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John Morrill and the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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The opening lecture of this year’s IHR Winter Conference will be delivered by John Morrill, retired Professor of British and Irish History in the University of Cambridge – the theme of the conference is “Civil Wars” and John’s lecture will consider “The English Revolution as a Civil War”. To mark this event, I was asked to write something about John, and in particular his connection with the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH), with which I have myself been involved since 1992.

The current online BBIH has its roots in the desire of the Royal Historical Society in the late 1980s to consolidate and update the various printed bibliographies of British and Irish history, amounting at that time to over 40 volumes, which had been produced by the Society and the Institute of Historical Research since the 1930s. The plan that emerged was for a project that would run from 1990 to 1995, and would result in the publication of the complete database (which would be as comprehensive as possible) on CD-ROM, with a series of select bibliographies appearing in print. As John himself observed in the introduction to the published CD-ROM, “No nation or state has hitherto attempted any such guide to historical writing about itself, and no other discipline has attempted such a synthesis of its accumulated scholarship.”[1]

The majority of the printed volumes which were consolidated into the 1998 CD-ROM edition of the bibliography (bottom right). The volumes with white labels are the copies that were scanned to produce the electronic data. View larger version.

In the establishment of all this, John was a driving force, recommending that the project should not seek simply to produce new printed volumes but should embrace electronic technology, finding funding (principally from the Leverhulme Trust), and even obtaining, from a colleague in Cambridge, the advice that resulted in the purchase of the MicroVAX 3100 on which the data was compiled (the machine still exists in the Cambridge Computer Museum.)[2] John became the project’s General Editor, assembling an advisory board whose first meeting, over an exceptionally hot couple of days in Cambridge, was said to have put the project’s entire expenses budget in jeopardy thanks to its copious mineral water consumption. Steps were taken to improve coverage in areas which it was felt had been under-represented in some of the printed bibliographies – Irish history, the history of the empire and Commonwealth, and the history of women.

The editorial process built upon the model established by Geoffrey Elton for the Royal Historical Society’s Annual Bibliography of British and Irish History in the 1970s – draft entries would be sent to a team of academic editors who would check details, add indexing, and suggest any additional items that ought to be included (John had, indeed, been one of the Annual Bibliography‘s academic editors for several years). Modifying this process to handle a large cumulative bibliography over a relatively short period involved, over the life of the project, recruiting and managing some 200 scholars (including several in the USA and Australia), a process that John likened to an academic “corvée”. Recruitment and management of this workforce was largely delegated to “volume editors”, each responsible for the team working on a particular period, but John was perhaps one of the few people who could have co-ordinated this exercise; thanks to his personal and academic generosity and sociability, he possessed much goodwill on which to draw. Despite this, it turned out that the ability of university teachers to contribute to the project had been over-estimated – they found the pressures on their time increasing during the 1990s and, in the UK, the Research Assessment Exercises did not make any allowance for work on long-term collaborative projects, obliging many to concentrate on their own publications.

The CD-ROM edition of the bibliography, published in 1998, with the manual open at a typical page. View larger version.

Other problems emerged. The electronic scanning of the printed texts, carried out by Papworth Industries at an early stage in the development of this technology, proved less accurate than expected – or, at least, levels of error that sounded acceptable when expressed as a percentage of the characters involved were soon seen to be significant (I recall ‘The Martello towers of Romney Marsh’ being mutated into ‘The Martello tourers of Romsey Marsh’). The amount of work which would have to be done by the project’s central editorial team was likely to overwhelm the one and two-thirds staff who had been appointed, even though a considerable amount of “hands-on” editorial work was done by John himself and by the project’s Executive Secretary, Julian Hoppit. As a result, while the “academic corvée” contributed an enormous amount, the life of the central office had to be extended by a year, and much work had to be put into the hands of paid research assistants. This in turn meant raising more money, in which John again played a leading part – ultimately, the project involved eighteen grant applications, of which sixteen were successful. The printed selections, which depended most on the judgement of the academic editors, never appeared, except for the volume on imperial, colonial and Commonwealth history edited by Andrew Porter.[3] On the other hand, it was recognized that, logically, the project had no end, and money was raised to set up a successor project to continue the work of revising the database and updating it with new publications. So, the publication of The Royal Historical Society Bibliography on CD-ROM: the history of Britain, Ireland, and the British overseas by Oxford University Press in 1998, containing around a quarter of a million entries, proved to be, not the end of the process, but the start of a new era; by the time of its publication the successor project was already underway – reflecting the changing landscape of reference publishing, it soon decided to publish future editions online and eventually evolved into BBIH. It had been decided that the successor project would be most appropriately based in the IHR and John’s direct involvement ceased at this point – but not before he had played a large part in designing the successor project and raising seed funding for it; in an interview conducted in 2008 he said that he thought that the bibliography was his “proudest achievement”[4] and I can testify that he continues to take an avuncular interest in it.

I recall the late Kevin Sharpe observing that, after a conference or similar meeting, John would sit in the bar talking all evening “like the rest of us” but, when the bar closed, John did not go straight to bed like his colleagues but would do a few more hours’ work first. Indeed, while serving as General Editor of the bibliography, John still found the time and energy to serve as Vice-Master of his Cambridge college, to lecture in the University, to supervise research students, and to continue to publish on his own research interests – of the 117 items by John currently listed by BBIH, 37 were published in 1990-6, while John was General Editor of the bibliography. Seven of these 37 were collections of essays edited (or co-edited) by John, a further reflection of his skill in bringing historians together in co-operative projects. Indeed, since John’s active involvement with the bibliography ceased at the end of 1996, this skill has been deployed, alongside his scholarly insight into the 17th century, as a Consultant Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (dealing with over 6,000 17th-century lives), as one of three senior scholars who managed the preparation of an online edition of the depositions of witnesses to the massacres in Ireland in 1641, and now as General Editor of a project to produce a new edition of all the recorded words of Oliver Cromwell (covering both his written works and his recorded speeches) which is currently nearing completion.

[1] The Royal Historical Society Bibliography on CD-ROM : the history of Britain, Ireland, and the British overseas (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998), p.2 of accompanying booklet. Back to text

[2] The Museum’s website says that the machine was donated by me, which is true in the sense that I was the person who delivered it. Whether it was really mine to give is questionable, but it had lingered in my custody for well over a decade after the end of the project, by which time it seemed to deserve preservation. Back to text

[3] Andrew N. Porter, Bibliography of imperial, colonial and Commonwealth history since 1600 (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2002). Back to text

[4] http://www.history.ac.uk/makinghistory/resources/interviews/Morrill_John.html, accessed 13 Jan. 2017. Back to text

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Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2017

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Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2017

1 February 2017, Wolfson Conference Suite, IHR
6.30-8.00pm

An intimate view of evil? How German Jews made sense of Nazi perpetrators

Professor Mark Roseman, Indiana University Bloomington

Holocaust Memorial Day Event – Institute of Historical Research in collaboration with the Research Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

After years of focusing on policy and perpetrators, historians of the Holocaust have begun to give victims’ experience more attention. But we have been surprisingly slow to ask how victims viewed the perpetrators. Jews from Germany were in some ways best placed to understand the Nazis – they shared the same language and national background after all, and had anxiously observed them evolve. At the same time, they, more than any other victims, were forced to confront painful questions about how the culture in which they had taken such pride had produced the barbarians who now confronted them. How did they make sense of the “perpetrators from next door”?

Mark Roseman is a historian of modern Europe, with particular interests in the History of the Holocaust and in modern German history. Current research projects include a critical synthesis of recent work on Nazi perpetrators, and a project looking at a life-reform and resistance group in Germany 1920-2000.

The lecture is free and open to all and advanced registration is required. Register online now 

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IHR Winter Conference 2017: Civil Wars

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IHR Winter Conference 2017: Civil Wars


20 January 2017, Wolfson Conference Suite, IHR

The Syrian Civil War is now in its 6th year. It prompts a consideration of the nature of civil wars in general and the term ‘civil war’ itself. Is it a helpful label when considering events as different as the English and French Revolutions (both of which have been called civil wars), the American Civil War of the 1860s, the Russian Civil War after the 1917 Revolution, and the events in Spain in the 1930s? Do Civil Wars share certain features or is this a term of art that obscures the uniqueness of each separate historical situation? This conference will question the conceptualisation and language of civil discord.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Salwa Ismail (SOAS)
  • Professor David Parrott (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Alan Forrest (University of York)
  • Dr Adam Smith (UCL)
  • Professor Orlando Figes (Birkbeck College)
  • Professor Paul Preston (LSE)

For the preliminary conference programme, please click here.

Full fee: £35

Student/unwaged/retired/ IHR Friend: £25

(Includes all refreshment breaks and lunches)

Register online now

The Winter Conference 2017 will be proceeded by the IHR Historical Research Plenary Lecture (sponsored by Wiley) on the 19 January 2017 at 6pm in the Wolfson Conference Suite. Professor John Morrill (University of Cambridge) will give a talk on The English Revolution as a Civil War.  This event is free to attend but registration is required. Register online now here.

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IHR Winter Conference 2017: Civil Wars

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9th_new_york_infantry_regiment_charging_the_confederate_right_at_antietam_army-mil-2008-09-10-145623

IHR Winter Conference 2017: Civil Wars

The Syrian Civil War is now in its 6th year. It prompts a consideration of the nature of civil wars in general and the term ‘civil war’ itself. Is it a helpful label when considering events as different as the English and French Revolutions (both of which have been called civil wars), the American Civil War of the 1860s, the Russian Civil War after the 1917 Revolution, and the events in Spain in the 1930s? Do Civil Wars share certain features or is this a term of art that obscures the uniqueness of each separate historical situation? This conference will question the conceptualisation and language of civil discord.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Salwa Ismail (SOAS)
  • Professor David Parrott (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Alan Forrest (University of York)
  • Dr. Adam Smith (UCL)
  • Professor Orlando Figes (Birkbeck College)
  • Professor Paul Preston (LSE)

Registration: £35/£20 (concessions) and includes all refreshment breaks and lunches)

For a provisional programme and information on how to register, please visit the conference website


 IHR Wiley Lecture 2017: The English Revolution as a Civil War
19 January 2017 (18:00-19:30)

Professor John Morrill (University of Cambridge)

Register here

 Tweet #IHRWIN17 @ihr_events

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Little America: History and Architecture of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square

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2On Friday 28th October, the IHR Library will host a screening of the documentary ‘Little America‘ (2016) exploring the history of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square and examining its role as a physical representation of the ‘Special Relationship’ and as a site of protest.

The film was commissioned to mark the Embassy’s departure from the Square as it moves to its new home south of the river at Nine Elms. The move marks a significant historical departure, with the US having been associated with Grosvenor Square since the late eighteenth century when John Adams, the first United States Minister to the Court of St. James’s, lived from 1785 to 1788 in the house which still stands in Grosvenor Square on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets.

The documentary records the history of both the people and the place that came to be know as ‘Little America’ and encompasses archive footage alongside oral histories from numerous British and American diplomats, journalists, politicians and activists, including Tony Blair, William Hague, Jack Straw, Jon Snow, Justin Webb, and the current ambassador, Matthew Barzun.

The screening will be preceded by a short introductory talk from Emily Gee (Historic England and IHR Fellow) focusing on the historical and architectural importance of the building.

LAPOSTERLANDSCAPERESIZECThe event is free and open to all, however registration is required.

The trailer for the documentary is available to view here.

Further information on the history of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square is available here.

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History Day 2016

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What is History Day? And how can it help your research?

Historical research requires a rich ecosystem of libraries, archives, associations, publishers and other organisations to flourish. Part of the process of becoming a historian, or understaking research with a historical element, is attempting to come to grips with this dense, rewarding – and sometimes confusing – network. While many online resources, such as The National Archives’ Discovery system, which provides access to over 32 million record descriptions from across the UK, or Copac, which provides a way of searching over 90 specialist research libraries, help to find the sources that might be out there, there is often no better method than speaking to a librarian or archivist, and asking them, ‘this is what I am interested in. What do you have that might be useful to me?’

SCspotscroftpHistory Day 2016 is the annual analogue equivalent of Discovery or Copac. On 15 November 2016, The Institute for Historical Research (IHR) and Senate House Library, with the help of the Committee of London Research Libraries in History, are bringing together over thirty libraries and archives, from the Bishopsgate Institute to the Weiner Libary. All sizes of institutions are represented, from the British Library and The National Archives, to specialist archives and libraries such as the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. Members of their staff will be on hand to discuss their collections and your research.

You can get a flavour of some of the materials that they have in their collections in the series of blog posts, based on the Being Human theme for this year, ‘hope and fear’. The selected items include Scrofula and the Royal Touch (KCL), human physonomie (Wellcome), photograph of London’s first gay pride rally (Bishopgate Institute Library).

Like last year, History Day includes a number of talks and debates on the nature of history and the process of historical research, starting with a discussion on the varieties of public history, chaired by the IHR Director, Prof. Lawrence Goldman, with contributions from Dr Alix Green and Dr Suzannah Lipscomb. Later in the day, the relative merits of libraries and archives will be debated, and there are panels on digital history and business archives. History Lab and History Lab Plus will be on hand to help put graduates and Early Career Researchers in touch with one another, and to offer a sofa and a cup of coffee. We are also pleased to welcome the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, a number of historical organisations and a selection of historical print and digital publishers.

The day is free to attend, but requires registration in advance. Further information can be found on the History Collections site.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Participating libraries and archives:

Bishopsgate Institute Library
Black Cultural Archives
British Library
Business Archives Council
Caird Library and Archive, National Maritime Museum
Dana Research Centre and Library, Science Museum
Geological Society Library
German Historical Institute Library
Guildhall Library
Heinz Archive and Library, National Portrait Gallery
History Lab
History Lab Plus
Institute of Historical Research
King’s College London Library Services
Lambeth Palace Library and the Church of England Record Centre
Library of the Society of Friends
Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society
London Metropolitan Archives
LSE library services and The Women’s Library @ LSE
The National Archives
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Queen Mary University of London Archives
Royal Astronomical Society Library & Archives
The Royal Society, Collections
Royal United Services Institute, Library of Military History
Senate House Library
Society of Antiquaries Library and Collections
School of Oriental and African Studies Library
TUC Library collections at London Metropolitan University
UCL Library Services
Warburg Institute
Wellcome Library
Wiener Library

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History Now & Then 2016/17

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The IHR History Now & Then Series returns for 2016/17

Wolfson Room I | IHR | Senate House | Malet Street | WC1E 7HU

Discussion: 18:00-19:30
Refreshments: 19:30-20:30

This series of public lectures at the IHR takes off from an extraordinary (and potentially dangerous) paradox.  On the one hand, ‘history’ seems to be more popular than ever:  in schools and universities, on film, TV and the internet, in sales of historical biographies, visitor numbers to heritage sites, the growth of family history, re-enactment societies and the like.

Yet we also live in an aggressively here-and-now culture in which many people seem to lack any real understanding of how the present is linked to all that has preceded it.   Thus, major current issues are frequently discussed with little sense of their longer-term historical roots: migration policy, for example, or continued British membership of the EU or Russian involvement in Ukraine.  As Jo Guldi and David Armitage argued in their ‘History Manifesto’(published in 2014), it is vital to understand the past if we are to have any chance of planning sensibly for the future.

 

Welcome: Professor Lawrence Goldman, Director of the Institute of Historical Research
Chair: Daniel Snowman, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research


 5 October 2016Rhodes statue and Beyond

How far can/should history be re-written in accordance with current values?  History and the pros and cons of ‘apology’.  Are there things about the past that it is not acceptable to mention (or research)?
Panel: Martin Daunton, Margot Finn, Jinty Nelson & David Starkey

 

2 November 2016: History and Change

Is history necessarily the story of ‘change’?  Who/what makes things change? The role of ‘Great men/women’ – and other factors?
Panel: Margaret MacMillan, Rana Mitter, Andrew Roberts & Gareth Stedman Jones

 

7 December 2016: The Focus of History

Much history is national history.  But should ‘history’ focus on the nation?  Or the locality – or maybe the wider world?  Or on ‘things’?  And should it have a short, precisely defined temporal focus – or a longer durée?
Panel: Maxine Berg, Jerry Brotton, Richard Drayton & Chris Wickham

 

11 January 2017: Lessons from the Past

Does history ‘repeat itself’?  What kind of ‘lessons’ can we learn from history?  ‘Counterfactual’ history: could the past have been different?
Panel: Jeremy Black, Taylor Downing, Ian Mortimer & Lucy Riall

 

8 February 2017: History and Religion(s)

What role has religion played in the unfolding of history?  Has it  provided a fundamental motivating force?  Or has religion primarily reflected deeper socioeconomic trends and priorities?
Panel: Felicity Heal, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Miri Rubin & Brian Young

 

8 March 2017: The Future of the Past

How will future historians judge today’s historiography?  What do we over-emphasise (or under-emphasise)?  ‘Big’ History, ‘big’ data: how is ‘history’ changing in the digital age?
Panel: Caroline Barron, Anne Curry, Charlotte Roueché & Jane Winters


Advanced registration for this seminar series is required.
Tickets are £5 per session or £25 for all 6 sessions.
Free for the Friends of the IHR.

To register visit the University of London online store.
For more information about the series please visit the History Now and Then website.

For any queries, please contact the IHR Events Office: IHR.Events@sas.ac.uk

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IHR Library Workshop Report

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The IHR Library recently hosted a one day workshop examining emerging research and current trends in Library and Information Science. The event, held in the IHR’s conference suite, attracted over twenty participants and was comprised of two panel sessions – the first examining the ‘Changing Face of Libraries‘ and the second ‘Impacts of Technology.’

intro


The day began with a welcome and introductory remarks from the IHR’s Librarian Dr Matthew Shaw. Following this, Anne Welsh (UCL) opened the series of talks with a paper exploring ‘Cataloguer as Distant Research Collaborator: Implications of the Use of Catalogue Data in Humanities Research.’ Joanne McPhie (Brunel) then presented a paper on ‘The Evolution of the Librarian: developments and experiences at Brunel University.’ These engaging presentations examined how differing aspects of librarianship interact with users and researchers and both presentations drew interesting questions from the audience.

panelAfter a brief interlude for refreshments, the second panel session on ‘Impacts of Technology’ began with Tom Pink (City) asking ‘Has the Internet Changed the Way We Think? The effect of the network on user behaviour’. Emily Nunn (Sheffield) then addressed ‘Researching Open Access: thoughts from a LIS PhD.’ Following this, David Phillips (City) presented on ‘Robots in the Library: gauging attitudes towards developments in robotics and AI, and the potential implications for library services.’

 

speakerUpon conclusion of the presentations, time was then devoted to questions, with the panel members engaged in debate ranging from the practicalities of open access, the effects of Brexit on university libraries and the potential benefits and drawbacks of robots acting as security guards within libraries. In this regard, the workshop was an exceptionally varied and diverse arena for emerging research. The event consequently facilitated crossover between disciplines, topics and researchers, as presenters comprised lecturers, library professionals, PhD candidates and Masters students.

audience

The workshop drew to a close with a few final closing remarks and a heartfelt thanks to all of the presenters and attendees for making the workshop so thought-provoking and engaging. The future of the discipline of Libraries and Information Science very much appears to be ever-changing, richly diverse, and multi-faceted.

For further information, the full workshop programme can be consulted here. An account of the event as depicted through tweets containing the workshop’s hashtag #ihrLIS can be viewed via Storify here.

ProgrammeFollowing the success of the workshop and the stimulating debates that it generated, the IHR Library intend to host a similar workshop in the New Year. Details will be posted on the IHR blog, website and social media platforms in due course. If you would like to receive any further information regarding the event, or contribute topics for discussion at future IHR Library Workshop Series events, please contact Siobhan Morris (siobhan.morris@sas.ac.uk).

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Library Workshop: Emerging Research in Libraries and Information Science 19th August 2016

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IHR Library Workshop Series: Emerging Research in Libraries & Information Science

Friday 19th August 2016 1pm-4pm Wolfson Room II


lib copyThe Institute of Historical Research Library will be hosting a half-day workshop examining current and emerging research in Libraries and Information Science on Friday 19th August from 1-4pm.

The workshop will provide an opportunity for current researchers to showcase their research and provide a platform for engaging debate on the future of libraries and the discipline more broadly.

The first set of presentations will focus around the theme of the ‘Changing Face of Libraries‘ with presentations examining cataloguing and the changing role of the librarian in an academic library. schedule copy

Following this, the second set of presentations will address ‘Impacts of Technology‘ and will include presentations on the effect of the internet on user behaviour, open access, and the development of utilising robotics and artificial intelligence in libraries.

Details of the full programme may be found at: Emerging Research in Libraries and Information Science Workshop Programme.

The workshop is free to attend and refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend the workshop, or any part of it, please contact Siobhan Morris (siobhan.morris@sas.ac.uk) to register.

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First Anglo-Taiwanese Historians’ Conference, 31st August-2 September 2016

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Anglo-Taiwanese Historians’ Conference

31st August-2 September 2016

Programme image1

 

The IHR will be hosting 15 visiting historians from Taiwan who will participate in a joint conference with historians based in the UK over three days at the end of August and beginning of September (Wednesday 31st August-Friday 2nd September).

The conference, on aspects of the history of Britain and Western Europe, will bring together both younger and established historians. Sessions will cover a wide variety of subjects in political, cultural and intellectual history including Women’s History, the British Empire in Asia, Britain and America in the 18th century, Victorian social and political history, twentieth century British cultural history, and sessions on the modern history of Germany and France.

Plenary lectures from Professors Martin Daunton, Pat Thane, Joanna Innes and Richard Drayton will examine recent British economic history, the relationship of history and policy in the UK, the ‘linguistic turn’ in British history, and the rise of Global History respectively. The conference will offer an opportunity for two groups of historians, whose contact has been limited thus far, to come together and compare approaches and ideas.

A provisional programme can be found at: Anglo-Taiwan web Programme

If you would like to attend the conference or any part of it, please contact Gemma Dormer (IHR Events Officer- gemma.dormer@sas.ac.uk) to book a place (as spaces are limited).  Please confirm the following information:

Name:
Day/session you would like to attend:

Please note that the IHR will provide all refreshments at break times, but delegates wishing to attend the conference will need to provide their own lunch.

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