women historians’ as a keyword and a subject.

The library’s collection policy for works on historiography extends beyond its usual remit of primary sources, so I found secondary works as well as sources. They are shelved either within the relevant geographical collections, or, for more general works, within the historiography section at classmark E.1441. Examples include:

The last one is a new book, which when I checked the catalogue was still marked as ‘processing’. Books in processing can usually be retrieved for readers by library staff.

The collection includes works on individual women historians, in monographs, journal articles and series. For example:

The whole library is reference only, so you will usually find open-access items available on the shelves. I found a couple of secondary works that I wanted to read fully, and because Senate House Library also held them, I was able to borrow them to read on the train home. This was also an opportunity to use a library that I’m less familiar with and think about the experience of shelf labelling and signage.

Bibliographies

The IHR library has a lot of specialist bibliographies, but I only located one focussing on women historians, Scritti storici di donne italiane : bibliografia, 1800-1945. The comprehensive online Bibliography of British and Irish History is always a useful resource, though I found it hard to find closely defined search terms for my subject and it was more productive to browse through the results from a wider search. As well as material directly on women historians, BBIH helped me locate material on the wider context, such as women in education.

Biographical works

I also tried a biographical approach. The catalogue search had retrieved a specialist work, American women historians, 1700s-1990s : a biographical dictionary. For the UK, the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography allows searching by the ‘field of interest’ of its subjects, so by using the drop-down menus I was able to search for ‘Scholarship and research: history: historians (general)’ and filter by gender, finding 103 female historians (compared to 922 male historians). The list of names is an obvious starting point for researching individual careers.

As another way into the topic, I was interested to see how many of their published works are held among the IHR’s collections. As examples, we have works of some of the earliest women historians, including Lucy Aikin (1781–1864), who edited Memoirs of the courts of Elizabeth I and James I, the prolific editor Mary Anne Everett Green (1818–1895) and the pioneering castle archaeologist Ella Armitage (1841–1931).

University records and Histories

Another biographical approach is to think about the educational background of women historians. The library has outstanding collections on the history of British, European and American universities, with many biographical registers. The relevant areas are:

  • Biographical works, British universities, colleges, schools (B.27)
  • Histories of individual universities, within the regional collections, for example Oxford under Oxfordshire (BC.76), Scottish universities in Scottish Local collection (BSL), European universities (E.8) and United States universities (currently UF.52, undergoing reclassification).

European-universitiesWhile invaluable for researching individual careers, the registers are not particularly usable for a systematic review, usually being organised by name, from which gender often has to be deduced. It would be useful to have the data in a more structured format. However many include useful information about parents’ occupations, whether the mother had attended university, and the student’s subsequent career.

Looking for female reviewers and authors in long-running journals and the IHR’s Teachers of history and Theses lists could be an interesting approach. Early volumes of these series often follow a standard approach of using initials for men and forenames for women.

I found that for using the registers and other sources that some background information was essential, such as knowing when history became a separate discipline in different universities, and when women were admitted to study it. The IHR library has useful holdings for researching the background including parliamentary material, collections of letters and diaries and newspapers.

Using the library

I found the library rooms generally a pleasant place to work. There are some noise issues that we are already aware of and trying to address. Although we want to be welcoming, we try to keep the enquiry office door closed so that we don’t disturb readers in the main room, and we ask that when rooms are used for meetings the doors are kept closed. We’ve also been trying to get the landing doors adjusted to stop them slamming.

Like many of our readers, I found it difficult to browse series shelved in the rolling stacks. The reason why the library now has rolling stacks in the largest rooms is to allow more of the collection to stay on open access in what has become a reduced space. When we were planning the new library rooms, it was not possible to use the rolling stacks for the less browse-worthy parts of the collection without disrupting the sequence of shelfmarks and making items difficult to locate. For similar reasons of space, the European university histories/registers are held in closed access, but we are always happy to meet the needs of readers who want to browse runs of closed-access material by bringing them to the library. We are continuing to think about ways of making the rolling stacks less of an issue.

 

Beyond the library collections, the IHR archive is a valuable source of material about women historians. Membership records, seminar registers and correspondence contain useful information for understanding the place of women in the history profession. We are currently fundraising to catalogue the archive and improve access to it. The IHR also hosts seminars in several related fields, including Women’s history, History of Education, and Gender and History in the Americas. There are occasionally other events such as the forthcoming lecture and book launch “Keep the Damned Women out”: The Struggle for Coeducation (31 Oct 2016). All in all, I found the IHR a good place to start research on the topic I’d chosen, and what I discovered here made me interested in finding out more.

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Library Management System and Catalogue: essential maintenance – Tuesday, 16th August

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A major project is underway to introduce a new generation library discovery catalogue and management system for the Senate House Library and School of Advanced Study’s libraries.  As part of that important project we need to undertake some essential maintenance all day on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 requiring the Library Catalogue, and other related services to be offline whilst the work is being carried out. This means you will not be able to:

  • Search the catalogue
  • Access e-resources (e-journals and databases) authenticated via the catalogue
  • Login to the UoL-open Wifi network

General information about our holdings will continue to be available during the upgrade on COPAC and the Search25 Library Resources. We aim to have all online services, including access to e-journals and databases, back up and running by 9:00am Wednesday, 17th August, 2016. This is the final phase in a number of critical steps to move us from the existing system to Sierra & Encore Duet. We apologise for this disruption, and for any inconvenience this may cause.

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