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Latest reviews – shell shock, world’s fairs, Indian journalism and Europe’s India

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We start this week with Stefanie Linden’s They Called it Shell Shock. Combat Stress in the First World War. Michael Robinson and the author discuss a book of great interest to shell shock historians, specialists in trauma studies, and those interested in the social and cultural effects of the First World War (no. 2151, with response here).

Next up is Adam Matthew’s World’s Fairs: A Global History of Exhibitions. Anthony Swift profiles a valuable digital resource for those interested in the history of design, technology, architecture, imperialism, nationalism, gender, anthropology, consumer culture and more (no. 2150).

Then we turn to Amelia Bonea’s The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India. Anindita Ghosh praises a rich and informative book that opens out the way for further and interesting research into telegraphy and journalism (no. 2149).

Finally we have Europe’s India – Words, People, Empires, 1500-1800 by Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Tiraana Bains believes this book weaves together engaging narratives of early modern itinerancy and encounter with incisive criticism of existing historiographical grand narratives (no. 2148).

The king of King’s Cross

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The past decade has seen the rise of a vast property development in the King’s Cross district of central London. As its residential zone nears completion, Dr Philip Carter considers the life of Henry Croft – founder of the Pearly Kings, and a late-Victorian resident of King’s Cross – who features in the development’s marketing campaign. Recreating Henry’s life story owes much to a growing range of digitised resources now shaping microhistorical and prosopographical approaches to the past.

Step out of Senate House in Bloomsbury and you quickly encounter some exclusive real estate. Bedford, Russell, Gordon and Tavistock squares were among the most prestigious property developments of the late-18th and early 19th centuries, and their elegant terraces remain highly desirable. Keep walking from Tavistock Square and you come across their 21st-century equivalent, just north of King’s Cross station.

Read the full post on the School of Advanced Studies’ Talking Humanities blog.

Discover vampires and more at History Day: Vampires at the UCL SSEES Library

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This blog post was written by Dr Wojciech Janik, Assistant Librarian at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library. It is cross-posted from the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services blog. It is one of a series of blog posts on the theme of Magic and the Supernatural, as part of the History Day 2017 event on 31st October.

UCL SSEES Library is very happy to participate in History Day 2017. We will be contributing to the Day alongside number of libraries which hold collections that are particularly strong in the field of History. The History Day will take place on the 31st of October at Senate House, University of London. As the date coincides with Halloween, the organisers of the Day propose to use this opportunity and to “celebrate all that is scary, eerie and magical in libraries and archives”.

[Trans-sylvania.Hondius,Jodocus, 1563-1612. Probably from an English ed. of Hondius’ Atlas minor (1635, 1637 or 1639). Map 189. From the collections of UCL SSEES Library. Copyright UCL Library Services, 2010, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England and Wales Licence. For further information on this Licence please refer to: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/%5D]

At UCL SSEES Library we decided to take this opportunity to focus on vampires! Although it may sound a bit unusual, we actually do have quite strong collection on vampires. In fact UCL SSEES runs a course for our students entitled: Vampires, society and culture: Transylvania and beyond. If you would like to tuck into the subject, you can find the complete reading list here.

But what actually are vampires? According to Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic myth and legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy (the book is kept at SSEES: Gen.Slav.REF 3-e DIX) “the name itself is borrowed from the Serbian vampir, which is in turn related to the Turkish word ubir, “undead”, though some sources assert an association with the Slavic upir. In certain cases, the vampire had the ability to shift shape at will, its favourite animal manifestation being the wolf, although bats were also common. These vampires were known as vukodlak, which literally translates as “wolf’s hair”, a word that is still in common usage. Common superstition still holds that when a werewolf dies it becomes a vampire”[1].

The most well-known vampire character is of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula, whose archetype was Prince Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. In SSEES Library we have everything you may want to know about Dracula starting with Bram Stoker’s book Dracula (Misc.XXIV.7 STO). If you would like to know more about the origins of the book, please check The origins of Dracula : the background to Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece, edited by Clive Leatherdale (Misc.XXIV.7 STO ORI). Want to know more about Vlad Tapes the historical figure? Check Vlad the Impaler : in search of the real Dracula by M.J. Trow (Rou.IX.c TRO), or perhaps you are looking for a straight forward answer? Then maybe Dracula : sense & nonsense by Elizabeth Miller (Misc.XXIV.7 STO MIL) can help.

Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory (born in 1560) may be a lesser known vampiric figure. However it is enough to say that she has been described as “the most vicious female serial killer in all recorded history”[2] . If you would like to know more please check for example the following books: The bloody countess by Valentine Penrose (H.IX.c PEN) or Dracula was a woman: in search of the blood countess of Transylvania by Raymond T. McNally (Rou.IX.c MAC).

Of course there is much more in Eastern European folklore and mythology than vampires. If you are interested, please check for example A bibliography of Slavic mythology by Mark Kulikowski (Gen.Slav.II KUL), Russian myths by Elizabeth Warner (R.VIII WAR), The gods of the ancient Slavs : Tatishchev and The beginnings of Slavic mythology by Myroslava T. Znayenk (Gen.Slav.XVII ZNA), Mother Russia: the feminine myth in Russian culture by Joanna Hubbsand (R.XVIII HUB) and many others.

Finally if you would like to read about the Eastern Europe as seen by various travellers in XVI – XIX centuries, why not check out our digital collection of travel books? It contains a selection of printed accounts, dating from 1557 to 1860, focusing on journeys in Central Europe, South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. You can find more than three hundreds books here.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the History Day on 31st October!

Notes:

[1] Mike Dixon-Kennedy, Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend / Mike Dixon-Kennedy. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 298.

[2] Richard Cavendish: A vicious killer died on August 21st, 1614. In: History Today. Volume 64. Issue 8 August 2014 (http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-countess-elizabeth-bathory accessed on 02/09/2017)

Latest from Reviews in History – slavery, C19 America, Ancient Greece and factory fire

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We start this week with Alice Rio’s Slavery After Rome, 500-1100. Shami Ghosh and the author discuss one of the central questions in the historiography of early medieval Western Europe: how did the transition from slavery to serfdom take place? (no. 2147, with response here)

Next up is Divided Sovereignties: Race, Nationhood, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America by Rochelle Zuck. Nathan Cardon enjoys a book which puts politics and nation-making back into the conversation on 19th-century race and identity (no. 2146).

Then we turn to Johana Hannink’s The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity. Helen Roche praises a triumph of popularisation which should provide a fruitful starting-point for more detailed surveys (no. 2145).

Finally we have See You In The Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Ruth Sergel. Chloe Ward reviews a book which recounts the author’s attempts to commemorate the fire through a series of interlinked art projects-cum-social interventions (no. 2144).

Furniture history: the digital future

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This editorial originally appeared in the Burlington Magazine.

NEXT YEAR IS the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Chippendale, an event that will be marked in his native county by an exhibition at Leeds City Museum.1 The story of the study of Chippendale, perhaps the only furniture designer and maker whose name is instantly recognisable to a majority of the public, would be an interesting topic to research as it would shed light on the development of furniture history as a scholarly discipline in Britain. A turning-point was the foundation in 1964 of the Furniture History Society (FHS), and the publication from 1965 of its journal, Furniture History. Its 1968 volume was devoted to Chippendale (as its 2018 volume will be also). This included an article by Nicholas Goodison on archival material at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, relating to the designer, which was linked to a catalogue of the Chippendale furniture in the house, published as two articles in this Magazine by the same author, with Lindsay Boynton.2 The collaboration between the FHS and this Magazine was reinforced by the November 1969 issue, devoted entirely to articles by members of the Society. This was intended to demonstrate that furniture studies should be part of professional art history, and that the work of a leading furniture designer and craftsman deserved all the academic rigour that was taken for granted in the study of painters and sculptors. With the publication in 1978 of Christopher Gilbert’s two-volume monograph on Chippendale, that ambition was amply fulfilled.3

The study of British furniture could have proceeded entirely on such traditional monographic lines, but in fact that approach became subsidiary to a broader study of the furniture trade in all its aspects. This new direction owed a great deal to the publication by the FHS in 1986 of The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660–1840, edited by Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert. Its fifty thousand entries, assembled largely on the basis of information from the Society’s members, supply a brief history of each maker, with notes on documentary and other sources. This is an invaluable resource, but it has always been acknowledged that it represents only a fraction of the information that could be drawn out of the documentary record. To take just one example, the Dictionary contains the names of about five hundred London furniture makers at work between 1660 and 1725, but in a recent Ph.D. thesis Laurie Lindey was able to list twelve thousand names for the period 1640–1720.4

For some years it has been clear that the way forward was the establishment of a digital database to replace the Dictionary. This is now being undertaken by the British and Irish Furniture Makers Online Project (BIFMO). Announced last October, this is a collaboration between the FHS and the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH) at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. The first phase, due to go online on 30th September, is an open-access searchable database of all the entries from the Dictionary, together with the names from Lindey’s thesis. The project, which is being overseen at the IHR by Lindey as a post-doctoral research fellow, working with Mark Merry, acting director of the CMS, is highly ambitious. As well as extending the coverage to Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it aims to include other parts of the world from which British craftsmen originated or where local makers were influenced by British practices or immigrants. It also plans to extend the chronological range, initially to 1900 and eventually to the present day. The cost of the project’s first five years of operation is estimated to be £365,000, which will fund the post-doctoral research fellowship, additional junior research scholars, technical costs and related events, such as study days and conferences. Of this, £55,000 has already been pledged and the first year of operation has been temporarily underwritten by the FHS. It is to be hoped that funds can readily be found for a project that promises to reshape the future of British furniture studies.5

At present, none of the twelve thousand names in Lindey’s thesis can be associated with a known work. One of the many exciting possibilities raised by BIFMO, which will be illustrated, is that it will allow the names of makers to be linked to surviving furniture. For this to be achieved, catalogues of furniture must themselves be digitised. In England, a lead has been set by the National Trust, which in 2015 undertook a three-year Furniture Research Project. Funded by the Royal Oak Foundation and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, this is paying for additional staff to research and catalogue the Trust’s collection of furniture – which, with some 55,000 items, is the largest in the world in single ownership. Here again, funding will be sought, as it would be deeply regrettable if the project were allowed to lapse in 2018. Some eleven thousand furniture entries in the Trust’s online catalogue have already been fully revised.6 Among them will be the entries on Chippendale, in time for his three hundredth anniversary – an event that will, thanks to digital technology, coincide with advances in furniture history that may one day seem as significant as the launch of the FHS.

1 Thomas Chippendale: A Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 1718–2018, Leeds City Museum, 9th February–10th June 2018. For details of the exhibition, and of other anniversary events, go to www.chippendale300.co.uk.

2 L. Boynton and N. Goodison: ‘The furniture of Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory – I and II’, THE BURLINGTON MAGAZINE 111 (1969), pp.281–85 and pp.351–60.

3 Reviewed by Geoffrey de Bellaigue in this Magazine, 122 (1980), pp.440–42. Another significant event was the foundation in 1965 of the Chippendale Society.

4 L. Lindey: ‘The London Furniture Trade 1640–1720’, unpublished Ph.D. diss. (Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 2015).

5 Potential donors are asked to contact Keith Nicholls at the FHS: finance@furniturehistorysociety.

org.

6 www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk.

Baseball…it’s just not cricket: baseball and British and Irish history

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Baseball and British history – not, you think, a natural pairing. It’s then surprising to learn that there are enough references to baseball in BBIH to warrant a blog.

A woodcut from “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” (1744) England, showing a reference to baseball

There is little on the development of the sport, unlike the lengthy discussions available on the development of football (the association not the American kind).

Highlights from the collection include the nationalistic and sneering response to the game, such as “That’s your way of playing rounders, isn’t it”? The response of the English press to American baseball tours to England, 1874-1924”. The sporting coverage is also explored in Embracing sporting news in England and America: nineteenth-century cricket and baseball news (a chapter in Anglo-American media interactions, 1850-2000).

There is some material on London including Baseball in East London before the war, British baseball and the West Ham club: history of a 1930s professional team in East London and A very peculiar practice: the London Baseball League, 1906-1911.

Picking up on imperial themes, there’s Why baseball, why cricket? Differing nationalisms, differing challenges which asks why India and Pakistan play cricket and the USA does not. A night at Delmonico’s: the Spalding baseball tour and the imagination of Empire looks at parts of the tour by Albert Spalding, particularly the contrasting results of the visits to Australia and Britain, while Similar economic histories, different industrial structures: transatlantic contrasts in the evolution of professional sports leagues contrasts the histories of the English Football League and the National Baseball League.

The issue of class is raised in “Poor man’s cricket”: baseball, class and community in south Wales c.1880-1950 which documents the origins of the sport in south Wales and its development that was said to be ‘slowly ingratiating itself into the favour of the masses’ and became part of the local popular culture.

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.

 

Mexico-United States relations: The Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

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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 marks the first in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, beginning with the Mexican-American War.

The Mexican–American War, also known as the Mexican War, or Intervención estadounidense en México (American Intervention in Mexico), was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory in spite of its de facto secession in the 1836 Texas Revolution.

The first work being highlighted in this blog post is the Memoirs of José Francisco Palomares by José Francisco Palomares. 

These memoirs date from 1846 to 1848 and the library’s copy is translated from the manuscript in the Bancroft Library by Thomas Workman Temple II. In this first-person narrative, Palomares recounts one of the many military campaigns he launched in California during the 1800s against indigenous people.


Correspondence between the Secretary of War and General Scottmessage of the President of the United States, transmitting the correspondence between the Secretary of War and Major General Scott, with the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th instant.

This 63-page document dates from the outset of the War in April 1848 to November 1846, and details the correspondence between the Secretary of War, W.L. Marcy, and Major General Scott.


The Websters : letters of an American army family in peace and war, 1836-1853 by Van R. Baker.

This work offers information on life in the Army and the practices of the War Department, and focuses on the correspondence between Lucien Webster, a career army officer, and his wife Frances Smith. It contains a series of letters and memoirs that provide firsthand accounts of the Mexican-American War.


Chronicles of the gringos : the U.S. Army in the Mexican War, 1846-1848; accounts of eyewitnesses & combatants, edited, with introd., commentaries, and notes, by George Winston Smith & Charles Judah.

This work assembles the eyewitness accounts and letters written by the Gringo (American) soldiers and those close to them. It delves into what happened behind the scenes during the Mexican-American War, such as the daily life of the soldiers, their view of Mexico and its people and how they viewed each other.


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

Notice of closure of areas within IHR library: 8-10 August

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There will be some disruption and short-term closure of parts of the IHR library during the period 8th – 10th August while we have some extra shelving installed. A more precise timetable will be available nearer the time. Library staff will assist with access to collections within the affected areas. There will be unaffected areas for readers to work at all times.

The areas affected are:

  • Lower ground reading room: this room will be completely closed for the whole period.
  • Foyle room Floor 1: some noise and short-term closure.
  • Wohl Library Floor 1: this room won’t be closed but there will be some disruption.
  • North American room Floor 2: some noise and short-term closure.
  • 3rd floor reading room: short term closure.

Sorry for any inconvenienced caused. We will try to ensure that disturbance is kept to a minimum.

New Historical Research articles

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Image: Wikipedia

‘Reformation’ or ‘ruin’? The impeachment of the duke of Buckingham and early Stuart politics. David Coast

This article challenges the influential revisionist interpretation of the impeachment of the duke of Buckingham in the parliament of 1626. It argues that Buckingham’s enemies sought to remove him from power rather than ‘reform’ his errors or reach a compromise settlement whereby he would give up some offices. It explores the relationship between M.P.s and their patrons in the house of lords, the ideological and religious significance of the impeachment and the reasons for the dissolution, arguing that the attack on Buckingham was much more radical, polarizing and uncompromising than has previously been acknowledged.

Negotiating public history in the Republic of Ireland: collaborative, applied and usable practices for the profession. Thomas Cauvin, Ciaran O’Neill

Since the nineteen-seventies public history has emerged as an increasingly coherent discipline in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and, latterly, in a wider European context. In all of these places it has had a connected but distinctly different gestation, and the nature of how history is applied, constructed, proffered or sold for public consumption is unique to each society. In Ireland, and within the history profession connected to it, its meaning is yet to be fully explored. Recent talks, symposia and conferences have established the term in the public imagination. As it is presently conceived public history in Ireland either relates specifically to commemorative events and the effect historians might have on official discourse relating to them, or to a series of controversial and contested historiographical debates. This article, by contrast, seeks a wider, more inclusive definition that includes the ‘public’ as an actor in it.

Viking re-enactors at the Battle of Clontarf millennium commemoration, Saint Anne’s Park, Dublin, April 19th 2014

Latest from Reviews in History – Huguenots, civil wars, communes and medieval Venice

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We start this week with Facing the Revocation: Huguenot Families, Faith and the King’s Will by Carolyn Chapelle Lougee. Raymond Mentzer enjoys a highly original set of insights into the uncertainties and burdens that French Protestants encountered as they confronted the royal proscription of their ancestral religion (no. 2143).

Next up is David Armitage’s Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. John Collins speculates that this new book might cause a revolution within the discipline, possibly preceded by civil war…(no. 2142).

Then we turn to Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism 1917-1932 by Andy Willimott. James Ryan believes this to be an excellent book that deserves to be read widely by all those interested in early Soviet history (no. 2141).

Finally Georg Christ reviews two resources which make precious sets of data accessible in a durable, easy and useful way – CIVES: citizenship privileges in Venice, 1180-1500 and ESTIMO: the Venetian fiscal roster of 1379 (no. 2140)

See our full list of reviews here

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