The IHR Blog |

Author Archives: tundunfolami

“Narratives of New Spain, written by the anonymous conqueror” from the Collections of the IHR Library


During the ongoing reclassification of the Institute of Historical Research Library’s Latin American collections, a book was discovered entitled Narrative of some things of New Spain and of the great city of Temestitan, Mexico – written by the anonymous conqueror, a companion of Hernan Cortes.

The document was written during the early 16th century by an unknown author referred to as a “companion of Hernán Cortés”, or simply, “The Anonymous Conqueror” or “Gentleman of Cortés”. The edition in the IHR Library’s collection was translated into English by Marshall H. Saville, and published by the Cortés Society in New York in 1917. The document is one of the sources for the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire dating from the 16th century, one of the many surviving contemporary Spanish accounts from the period of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and central Mexico (1519–1521). However, unlike conqueror accounts which highlight individual deeds worthy of rewards from the Spanish crown (a genre called probanzas or relaciones de méritos y servicios,[1] , the Anonymous Conqueror’s account is descriptive of indigenous life at the time of the conquest.

The document begins with an introduction written by Saville, which explains how the original Spanish text of the report of the Anonymous Conqueror is lost and that this edition was translated from the Italian text. He states that the anonymous author had been speculated to be Franciso de Terrazas, who was the butler of Hernan Cortés, and a mayor of Mexico.

Narrative of some things of New Spain provides descriptions of the life and culture of the pre-Columbian Aztec/Mexica and surrounding peoples of the Valley of Mexico, as they were first encountered by the expedition of Conquistadores under Hernán Cortés. The narrative is divided into 24 chapters and describes everything from the land and animals, to military concerns, to food and drink, to religion and government, to marriage and burials and beyond. It also contains information on the weapons of the Aztecs in comparison to those of the Spaniards.

1.  Altman, Ida (2003). The Early History of Greater Mexico. Upper Saddle River, NJ. p. 75.

Please follow and like us:

Sexuality and LGBTQ History in the IHR Library


LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. (February in the UK, October in the US)  –


20170217_102658In honour of LGBT History month, a new collection guide on Sexuality and LGBTQ history has been created to indicate the range of material we have here and to help readers locate specific works that may be of use to their research.  The guide provides an overview of the Library’s collections and gives details of the relevant bibliographies, classmark locations and highlights works concerning sex customs and ethics, gender, sexual orientation, marriage and family policy.


As well as these, there are details of relevant University of London theses and electronic resources and periodicals that can be accessed from within the library. The guide brings together works dispersed across the Library’s collections, in particular from Women’s and Gender history, and also provides information of free seminars relevant to the study of the history of sexuality in the IHR.

Please follow and like us:

Churchill Archive Offsite Access


 Lockeyear W T (Capt), Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit - is photograph BU 8950 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain,

Winston Churchill in a jeep outside the German Reichstag during a tour of the ruined city of Berlin, 16 July 1945 by Lockeyear W T (Capt), Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit – This is photograph BU 8950 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums, Public Domain,

The IHR Library recently acquired access to the vast digital Churchill Archive. It can be consulted within the library, but IHR Library members can also access this collection of over 800,000 items remotely.

Access is simple, and is detailed below, but please speak to one of the librarians if you have any issues.


IHR Library members should access this resource onsite or offsite using the link from the catalogue record or the e-resources webpage. (Direct access to the resource is only available through the Churchill Archive website if you are using one of the IHR PCs.) When offsite, these links will prompt you for your name and the barcode number from your IHR membership card. Once you have access to the site, it will say ‘Subscriber Access’ at the top right of the screen.


The optional MyArchive feature allows you to save your searches and favourite documents. To set this up, you can 1) click ‘Sign in’ and 2) click the ‘register here’ link.





There is further information and a useful Take a Tour feature on the Churchill Archive website.

If you are not a member of the IHR Library and would like to join, further information is available on the Membership page.

We look forward to hearing what use you make of this important resource.

Please follow and like us:

Researching Cold War espionage in the IHR Library


My name is Tundun Folami, and I am the Institute of Historical Research Library’s current graduate trainee.

In an exercise designed to improve understanding of what it’s like to use the collections, each of the IHR library staff have been undertaking different research projects using the library. This exercise was particularly beneficial to me to see how easy it is to access the collections, as I only started at the IHR library a week ago.

Using the library catalogue

I chose espionage during the Cold War as my research topic and as a starting point for my research, I searched the library catalogue using ‘Cold War’ as a keyword.
Searching ‘Cold War’ by keyword brings up 88 results. Some examples included:

Britain, Italy and the early Cold War : aspects of British foreign policy towards Italy, 1946-1949
The Cambridge history of the Cold War
Canada and the early Cold War, 1943-1957
Chronology of the Cold War at sea, 1945-1991
Chronology of the Cold War, 1917-1992
The CIA and the Cold War: a memoir
The Cold War reference guide: a general history and annotated chronology with selected biographies
The Cold War: a history in documents and eyewitness accounts

Next, I carried out a number of searches to try and narrow down the search results to resources related to Cold War espionage, with terms such as “cold war espionage” and “cold war intelligence”. This yielded the following results:
Encyclopedia of Cold War espionage, spies, and secret operations
Operation overflight: the U-2 spy pilot tells his story for the first time
Cold War Anthropology The CIA, Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual-Use Anthropology
The CIA and the Cold War: a memoir
On the edge of the Cold War American diplomats and spies in post-war Prague
Voices of decolonization: a brief history with documents

The first five results were most relevant to my research; three of which were books available on open access and two were e-books.
I felt narrowing down my search to Cold War espionage didn’t yield enough results, so I scrolled to the bottom of the page and found a link to the IHR library E-Resources page. Here I found a list of links to online resources available onsite. I went through the list and ultimately, the most relevant results were retrieved from JSTOR and Times Digital Archive. These included journal articles, reviews and newspaper articles.


Working in the IHR Library (Wohl Library – Lower Ground)
My topic for this exercise was on Cold War espionage and so I chose to work on the lower ground level of the Wohl Library, as this is where the International Relations collection is held. I sat at the desk closest to the entrance as it had a PC which I could use to browse the library catalogue and it was near to the rolling stacks holding the International Relations collection.                                                               _DSC7337
Working in this area was comfortable and quiet, though occasionally the noise from reception on the floor above would disturb the silence. The room housing the International collection was also poorly lit, especially further in towards the window.






The library has a large amount of material on the general topic of the Cold War, both in the library itself and online as e-books and e-resources. When I narrowed down my research topic to Cold War espionage, the majority of titles   found were_DSC7340 from a U.S perspective. A smaller number of titles were retrieved for the USSR, France, Germany, Italy and Latin America. I felt it would’ve helped my search if there had been a sub-category in either the Military or International Relations collection guides on the website. There were a few issues regarding noise and lighting were the International Relations collection is held, but overall, working in the IHR library was pleasant and largely problem free, and an ideal place to start research on the topic I’d chosen.

Please follow and like us: