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Thomas Frederick Tout: Refashioning History in the 20th Century


9-10 June 2017, IHR, Wolfson Conference Suite

Thomas Frederick Tout was a remarkable medieval historian who forged the distinctive and distinguished history school at Manchester University in the early years of the twentieth century. His own research made extensive use of the national archives (as opposed to the customary use of chronicle sources) and his major contributions were in the field of administrative history. He was, himself, a tireless administrator of many historical enterprises (including the Dictionary of National Biography) and his historical output was extraordinary. He spent the last four years of his life in London and is buried in Hampstead Parish churchyard. The time is ripe to reconsider his historical legacy.


Speakers include:

  • Ralph A. Griffiths (Swansea University)
  • William Gibson (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Stuart Jones (University of Manchester)
  • Peter Slee (Leeds Becket University)
  • Christopher Godden (University of Manchester)
  • Henry Summerson (ODNB)
  • Ian d’Alton (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Seymour Phillips (University College, Dublin)
  • Paul Dryburgh (The National Archives)
  • Matthew Raven (University of Hull)
  • Jeff Hamilton (Baylor University)
  • Vance Smith (Princeton University)
  • DeLloyd  Guth (University of Manitoba)
  • John McEwan (St. Louis University)
  • Elizabeth Biggs (University of York)
  • Nick Barratt (University of Nottingham)
  • Mark Ormrod (University of York),
  • Joel Rosenthal (Stony Brook University)
  • Tom Sharp (CBE, grandson of T.F.Tout)


For the preliminary conference programme, please click here

Fees apply ( includes all refreshments and lunches on both days)

  • 2-day Full fee: £60
  • 2-day Student/unwaged/retired/ IHR Friend​: £40
  • 1-day Full fee: £35
  • 1-day Student/unwaged/retired/ IHR Friend: £25
 Conference organised by:
Professor Caroline Barron (RHUL) & Professor Joel Rosenthal (Stony Brook University)

Eric Hobsbawm Memorial Lecture 2017


Russia’s Revolution and the Destruction of the Past

Speaker: Catherine Merridale

Annual lecture in memory of Professor Eric Hobsbawm. Catherine Merridale is the author of numerous award-winning books on Russian history. Her latest work, Lenin on the Train (Penguin Books), tells the story of Lenin’s famous journey to Russia in April 1917.

Attendance at this lecture is free, but advanced registration is required

Date: 22 May 2017
The Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House
: 18:00-19:30
Followed by a reception

New reviews: Dutch football, twilight of history, medieval Hungary & tuberculosis


We start this week with Four Histories About Early Dutch Football 1910-1920: Constructing Discourses by Nicholas Piercey. Matthew McDowell and the author discuss a radical post-modern work of sport history (no. 2102, with response here).

Next up is Twilight of History by Shlomo Sand. Beverley Southgate praises an eminently readable book of clear importance for both politics and education (no. 2101).

Then we turn to Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty by Dušan Zupka. Nora Berend reviews a patchy study of rituals and symbolic communication in medieval Hungary (no. 2100).

Finally, we have a response from author Christian McMillen to last week’s review of his Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present (see response here) .

A review of Charles Booth’s London


This post has kindly been written for us by Seif El Rashidi, Project Development Officer for the HLF ‘Layers of London’ Project.

Charles Booth’s London ( is a new digital resource created by the London School of Economics and Political Science as a means of sharing Charles Booth’s great work, his Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the people of London, undertaken between 1886 and 1903.

The Inquiry was a survey of working class London, best known for one of its outcomes: The Booth Poverty Maps, which show poverty levels on a street-by-street basis. What is remarkable about the survey is its thoroughness – it looked at the both working and living conditions, as well as at the religious life of the city, going into an extraordinary level of detail in order to produce simple, clear colour-coding denoting the economic and social status of the residents.  Even more significant is that 450 of Booth’s field books survive, providing rare insights into the lives of Londoners of all walks of life at the end of the Victorian period, as experienced from this ambitious and rigorous first-hand survey. Most of these field books have been digitised and are available as an integral part of this website.

Sample entries include: “Oak Place – flagged passage, gas workers, clean faces, well fed….. (Booth/B/367)

…. “on the side is a common lodging house for women of a disorderly character. Two specimens were parading the street and objurgating the deputy with a very choice selection from their vocabulary.”  (Booth/B/354)

and  “All good working class, Kinnerton is a great street for letting; the public house at the corner of Motcombe Street is used as is the small barber’s shop on the west side. (Booth/B/362)

These illustrate just how valuable this survey is in capturing the life of London at the end of the 19th century, bringing the city alive through brief but telling descriptions, many of which fuel the imagination.  Many of these accounts were obtained by following the police on the beats around different neighbourhoods of the city. Incidentally, the City (capital C) was not included in the survey, which otherwise spans the area from Chiswick to Greenwich, and from south Brixton in the south to Upper Holloway in the north.

The new website is truly a visually-appealing, user-friendly creation, with the contextual blurbs broken down into short paragraphs, providing clear information, and ensuring that all the practicalities, like referencing, are easy to find.  The two main components of the website are the map and the notebooks, the latter with specific sections on Jewish London, Stepney and Bromley Workhouses, and Police notebooks.

Notebook pages are summarised to indicate which streets are mentioned on each page, as well as any other key information, for example:

“Irish inhabitants Paradise Walk. Sloane Court, Burton Court, Queen’s Road….”

Users can search the map by place name. The results appear with three distinct classifications: place names in contemporary usage, 1898 landmarks corresponding to that name, and 1898 parishes. This is just one example showing the thought that has gone into making this website easy to use.  It pre-empts problems that commonly arise in searches for place names on a historic map.

Relevant content from the notebooks appears across the map and is very easy to access. Even better, notebook content has been digitised at an excellent resolution, and can be downloaded and printed. Furthermore, material is in the public domain.

The Highlights section present a thematic selection of excerpts, focusing on drinking and drugs, prostitution, and immigration –evidently a pertinent topic, even then.

Charles Booth’s London is, in many respects, an exemplary project, especially in its aims, and ease of use, omitting the need for lengthy instructions. Many a project could learn volumes from its slickness, and its commitment to sharing valuable information. It is positively helpful – like an enthusiastic and supportive librarian, except digital.  As such, the only shortcomings seem to be trivialities  (that the ‘About’ section is at the bottom of the page, and maybe a brief introductory blurb at the top would have been useful; and that subheadings are not clickable, necessitating lots of ‘Discover’ buttons instead). In spending a good deal of time discovering the work of Charles Booth and his team, my one grievance is that their handwriting was often spidery and hard to read –  with a generous sprinkling of abbreviations like 3 ½ st. (presumably storeys?) To LSE library’s credit is the fact that these are the few anomalies on an otherwise highly-legible website.

An Evening of Food History in the IHR Library


On Monday 15th May, the IHR Library will host an evening dedicated to food history to coincide with the opening of a new exhibition, ‘All the Right Ingredients: Food History Resources in the IHR,’ examining the history of food as revealed by the collections of the IHR Library.

Food has always held a significant role in history, shaping societies and influencing cultures and economies. However, it was only in the twentieth century that the study of food in history was incorporated into the discipline. Similarly, in relation to the IHR itself, food has always held a central role in the Institute with catering available in the Common Room, a formal Dining Club, and a dedicated Institute Tea Fund. This exhibition, and the talks that accompany its launch, therefore aim to highlight how food history can offer new insights into historical narratives.

Food item list with pricesMatthew Shaw, IHR Librarian, will introduce the exhibition and the library’s food history collections. Dr Kelly Spring, Convenor of the Food History Seminar at the IHR, will then open the exhibition with a talk examining the establishment of food studies into the historical discipline and the avenues that this has opened up to researchers. As Dr Spring has noted, ‘a macro-approach to the history of food can be implemented in order to reveal food’s effects on the grand narrative while a micro-level view as part of a micro-historical approach can be utilised to analyse the everyday lives of individuals, groups or communities in connection with food to furnish new insights into history.’ Dr Spring shall draw upon materials from the library’s collections and holdings, whilst also exploring new directions in the discipline of food history.

Following this, Siobhan Morris, Library Officer at the IHR, will talk on the importance of food in the history of the IHR. Siobhan will focus on the history of the IHR Dining Club, tracing its history from its establishment in 1938 to the decision taken to fold the Club in 1956. The talks will be followed by a reception and the opportunity to browse the exhibition and view additional materials from the library’s food history collections and the IHR archive.

The exhibition centres around four display cases, each addressing a different theme. These shall examine the social, cultural, political and economic histories of food through a range of materials in the IHR library collections – including recipes from across Mexico, France and India, soldiers’ diaries, chef’s memoirs, parliamentary acts and household accounts. In addition, a brief history of food in the Institute of Historical Research itself will also be displayed. This shall incorporate conference menus, personal testimonies and archival photographs and documents.

The exhibition will be on display on the third floor of the library and is open to all. Please ask at reception if you would like to visit the display. Further details of the launch event are available here.

Archival photograph of the IHR Common RoomContemporary photograph of the IHR Common Room

Further information on the IHR’s Food History Seminar can be found here: You can also follow the seminar on Twitter: @IHR_FoodHist.

A more detailed history of the Institute’s Dining Club, as published in the IHR’s Past and Future series, can be accessed here.

A guide to the library’s collections on the history of food and drink is also available: 

New reviews: humanitarianism, tuberculosis, Islam and Red Ellen


London Foundling Hospital

We start this week with From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism by Amanda B. Moniz. Eric Herschthal and the author discuss a new and important book for anyone interested in the history of human rights (no. 2099, with response here).

Next up is Christian McMillen’s Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present. Vivek Neelakantan thinks this book should be recommended reading on any course on international health (no. 2098).

Then we turn to Forging Islamic Power and Place: The Legacy of Shayk Da’ud bin ‘Abd Allah al-Fatani in Mecca and Southeast Asia by Frances Bradley. William Noseworthy believes this book provides a rich new analysis of Islam in the context of global history, which will resonate within the walls of the classroom and beyond (no. 2097).

Finally, in the latest of our occasional podcast series, Jordan Landes and Laura Beers chat about the latter’s new biography Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist (no. 2096).

Future Past: researching archives in the digital age


Thursday 18 May 2017, Wolfson Conference Suite, IHR

The IHR and British Records Association (BRA) invite you to attend this one day conference on Thursday 18 May 2017.

This conference aims to promote the understanding and collaboration between archivists and researchers; explore challenges posed by digital access to collections, and improve methodologies (e.g. education/training for researchers in what information is available from online catalogues, how archivists can improve catalogue descriptions so researchers can find relevant records more easily and how you can understand the context of records showing up in searches).

Speakers include:

  • Nick Barrett (Univ of Nottingham)
  • Geoff Browell (Kings College London)
  • Maria Castrillo (Senate House Library)
  • Kathleen Chater
  • Sophie Clapp (Boots)
  • Clare Cowling (IALS)
  • Jo Pugh (TNA & University of York)
  • Tom Scott ( Wellcome Collection)
  • Tamara Thornhill (TFL)
  • Jane Winters (SAS)

For a workshop provisional programme, please click here.

Fees apply

  • Full rate: £35
  • Concession rate: £25 (Student/retired/IHR Friend/BRA member)

Fees include refreshments and lunch

New IHR research guide on Material Culture


History through Material Culture

by Leonie Hannan and Sarah Longair

History through material culture is a unique, step-by-step guide for students and researchers who wish to use objects as historical sources. Responding to the significant scholarly interest in historical material culture studies, this book makes clear how students and researchers ready to use these rich material sources can make important, valuable and original contributions to history.

Written by two experienced museum practitioners and historians, the book recognises the theoretical and practical challenges of this approach and offers clear advice on methods to get the best out of material culture research. With a focus on the early modern and modern periods, this volume draws on examples from across the world and demonstrates how to use material culture to answer a range of enquiries, including social, economic, gender, cultural and global history.


1 Approaches to the material world
2 Planning a research project
3 Developing a methodology
4 Locating sources: understanding museum collections and other repositories
5 Analysing sources
6 Writing up findings

Leonie Hannan is Research Fellow in Eighteenth-Century History at Queen’s University, Belfast
Sarah Longair is Lecturer in the History of Empire at the University of Lincoln


Price: £12.99, pbk.
ISBN: 978-1-7849-9126-5
Published: April 2017

Buy now

New Historical Research articles


Eugenics, socialists and the labour movement in Britain, 1865–1940. David Redvaldsen

This article offers a comprehensive survey of relations between the labour movement, socialists and official eugenic opinion from the late Victorian era to the Second World War. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, it discusses both how the left regarded eugenics and the attempts by the Eugenics Society to gather support from this tendency. Although some socialists wished to utilize eugenics and some eugenists were friendly to labour, it is concluded that only peripheral labour organizations were truly attracted to the doctrine. The article provides a much more nuanced account than does the weight of past scholarship.

‘I was no “master of this work” but a servant to it’? William Laud, Charles I and the making of Scottish ecclesiastical policy, 1634–6.
 Leonie James [Open Access]

William Laud, National Portrait Gallery

Building upon recent scholarship, this article presents a study of policy formation within the composite monarchy of Charles I. Through a scrutiny of the 1636 canons – a crucial but neglected aspect of the ‘Laudian’ programme in Scotland – new light is shed on the contested dynamics of the working partnership between the king and William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury (1633–45). The article also engages with the question of whether Laud can accurately be described as ‘the master’ of religious reform in Scotland and contends that he recast retrospectively his role in policy formation – not just in the canons, but in other, equally controversial, aspects of Scottish policy – thus concealing the true extent of his involvement, by presenting himself as having been a servant, not an agent. Suggesting greater involvement in Scottish affairs than has hitherto been acknowledged, these findings put Laud at the heart of a programme of religious reform that extended across the British churches during the sixteen-thirties.

New reviews: C20 German prisons, medieval Scotland, English law and Russian courts


We start this week with The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany by Greg Eghigian. Janet Weston and the author debate an excellent book which aims to disrupt Anglo-centric versions of penal welfarism (no. 2095, with response here).

Next up is The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124-1290 by Alice Taylor. Toby Salisbury praises an ambitious and thorough first full-length study of 12th- and 13th-century Scottish government (no. 2094).

Then we turn to Martial Law and English Laws, c.1500-c.1700 by John M. Collins. Ian Williams and the author discuss a book which demonstrates the importance of martial law to the English and imperial polity (no. 2093, with response here).

Finally, we have a review of Russia and Courtly Europe: Ritual and the Culture of Diplomacy, 1648-1725 by Jan Hennings. Tatyana Zhukova welcomes a new perspective on the complex relations and direct encounters within the world of princely courts (no. 2092).

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