There is much on Roman villas and their mosaics as well as articles on their interior decoration and layout such as Classical reception rooms in Romano-British houses which argues that by the late antique period the reception facilities and associated social life and conduct were as those found in other parts of the Roman Empire.
Moving to Anglo-Saxon and Viking Britain there is coverage of household goods including toys, combs, doors and furniture. A similar pattern is followed in the medieval period with highlights including Beds and chambers in late medieval England : readings, representations and realities which claims to be the first interdisciplinary study of the cultural meanings of beds and chambers. The book uses a range of literary and visual sources, including manuscript illumination, household goods, romances, saints’ lives, plays, wills, probate inventories as well as church and civil court documents. The article Space and gender in the later medieval English house uses “The Ballad of the Tyrannical Husband,” a late fifteenth-century text, that associates men with the outdoors and women with the home and the domestic. The article also draws upon probate inventories as well as archaeological evidence and contrasts peasant and bourgeois society as shown in the physical fabric and furnishings of homes.
The work of Robert Adam is discussed in Fashion and function : the decoration of the library at Kenwood in context (contained in The country house : material culture and consumption; edited by Jon Stobart and Andrew Hann). The Stobart and Hann book leads us nicely into the Victorian/Edwardian country house era made popular by the Downton Abbey effect.
The ruins of Moore Hall, County Mayo, abandoned after being burnt down by the IRA in 1923 (Wikipedia)
Of course not everyone lived in country houses. The growth in philanthropy and social reform led to a concern for the living conditions of the rural and urban poor in slums. Attempts to rectify the situation included the gardens city movement, new towns, local and central government involvement, private charity including the establishment of almshouses, and the work of town planners and architects.
From the titles of some of the IHR’s digital resources, you might think that they have limited geographical reach: British History Online…the Bibliography of British and Irish History. But the real world overspills geographical boundaries and the digital world even more so.
1655 engravure of the islands Amboyna (top) and Nera (bottom). National Maritime Museum, London
British History Online has much more to offer than British history, even though that is naturally the focus. Series like the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations and the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial(which, despite the title, includes relations with China and Japan!) have an explicitly global reach. There is also the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies. For example, after the 1624 Amboyna Massacre, the bloody outcome of a power struggle over the spice trade between Great Britain and the Netherlands, we can read that the East Indian company agreed to distribute 1,000 copies of its account of the massacre in Dutch “to be sent over”, i.e. to what is now Indonesia, and that “there shall be set upon the front of each book the arms of this Company, in token that they avow them to be true”. Faith in the word of international corporations was clearly greater then than now.
Stamp commemorating Irish monks arriving in Iceland
The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) also offers more internationally than its title suggests. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British Empire and the Commonwealth and the American Colonies. As an example, searching on Iceland brings up early medieval Irish missions there; a range of cultural relations – for instance the influence of the sagas on British and Irish literary tradition; British visitors such as the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks to Iceland; trade relations including the voyage of the “Marigold” in 1654; foreign relations during World War II and the American and British occupation of the island; and the so-called cod wars over fishing rights of the 1970s. The image below shows hotspots for BBIH’s world coverage:
Of course IHR resources are not just global in scope, they are global in audience. This opens up scholarship to the world. Those who cannot attend IHR lectures can enjoy them as videos and podcasts from anywhere in the world. Since 2009 the IHR has produced over 800 podcasts, encompassing not only its acclaimed and unique seminar series, but also one-off talks and conferences. Those who cannot attend training courses can access training online training.
British History Online has received thanks from researchers across the world for providing free access to volumes that are hard to obtain where they live and work. BBIH has subscribers all over the world including the USA, most European countries, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. The reach of IHR is truly global.
As 31 October looms we all know what that means, no not Halloween, but History Day. And of course the theme this year is the occult and all things that go bump in the night. BBIH is a big supporter of History Day – it’s well organised with lots of participants and interesting panel sessions. It also gives BBIH the opportunity to showcase research on this year’s theme – the occult and its many facets. So grab your broomstick, cauldron, and crystal ball and we’ll delve into the world of the dark arts.
Naturally BBIH has lots of material on the occult. The snapshot from the subject tree shows the range of search terms that can be used.
A search on the broader term Occult beliefs and practices brings up over 1500 entries including witchcraft trails, the devil in post-Reformation Scotland and British Intelligence and the occult in the Second World War.
The term Magic (occult), as opposed to entertainment, has nearly 300 entries covering the subject from the Roman period to imperial history with the article amulets from Roman London, the Sophie Page book, Magic in the cloister: pious motives, illicit interests, and occult approaches to the medieval universe, a Tudor necromancer’s manual, and the West Indian obeah belief.
Of course there is much on witches and witchcraft trails, and specific places can be searched for, such as the witches of Pendle Forest as well as the clerk of the court who recorded the proceedings, Thomas Potts.
Witchcraft also features in dramas (and not only by Shakespeare), as in the case of The Witch of Edmonton by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford. Of course, witches are often associated with the early modern period, but there are medieval examples, as in the trail of Eleanor Duchess of Gloucester in 1441, as well as more modern examples such as Helen Duncan, the last witch to be prosecuted in Britain and the “wickedest man in the world”, Aleister Crowley.
Other areas of witchcraft to be considered (apart from the usual trials) are the influence of emotions, as explored in Emotions in the history of witchcraft by Laura Kouine and Michael Ostling, which includes the chapter, Tyrannical beasts: Male witchcraft in early modern English culture. Other fruitful subjects of research may be the witches’ familiar discussed in Guardian spirits or demonic pets : the concept of the witch’s familiar in early modern England, 1530-1712 (a chapter in The animal/human boundary: historical perspectives).
Additional related topics are alchemy, as well as its associated personalities such as the mathematician, astrologer, and antiquarianJohn Dee, and of course spiritualism. Searching on Spiritualism and Photography (prompted by the IHR exhibition Accusations of Witchcraft featuring a photograph of the aforementioned Helen Duncan) brings up a list of useful articles.
The term “Prophecy and prediction” (which includes astrology) naturally covers religious elements, such as mysticism, but also includes dreams, politics, the influence of history, and printed media as well as personalities such as Joanna Southcott and Lady Eleanor Davies.
Whatever your research topic you’re bound to find something of interest in BBIH and at History Day 2017.
Detail of a miniature of a phoenix burning, Harley 4751 f. 45 British Library
An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 4th October. 5,233 new records have been added. Some 513 new records relate to Irish history while 267 deal with the history of London, 451 with the history of Scotland and 189 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is 594,068.
We are always looking to improve our subject indexing and coverage and have added a number of new terms to the thesaurus reflecting recent developments in history. “Colours”, “Dreams”, and “Sleep” have all been added and are now searchable by “Subject tree” search in BBIH.
Even more unexpected is the history of Irish involvement with baseball. As Jerrold Casway notes in his biography, Ed Delahanty in the emerald age of baseball – “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune”. The Irish in baseball: an early history surveys the contribution of the Irish to the American pastime and the ways in which Irish immigrants and baseball came of age together. It looks at the role of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. Anti-Irish job discrimination circa 1880 : evidence from major league baseball shows that Irish players outperformed non-Irish players both on average and at the margin and were generally relegated to less central positions in the field but were less likely to be hired as managers. Finally there is the chapter, “Slide, Kelly, slide” : the Irish in American baseball in New perspectives on the Irish diaspora and Glimpses of the Irish contribution to early baseball by John P. Rossi in the journal Éire-Ireland (1988).
However, it was not entirely a one-way road as the chapter by Sara Brady, Playing ‘Irish’ sport on baseball’s hallowed ground: the 1947 All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final makes clear (in After the flood: Irish America 1945-1960).
Recent additions (both due to appear in the October update) include Nine innings for the King: the day wartime London stopped for baseball, July 4, 1918 by Jim Leeke and his article Royal match: the Army-Navy service game, July 4, 1918, based on the same event, in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. For historians and baseball fans this journal covers a wide range of topics from racism in the sport (including the Ku Klux Klan), media representation (radio and film) the various baseball tours including Japan and Taiwan and, of course, Babe Ruth.
It seems more than timely to write something about the LGBT community. Pride has just taken place in London; Tate Britain has an exhibition – Queer British art 1861-1967; the British Museum has Desire, love, identity exploring LGBT histories from its collection; and the Walker Art Gallery has Coming out: Art and culture 1967-2017. Even Radio 4 has produced as series on Queer Icons. And of course it’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which led to the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality in England, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Wolfenden Report (1957), which itself led to the 1967 Act.
Needless to say much has been written on homosexuality in British, Irish and British imperial history (BBIH has over 800 references). It seems invidious to pick out particular books or articles so I’ve gone for the easy option and picked the first 25 references from BBIH (as of July 2017).
My interest was piqued in embroidery by the book Stiching the world: embroidered maps and women’s geographical education in which Judith Tyner describes schoolgirls in Britain and the United States creating embroidered map samplers and even silk globes designed to teach the girls, not only needlework, but geography. I’ve been meaning to write something on needlework/embroidery for some time now and have been spurred on by two new references that I’ve just documented for BBIH.
The first is a chapter in the marvellous book Hardwick Hall: a great old castle of romance, entitled The embroidery and needlework of Bess of Hardwick by Emma Slocombe which charts Bess’s acquisition and creation of embroidery and needlework for the hall. The chapter is of particular importance as this period witnessed the transition of embroidery from ecclesiastic requirements to a more secular form in the interior decoration of elite houses. The book also features tapestries as well as bed coverings and drapery.
Of course many such outstanding examples of embroidery are found in ecclesiastical vestments. Frank and Peter Rhodes discuss such examples looking especially at the flowers on English copes and chasubles in their article, Medieval embroidered “water flowers”.
Terry Moore-Scott discusses the Minsterworth embroidery (an embroidered panel made up from a pre-Reformation liturgical vestment) and gives a better understanding of its intriguing history and survival since the Reformation. (Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 132, 2014).
Meanwhile, Catherine Walden takes the research further and details the episcopal vestments on funerary effigies, corroborated by existing textile fragments and descriptions of garments in the inventories of churches in her chapter, ‘So lyvely in cullers and gilting’: vestments on episcopal tomb effigies in England (in Dressing the part: textiles as propaganda in the Middle Ages).
A more categorical move from ecclesiastical to secular is demonstrated in the chapter, Polite war: Material culture of the Jacobite era, 1688-1760 (in Living with Jacobitism, 1690-1788: the three kingdoms and beyond). Here, Jennifer L. Novotny discusses the household goods and material culture, including wall hangings and samplers, of Jacobitism.
A more recent article in some ways continues the theme of Judith Tyner. Performing curiosity: re-viewing women’s domestic embroidery in seventeenth-century England, by Mary M. Brooks, describes a specific type of pictorial, decorative embroidery, usually learnt in school and practiced in the home. While an indicator of status and wealth, these “curious works” are placed within the changing concept and practice of curiosity (and education) in early modern England.
The relationship between needlework and writing (and women’s education) is explored further in Dress culture in late Victorian women’s fiction: literacy, textiles, and activism by Christine Bayles Kortsch. While examining the inextricable relationship between the material culture of dress and sewing, Kortsch documents how stitching samplers continued to be a way of acculturating girls in print literacy. She explores nineteenth-century women’s education, sewing and needlework, mainstream fashion, alternative dress movements, and female labour in the textile industry.
The role and representation of the seamstress is provided by Lyn Mae Alexander’s Women, work, and representation: needlewomen in Victorian art and literature. Using literary examples from Dickens and Gaskell, visual representations by Millais and others, as well as illustrations from the periodical press, she outlines the working conditions of the professional seamstress – the long hours, very small wages, isolation and helplessness, creating powerful image of working-class suffering that appealed to the sensibilities of the social reformers and helped stimulate public opinion in the need for reform.
The Seamstress; or, the White Slave of England (George W. M. Reynolds)
The rise of “art embroidery” during the nineteenth century and the developing commercial ventures as well as the significance of the embroidery business to female employment is revealed in Linda Cluckie’s The rise and fall of art needlework: its socio-economic and cultural aspects.The commercial side of embroidery mobilized activity through numerous agencies such as department stores, depots and charitable institutions. However the working conditions of the female labour is explored in such chapters entitled, Suitable employment for women; Sweated labour and the need for radical change; and Beyond the sweated trades,all indicative of those conditions.
Not all women were subjected to “sweated labour”. One such example, Matilda Pullan, made a career of needlework instructor and periodical contributor. Forced by personal circumstance, she became one of the most prolific contributors of needlework patterns, generating her own income that allowed her to become financially independent through her widowhood and spousal separation. Her life is charted in Threads of life: Matilda Marian Pullan (1819-1862), needlework instruction, and the periodical pressby Marianne Van Remoortel.
An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 20 June. 4, 455 new records have been added. Some 612 new records relate to Irish history while 237 deal with the history of London, 354 with the history of Scotland and 125 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 588,873.
We regularly search for content relevant to the Bibliography in a large range of journals (over 780 are checked). We also consider new journals (both in print and open access) and assess whether or not to add a new journal to the list. If any users think we have missed a new journal please contact us via the feedback form.
If you have access to the online Bibliography, you can also see journal coverage by selecting “Coverage” from the main menu on the search page, and then selecting the “Currently searched systematically for relevant material” radio button. Note that items from journals or series that we have decided to cover only recently may not be included in the published Bibliography yet.
We expect the next update to be released in October 2017.
In the Subject tree, “War and militarism, attitudes to” is the broad term which includes, as lower terms, Militarism, Pacifism, and Anti-conscription, while Pacifism itself is a broader term for Conscientious objection and Peace Society. Thus searching for “War and militarism, attitudes to” will bring up all of these terms.
Taking a chronological approach and beginning with Anglo-Saxon England we kick off with Looking back in Anger: Wrath in Anglo-Saxon England. This article not only examines the emotion of anger using the Old English language anger vocabulary, but also looks at how religious conversion brought new attitudes to the emotional response to war, especially to an Anglo-Saxon warrior culture, where anger played a role in constructing a man’s honour and helped him excel in battle. The article uses quotes from the poem the Battle of Maldon.
Covering the later medieval period we start with The Hundred Years War in literature, 1337-1600 which charts the narration of the war in English literature, from contemporary chroniclers and poets, such as Chaucer and Lydgate, to later polemicists and playwrights looking back on their medieval past. The book also includes the dramas of Shakespeare as well as anonymous chroniclers, balladeers and agonising eyewitness accounts of warfare.
The collective volume, Emotions and War : Medieval to Romantic Literature, includes the following medieval chapters, Emotional Responses to Medieval Warfare in the History of William Marshal, and Moving to War: Rhetoric and Emotion in William Worcester’s Boke of Noblesse. Another chapter moves on to the later period: ‘I was enforced to become an eyed witnes’ : Documenting War in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, while others cover the British civil wars, the American Revolution in North Carolina, and Henry Crabb Robinson’s Letters to The Times, 1808–9 covering the Peninsular Wars.
The conflict between war and religious thought continues during the later medieval period and the Lollard view of the just war is discussed in John Wyclif on War and Peace which includes a chapter entitled, The Medieval Pacifist.
For the early modern period we have Trauma Narratives of the English Civil War which explores the psychological impact and after effects of the war. Its main points of focus are the expressions of personal as well as collective trauma caused by this conflict. In this context, the discussion places the ways in which war experiences were narrated in relation to wider conceptualizations of traumatic damage to the mind.
The chapter Early Modern War Writing and the British Civil Wars discusses the growth of martial writing in the 16th and 17th centuries and, of course covers the Civil War. It charts the classical influences and the use of eyewitness accounts and the use of powerful language reflecting strong military command. This aspect of language is also explored in the chapter, ‘Broken Verses across a Bloodied Land’ : Violence and the Limits of Language in the English Civil War (in Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe).
Of course Quakerism, and other non-conformists, are associated with the conscientious objectors of World War I. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for the 18th and 19th century and more especially the Napoleonic Wars are also covered in the article Christian heroes, providence, and patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793–1815. Evangelicals sought to resolve tensions between heroism, virtue, masculinity, religiosity and war by advancing a different set of ideals, a difficult task in a highly charged patriotic society. A less salubrious view of the military is explored in Scarlet Fever: Female Enthusiasm for Men in Uniform, 1780-1815 in Britain’s Soldiers : Rethinking War and Society, 1715-1815 which outlines a ‘dangerous disorder prevalent in wartime’, principally afflicting women.
An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 14 February. 4,901 new records have been added. Some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 246 deal with the history of London, 299 with the history of Scotland and 129 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 584,478.