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Libraries Week: Friday


Life writing in the US collection. Women writing during the American Civil War.

Inspired by my recent reading of Sebastian Barry’s Days without End (borrowed from my local public library) I wanted to check out our holdings for the American Civil War 1861-1865 especially from the point of view of the women that stayed at home. I knew we had some diaries and collection of letters -I should know – being the librarian in charge of that collection but still – I was quite surprised to find out we had that many. I have got about 15 works of diaries and letters on my desk right now and that is not all of them.

They are normally located in the North American room on the second floor. It is a great feeling to just go to the room and browse the shelves to be able do a bit of shelf-cruising as Simon Schama calls it ( check out the Libraries week: Monday Blog ) I did just browse the shelves and found what I wanted but as it turns out all the items have same the class mark – as they should. Thank you to my colleague Michael Townsend for our in-house classification scheme. The class mark is UF.5175 Non-combatant Individual narratives.

And it is surely the individual speaking through these printed sources making them some of my favourite items in the library. Obviously the writers here the women are not all brilliant at conveying their experiences onto paper so if you are looking to be entertained it might not be the case. But the sheer amount of different kind of information these works can provide is staggering. Hidden within the details of for example meals, family illnesses, social gatherings and money worries there is a load of information. For a researcher patience and time are required depending on which issues are being studied. However all the works include indexes and in studying this material something might pop up which turns out to be quite essential for the research and to be exactly what was being looked for.

Not all of them stayed at home we have got memoirs of women working as spies, doctors, nurses and teachers. Women from the north living in the south for example “A Northern woman in Plantation south”, women from the south living in the north. Women travelling. Women writing a diary for themselves, for their children, writing letters to friends, lovers, mothers, brothers and fathers. Come and look for yourself.

Interested in other sources for US history check out the collection guide here.

Finally have a very lovely Library weekend and hope you enjoyed Libraries week!

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Libraries Week: Thursday


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.

The organisations attending have expanded beyond London. This year, Gladstone’s Library, Historic England Archive & Library, St Peter’s House Library of the University of Brighton, US History collections at the Bodleian Libraries and the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) Archive Collections are all coming for the first time. Other types of organisations include the History of Parliament and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and we will be welcoming our first European organization, Archives Portal Europe. A full list of participating organisations can be found on the History Day 2017 event page.

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.

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Libraries Week – Wednesday


Book Stacks, Book Lifts…and Daleks ?!?: the London Libraries Graduate Trainee Programme

Tomorrow marks the start of another year of the London Libraries Graduate Trainee Programme. As in previous years the day will be marked by an informal gathering of library trainees from the institutes of the School of Advanced Studies (the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the Institute of Classical Studies, the Institute of Historical Research and the Warburg Institute) as well as those from other London-based libraries and information centres such as the Courtauld Institute, Kew Gardens and the Inns of Court. During this initial session the trainees will get a chance to meet each other over tea, coffee and cake (there’s always cake!) and meet those on the trainee committee (myself included) where we will tell them about such things as CILIP membership, events organised by CPD25 (including the a useful open day, Applying to Library School), the trainee blog as well as what typically happens throughout the programme.

Taken during a visit to Cambridge University Library, 30th June 2016

Designed to supplement the trainees’ work and training at their home institutions, the trainee programme has been run from SAS since 2008 and originally included trainees from the four main SAS institutions but, as already shown, it has expanded since to include a number of diverse institutions across London. The main part of the programme consists of a number of visits throughout the year to a wide variety of libraries and information centres based in London and beyond. Indeed, one of the primary aims of the programme is to give the trainees an insight into how varied the Library and Information sector can be. Given that many of the trainees come from academic libraries with excellent, world-renowned collections, this sector is fully explored through visits to the libraries of the Courtauld Institute, the Warburg Institute, Senate House Library, the Wellcome Institute and the Institute of Classical Studies (to name just a few!). Other sectors, however, are also touched upon during visits throughout the year; many of the trainees currently taking part in the programme are based in legal libraries and information centres (the Inns of Court, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the legal firm Slaughter & May) so insights are gained into law librarianship. Other libraries visited in recent years include those based at the Natural History Museum, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Globe Theatre Library and Archive, the BBC Archives Centre, the Guardian Newspaper as well as the Ministry of Justice.

The trainees loved the idea of the book lift at the London Library – 15th December 2016

Besides show-casing the diversity of the profession, the programme also aims to provide a number of practical training sessions throughout the year. In previous years, for example, the library of the Victoria and Albert Museum gave the trainees an introduction to art librarianship while Senate House Library’s senior conservator, Angela Craft, kindly gave the trainees a session on preservation and conservation. Other practical sessions have included introductions to library services for readers with disabilities, held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Web 2.0 for Librarians given by Colin Homiski at Senate House Library and an introduction to school librarianship held at King Alfred’s School. During the trainees’ visit to my own library, the IHR, our trainee gives them a brief tour, explaining the type of material we collect while I hold a brief session on RDA and MARC21 cataloguing (depending on your feelings towards cataloguing this is either a cruel form of punishment or quite handy…obviously I hope for the latter).

Informally we also hope the programme allows the trainees to just regularly meet up together socially and either discuss their trainee experience, anything else library related or indeed any subject of their choice (I think that’s allowed!). Also by working together the trainees, over recent years, have increasingly taken the lead in organising the visits and training sessions, making the programme each year truly their own.

The trainees during a visit to the BBC Archives Centre in May 2012 – looks like some of the staff can be quite strict there!

If you would like to find out more about the London Library Trainee Programme check out their blog here.

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Libraries Week: Tuesday


Happy Libraries Week! 

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future” – Ray Bradbury

Hello I’m Ceri, I have recently joined the Institute of Historical Research Library as a Graduate Trainee Library Assistant. Before joining the IHR, I was a residential library intern at Gladstone’s Library. As a history graduate, the chance to be surrounded by history and to work in a historical building is a dream come true. The building is a grade II listed building in a beautiful Art Deco design, something that still takes my breath away every time I come to work and look up.

It is a constant amazement to me that I am surrounded by books every day. The IHR is similar to Gladstone’s in that they are both reference only libraries. The IHR has a vast collection of published primary resource material which can be anything from, to name just a few examples, poll books, diaries to seventeenth century military training exercise books, as well as historiography, bibliographies and guides and catalogues of other libraries and archives. This collection has been obtained through either donations or acquisitions and is one of national importance, which supports the study of history and historical writing. The collection is not only in English, we also strive to add primary sources that are in their original language.

A library to me is something to be celebrated – one of the reasons I wanted to become a librarian is not just because of my love of books but also my love of helping people. In Gladstone’s there was an enquiry desk where we interacted in whispers with people every day (as it is a silent library) – in the IHR there is an office, where we welcome people who need any help. If for example, they have a problem with the photocopier, they need help finding a book or perhaps they just want to see a friendly face – we welcome everyone to our office. So don’t forget to pop to our office on Floor 1 if you ever need any help!

Electronic resources are also available here at the library – we have two microform machines, computers for your use and also a book scanner. The book scanner to me is a fantastic resource and a source of wonder. You can hold the book with your thumbs and the scanner will automatically colour them out. The scanner allows you to scan without causing the same strain to the book as a photocopier. It even has a pedal similar to a sewing machine – I may be the only person who gets excited about that. You can save paper and the environment by saving your scans to a USB stick. It is certainly a useful resource available to members of our library.

The library itself stretches over seven floors – four of these floors consist of our books on open access and reading rooms, while three floors are our onsite store in the tower – accessible only by staff in a lift. In the tower, our collection is found on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth floors – as well as housing absolutely stunning books, there is also a wonderful view from the tower across London. Each floor of the library usually houses a different collection – so the basement houses the military and the international relations collection, the first floor is the British collection and the religious studies collection, the second floor is the European collection, and American collection and the third floor is our exhibition space with reading rooms. Coming from a library consisting of three rooms, the IHR library has been slightly intimidating but I like to think I am getting to know my way around. One of my favourite features of the library is the rolling stacks. We have modern rolling stacks where you can prevent yourself from being squashed by a lift of the handle – you can move the stacks by just twisting a wheel. Whereas in Gladstone’s, I would have to pull a stack individually now I can move them all at once – without fear of squashing anyone – I feel I should I add that no one has ever been squashed in Gladstone’s library stacks! In the IHR, we have our stacks dotted throughout the library.

In both the IHR library and Gladstone’s library, you could find antiquarian books housed with modern books. At Gladstone’s library, I would love to wander around the shelves and look at the different books housed there. I have a similar love here – one of my responsibilities is ensuring books left on the desks get to go back to their own shelf. I like seeing what people have been reading, but also getting to explore the collections by looking at the shelves. When I was in university I loved using the library to research and also browsing the shelves so I could find similar books that might be of use to my research. So getting to browse and tidy the shelves for my job is my idea of heaven.

Another aspect of my job is library promotion. This could involve anything from this blog for example or adding social media posts. This can be another chance to explore the collections – finding for example an inscription from H. G. Wells or discovering other treasures in the collections. It can be rewarding to provide a fresh perspective on the library. To encourage people to join and for readers to be able discover the treasure trove of resources we hold here at the library.

To join the library is very simple: you just have to come to reception! Postgraduates and academics just need to bring their university ID and proof of address. Undergraduates are welcome too and just need a letter from their tutor.  You can also be a private researcher and pay to join – either at a yearly or daily rate.

My favourite aspect of the job apart from being surrounded by books – is that no one day is the same – I can be rebinding, reclassifying, cataloguing, helping someone with their photocopying, finding information they need or having a book adventure in the tower. I also get to buy books for the library – at the moment this is supervised and is testing my German language strength but eventually they will trust me to choose books for the collection – I will get to leave my own mark on the library! Remember that for you a library is an excellent source of information, this is the same for a librarian (or a wannabe librarian) but we also have to find the information which can be an excellent adventure all on its own. Never be afraid to ask for help from your librarian – we love to help everybody. So come and discover the library and our fantastic resources for yourself!

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Libraries Week: Monday


Libraries Week 9 to 14 October 2017

“If you have a great library like Columbia, an open stacks library, I mean that’s fantastic, because so often it’s the book next to the one you’re hunting for that suddenly wags, crooks the fingers and says: ‘Come hither, I’m what you’re actually looking for.’”… “shelf-cruising”, he calls it.

Saturday’s Guardian carried this titbit in Jonathan Freedland’s interview with the historian and television presenter, Simon Schama.  If you’re interested, there is more in the piece about the perils and pleasures of looking after your own personal library, but here it starts a series of blog posts that will run from Monday to Friday as part of our contribution to Libraries Week, 9–14 October 21017.

We start close to home. The Institute of Historical Research Wohl Library has always been a central part of the IHR’s mission to be a ‘laboratory for history’, with seminars taking place within rooms surrounded by books and journals offering some of the raw materials for historical research, inquiry and argument, as well as training in historical methods. The library makes some 200,000 books available over four floors, shelved according to place and topic, with the aim of serendipitous ‘shelf cruising’ by our readers.  Today, of course, these paper tomes are also supplemented by digital material, such as the IHR’s own British History Online and the numerous resources from commercial or research organisations, such as the Churchill Archive or Connected Histories, all, we hope, whispering ‘come hither’ in their own way.

We also offer links to other libraries, not just through our collections of bibliographies (from Chartism to football history and beyond), catalogues and guides to archives and libraries, but also through History Online’s directory of London history collections. Let us know if you know of a library that should be listed there.

Over the next week, colleagues from the library team will be posting some of their favourite and curious items from the library, as well as details of our 31 October History Day event organised in collaboration with Senate House Library. Libraries Week will be all over social media, discoverable via the hashtag #librariesweek, and revealing such gems as the British Library’s account of medieval lending libraries (and their pious sanctions).

But the main thing is to visit your local library, renew or sign up for your library pass, and borrow a book, DVD, do some 3D printing, participate in an event, catch up with local news, do some writing, research on the internet, and add your visit to the 250 million visits made to public libraries each year. Of all the disciplines, historians have a particularly intimate relationship with libraries. It’s our duty, as well as pleasure, to support them.

You can find your local library here.

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Letters of Queen Victoria 1837-1861, Volume I


B.791 VIC/A Letters of Queen Victoria 1837-1861, Volume I

Over summer, our Wohl Library intern, Rachel Moore, spent some time looking at our collections of letters relating to Queen Victoria.  In this post, she looks at the publishing project inaugurated by Edward VII, Letters of Queen Victoria 1813-1861, ed. Arthur Christopher Benson, vol 1, which can be found in the first floor of the Library.

Researchers will know that these letters have been carefully selected and heavily edited, but nevertheless, they provide a wealth of insight into Victoria’s reign. According to the Preface of the text:

Her Majesty Queen dealt with her papers… in a most methodical manner; she formed the habit in early days of preserving her private letters, and after her accession to the Throne all her official papers were similarly treated, and bound in volumes (v).

Owing to the large number of letters available, the individuals charged with building the volume chose ‘to publish specimens of such documents as would serve to bring out the development of the Queen’s character and disposition, and to give typical instances of her methods in dealing with political and social matters’ (vii). It is therefore a volume of politics and public events, devoid on the surface of any more telling emotion or subjects.

Despite the edits, Victoria’s letters possess a distinct voice that is reflective, stately, and kind-hearted. This is similarly noted in the Preface:

We see one of highly vigorous and active temperament, of strong affections, and with a deep sense of responsibility, placed at an early age, and after a quiet girlhood, in a position the greatness of which is impossible to exaggerate (viii).

In the anthology, we are provided with the memoirs of Victoria herself and the fond letters of her relatives. Throughout the volume, we are introduced to and immersed in her history.

Victoria speaks fondly of visits to Windsor and Claremont, remembering visits with family as a child (Chapter II). She also describes in detail several members of her family throughout her early years (Chapters II and III). The qualities of Victoria in her youth are evident in these texts, but are also noted by the editors: ‘She was high-spirited and wilful, but devotedly affectionate, and almost typically feminine’ (27).

A few short years prior to her accession to the throne, Victoria learned a great wealth of political knowledge and advice from the King Leopold, King of the Belgians. The two individuals exchanged hundreds of letters throughout Victoria’s teenage years and beyond, and the love between them is clearly evident (chapter IV). Even after the Queen’s accession, Leopold continued to be a trusted confidante.

Upon the imminent death of King William IV, Victoria’s uncle, she wrote a letter to Leopold concerning her accession (which she refers to as “the event which it seems is likely to occur soon”). In said letter, she writes, “I am not alarmed at it, and yet I do not suppose myself quite equal to all; I trust, however, that with good will, honesty, and courage I shall not, at all events, fail” (95). This was the sentiment with which Her Majesty ruled.

By Rachel Paige Moore

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Cecil Papers and Documents on British Policy Overseas digital trials


Although the majority of our library consists of books and journals, we also provide access to a large number of digital resources for readers physically in the building or, in the case of the Churchill Papers, remotely for members of the library. We are also keen, as funds allow, to expand the number of resources that we provide access to, particularly those that fit with our collecting remit of published primary materials and supporting reference works. As a result, we occasionally have trials of commercial digital resources, which are accessible via the computers in the reading rooms.

We currently have two trials available until 11 October: the Cecil Papers and Documents on British Policy Overseas.  Please let us know what you think of them via or via the Floor 1 library office.

The supplier provides the following overview of the packages:

Cecil Papers

Cecil Papers

ProQuest has teamed with The Hatfield House Archives to digitize their privately held collection of almost 30,000 documents gathered by William Cecil (1520-1598), Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612), First Earl of Salisbury. This important collection includes many sixteenth- and seventeenth-century state papers, grants from the Crown, legal documents, treaties, correspondences, and political memoranda.

One of Elizabeth I’s closest advisors, William Cecil was both Lord High Treasurer and Secretary of State – a position also held by his son, who continued to serve Elizabeth’s successor, James I. Occupying some of the highest offices of state in the land, these men were at the heart of events during one of the most dynamic periods in western history.

Key events covered in this collection include:

  • The clandestine plans for James’ accession to the English throne
  • Mary Queen of Scots’ imprisonment and execution
  • Tudor re-conquest of Ireland
  • The Spanish Armada
  • Military events in the Low Countries
  • Gunpowder Plot
  • The Main Plot and imprisonment of Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Early English settlement of America

All the documents, which include a number of contemporary hand-drawn maps, tables, and letters, have been reproduced as full-color, high-quality images directly from original documents. These images can be examined using a dynamic viewing tool or downloaded as PDFs of JPEGs.

Documents on British Policy Overseas

This history database contains tens of thousands of U.K. government documents relating to Britain’s international relations, including foreign policy instructions, letters and memos, business reports, and more. These primary source materials have been selected by the official historians of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and, in many cases, have been declassified at their request for inclusion in this series.

With Documents on British Policy Overseas, researchers gain a more complete understanding of the tensions, motivations, politics, and relationships that shaped Europe and the world throughout the twentieth century.

This easily searchable database is the online version of three print content sets:

  • British Documents on the Origins of War (1898-1914), which includes documents related to the Anglo-German tensions leading to World War I
  • Documents on British Foreign Policy (1918-1939), which addresses post-war settlement, re-armament, and growing tensions in Europe, Africa, and the Far East
  • Documents on British Policy Overseas (1946-present), which covers topics such as atomic energy, the Korean Conflict, and the Cold War

It’s easy to join the library as a member to gain access to these, and many other resources. Full details are on our Membership page.

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The History of Witchcraft in the IHR library’s collections


As part of the lead up to History Day 2017 I asked if I could write a blog post for it, and given that there was the general theme of the supernatural I suggested I would highlight some of the resources readers could find in the Institute of Historical Research’s library on the history of witchcraft.

Selection of works found in the library’s Ecclesiastical History collection

Initially I assumed the library may not necessarily be the first port of call for researchers in this field given the rich resources to be found in the Warburg Institute and the Harry Price Collection within Senate House Library. I knew we had a small handful of books in the general Ecclesiastical History collection, including general anthologies of sources such as The Witchcraft Sourcebook, edited by Brian Levack, as well as seminal texts like the Malleus Maleficarum and Jean Bodin’s De la Démonomanie des sorciers. Scattered amongst the other collections too were works on historiography (Palgrave advances in witchcraft historiography, ed. by Jonathan Barry & Owen Davies), as well as works on some of the more infamous cases from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries such as the Pendle witch trials (Potts’s Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster), the Scottish witch trials of the 1590s (Witchcraft in early modern Scotland: James VI’s Demonology and the North Berwick witches and A source-book of Scottish witchcraft) and Salem (The sermon notebook of Samuel Parris, 1689-1694, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt and The Salem Witchcraft Papers: verbatim transcripts of the legal documents of the Salem Witchcraft outbreak of 1692).

Subject search for the term “Witchcraft” in the library’s catalogue.

Yet, when I did a subject search in the catalogue, I was surprised by how many titles we had acquired over the years, not only ranging from works documenting witch trials in Britain and the North American colonies but also on continental Europe (for example Kölner Hexenverhöre aus dem 17. Jahrhunderts, The Salazar documents: Inquisitor Alonso de Salazar Frias and others on the Basque Witch Persecution and Les sorciers du carroi de Marlou: un procès de sorcellerie en Berry 1582-1583) as well as colonial Latin America (Forgotten Franciscans: writings from an Inquisitorial theorist, a heretic and an Inquisitorial Deputy). I continued digging – metaphorically – and found there were rich seams of information to be found within various genres of sources we do have sizeable holdings of. Our collection of published British chronicles, for example, were useful highlighting the growing incidences of courtly witchcraft accusations throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries while the Times Digital Archive, accessible within the library, as well as our run of Hansard (Commons & Lords) were useful highlighting the course and aftermath of the Helen Duncan case in 1944.

With these discoveries in mind a small exhibition has been put together on the third floor of the Institute highlighting four examples from British witchcraft history. Case 1 considers the famous trial of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, as well as her associates, Margery Jourdemayne, Roger Bolingbroke and Thomas Southwell, the second display case considers the example of Ann Watts which, although a minor case, gives some tantalizing clues to late seventeenth century occult book ownership, the third display highlights the harrowing case of Ruth Osborne from the mid-eighteenth century – an Age of Reason? – while the final case* tells the story of Helen Duncan and the how the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used for the final time at the Old Bailey towards the end of the Second World War.

The exhibition will be available to view over the next few months and certainly throughout History Day on the 31st October.

* We would like to thank the staff at Senate House Library for allowing some scans to be made from works within the Harry Price Collection included in this display.

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Mexico-United States relations: Since 1945


The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 

Read previous entries in this blog series:

The Mexican-American War

The Porfiriato

The Mexican Revolution

2/13/1988 President Reagan reviewing troops with President de la Madrid at the Camino Real Hotel landing zone in Mazatlan Mexico

Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This is the final blog post in a series that focused on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, with a focus on Mexico-U.S foreign relations since 1945.

The alliance between Mexico and the U.S. during World War II brought the two countries into a far more harmonious relationship with one another. Mexican President Manuel Avila Camacho met in person with both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, helping to cement ties with the U.S. Avila Camacho was not a leader in the Mexican Revolution himself, and held opinions that were pro-business and pro-religious that were more congenial to the U.S. while he maintained revolutionary rhetoric. During Avila Camacho’s visit with Truman near the centenary of the Mexican–American War, Truman returned some of the Mexican banners captured by the United States in the conflict and praised the military cadets who died defending Mexico City during the invasion.

The end of World War II meant decreased U.S demand for Mexican labour via the Bracero Program and for Mexican  raw materials to fuel a major war. For Mexican labourers and Mexican exporters, there were fewer economic opportunities. However, while at the same time the government’s coffers were full and aided post-war industrialisation. In 1946, the dominant political party changed its name to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and while maintaining revolutionary rhetoric, in fact embarked on industrialisation that straddled the line between nationalist and pro-business policies. Mexico supported U.S. policies in the Cold War and did not challenge U.S. intervention in Guatemala that ousted leftist president Jacobo Arbenz.

The IHR Library’s holdings on the history of Mexico-U.S relations is particularly strong from the period between Mexican independence, up until the Cold War. There are a number of electronic resources available that focus on the more contemporary period after the Cold War.

The first work being highlighted in this post is Foreign relations of the United States, 1955-1957. vol. 6 American Republics: Multilateral; Mexico; Caribbean – United States Department of State

This work is one of 27 volumes that the IHR library holds of the publication, Foreign Relations of the United States. The volumes in this series include documents that give a comprehensive record of the major foreign policy decisions of the United States together with appropriate materials concerning the facts which contributed to the formulation of policies.

The section of this volume that concerns Mexico relations focuses on the political and economic relations of the United States and Mexico from 1955 to 1957. Notable documents in this volume include letters from President Eisenhower to the Secretary of State and other government officials and a National Intelligence Estimate; a report that aimed to estimate the situation and probable developments in Mexico over the next few years.

The Mexico reader : history, culture, politics – edited by Gilbert M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson.

The Mexico Reader explores what it means to be Mexican, tracing the history of Mexico from pre-Columbian times through the country’s revolution (1910–20) to the present day. The materials relating to the latter half of the twentieth century focus on the contradictions and costs of post-revolutionary modernisation, the rise of civil society, and the dynamic cross-cultural zone marked by the two thousand-mile Mexico-U.S. border. The book is divided into several sections organised roughly in chronological order and brief historical contexts have been provided for each section. This work also contains a lengthy list of resources about Mexico, including websites and suggestions for further reading.

The United States is a major presence throughout this work and it acknowledges how U.S actors and agencies  have shaped Mexico. The chapter titled ‘The Border and Beyond’ addresses several issues surrounding the Mexico-U.S border; the permeability of the border, problems for law enforcement and environmental and social policy issues.

Two nations indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the road ahead by Shannon K. O’Neil.

The IHR library holds a digital copy of this Council of Foreign Relations publication. Shannon K. O’Neil, a senior CFR fellow for Latin American Studies, argues that the U.S ought to forge a new relationship with its southern neighbour. She maintains that there is more to the narrative conveyed by the American media that Mexico is a dangerous place overrun by drug lords.

O’Neil draws on her own personal experiences in Mexico City and other parts of the country to provide an in-depth analysis on the different aspects of Modern Mexico and its complex relationship with the United States.


For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Mexican History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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Mexico-United States Relations: the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920


The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 

Read previous instalments in this series:

The Mexican-American War

The Porfiriato 

Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This blog post is the third in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, focusing on the Mexican Revolution.

The Madero Revolution which overthrew the regime of Porfirio Diaz had its organisational and military beginnings in the United States. While the root cause was the unrest within Mexico itself, the Diaz government in 1910 was still strong enough to control internal dissension and maintain itself in power. Only the activities of the Mexican revolutionaries, organised and operating from a sanctuary above the U.S border, brought about the violent crack that was to force President Diaz from office. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power and a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.

The first work being highlighted in this post is Documents on the Mexican Revolution edited by Gene Z. Hanrahan.

Volume I – The Origins of the Revolution in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California, 1910-1911.

This work consists of 9 volumes, with each volume covering a different time period during the revolution. The documents in this collection have been selected from the many thousands of papers on the Mexican revolution preserved in the United States National Archives. The documents include letters and reports prepared by U.S diplomats, the Mexican ambassador, special agents of the Department of Justice, state governors and private citizens. The first volume of this work includes important original writings and works of the Mexican revolutionaries that embrace subjects such as political and revolutionary writings, public and foreign reaction and U.S recognition of Madero.

Volume V – Blood Below the Border. American Eye-witness Accounts of the Mexican Revolution.

The fifth volume in this series consists of twenty reports, letters and documents written by Americans in Mexico during the first years of the Mexican Revolution. They included Americans in business, diplomats, visiting statesmen and mine managers. This volume sheds light on the concerns Americans had about their safety, investments and future in Mexico during this period, and how their views helped shape United States policy towards Mexico.



An American family in the Mexican revolution by Robert Woodmansee in collaboration with Richard Herr

This memoir details the experiences of an American family caught in Revolutionary Mexico. The book contains information about the Revolution, life as a foreign national in Mexico, the silver mining industry, and social and cultural aspects of Revolutionary Mexico.
Based on personal documents written by Richard Herr’s older brother, this memoir covers a critical period in Mexican history, beginning in the Porfiriato and continuing through the 1920s, from the point of view of one family. An American family in the Mexican revolution illustrates the economic expansion of the United States into Mexico in the late nineteenth century; relations between foreign managers and Mexicans of all social classes; the foreign colony in Mexico; the development of a working class in Mexico; various aspects of the Mexican revolution (including its contribution to the debate about the degree to which foreigners and their enterprises stirred revolutionary discontent); the impact and changes brought about by the revolution; and Mexican-United States relations during the entire period.

Un húngaro en el México Revolucionario : correspondencia de Kálmán Kánya, Ministro del Imperio Auistro-Húngaro en México durante la Revolución Mexicana y la Primera Guerra Mondial  by Ádám Anderle and Monika Kozári.

This work details the experience and correspondence of the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Mexico, Kálmán Kánya, during the Mexican revolution. It is translated into Spanish from Hungarian and follows Kánya’s experiences and relationships with Mexican officials from his appointment as ambassador to Mexico to his return to Europe in July 1919.

For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Mexican History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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