We are excited to announce that our sixth annual History Day will take place on 27 November 2018. The event is aimed at postgraduate and undergraduate students, academics, early career and private researchers who are looking for advice on how to find and make best use of sources in their historical research. It brings together libraries, archives and other organisations, all showcasing their collections together in one place. It is a great opportunity for researchers to learn about diverse collections and chat with experienced, specialist staff about their research.
Jenna Pateman, a third year undergraduate student, recommended the event for all students of history, writing of History Day 2017, “The fair allowed attendees to speak one-on-one with representatives from these institutions, and discover the many possibilities open to researchers. Thanks to some of these conversations, I have had quite a few ideas for my dissertation as well as new ways to look at my research, and discovered new places where I can hunt for sources.”
Sandra Freshney, archivist from the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences described it as “a really fun day” where “over 200 attendees including undergraduates, postgraduates and established academics ‘shopped’ among the 56 tables”. Claire Titley from the London Metropolitan Archives recommended History Day as “a good chance to catch up with colleagues in other offices and see the range of activities being undertaken across different archives and libraries” and was inspired by the breadth of the collections present.
History Day 2018 will include talks throughout the day, detailing to researchers how to work successfully with research materials held by different repositories. We invite researchers and collections professionals to share their experiences and projects in an open call for papers. We are particularly looking for papers aimed at a general audience on broad topics, including cross-repository research, interesting methodologies, or collaboration. The deadline for submissions of abstracts for 15 minute presentations (by individuals or groups) is 8 June 2018.
For the IHR Winter Conference on Home: New Histories of Living we are highlighting some relevant sources in the IHR library. Inventories of furniture and possessions are especially well represented in our large collection of primary printed material, a fascinating way into the domestic arrangements of particular houses and the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there.
The focus here, though, is on the inventories of middling families in the towns and villages of pre-industrial England, typically probate inventories drawn up in connection with the legal validation of wills. Many are published in local and regional record series, either as general collections from a local probate court or as specialist compilations on particular subjects. For comparative research, the IHR library is a good place to access many editions in one place.
Inventories often give an idea of the sequence of rooms in a house, using phrases such as ‘the street parlour’ or ‘the chamber over the hall’. It is interesting to see the changes between early and later inventories. The will of William Robinson, linen weaver of Northallerton (1705), details the rooms and layout of his house as he divided it between existing occupants and allowed rights of access through other parts of the house. (Northallerton wills and inventories, 1666-1719, Surtees Society 220, 2016, p.xxxi and pp.146-8).
The probate inventory of Sarah De Morais, widow (1691), a French immigrant in London, lists the contents of ‘the Daughters Roome’ and ‘the widdows Roome’, both with multiple beds. Artisans usually worked from home, and the inventory of Thomas Grafforte, merchant tailor in St Giles Cripplegate, noted ‘4 weavers loomes, one warpe . . . 2 paire of Vices & a few Bobbins with other lumber’ in his ‘workeing roome’. (Probate inventories of French Immigrants in Early Modern London, 2014, pp.97-9 and 37-9)
Turning from towns to the countryside, Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex brings together probate inventories from two rural parishes, accompanied by a useful introduction which discusses the sorts of furniture and other goods mentioned in the inventories.
The inventory of Theophilus Lingard of Writtle in 1744 has a detailed description of the furniture and items in his house, as well as his livestock, farm equipment (including cucumber frames), produce and crops. The total value was £247. Five rooms contained beds: the best room, the little room, the striped bed room, the garrett and the maid’s room.
The best room included
‘a sacking bottom bedstead with blue mohair curtains lined with India Persian, a feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, three blankets, one quilt, a chest of draws, a dressing table and glass, six cane chairs, one elbow ditto, a stove grate, shovel, tongs, poker and holders, a hearth brush, a pair of window curtains and rod, a looking glass, the paper hangings’.
The maid’s room had
‘a corded bedstead with old curtains, a set of yellow ditto not put up, a feather bed, bolster, one pillow, two blankets, one rug, two old hutches (cupboards), four old chairs, an old trunk, a brass kettle, one small ditto, two old water potts, a pair of garden sheers, a pair of cobirons’.
His house also had a best parlour, pantry (with sixteen pewter plates, fifty-five pieces of Delph and earthenware), hall, cellar, buttery and out cellar. (Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749, pp.269-70).
By contrast John Day the elder of Highwood in Writtle, carpenter (1726), lived in a much humbler dwelling, with goods worth only £15. His hall was simply furnished, though he owned a clock. Although he had four beds, one was ‘indeferant’, one ‘sorry’ and two ‘very mean’. (Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749, p.260).
The IHR library collections support a range of study on the subject of architecture, and the new collection guide highlights some of the areas to explore. As well as the obvious parts of the collection, it draws attention to some more hidden sources of information.
We have many secondary works on individual buildings, building types and localities. There is much on studying and understanding buildings as well as their conservation, public interpretation and display, for example in works on using material culture and digital technologies. An 1897 piece in the journal The Antiquary outlines a lecture given at the Society of Antiquaries on legislation in different countries for the preservation of ancient buildings. The Foreign Office had collated the information following the ‘disastrous’ rebuilding of the west front of Peterborough cathedral. (The Antiquary Vol. 33, 1897)
The library has strong holdings of primary sources across the subject. Travel writing and antiquarian histories include contemporary descriptions and impressions of the built environment. Celia Fiennes, for example, wrote about Ambleside in 1698:
“villages of sad little huts made up of drye walls, only stones piled together and the roofs of same slatt; there seemed to be little or noe tunnells for their chimneys and have no morter or plaister within or without; for the most part I tooke them at first sight for a sort of houses or barns to fodder cattle in. not thinking them to be dwelling houses” (Morris, C., The Journeys of Celia Fiennes, 1949, p.196)
Landowners, tenants, architects, policy makers and commentators are all represented in biographies, prosopographies and personal narratives.
Household and trade records give insights into the building trade. For example in the Household Books of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, we learn of the steps taken to dismantle his Colchester house in 1481, store the timbers in a barn and move it to Stoke by Nayland where Richard Tornour, carpenter, “schal rere it and sett yt up there” (Crawford, A., The household books of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, 1462-1471, 1481-1483, 1992, Household Book II, p.121).
Records of government highlight social concerns and the resulting legislation. In an appendix to a parliamentary paper of 1864 we find a description of the history and current state of rural housing in a Report by Dr. Henry Julian Hunter on the House-Accommodation had by Rural Laborers in the different parts of England. He wrote:
“One house, called Richardson’s, could hardly be matched in England for original meanness and present badness of condition. Its plaster walls leaned and bulged very like a lady’s dress in a curtsey. One gable end was convex, the other concave, and on this last unfortunately stood the chimney, which was a curved tube of clay and wood resembling an elephant’s trunk. A long stick served as a prop to prevent the chimney from falling. The doorway and window were rhomboidal.”
(Seventh Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, with Appendix, 1864, 19th Century House of Lords Sessional Papers, 1865: section on Bedfordshire, p.148. From Proquest’s UK Parliamentary Papers).
Alongside the written material there is much accompanying visual material in the form of illustrations and plans. As well as illustrations in mainly textual sources such as government reports and antiquarian histories there are editions of illustrations ranging from monastic plans in The Plan of St Gall, various editions of plans and illustrations of individual architects and places, to The photography of Bedford Lemere & Co.
This post was written by Philip Carter, Head of IHR Digital. To see the 3D printer in action visit the IHR stand at History Day. Free registration is here.
Lewis Chess Set on Sketchfab (The British Museum)
On History Day, on 31 October, IHR Digital will demonstrate its new 3D printer and 3D imaging equipment. This will be the first public outing of our new kit which we’ve purchased in conjunction with the School’s Institute of Classical Studies. Together we’re setting up a ‘3D Centre for History and Classics’. From 2018 the Centre will run courses on how and why to use 3D technologies in historical research. At History Day you’ll be able to register you interest for one of these courses at the IHR stand.
The IHR has recently taken possession of a high performance computer on which staff and researchers can practise high quality photogrammetry; that is, the creation of three-dimensional representations derived from digital photographs of 2D images or physical objects.
Today’s photogrammetry software will run well enough on a regular desktop computer, and is able to convert images taken on a standard digital camera. However, the IHR’s hi-spec workstation allows us to create exceptionally high-quality images, as well as complex visualisations that can be experienced through the ‘immersive technology’ of virtual reality (VR). Our purchase of a 3D printer means we can also create physical models from these images, using an additive process by which—layer-by-layer—the printer builds up an exact scale representation.
Photogrammetry, virtual reality and three-dimensional printing may at first seem far removed from historical study as practised at the IHR. But 3D is now an important way to undertake and present research, especially in areas such as architectural, urban and topographical history, or histories of material culture. It similarly creates opportunities for new forms of archival and object-based teaching, which permit otherwise rare artefacts to be viewed closely and remotely ‘in the round’, or handled and used as three-dimensional models.
A queen from the Lewis chessmen from Sketchfab (The British Museum)
3D technology also helps us to assemble and explore what was hitherto lost. Examples include the recreation of historical built environments, as depicted in the Virtual St Paul’s website or the recently completed St Stephen’s Chapel project. There’s also the opportunity to reconstruct severely damaged documents, of which a prime example is the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable the Irish Society: compiled in 1639, destroyed by fire in 1786, and now readable again as a flattened 3D representation.
It’s no surprise that museums and galleries make good use of three-dimensional technology to promote their collections. Notable here are the 3D Petrie Museum, at University College London, and the British Museum, while artefacts from many other institutions appear on digital platforms such as Sketchfab. Within universities, three-dimensional technology (while increasingly compact and affordable) is often reserved for those studying engineering, the medical and physical sciences architecture and archaeology.
Critical engagement with 3D images or printed objects is much less common for undergraduate and graduate historians, often because the equipment remains the preserve of other departments. Now that we’ve acquired this technology for the IHR, we’re looking to establish the Institute as a centre for historical applications of imaging, modelling and virtual reality; one where historians can gain new skills and to which they’ll bring research data to model and share in new ways.
We hope these options will be on display at the IHR’s forthcoming Winter Conference—Home: New Histories of Living—on 8-9 February 2018. In keeping with its focus on new research practices, the conference will include papers from historians using 3D technologies to recreate and experience, for example, the early modern home from data gathered in probate records.
Following the Winter Conference, we’ll invite historians to try out the IHR’s imaging and printing equipment for themselves. In doing so, we hope that a technology of the late 2010s and 2020s will help rekindle a Pollardian ambition fostered in the 1920s: of the Institute as a national ‘historical laboratory’—a place for experimentation and training in new approaches to the past.
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.
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.
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”.
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” . 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!
 Mike Dixon-Kennedy, Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend / Mike Dixon-Kennedy. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 298.
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.
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.
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
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.