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:
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.
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 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.
The print (1730) shows the ‘Great Speaker’ Onslow in the chair (centre), calling prime minister Walpole at his elbow (left) to speak, before a packed House of Commons. [National Trust number = 1441463]
This post was kindly written for us by P. J. Corfield (Royal Holloway, London University) on behalf of the IHR’s Long Eighteenth-Century Seminar.
Mary Clayton, who has just published A Portrait of Influence: Life and Letters of Arthur Onslow, the Great Speaker (Parliamentary History Trust, 2017), once declared that the only possible place to launch such a volume would be the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster. But, she said, that was obviously out of the question. On the contrary, replied the organisers of London University’s seminar in British History in the Long Eighteenth-Century. Contact the Speaker; and tell him that we have to celebrate the most hegemonic of all Speakers in appropriate style. And, all credit to John Bercow, he not only lent us the Speaker’s House free of charge but came himself to give a witty speech.
The seminar-cum-launch-party took place on Wednesday 1 November. It was a glittering ‘outreach’ evening. Over 70 people attended, including seminar regulars, MPs, members of the House of Lords, curators, librarians, local history researchers, and the current Earl Onslow. (Arthur Onslow (1691-1768) wanted no other title than that of Speaker – a post he held for over thirty years – but his son was ennobled as a family tribute). The Long Eighteenth-Century seminar warmly thanks all its sponsors, including the Parliamentary History Trust which co-hosted. And the moral: academics can but ask for the use of famous outreach venues at special discounts. Often that tactic doesn’t work. Yet sometimes it does, as it did for Mary Clayton – and the ‘Great Speaker’ Arthur Onslow, whose behind-the-scenes influence obviously lingers ….
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
This post has kindly been written for us by Jennifer Kain, Alan Pearsall Fellow in Naval and Maritime History 2016-17, and now a Research Associate of the IHR
Alan Pearsall receiving the Imperial Service Order medal for staff of the Civil Service – at Buckingham Palace in 1985, Alan Pearsall Estate
As I enter the final stage of my year-long junior fellowship at the IHR I wanted to acknowledge my benefactor Alan Pearsall. Alan’s bequest, and the efforts of Roger Knight in establishing the Pearsall fellowship, have given invaluable academic breathing space to early career researchers like myself since 2008. This extremely generous gesture is made even more impressive due to the fact that Alan himself did not finish his PhD. Indeed, compared to the pressure on scholars to publish today, he wrote comparatively little. Neither did he seek out the limelight or the formal recognition which seem so essential in this competitive profession now.
Alan used his expertise in a less grandiose manner, befitting his personality. Born in Yorkshire, but brought up in Lancashire, he became interested in railways and then all forms of transport at sea. Although shy and not always in good health, his immense knowledge led to a 30-year career at the National Maritime Museum, where he became Historian of the Museum in the early 1970s. Alan was a member of over 30 societies covering rail and maritime transport, naval and maritime interests. He conveyed his expertise across such a wide range of topics through writing articles, reviews, and Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries. At conferences, if a question could not be answered, the call would often go up to ‘Ask Alan’. His name can be found in the written acknowledgements of those who benefitted from his knowledge, and Alan is remembered by a global network of close friends.
One such mentee at the National Maritime Museum was Roger Knight, now Senior Research Fellow at the IHR. After a number of email conversations through which Roger very kindly provided me with a copy of this photograph, we met to discuss Alan’s life and legacy.
Reading Alan’s obituaries I was struck by the description of a kind, humorous and unassuming man. I wanted to know more about his life, and his motivations for assisting a future generation of historians whom he would never get to meet.
It turns out that funding a post-doctoral role on any aspect of naval and maritime history had long been a plan of Alan’s. In the early 1990s he started to discuss the idea with Roger, who was able to assist in creating such a position at the IHR two years after Alan’s death. Dealing with Alan’s estate was no mean feat. Those closest to him recall how, as an essentially impracticable and private man, Alan’s professional and personal papers remained uncatalogued. He also suffered from long term health problems, although these did not prevent him from doing National Service in the Navy out in India after the end of the Second World War. The upshot of Roger’s efforts and Alan’s generosity was the Pearsall Fellowship, which they designed to have a broad remit, in terms of both timeframe and topic. He apparently would have been delighted with the breadth of post-doc projects undertaken thus far.
Alan recognised how the period immediately after the PhD award was a crucial time, especially due to the pressure to begin publishing. As such, I was curious whether Alan received the credit he deserved for his own more understated efforts. While he did see his Imperial Service Order medal as recognition for the efforts of his working life, Roger believes Alan’s legacy is more to do with his inestimable ‘personal worth’. When I asked how he would like to have been remembered, Roger replied that it would have been enough for us to be having a conversation about him, 11 years after his death. I hope that future Alan Pearsall Fellows will continue to have similar discussions as a way of recognising his life and legacy. On a more personal note, I aim to uphold some of Alan’s characteristics: a sense of humour, academic kindness, and a northern accent.
Roger Knight, Obituary: Alan Pearsall (1925-2006), The Mariner’s Mirror, Vol. 92 (August 2006) pp. 260-261.
Roger Knight, Eulogy: Alan Pearsall 27 April 2006, Journal of the Greenwich Historical Society, Vol. 3 (2006) pp. 97-102
Pieter van der Merwe, Obituary: Alan Pearsall: Naval and railway historian, The Independent, 5 June 2006.
Those who read English history in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries encountered significant coverage of Wales. English readers of late fifteenth-century chronicles, however, found little sense of the situation of Wales, even regarding its role in the invasion through Wales of Henry VII, a king with Welsh ancestry. This change suggests there were limits to English fifteenth-century preoccupations with Welsh threats. It also accentuates the significance of the rediscovery of Welsh pasts that took place from the fifteen-thirties, due to the monarchy’s Welsh identity and the importance in English historical writing of men with marcher connections like Richard Grafton and Edward Hall.
The 2017 Historical Research/Wiley lecture was designed to raise some general issues about the nature of ‘civil wars’ as a prelude to a conference that looked at many examples across time and space. It takes the events of the sixteen-forties across Britain and Ireland and notes that very few participants accepted (at least publicly) that they were engaged in one or more civil wars. There was widespread seventeenth-century understanding that the term ‘civil war’ (bellum civile) had been developed in late republican and early imperial Rome but as just one of several terms used to analyse and describe internal wars and conflicts. This article explores the implications of this for our understanding of the first great crisis of the Stuart kingdoms.
This article investigates office-holding and private enterprise in eighteenth-century Sicily through a case study of the activities of Baron de Piro, a native of Malta. Based on documents held in Maltese and Sicilian archives, the article demonstrates how political developments in the kingdom both opened up and circumscribed the opportunities within which an upwardly-mobile household sought its fortune by identifying the social, political and economic contexts in which they operated. In doing so, it delivers insights into the impact of successive regime changes on the socio-economic landscape in Sicily as it passed from the Austrian Habsburgs to the Bourbons of Naples.
Princess Elizabeth Tudor’s holograph letters have long been prized, but often reveal more about her education than about her life before she became queen in 1558. Her scribal letters, by comparison, can offer more matter-of-fact insights into these years, showing how Elizabeth negotiated with the governments of her brother Edward VI and sister Mary I, how she managed her household and estate, and how she sued for property for herself and patronage for her servants. The article presents diplomatic transcriptions of seven scribal letters, written between 1547 and 1556, adding significantly to our understanding of her life during these years.
This article examines the evidence of the early medieval Latin Physiologus manuscripts for compilatory practices within the context of Carolingian ecclesiastical and educational reform in the period c.700–1000. It argues that miscellany manuscripts, in which the Physiologus is exclusively found in this period, represent a conscious and highly organized encyclopaedic drive that created multi-purpose manuals as part of the response to programmatic social change at a local level. Miscellanies are therefore a key and overlooked source for the use of knowledge in monastic writing centres, and for early medieval intellectual history more generally.
When Simon de Montfort took control of the government of England in 1264, he replaced the sheriffs appointed by Henry III. The new sheriffs were relatively obscure and have been little studied. The baronial reform movement raised expectations that sheriffs should be honest, and natives of the counties they governed. De Montfort’s sheriffs largely met these requirements, as their backgrounds and careers demonstrate. Unpublished exchequer records show that they were sometimes surprisingly successful as administrators in a time of disorder. They were men of the knightly class, serving their counties, rather than being ideologically attached to the reform movement.
This article examines how some key Conservative leaders conceptualized the problem of ‘the future’ in the final stages of the Second World War. It contends that the mental map employed by senior Conservatives for navigating the challenges of post-war national renewal has remained significantly misunderstood. The article conducts a close reading of Conservative positions on a range of issues – from economic modernization and constitutional propriety to geopolitical tensions – and highlights some previously neglected dimensions to domestic political debate. It concludes that the arguments developed by Conservative leaders were more sophisticated and coherent than has often been recognized.
Please note: There will be a service for Michael on 14 September at St Helen’s church in Wheathampstead at 3pm. The service will be followed by tea at Anne and Michael’s home in Holly Cottage, Sheepcote Lane, Wheathampstead, A14 8NJ.
It is with very great sadness that the Institute of Historical Research announces the death of Professor F. M. L. (Michael) Thompson who was Director of the Institute between 1977 and 1990. Michael was a much-admired and much-loved historian, teacher and mentor. He was born in 1925 and educated at the Bootham School in York. After war service with the Indian artillery he read History at the Queen’s College, Oxford where he shared rooms with the future historian of the United States, Jack Pole. After taking his doctorate at Oxford he was successively Lecturer and Reader in History at University College, London; Professor and Head of Department at Bedford College, London; and Director of the IHR. He was also a most active figure in the historical profession, serving as President of the Economic History Society (1983-86) and then of the Royal Historical Society between 1988-92. He was editor of the Economic History Review 1968-80, and he gave the Ford Lectures in English History in Oxford in 1995.
His first book, English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (1963) opened up the subject that he was to shape and make his own across the whole of his career, the history of the land, including the history of its owners and tillers, in the modern era. It was a brilliant start, mixing hard economic history with entertaining anecdote in an always lucid style. Michael Thompson went on to publish equally important studies of the landed classes in the twentieth century, the subject of his presidential lectures to the Royal Historical Society; to produce a history of Hampstead, Hampstead: Building a Borough, 1650-1964 (1974) as full of fascinating details and historical byways as is the place itself; to write the social history of the nineteenth century in The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830-1900 (1988); and to publish his Ford Lectures as Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture: Britain 1780-1980 (2001). He was the editor of the 3-volume Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950 (1990). There was even time for a history of the University of London – The University of London and the World of Learning (1990) – which he had graced for the whole of his teaching and research career. All the while he was also publishing articles in learned journals, chapters in books, and delivering formal lectures in which he tried out new ideas and excavated small corners of his very large field. These pieces, some 24 in total, have been collected together and have just appeared in two volumes entitled English Landed Society Revisited published by Edward Everett Root (www.eerpublishing.com). The last of the essays chronologically, a brilliant account of the decline of ‘land’ as a political issue in the early twentieth century, was published as late as 2010 when FML was well into his ‘eighties. It was fitting and altogether satisfying that Michael’s collected essays should have been in his hands a few weeks before his death.
The thoughts and condolences of the whole IHR community are with Anne, Michael’s wife, and all his family.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.