A less well-known, but integral part of the Institute of Historical Research is its Friends programme. Founded to support the aims of the Institute, the Friends bring together individuals from the academic community and beyond to foster the growth and development of the study of history in Britain.
As a Friends Bursary holder in 2012-2013, the award proved invaluable to my studies. It allowed me to access the resources at the IHR and the National Archives which resulted in the production of a chapter in my thesis. I was also able to take part in many seminars conducted at the IHR while undertaking research in London. Attendance at the seminars allowed me to learn about and engage with historians carrying out research
In learning about the Friends organisation and coming to understand the important role it plays in supporting the activities of the IHR, I became a member of the group in the summer of 2013, and was asked to join its committee in the Autumn of that year. As the newest member on the IHR Friends Committee, I am continually learning about the valuable work the group undertakes to assist with activities at the institute. Through annual membership fees and fund raising, the Friends group supports the IHR in a number of ways, including funding seminars, giving money to purchase books for the library, and underwriting conferences and workshops. Among this year’s contributions, the Friends organisation donated money to help with the refurbishment of the institute, and offered financial assistance to the Women’s History seminar to help defray the costs of running the meetings.
Members of the organisation engage in a number of exciting activities throughout the year, participating in special events such as the annual summer outing to a place of historical note. Last summer’s excursion took Friends to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, where we were treated to a guided tour of the newly renovated gallery, and had refreshments in the tea room. The Friends also host film evenings at which historians present and discuss cinematic portrayals of historic events. Most recently, Professor Penelope Corfield hosted a screening of The Dutchess for the Friends group at which the audience busily searched for anachronisms in the film. Lively debates about the social, cultural and political representations of Georgian England followed.
William Morris Gallery
This summer’s reopening of the IHR in the North Block of Senate House promises to offer the Friends group new opportunities to contribute to the Institute and the historical community. Plans are underway to expand the Friends’ calendar to include more film evenings and other stimulating events throughout the year.
As the forthcoming issue of Past and Future details, a donation from the American Friends of the IHR has enabled the IHR library to purchase a collection of printed sources from the acclaimed (expensive) publisher Pickering & Chatto. All in all four different sets of primary sources spanning from 1609 to 1939 have been added to our Colonial and British collections.
Ireland in the Age of Revolution, 1760–1805 part II BI.515 Iar
The Making of the Modern Police 1780-1914 part 1 B.797 Law
The American Colonies and the British Empire 1607-1783 CLAA.11 Sar
A fifth set, on Women’s Travel Writing, with sources drawn from the Chawton House Library, will arrive shortly and be found in the French collection.
Communications in Africa consists of five volumes documenting the establishment of railways and roads in Africa in support of Britain’s economic interests. At first glance I found the contents pages very uninspiring: endless official reports on the extension of this and that railway in various African states, but as always happens, digging into some of the documents and having a proper read opens up a whole new world. For instance, the full account of an Informal conference with Mr. Bedford Glasier on the subject of the Lagos Railway that took place in 1903 at a Liverpool Hotel definitely delivers what the publisher promises: an illumination of the relationship between colonizers and the colonized. And that is only one aspect of the information one could pull from this specific source.
“the native as you know is not fond of work – far from it, he resents work. I am speaking now of the educated native, and he is not blessed with those qualities of smartness, punctuality, and business aptitude which railway working requires.”
The Making of Modern Police (only part one has been published so far) also offers a wide range of insights into the past. The three works deal with three different aspects of the making of the police as we know it today. Volume one, “The idea of policing”, includes John Fieldings, A Plan for Preventing Robberies from 1755, wherein the London Magistrate  brother of Henry Fielding outlines his plan for preventing highway robberies within 20 miles of London. In volume two, “Reforming the police in the nineteenth century”, both contemporary material and memoirs are listed, with many documents dealing with the implementation of the County Police Act in 1839, covering, for instance, the establishment of rural police in Essex. In the third volume, “Policing the Poor”, we find under the heading Tramps and Vagrants in Trafalquar Square 1887  a letter to the Commissioner Police of the Metropolis from Mr. T. Cavanagh relating his distress to find so many people sleeping rough in the Square.
…not only 200 but more were there huddled together in the seats, on the stones at the back of the seats, on the stones around about the fountains and under the lions, making I should say about the most terrible sight of open air misery to be met with in Europe : and this under the eyes of the wealthiest visitors to London!”
The American Colonies and the British Empire, 1607–1783 consists of eight volumes and deals with the development of colonial and imperial ideology. Nearly all the sources are reproduced in full and include pamphlets, reports, sermons and letters. The publisher has tried to give examples of the often conflicting ideas of the people involved: the administrators, the politicians, the colonists to mention a few. The very detailed and comprehensive chronology in the first volume, beginning 1496 with John Cabot’s voyages to Newfoundland and ending in 1784 with the Order in Council to exclude American merchants from British colonial trade, is definitely worth checking out. I love it! Sir Walter Raleigh here pops up in almost every volume and of course features in the chronology.
Sir Walter Raleigh by ‘H’. National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 7
Closer to home, part two  of Ireland in the Age of Revolution 1760-1805 (subtitled “Ireland and the French Revolution”) promises to illustrate the impact of the French revolution on political issues in Ireland. Pickering and Chatto have selected ca. 60 pamphlets originally published between 1797 and 1805 for that purpose. In addition, other material is included; for example, there are a few excerpts from “Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh” (1798) (the then ActingChief Secretary of Ireland), one of them being ‘Communications passed between the Government and the State Prisoners’,  which is followed by reports from the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons and from the House of Lords in Ireland from August of the same year.  All material of interest to both readers interested in the history of revolutionary ideas and also those specifically interested in Irish history.
Come and have a look for yourself – the class marks are listed above, and all these sets have a brilliant consolidated index in their final volume.
Our next blog will be another look at the library’s fascinating collections of travel writing.
 Communications in Africa, 1880–1939 vol. 1 p. 225
Henry and John Fielding created the Bow Street Runners the first professional police force in 1749.
The Friends of the IHR will be hosting another of its popular film evenings on 17 February at 5:30. Professor Penelope Corfield, Professor Emeritus, Royal Holloway, University of London will be presenting the film.
Georgina Cavendish, The Duchess of Devonshire, was an an extremely colourful 18th century British aristocrat. She was not only a socialite, a fashion icon and a political activist, but was also a fervent gambler with unconventional marital arrangements.
The Duchess (2008) is based on the biography, Georgina Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman. The film featured Keira Knightley as the Duchess and Ralph Fiennes, as her husband, William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire. The film won several well deserved awards for Best Costume Design, including an Academy Award and a BAFTA.
Professor Corfield, who is an expert on economic, social, cultural, and urban history from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries will put the film into historical context. She will also speak about the film’s costumes and the fashion of the day.
The event is open to the public and tickets are £15/£10 (students). The talk will start at 5:30, with the screening at 6:00 the film will be followed by a reception at 7:30. If you are interested in joining, please contact IHR Development (IHR.Development@sas.ac.uk or on 0207 862 8764/91).