Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Jan 2020 update

The latest update to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – published 9 January 2020 – adds biographies of 228 men and women who died in 2016, and who left their mark on British national life. Of these, the earliest born is the author E.R. Braithwaite (1912-2016) and the latest born is the geriatrician and campaigner for compassionate care in health services, Kate Granger (1981-2016).

It was often remarked at the time that 2016 was the worst year ever for what were termed ‘celebrity deaths’, and there are many new entries that provide corroboration for this lament. David Bowie (real name David Robert Jones) and George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) were both global celebrities, who not only shaped and transformed popular music, but also challenged conventional attitudes to sexuality and gender identities. The release also contains a number of popular TV personalities and presenters, notably Sir Terry Wogan, Sir Jimmy Young, and comedian Ronnie Corbett.

The political lives included are in contrast hardly figures of the first rank, let alone celebrities. Cecil Parkinson was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher’s, but his wayward private life meant he never achieved the highest office, while Thatcher derided Jim Prior as one of the ‘wets’ in her cabinet. More poignantly, is the tragic figure of Jo Cox, sadly murdered during the 2016 referendum campaign at the age of only 41.

Scholars and scientists include forensic scientist Margaret Pereira, historian Asa Briggs, Baron Briggs, and chemist Sir Harry Kroto. As ever, we have a free selection of these new entries, together with a full list of the new biographies

Dr. Anders Ingram, Research Editor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Trials: Border and Migration Studies Online / Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996

Our colleague Sarah Rhodes (International Development, Forced Migration, African and Commonwealth Subject Consultant, SSL) has arranged two trials which might be of interest to historians.

They can be accessed either via SOLO and searching for the database title, or via the Databases A-Z. To get full functionality you will first need to sign into SOLO with your Single Sign On (SSO).

Border and Migration Studies Online (Alexander Street) (trial until 5 Feb)

This resource provides historical context and resources, representing both personal and institutional perspectives, for the growing fields of border(land) studies and migration studies, as well as history, law, politics, diplomacy, area and global studies, anthropology, medicine, the arts, and more. At completion, the collection will include 100,000 pages of text, 175 hours of video, and 1,000 images. In collaboration with an international board of scholars, materials have been selected and organized around fundamental themes such as: Border Identities, enforcement and control; human trafficking; Undocumented migration; and Global Governance of migration. This database covers the 19th to the 21st centuries.

The geographical coverage includes borders in the North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996 (Readex) (trial until 7 Feb)

For wide-ranging perspectives on human migration that stretch far beyond the borders of the United States, Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996, is an unparalleled new resource. This fully searchable digital archive includes first-hand accounts from reputable sources around the world, covering such important events as post-World War II Jewish resettlement, South African apartheid, Latin American migrations to the United States and much more. The news and analysis is based on daily FBIS reports gathered between the early 1940s to the mid-1990s by a U.S. government organization that became part of the CIA, and also includes radio and television broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals and government documents.

Please direct feedback to sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk by the end of January.

Related subscription resources:

New: Presidential Recordings Digital Addition

[re-blogged from Bethan Davies’ VHL Blog post of 13. Dec 2019.]

I am pleased to announce that the Vere Harmsworth Library, in partnership with the Social Science Library, have purchased online access to the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition for the University.

The Presidential Recordings Programme (PRP), was established by The Miller Center in 1998. Its aim was to make the previously secret taped conversations of six consecutive American Presidents (FDR to Richard Nixon) available for researchers. Covering historical events such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam and Watergate, the tapes offer “a unique and irreplaceable source for the study of U.S. history and American government.”

Previously, Oxford researchers could only access the curated transcripts hosted on the Miller Centre’s website. Now, through the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford researchers can access the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition (PRDE), the online portal for annotated transcripts of the White House tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon era. This includes a searchable database that allows full text searches for specific phrases and terms. It also includes options to filter search results based on dates, participants and topics. The PRDE is continually being updated with new transcripts and recordings, as they become available.

Similar Resources:

If you would like any advice on using our databases or resources, please contact the Vere Harmsworth Librarian, Bethan Davies bethan.davies@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Bodleian New History Books: December 2019 – Marginality

Bodleian New History Books: December 2019: Marginality

In a working paper on the root causes of extreme poverty, Gatzweiler et al. (2011) define marginality as “an involuntary position and condition of an individual or group at the margins of social, political, economic, ecological, and biophysical systems”. Any individual or subgroup located outside the predominant socio-economic, geographical or even biological systems of a society, or anyone who appears to deviate in any way from the perceived norms of the “mainstream” or “core group” of a population, may thus become marginalised, and subject to social exclusion.

The reasons for such marginalisation, social exclusion, and resulting alienation, are copious and varied, ranging from a person’s race, skin colour, and ethnic origin, to their religious affiliation, sexual preferences, educational status and social class, way of life, political opinion, physical appearance or bodily and mental health, all the way to age or gender. It thus affects groups as diverse as racial, ethnical or religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, the working class, drug users or sex workers, ex-convicts or institutional care leavers, people with a disability or simply divergent body shape, the elderly of both genders, or women of any age.

Individuals or groups affected by such social exclusion are prevented from participating fully in the economic, social, and political life of the society in which they live – in Dworkin and Dworkin’s Minority Report (1982) the two main characteristics of “identifiability” and “group awareness” of such societally marginalised minorities go hand in hand with two more characteristics of “differential power” and “differential and pejorative treatment”. However, continued pejorative treatment of a marginal or minority group by a society can also result in active opposition against such exclusion – in the form of protests, demonstrations or lobbying, or, in extreme cases, violent resistance, revolts, revolutions, and anarchism.

Minority studies have a firm place in both sociological and historical studies – for one, what exactly a society, whether contemporary or historical, considers its “mainstream” norms or “core groups”, as well as how it treats non-conformists, marginal groups, and outcasts, can be highly informative and enlightening for sociologists and historians. For another, there is a long overdue and welcome movement to acknowledge the importance – or, if you want, the centrality – of marginal groups for our understanding of history. With Black History Month (1st-31st October) just past, and Disability History Month (22nd November – 22nd December) ongoing, it seems certainly fitting to highlight in this month’s blog some of our new history books which discuss humans, whether individuals or groups, on the margins of historic societies – marginalised because of the state of their mind or body, because beliefs they hold are considered heretical and unorthodox, because of their gender, or because they do not fit (or want to fit) into a certain political or societal system.

Marginalities of Mind and Body

Throughout the course of history, sadly up to and including the 20th century, societies have for the most part not been kind to anyone with bodily or mental disabilities, or mental disorders. In Viewing Disability in Medieval Spanish Texts Connie L. Scarborough looks at examples of disability in relationship to legal precepts, medical knowledge, and especially theological teachings in Spanish medieval miracle narratives, hagiographies, didactic tales, and epic poetry. When viewed through the lens of religion, disabled individuals would usually be seen as “disgraced”, the disability viewed as an outward sign of inward corruption – but also occasionally as “graced”, when for example a miraculous cure showed evidence of divine intervention. A similar exception, where an unorthodox mental state translated into a “graced” rather than a “disgraced” state, exists in the case of medieval mystics such as the ultimately self-marginalised anchorite Julian of Norwich: Amy Laura Hall’s Laughing at the Devil examines Julian’s calls to scorn rather than fear the devil, thus fostering hope, solidarity, and resistance instead of dread in her contemporary audience.

A rather different treatment was accorded to those individuals with mental health issues who were inmates of the infamous Bedlam: London’s Hospital for the Mad over the first 700 years of its long history. Paul Chambers traces the hospital’s administrative, political, and medical  history from its founding in the 13th century through its popularity in the 17th, 18th and early 19th century to a modern institute of the NHS today. A final volume on the topic of marginalities of mind and body treats a group of individuals who are strictly speaking still marginalised due to “bodily differences” – Caroline Callard’s Le temps des fantômes tries to identify the place of the “corporeally challenged”, of ghosts or spirits, in the society of the Ancien Régime of the 16th and 17th centuries. Having survived the advent of natural philosophy, a belief in ghosts continued to form part of human existence both in everyday life and in scholarly and political discourse, forcing the living to engage with the dead – whether in order to banish unwanted hauntings, to communicate with deceased with valuable information, or even to encourage the continued presence of lost loved ones in their lives.

Marginalities in Science

Just as with unorthodox states of body or mind, unorthodox ideas have historically clashed with the norms of society – and innovations of science particularly have a long history of conflict with the teachings of established religions, resulting in the persecution, banishment, imprisonment, excommunication, or even execution of the scientists who promoted them.

Heliocentrism is a case in point – the nine essays in the collection Copernicus Banned thematise the causes, promotion, aftermath, and various philosophical, theological, political and cultural aspects of the discussions that arose around the decree issued by the Holy Office of the Catholic Church on 5 March 1616, which condemned De revolutionibus orbium caelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus 75 years after his death. Rather more directly affected by the decree was, 17 years later, another even more famous heliocentrist, whose nonconformist worldview similarly resulted in his societal marginalisation. The condemnation of Copernicanism is generally acknowledged to have been an essential element of the trial of Galileo Galilei, and the recent re-issue of Oppositori di Galileo, part of Antonio Favaro’s vast oeuvre, still offers the reader hints, insights and essential documents for the understanding of this fascinating figure more than a century after its first publication. Controversies and social exclusions arising from pushing the boundaries of medicine rather than astronomy in Reformation Germany are then discussed in Hannah Murphy’s A New Order of Medicine. Focus of her study are the careers of municipal physicians who practiced subversive anatomical experimentations, displacing apothecaries from their place at the forefront of medical practice, and establishing an elite medical order in the German city of Nuremberg.

Marginal Women

That living on the margins of, distanced, or largely closed off from society does not necessarily mean disempowerment is an issue raised by Steven Vanderputten in Dark Age Nunneries, which examines life and society in and around forty female monastic communities in Lotharingia in the years 800-1050. Vanderputten highlights the striving of these women for agency as religious communities, as well as for involvement in and influence over the attitudes and behaviours of the lay society around them. A similar struggle for female agency is documented by Lisa Hopkins in Women on the Edge in Early Modern Europe, which examines the lives of women whose gender impeded the exercise of their personal, political, and religious action, with an emphasis on the conflict that occurred when they crossed the restraints society placed on people of their gender – from the French chemist Marie Meurdrac, author of the women’s chemistry primer La chymie charitable et facile, en faveur des dames, to the alleged prophetess Anna Trapnell of 1650s England, to Queen Cecilia of Sweden.

Resistance against a denial of, and efforts to reclaim their political rights are also the issue for the women in Martine Lapied’s L’engagement politique des femmes dans le sud-est de la France de l’Ancien Régime à la Révolution. Lapied examines material from Provençal and Comtadine archives and local historiography to asses the role of women in public spaces in both Old Regime and after the turning point of the Revolution, when women patriots started to assert themselves and participate in the Revolution as well as in the politics of the Terror. Marginalized French women are also the subject of Patricia Tilburg’s Working Girls, which discusses female labourers in the garment trade of fin de siècle Paris, who faced political and sexual subordination. The working lives of these women, from the romanticised haute couture workers called midinettes to the over 80,000 real working women and their demands for better labour conditions, are vividly illustrated by primary sources ranging from letters to speeches, from union meeting minutes to travel guides, and from policy briefs to popular songs.

Marginalities in politics and society

Marginalisation through one’s position within a political system means being pushed to those margins through the neglect or disregard of those in political power – and occasionally taking arms against a sea of troubles through passive or active opposition against the system.

The essays collected in A Global History of Runaways discuss groups marginalised by race and geography as well as class and social status, but unwilling to tolerate this marginalisation and resulting enforced labour: slaves, indentured servants, convicts, domestic workers, soldiers, and sailors challenged the new economic order of emerging Capitalism by running away from their masters and bosses in the British, Danish, Dutch, French, Mughal, Portuguese, and American empires from 1600 to 1850. From escaped convicts in the Danish West Indies and Australia, to deserters in Bengal, French Louisiana and the Dutch East India Company, the essays chart the consequences of these movements for larger political events such as undermining Danish colonization in the 17th century, or igniting the American civil war in the 19th. More resistance by a marginalised group against the established political system, though here extreme and violent, is the topic of Nunzio Pernicone’s and Fraser Ottanelli’s Assassins against the Old Order. The authors chart the historical, social, cultural, and political conditions behind the phenomenon of anarchist violence in Italy around the turn of the 20th century. In an effort to expose the myth and discredit the exaggerated, demonic image of the anarchist assassin in the popular stereotype of an “Italian” armed with a bloody knife or revolver and driven to violence by a combination of radical politics, madness, innate criminality, and poor genes, Pernicone and Ottanelli strive to paint a rather more accurate picture of the intellectual origins, milieu, and nature of Italian anarchist violence with vivid portraits of some of the major players of the movement.

Suppression of marginal groups through exclusion from political debate, and their eventual demarginalisation through political re-engagement, is the topic of Sarah Haßdenteufel’s Neue Armut, Exklusion, Prekarität. The study raises the issue of the disappearance of poverty not in real life, but as a topic of political debate in the wake of economic growth in Germany and France in the second half of the 20th century, and with this disappearance the exclusion of citizens marginalised by poverty from the social and political agenda. Only after around 1970s the issue of “new poverty” despite the expansion of the welfare state, and its causes and possible remedies, re-enters political discussion, and Haßdenteufel analyses the semantics used and the idea of poverty and the poor presented in this new debate of a long-neglected topic. The final volume I would like to highlight in this blog deals with individuals marginalised and neglected by history, historians and historiography – in Vies oubliées Arlette Farge rediscovers these “forgotten lives” from snippets of information in archives ignored and rejected by historians, using these snapshots to reconstruct the social, emotional and political lives of priests, policemen, women, workers, servants, and artisans from the margins of history in 18th-century France, and revealing images of the human body at work or in pain, the human mind in care and in revolt, and words of love and desire, violence and compassion.

You can find more books on the topic on our virtual bookshelf on LibraryThing tagged with “marginalitiy” or “minorities“.

Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates (Mon. 27 January 2-5pm)

We are pleased to announce that bookings are now being taken for the Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates which will take place on Monday 27 January 2-5pm, South School, Exam Schools, OX1 4BG (map).

This free event is an excellent opportunity for Humanities postgraduate students to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

In a single place you get to meet lots of experts at the same time. You can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools.

Secure your goody bag and book a place now.

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Humanities.

 

40+ stalls

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)
  • Take part in the live historical printing with the Centre for the Study of the Book
  • Relax with a cup of tea at the Student Wellbeing stall and try your hand at fiendish Bodleian jigsaw puzzle

A series of talks on Digital Humanities will accompany the Fair.

If you have any enquiries, please email humanitiesresearchfair@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This event is kindly sponsored by

Bodleian New History Books: November 2019 – Into the 21st Century

Bodleian New History Books: November 2019 – Into the 21st Century

When do contemporary affairs become “history”?

“The increase in the velocity of history means, among other things, that the ‘present’ becomes the ‘past’ more swiftly than ever before.” Thus the American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in his address to the American Historical Association – in 1967. Schlesinger ascribes the reason for this acceleration of the rate the world is changing to human innovation:

“The transformations wrought by science and technology have acquired a cumulative momentum and an exponential effect, rushing us along by geometric, not arithmetic, progression.”

If this exponential effect of change through technology and science, and the resulting increase in the “velocity of history”, was thus a concern already at his time, at not even three quarters through the 20th century, over a decade before the invention of the internet, a good quarter of a century before email and the WWW started being used widely, and forty years before the first iPhone hit the market – how much more so do we need to be concerned about it in our age of almost daily technological innovations, ubiquitous smartphones, and especially readily available online newspapers and reporters’ blogs and tweets?

Both reporting and analytical writing can already hardly keep up with events as they happen – and at what point do “journalism”, “comment” and “analysis” become “historical writing”? Undeniably, “contemporary history” ends with the present – but by the time the historian’s analysis of events is concluded, never mind by the time their book or article is ready for publication and accessible to the public, the present has long since become the past. Trying to write the history of the present is a futile endeavour – Michael Burleigh’s 2017 book The best of times, the worst of times: a history of now, where today this “now” is already over two years out of date, clearly shows the hazard of including words like “now”, “to the present”, “contemporary”, or “recent” in the title of any history book. It is no wonder that even the most “contemporary” module in “modern history” offered by the Faculty of History here at Oxford only covers events up to and including the year 2000.

Contemporary historical writings, or the writing of contemporary history, can thus not really reflect the information explosion we have experienced since the beginning of the 21st century – SOLO lists over 8,000 physical items and over 10,000 electronic resources with the combined subjects of “21st century” and “history”. This may sound impressive, but is really not all that much compared to the nearly 120,000 books on the history of the 20th century (even if you take into account that the 21st century is so far only a fifth as long as the 20th century has been). This imbalance is certainly reflected in the new books on the subject of 21st century history that have arrived at the Bodleian over the last year: our LibraryThing tag page for “21st century” contains a mere 66 titles, only 44 of which were added since January 2019 – as compared to 1426 titles tagged with “20th century”, with 474 new books arrived since the beginning of the year.

But even among the books tagged with 21st-century history, only very few deal exclusively with events in the 21st century. Some exceptions are Beatrice Heuser’s Brexit in History, Peter Frankopan’s The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World, or Deported to Death: How Drug Violence is Changing Migration on the US-Mexico Border by Jeremy Slack. The majority of books tagged with “21st century”, however, are also tagged with “20th century”, “19th century”, “18th century” or even all the way back to “17th century” and “16th century”. Many of these volumes are expressly written or published on the occasion of some anniversary of the past events or subject they discuss, whether a semicentennial as in Ken M. Wharton’s Torn Apart: Fifty Years of the Troubles, 1969-2019, a centenary as in Paul Beaver’s The Royal Air Force: The First One Hundred Years, or even three centuries as in Rainer Vollkommer’s 1719 – 2019, 300 Jahre Fürstentum Liechtenstein.

A number of the new books on the shelves this November similarly cover events leading up to and including the 21st century, alongside a few which discuss exclusively 21st -century history, and books from both these categories are the volumes I would like to highlight in this month’s blog.

Two of the new books deal with truly contemporary social issues in Europe. Romaric Godin’s La guerre sociale en France examines issues of the neoliberal movement, capitalism, democracy, and authority, and Emmanuel Macron’s striving, and failing, to balance economics and social pressures in 2019 France. Jay Rosselini’s The German New Right takes on a similarly serious social crisis in Germany, the populist movement that rejects cosmopolitanism, globalisation and multiculturalism, and values tradition over innovation and change, and thus gave rise to such organisations as the Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) political party and the citizens’ group of “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” (PEGIDA). Rosselini’s book aims to provide a portrait of both individuals and organisations, with a focus on cultural (rather than political) issues and figures that play a role in this movement, placing the New Right in the context of truly contemporary German culture and history.

Two further volumes recently arrived look back over a few centuries in charting a development from the further past to the (almost) present. In Les Noirs en France du 18ème siècle à nos jours Macodou Ndiaye and Florence Alexis provide a history of black people in France from the first arrivals in the 18th century through the French Revolution and its struggle with the issue of the abolition of slavery, and then looking further afield to the revolt in Santo Domingo that led to the creation of the Black Republic of Haiti and the emancipation of the French West Indies. Moving into the 20th century they discuss the arrival of black Americans in France, the participation of black soldiers in the French army in the two World Wars, and the post-war years with their emancipation movements of Africans and West Indians, and the immigration policies of de Gaulle and of today. Portuguese history from the 19th century to the present day is covered by Nuno Severiano Teixeira in The Portuguese at War, which presents an overview of the conflicts, wars and revolutions in which Portugal was involved during that period. In this the volume covers issues from the Napoleonic invasions to the civil wars of the early 19th century, from participation in the First World War to neutrality in the Second during the 20th century, and from the country’s place in the NATO to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, East Timor, Lebanon and Afghanistan in the 21st century.

Looking back no more than 70 and 50 years respectively are the final two volumes I would like to introduce in this month’s blog. Following on from his 2015 book To Hell and Back, which charts the developments of Europe through the two World Wars from 1914 to 1949, Ian Kershaw’s Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017 looks at the vastly more peaceful and prosperous Europe that followed the wars. Kershaw discusses Europe’s transformation through economic improvements, though still under shadow of the war years to its life under the nuclear threat from both USA and USSR in the Cold War, through to the disbandment of the Soviet bloc and the reunification of Germany and finally to the years post-2008 after which peace and stability were brought into question again. Last but not least, Now and Then: England 1970-2015 by documentary photographer Daniel Meadows accompanies the exhibition of still photographs and moving images from the Bodleian Archives that were on display at the Weston Library from 4 October to 24 November, capturing 45 years of the life of England’s ordinary people. The volume contains samples of the full range of Meadows’ documentary projects over his 45-year career, with both portraits of the English people and the work they did. Including many now long-forgotten trades such as the engineer for a steam driven cotton mill and the steeplejack, and with a number of striking returns to people he had photographed 20 years earlier, it is a fascinating display of the differences and similarities between England Then and Now.

You can find all of the books tagged with “21st century” on our LibraryThing tag page here.

Disability History Month 2019 #UKDHM

The medical treatment of disability has a long history. Yet the history of disability itself, and of disabled people, has only been acknowledged as a legitimate area of scholarship relatively recently. Disability studies began to grow towards the end of the twentieth century at a time when human rights movements were fiercely resisting the endemic societal oppression and exclusion caused by discrimination. Since then, disability studies has blossomed into a multi-disciplinary field that seeks to challenge the very notion of ‘disability’ by exploring its socio-cultural construction.

From November 22nd to December 22nd, the History Faculty Library is celebrating the diversity of its collections, authors, and readers with a book display for Disability History Month, specially curated for this year’s theme, ‘Leadership, Resistance, and Culture’. UK Disability History Month focuses on the history of the continuing struggle for equality and civil rights, and advocates the investigation of undocumented histories of those with disabilities. Our display showcases some of the most recent historical scholarship within disabilities studies, including The Oxford Handbook of Disability History (2018), which is a first port of call for anyone interested in the field. This blog post offers a quick guide to our disability history collections divided into the following themes: disabled leaders, the history of mental health and learning disabilities, attitudes to disability across British history, and finally, disability in times of war. But first, it is important to define the models that formed the foundations for disability studies.

The ‘Medical Model’ of disability focuses on what disabled people can or cannot do. The result often casts people with disabilities as a passive receivers of care or as ‘the problem’. The ‘Social Model’ directs the blame away from individuals with impairments to conclude that discrimination and the idea of ‘disability’ is constructed by the context, whether that is social, medical, economic, or cultural. Though the division between these models has been challenged in recent years, it is the Social Model that formed the basis for the academic discipline of disability studies. More information on the social and medical definitions of disability can be found here, but read on to find out what’s available in our collections.

Leaders

Though disability is often assumed to exist at the fringes of society, prominent historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt had disabilities that impacted their daily lives. Lincoln is thought to have suffered with clinical depression, while Roosevelt became paralysed in both legs as a result of polio. Visit our display in the Upper Gladstone Link to find out more about the lives of these two political leaders and read their biographies.

Histories of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

The essays collected in Mental Illness and Learning Disability Since 1850, edited by Pamela Dale and Joseph Melling (2006), explore the historical place of mental illness in Britain, whether that is in Devon’s social policy, the education system in Scotland, or in early twentieth-century hostels. Academic laywer, Phil Fennel, likewise focuses on disability history since the mid-nineteenth century in his Treatment without Consent: Law, Psychiatry and the Treatment of Mentally Disordered People Since 1845 (2015). Fennel analyses the attitudes of legislators and lawyers towards psychiatry to consider the development of mental health legislation as well as issues concerning patient consent for physical psychiatric treatments.

Sociologist Andrew Scull takes a Marxist approach to the history of care and treatment of the mentally ill in his study, The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700-1900 (1993). Focusing on a significant shift in attitudes towards madness, Scull examines parliamentary records, books, pamphlets and other primary sources to show that at the point when the Capitalist market economy matured, there was also a significant shift in the attitude towards madness. The insane were no longer perceived to be ‘beasts’ or ‘deviants’ and were instead viewed as people with an illness that could be treated. Scull argues that the ideology of English asylum reforms nevertheless concealed the unpleasant truth that asylums, like workhouses, operated to segregate ‘disruptive’ people from society. Scull has received criticism for his depiction of the power dynamics between the mentally ill – whom he depicts as totally without agency – and the psychiatrists that treated them, who he claims merely serve the interests of market capitalism.

Wendy J. Turner aims to present an accurate picture of the social understanding and treatment of the ‘mentally ill, incompetent, and disabled’ in Medieval England in Care and Custody, (2013). Through a thorough engagement with archival sources, her research reveals that the stereotyped depictions of ‘the mad’ in medieval stories were not always reflections of the societal treatment of mentally impaired people. The book thereby eschews totalizing assumptions about those that exist within society, and those on its margins.

In Framing the Moron: The Social Construction of Feeble-Mindedness in the American Eugenic Era (2013), Gerald V. O’Brien uncovers the horrifying mistreatment of those considered to be ‘morons’ during the eugenic movement in the United States (1900-30). Drawing on original sources, O’Brien examines the fear-inducing rhetoric and pejorative metaphors that supported the involuntary sterilization and institutionalization of tens of thousands of people.Disability in Medieval and Early Modern Britain

For his Disability in Eighteenth-Century England: Imagining Physical Impairment (2012), David M. Turner won the Disability History Association Outstanding Publication Prize. Turner analyses descriptions of disability and depictions of disabled people in popular culture, art, and the media to understand the relationship between religious and medical discourse. By examining neglected letters, autobiographies, and other archival documents, he also uncovers the individual histories of disabled people in this period.

Irina Metzler’s Fools and Idiots?: Intellectual Disability in the Middle Ages (2016) uses interdisciplinary approaches to examine the texts written by physicians, lawyers, and scholars that shaped medieval definitions of intellectual ability on the one hand, and disability, on the other. Metzler’s other offering on our DHM display, A Social History of Disability in the Middle Ages (2013), delves into the lived experiences of disability and aging through records of work-related injuries, compensation, and other documents across four chapters focussing on law, work, ageing, and charity.

The diverse scope of the essays in Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (2013), edited by David H. Wood, addresses the overlooked understandings of disability in sixteenth- and seventeen-century England by examining texts across a range of forms and genres, including poetry, Jonsonian drama, and Renaissance jest books.

Disability in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Britain

Disability in the Industrial Revolution: Physical Impairment in British Coalmining, 1780-1880 (2018) by David M. Turner and Daniel Blackie documents the history of workers injured while working in British coal mines. Though they were not included in histories of the Industrial Revolution until recently, they nevertheless contributed to Britain’s industrial development.

Jameel Hampton’s Disability and the Welfare State in Britain (2017) contextualizes disability within the welfare state under each British government from 1948 to 1975. Using documents that have only recently been made public, Hampton also analyses the 1972 Thalidomide crisis.

Written in 1963, D. G. Pritchard’s Education and the Handicapped, 1760-1960 is one of the earliest pieces of writing in the field of disability history. Though it is outdated in several respects, it is itself a historical source that can be used to understand some of the contemporary attitudes towards teaching children with disabilities in the early 1960s.

Disability and War

The History Faculty Library also has a variety of scholarly texts on the history of disability during wartime. Published this summer, Sarah Handley-Cousins expands the current understanding of wartime disability in Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North (2019). Several studies focus on perceptions of war injuries. These include Disabled Veterans in History (2000), edited by David A. Gerber, an expansive volume of essays on the representation, public policy for, and experience of disabled veterans in Ancient Greece to the present, and The War Come Home (2001) by Deborah Cohen, a comparison of the post-war situations in which physically disabled war veterans found themselves in Britain and Germany. In War, Disability and Rehabilitation in Britain: ‘Soul of a Nation (2011), Julie Anderson traces the attempts to heal the war-injured in British society after World War II, focusing her research on rehabilitation, which included medical treatment, social programmes and even sporting activities. Sue Wheatcroft’s Worth Saving (2013) documents the unrecorded history of children with developmental disorders that were evacuated from areas of England during World War II through an examination of school reports and interviews with evacuees.

All the books mentioned in this blog post can be found on the History Faculty Library’s Disability History Month book display in the Upper Gladstone Link (until 22nd December 2019) and many of them are available online via SOLO.

Further Resources:

Find out how to get involved this UK Disability History Month and about the themes from previous year at the UKDHM website.

Watch Historic England’s History of Disability (with British Sign Language).

Learn about the history of learning disabilities with the Open University’s timeline.

 

 

Trials until 30 November 2019: World War I and Revolution in Russia, 1914-1918: Records of the British Foreign Office / Alexander III and the Policy of “Russification,” 1883-1886

Our colleague Angelina Gibson, Slavonic and Eurasian Subject Consultant, has arranged trials to two Russian history resources which are now accessible via SOLO and Databases A-Z.

World War I and Revolution in Russia, 1914-1918: Records of the British Foreign Office

This resource provides access to a collection of documents from the British Foreign Office reporting on Russia’s entry into the First World War and the Russian Revolution events in 1917-1918. The documents consist primarily of correspondence between the British Foreign Office, various British missions and consulates in the Russian Empire and the Tsarist government and later the Provisional Government.

Alexander III and the Policy of “Russification,” 1883-1886

This collection, as seen through the eyes of the British diplomatic corps in Russia, provides a unique analysis of this “retro-reform” policy, including the increase of revolutionary agitation, deepening of conservatism and changes from agrarian to industrial society, and spread of pan-Slavism, both in the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe. The British Foreign Office Records of General Correspondence for Russia, in record class F.O. 65, is the basic collection of documents for studying Anglo-Russian relations during this period of fundamental change.

The trials end on 30 November. Please send comments to angelina.gibson@bodleian.ox.ac.uk and alexander.morrison@new.ox.ac.uk.

New Bodleian History Books: October 2019 – Historiography

New Bodleian History Books: October 2919 – Historiography

The early modern understanding of the term “historiography”, attested in the OED from 1565, is simply as “the writing of history” or “written history”, and the title or role of “historiographer” simply as “historian” – or even as “official historian”, in evidence for example in the title of “Historiographer Royal of Scotland” which is still in existence today.

The modern sense of “historiography” as we understand it today, attested in the OED with quotations from 1889, is, of course, more specifically as “the study of history-writing…as an academic discipline” – in the broadest sense of the term historiography deals with the writing of history. It is “meta-history”, the study of the history of history, as well as of the historians who wrote this history, and of the principles and techniques of the writing (and studying) of history – historiography does not study so much the events of the past as the different interpretations of those events as presented by earlier historians, or the different methods used by these historians to present their version of historical events.

With this definition in mind, a number of different types of studies can be subsumed under the heading of “historiography”, from editions and translations of historical accounts to collections of critical essays on a specific topic or time period or country; from studies of a historian’s methods to biographies of influential historians; and last but not least the classic “histories of history” which try to offer a condensed yet comprehensive account of a historical discipline (e.g. social or economic history) or of the history of a country or region – or even of the history of the world. This month’s blog introduces some of the newly arrived Bodleian books which can be classified as “historiography” in this wider sense.

Historiographical sources

In the study of how historians write history, editions and translations of historical accounts have a definite place. Whether these are records of contemporary history or biographies of their great contemporaries by past historians, or maybe personal diaries and letters which comment on current affairs and how these are presented in contemporary records, or collections or translations of modern historical studies on a given topic – all of these can be looked at as different forms of historiographical sources.

Some contemporary biographical writing from the Italian 15th century is newly edited and translated in Lives of the Milanese Tyrants, which contains two biographies by the Milanese humanist Pier Candido Decembrio (1399–1477), secretary and envoy to the bizarre and powerful Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. Pier Candido’s masterpiece of Renaissance biography, based on decades of direct experience at the Duke’s court, is here followed by his fascinating account of the deeds of Visconti’s successor Francesco Sforza, the most successful mercenary captain of the Renaissance. Similar eyewitness accounts of a historian close to royalty can be found in an edition of the Mémoires de l’abbé de Foncemagne – Étienne Lauréault de Foncemagne (1694- 1779) frequented the Parisian salons of the 18th century and was a member of both the Académie française and the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Friend of Edward Gibbon and author of essays on topics ranging from French royal history and the Salic Law to a Dissertation préliminaire sur la Cuisine moderne, he was a tutor to the future Duke of Orléans (one of the wealthiest men in France, the Louis Philippe later known as Philippe Égalité) and thus in a prime position to give a detailed portrait of the man.

The disparity between personal, recorded memories of historic events, and their official representation (including their distortion, censoring, or omission) are the subject of two further volumes arrived newly at the Bodleian. The proceedings of a 2013-15 research seminar in Brest published as Mémoires de la Révolution française advertise themselves as dealing with “epistemological issues, historiographical milestones and unpublished examples” on the topic of the French Revolution. The contributions focus on the difference between memory of the past (“the activity of more or less faithfully encoding and restituting data”) and history (which they define as offering “a verifiable account of the past”), thematize of the production, maintenance, or occlusion of such memories and how they might present “history”, and explore the diversity of international historiographies of the period. Differences between personal memory or records, and official versions of historical events, here in the contemporary press, are also a focus in the third volume of the collected diaries of Hélène Hoppenot, Journal 1940-1944 (with the previous two volumes containing the diaries of the years 1918-1933 and 1936-1940 respectively). As the wife of the French diplomat Henri Hoppenot, stationed variously in Uruguay, Brussels, and the US, Hélène Hoppenot was in an excellent position to record firsthand experiences of the Vichy government, the rise of Charles de  Gaulle, the events of D-Day, and the Liberation of Paris, and she stresses her efforts in trying to faithfully record words heard and things seen behind the scenes before finding them misrepresented or even repressed by journalists with a specific political agenda.

Finally, a true collection of historiographical sources can be found in Florin Curta’s 2-volume Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages (500-1300), which sets out to remedy the fact that only around 11% of the historiographical literature published on the medieval history of Eastern Europe is in English – in its translations of seminal historiographical writings from 10 different languages into English it provides a comprehensive summary on the existing literature that would be otherwise inaccessible due to linguistic barriers, presenting an overview of the current state of research as well as an introductory bibliography in English.

 

 

Historians as Authors

Two of the new books arrived over the last couple of months at the Bodleian deal with the historian as an author, and with the issue of authorial self-consciousness, or self-affirmation, in the work of recording events of the past or present.

To shed new light on the authorial figures of ancient and medieval historians “Je, auteur de ce livre” by Cristian Bratu discusses authorial self-representations and self-promotion strategies in the works of historians from Antiquity to the later Middle Ages, from the emergence of the author in the Greek and Roman histories to the not exactly self-effacing vernacular French medieval historians of the 12th to 15th centuries. Following on where Bratu leaves off, the collection on La construction de la personne dans le fait historique focuses on the authorial figure in historical writings from the 16th to the 18th century. The studies collected here thematize once more the tension between memory and historical record, but also the awareness that as a political actor as well as a historian one’s historical narratives shape the image of the self which one leaves to posterity – whether in the historian’s conscious inscription of the self in history or, on the other hand, their attempts to erase or distance themselves from events.

Histories of Historians

As it is the study not only of the history of history, but of the historians who wrote this history, we can include a number of biographies of eminent historians as belonging among the new historiography books at the Bodleian.

The first of four new studies features the influential 19th century French historian and founder of modern historical practice Jules Michelet (1798-1874). Michèle Hannoosh examines the role of art writing in Michelet’s work and shows how the visual arts, at the very centre of Michelet’s conception of historiography, decisively influenced his theory of history and his view of the practice of the historian. The historian who is subject of the second study is situated at the tail-end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century: Thomas Frederick Tout (1855–1929), one of the most prolific English medieval historians of his time. This book presents biographical studies dealing with Tout’s early career and his work at Manchester University, examine his wide-ranging influence on the study of history, and discuss Tout’s life and writings, his political and academical influence, and his lasting legacy on our understanding of the Middle Ages.

Moving into the later 20th century, Raul Hilberg und die Holocaust-Historiographie is dedicated to one of the first and foremost historians on the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews of Europe. The volume collects papers from the 2017 conference in Berlin held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Hilberg’s death, and the contributions range from a critical appraisal of Hilberg’s pioneering 1961 study The Destruction of the European Jews to biographical sketches, discussions of ethical questions raised in his work, and the impact of Hilberg’s work on the study of the Holocaust in our century. Historians of the post-World War II era are also the subject of No Straight Path, which presents first-person accounts of the careers of ten successful female historians in a predominantly male-dominated professional world. Starting from college and public-school teaching, or marriage and motherhood, and making the unusual decision (at the time) to move beyond high-school teaching and attend graduate school, the experiences of these historians from the southern United States are varied and distinctive in their respective paths to become a member or even chair of the History Department at the University of Memphis, or Professor for History at Tulane University. The authors discuss the issues they faced including gender inequality and problems with their work/home balance, but also their role models on the path of becoming professional female historians.

 

Meta-History

Somewhat shorter than John Burrow’s comprehensive 2007 study A History of Histories, and also than his own 2012 A Global History of History, Daniel Woolf’s new 2019 publication A Concise History of History is meant as an introduction for those studying or teaching historical theory and method, or historiography. Keeping to the promise of its subtitle to be a “global historiography from antiquity to the present” despite its conciseness, it contains a number of helpful features designed to assist in making sense of the vastness of human history such as timelines listing major dynasties or regimes throughout the world, outlines of historiographical developments, or guides to key thinkers and seminal historical works. Its chapters cover topic such as the earliest historical writings, the history of Eurasia to the 15th century, the sense of the past in early modern and Renaissance history, the impact of imperialism and sciences on historiography in the 18th and 19th centuries, historical writing in the 20th century, and a look at new, future directions of historiography.

This final topic is also discussed for a more specialist section of historical studies in New Directions in Social and Cultural History. Leading historians in the field here reflect on what it means to be a social or cultural historian today; muse on what challenges and opportunities await historians in the early 21st century in this age of digital and public history; discuss key developments and important shifts and interventions in the theory and methodology in their fields; and suggest future developments and emerging areas of historical research, providing a comprehensive overview of the field for any student or scholar of social and cultural history and historiography.

You can find more books on the subject on our online LibraryThing shelf tagged with”historiography“.

Trial until 27 Nov: Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939

Oxford historians are now invited to trial Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939 (British Online Archives) which is available via SOLO and Databases A-Z.

The Paris Peace Conference was a meeting of Allied diplomats that took place in the aftermath of the First World War. Its purpose was to impose peace terms on the vanquished Central Powers and establish a new international order.

This online resource draws on material chiefly from The National Archives: FO 373 (Foreign Office: Peace Conference; Handbooks): FO 608 (Foreign Office: Peace Conference; British Delegation, Correspondence and Papers); FO 893 (Foreign Office: Ambassadors to the Peace Conference, 1919; Minutes of Proceedings); CAB 29/139 (Cabinet Office: International Conferences; Minutes and Papers; Lausanne Conference, 1932).

These Foreign Office records for the first time offer an emphatic and comprehensive coverage of the various peace treaties signed at the end of the First World War. The Treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain, Sèvres, Trianon, Neuilly and Lausanne are all covered in great depth. They collectively saw to the redrawing of boundaries, the stripping back of German military might and the effective end of the Ottoman Empire.

These records are supplemented by the personal papers of Robert Cecil and Arthur Balfour – held at the British Library – both of whom played prominent roles during the course of the Conference.

Explore how the Allied Powers scrambled to create a diplomatic epilogue to ‘the war to end all wars’. This resource will interest those researching: The First World War, The Second World War, Inter-War International Governance, International Relations, Peace-making, Colonialism, 20th Century, War, Diplomacy, and Politics.

Please send feedback to isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Useful subject searches in SOLO: Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) or World War, 1914-1918 — Reparations.

While you are here…

… did you know that the Bodleian has The Papers of Richard Meinerzhagen (1878-1967)? He was on Balfour’s staff at the Paris Peace Conference.