Black History Month Book Display

October is Black History Month in the UK and we have put together a display of books from the History Faculty Library’s collections which explore Black British history. You’ll find the display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

The university is hosting various online talks and events to mark Black History Month 2020. Margaret Casely-Hayford, CBE, will deliver the university’s Black History Month lecture. For information about this, and other virtual events taking place throughout October, follow this link.

Below are E-books on Black British history which are available to Oxford University members- simply click on the book cover to access the SOLO record. This is just a handful of what’s available. To find more, you could run a search for the subject ‘Blacks — Great Britain’ and filter the results to ‘online resources.’

Further, we would like to highlight the LibGuide for BME Studies which is part of the Bodleian’s ‘Changing the Narrative’ project championing diversity in collection development.

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

The cult of the personality is central to all recorded history, and the names of individuals figure prominently in history from its earliest records, such as in regnal eras from Ptolemaic Egypt to Augustan Rome, the Meiji era of Japan, Victorian Britain, or Napoleonic France; but also in ideological movements, whether scientific, political or religious – from the Copernican model of the universe or Darwinism to Marxism and Leninism or Thatcherism, and to Confucianism, Buddhism, Calvinism and Christianity.

The importance of the individual in history is a much debated issue, especially among Victorian historians and political theorists – in his famous 1841 On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History Thomas Carlyle proposes his Great Men theory which assigns credit (or responsibility, or even blame, as the case may be) for major developments of history to remarkable individuals of their times (Lecture 1, “The Hero as Divinity”, p. 21):

Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history, it may justly be considered, were the history of these.

One of the most influential publications which takes a completely opposite view is Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov’s 1898 The Role of the Individual in History, representative of a view of history proposed by a movement which is somewhat ironically named after what Carlyle would certainly have termed one of the Great Men of History – “Marxism”. Plekhanov claims (p.55):

Individual causes cannot bring about fundamental changes in the operation of general and particular causes which, moreover, determine the trend and limits of the influence of individual causes.

He argues that history should be seen neither as the consequence of the actions of individuals “from above” (nor of movements “from below”), but concedes that “there is no doubt that history would have had different features had the individual causes which had influenced it been replaced by other causes of the same order” since “the personal qualities of leading people determine the individual features of historical events” (pp. 55-56).

And similarly, Lenin (Collected Works vol. 1, p. 159) declares in his comments on “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are”:

“…the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures.”

The eBooks I would like to highlight in this blog are concerned with individuals in history, though not necessarily in the sense of Carlyle’s  “Great Men” (and presumably “Great Women”?) of history, or even Plekhanov’s “individual causes”, but more with Lenin’s understanding that all history is made up of the actions of individuals, This does not mean that these books are therefore necessarily biographies of individuals or microhistories of a group of individuals (though some of them are), but simply that they are very personal to the individual in some way or other, encompassing personal narratives or experiences as well as the study of particular individuals in history – or even works with a very personal focus that the writer intended for or addressed to very specific individuals, such as the first two books presented here.

Personal Writings

The poems of Venantius Fortunatus (c. 535-600) have long been mined as a historical source for Merovingian society, but are remarkable not only for their literary quality, but for the very personal dimension of a number of the surviving examples which chart emotions and relationships – from poems accompanying personal gifts to an aristocratic lady, clever banter addressed to a bishop, expressions of longing for and wishes of safety to travelling friends, poems as thanks for gifts received, apologies for being unable to visit and wishes for reunions, pleas for protection to powerful figures like Gregory of Tours, consolations for widowed queens, and many which are simply an affectionate “hello” from the poet to his distant friends. Under the title of Poems to Friends a number of these personal writings are now newly available as an eBook in the 2010 translation into free verse by Joseph Pucci, with introductory material on late antique Gaul, Fortunatus’ biography, interpretations of the poems, prosopographical introductions, maps, and a bibliography which offer a wider context for these often very touching poems. A piece of historiography which is very much written for one particular person, as well as deeply connected to the author’s personal history, are Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories, commissioned in 1520 by Giulio Cardinal de Medici, and used by Machiavelli as a way to work his way back into his good graces. Presented to Giulio (now Pope Clement VII) in May 1526, it was first printed in 1532, 5 years after Machiavelli’s death. Clearly not a work born of personal inspiration, this is received history, reworked from earlier chronicles, covering, as the author phrases it, “the things done at home and abroad by the Florentine people” from the decline of the Roman Empire up to the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1492, with four of their eight books dedicated to the fight for power and the Medicean lordship. Nevertheless, the work bears ample witness to the author’s literary style, and contains numerous entertaining episodes of high drama and glimpses of humour, resulting in a at times gripping and at times tedious work which is redeemed by the insights of one of the greatest political thinkers of all time.

Biographies and Autobiographies

Three remarkable individuals from the Middle Ages and the are the subject of this next batch of personal histories now available as eBooks, one clearly classifiable as a hagiography, one an obvious autobiography, and the third rather indistinctly wavering between hagiography, biography, and autobiography. Thomas of Monmouth’s hagiographical Life and Passion of William of Norwich, available now as an eBook in Miri Rubin’s 2014 translation, holds a unique and terrible place in the history of Anti-Semitism, while also giving a remarkable insight into daily life in a medieval cathedral city: it documents the martyrdom and posthumous miracles at the shrine of William, a young boy believed to have been murdered by the Jews of Norwich. The Book of Margery Kempe, in Anthony Bale’s 2015 translation, also contains touches of hagiography – it is the extraordinary account of a medieval wife, mother, and mystic, dictated by the illiterate Margery to an amanuensis as the earliest autobiography written in the English language. Confusingly, however, it presents more as a biography than an autobiography, since it is written in the third rather than the first person, with the amanuensis referring to Margery as “the creature” throughout. Ranging from her home in King’s Lynn to Rome and Jerusalem, her book describes her transformation from businesswoman, wife and mother to chaste visionary and pilgrim, with vivid accounts of her prayers and visions, the temptations of her daily life, and her ponderings on God and the world. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave is another extraordinary autobiographical account by an illiterate woman dictated to a scribe, and has the distinction of being the first ever account by a black woman to be published in Britain (in 1831). The book describes Prince’s sufferings as a slave in Bermuda, Turks Island and Antigua, and her eventual arrival in London in 1828, where she escaped from her owner and sought assistance from the Anti-Slavery Society. Drawing attention to the continuation of slavery in the Caribbean despite an 1807 Act of Parliament officially ending the slave trade, the publication inspired two libel actions and ran into three editions in the year of its publication alone. As a powerful rallying cry for emancipation it remains an extraordinary testament to Prince’s ill-treatment, suffering and survival.

Personal Histories

The final four books I would like to highlight in this blog, while not outright biographies, still flirt with the genre in that they are dedicated to the study of particular individuals or groups of individuals in history, presenting close-up views and insights into some very personal experiences and thoughts. The lives of several more remarkable women are the subject of the eleven chapters of Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, which examine issues of political agency, myth-making, and patronage by queens dowager and queens consort who have disappeared from history or have been misunderstood in modern historical treatment. Covering queenship from 1016 to 1800, and with a broad coverage in geography and disciplines from religious history, art history, and literature, the contributions demonstrate the influence of queens in different aspects of monarchy over eight centuries, and further our knowledge of the roles and challenges that they faced. A group of women who have a number of things in common are also the subject of Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting, though here the geographical and chronological scope is rather more narrow: Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, and home at various times to the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and the writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. From H.D.’s residence there during the First World War via Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote in the same room in 1921, to Virginia Woolf’s move into the square in 1939, Wade draws an engaging picture of five in some ways very different but in others quite similar women in search of a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.

Susan L. Tananbaum’s book on Jewish Immigrants in London covers a similar time and space, but works on a rather wider scope with respect to the individuals it focuses on in its discussion: the quarter of a million European Jews who settled in England between 1880 and 1939. Despite this vast number, Tananbaum still manages to look at personal histories and the fates of individuals, exploring the differing ways in which the existing Anglo-Jewish communities, local government and education and welfare organizations sought to socialize these new arrivals, focusing on the experiences of working-class women and children. Beginning in the year where she leaves off, War Through Children’s Eyes then offers a collection of 120 short personal accounts written by Polish children who were among the one million people deported to various provinces of the Soviet Union after the Soviet occupation of Poland in the winter of 1939-40. It is the perception of these witnesses that makes these documents unique, offering a child’s eye view of events no adult would consider worth mentioning. In simple language, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, the children recorded their experiences, and sometimes their surprisingly mature understanding, of the invasion and the Soviet occupation, the deportations eastward, life in the work camps and kolkhozes, and vivid memories of privation, hunger, disease, and death.

You can browse all our new eBooks on LibraryThing here.

A Guide to Click and Collect at the HFL

You may have heard the news that we have started to welcome readers to our Click & Collect service at the HFL! Click & Collect is an emergency interim service at selected Bodleian Libraries (currently us, the Social Science Library and the Sackler Library), which allows university members to borrow books which would usually be loanable, via pre-booked collection slots.

Not sure what to expect when using the service? Here’s a step-by-step guide!

 

1. Request your book(s). Once logged into SOLO, look out for the green Click & Collect button next to eligible HFL books. Your request will then be sent to the library for staff to pick and process.

2. Once your book has been processed (usually the next working day after you request), you will receive an email inviting you to book a collection timeslot from the next working day onwards; our collection hours are 11am-3pm Monday-Friday. You will only need to book a slot for one requested item, and other books you order will then also be available to collect in this timeslot. At this stage you can also add a named person to collect books on your behalf (please ask them to bring some photo ID!).
N.B. As mentioned above, it takes a few working days for the Click & Collect process to complete, so please order your books ahead of time. Please also note that only pre-booked items will be available and you won’t be able to request additional items at the desk when you arrive.

3. On arrival, hold your Reader Card to the pad to unlock the door. If you have any problems with your card, use the intercom to talk to a member of staff. If you notice that there is another reader already inside, please wait on the path at a distance of at least 2 metres from any other readers.

4. Show the member of staff at Reception your card. There is a protective screen at the desk, and a hand sanitiser dispenser available, for the safety of staff and readers.

5. The staff member will fetch a bag containing your pre-issued books and may ask you to stand back while they place them onto the shelf beside the desk. Socially distanced handover pictured below! If you need to drop off HFL returns when you collect, there is a box next to the staff desk to put them in.

6. Enjoy your books! If you have any questions about the Click & Collect process, please get in touch by email at library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

Click and Collect at HFL

We’re very pleased to announce that your favourite History Faculty Library loan books are now available to borrow through the Bodleian’s Click & Collect Service!

Click & Collect is an emergency interim service designed to enable borrowing from selected Bodleian Libraries. The service will initially be offered by us, the Sackler Library, and the Social Science Library, and other libraries will introduce the service on a phased basis.

University members will be able to place requests on SOLO for items which would usually be available to borrow. Once logged in to SOLO, just look for the green button next to eligible books. Library staff will fetch the requests and once the items are ready for collection, borrowers will be emailed to invite them to select a date and time to collect the items. The safety of staff and readers is paramount in the design of the service; limitations will apply on which libraries are able to participate and when.

For full details see https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/using/clickandcollect

If you have any problems when placing a request, or any queries about the collection process, please give us an email at library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

What is “revolution”?

In Book V of his Politics, Aristotle speaks at length of the major vehicle for constitutional change, the phenomenon of στάσις (stasis), a term variously translated as “civil war”, “sedition”, “faction” – or “revolution”. Aristotle uses it to denote a number of variations of political conflict from sedition and civil war to smaller instances of feuding and struggle for prestige, and applies it both to the conflict people engage in, and also to the group of people who engage in the conflict. Hatzistavrou in his chapter on “Factions” in The  Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Politics divides these states of conflict (or groups engaging in conflict) into two distinct categories according to their causes – injustice-induced, and greed-induced, and it is of course the first that is usually acknowledged as the main cause of social revolutions throughout world history. Aristotle himself also mentions inequality as one in a longer list of possible causes of stasis that include avarice, superiority, honour, fear, difference of race and disproportionate growth, but is keen to stress that the importance (or non-importance) of the impetus that initiates any particular conflict is not necessarily the same as the importance of the cause for which this conflict is then in the end conducted (Book V, Chapter 4, p. 7):

Factions arise … not concerning small things, but from small things; men form factions concerning great things.

In English, the umbrella term “revolution” covers a great variety of different types of political conflicts – some are peaceful, nonviolent protests, but others produce bloody civil wars; some have produced democracies and greater liberty, but others have produced brutal dictatorships. Taking all this into consideration, Jack A. Goldstone in Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction (p. 4) offers a minimalist yet comprehensive definition which includes the physical, ideological and political aspects of the phenomenon:

Revolution is the forcible overthrow of a government through mass mobilization (whether military or civilian or both) in the name of social justice, to create new political institutions.

Some famous factions (or revolutions) in the course of global history include the Set rebellion of c. 2730 BC which divided Egypt into Upper and Lower Egypt; the establishment of the Roman Republic in 510–509 BC; the 3rd Servile War in 73–71 BC (better known as the Gladiator War or the War of Spartacus); the Germanic Revolt of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest in 9-13 AD; the Peasants’ Revolt, or Great Rising in England in 1381; or the 1525 German Peasants’ War. The 1688 “Glorious Revolution” in England establishes the term “revolution” for a number of the more significant and influential staseis of the modern era, such as the Haitian and the French Revolutions at the turn of the 19th century. Still, other terms persist – the mid-19th century modernization revolution in Japan is known as the Meiji Restoration, and the anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising in China at the turn of the 20th century as the Boxer Rebellion. In Europe we find the Irish 1916 Easter Rising and the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and for the widespread anti-government movements in the Arab world in the 2010s an entirely new phrase was coined: the Arab Spring.

What Aristotle calls stasis thus has many names in English historiography, which uses a number of both native terms and loanwords to distinguish nuances of a wide variety of political conflicts, from “putsch”, “coup d’état”, “Machtergreifung” and “résistance” to “restoration”, “insurrection”, “mutiny”, “riot”, “rising”, “rebellion”, “revolt”, and, finally, “revolution”. What term historiographers assign to any particular stasis does seem to depend not only on the success of any given faction to changing constitutions, or political or social situations, but also in great part on which faction (the winning or the losing side of the conflict) is in the end responsible for, or influences, the historiography after the fact. Similarly, any judgement passed on, or assessment given of such conflict as to its righteousness, virtue, moral rightness (or lack of it)  found in contemporary or later historiography depends much on whether it is penned by the new establishment, as in, the former rebels of a successful revolt, or the old establishment after the successful suppression of an uprising, or an independent party. Depending on the side the historiographer finds themselves on, revolutions can be presented as a case of downtrodden masses raised up by leaders who guide them in overthrowing unjust rulers (later given modern form as a theory of the inevitable triumph of the poor over the rich by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and their followers), or judged as eruptions of popular anger that produce only chaos (as per the critics of Marx, Lenin, Mao et al.).

In this blog I would like to highlight some of the ebooks newly arrived at the Bodleian which focus on such ideology-driven, political conflicts arising from inequality, under any of their many names, from the Middle Ages though to the 20th century, presented here in roughly chronological order.

1066-1284

The first book concerns stasis not in the modern sense of “revolution”, but in the second Aristotelian sense of a smaller-scale struggle for supremacy or domination by different members of an oligarchy. David Carpenter’s 2004 The Struggle for Mastery examines the momentous two-and-a-half centuries after 1066, when the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was destroyed and Anglo-Saxons became a subject race, dominated by a Norman-French dynasty and aristocracy. Arguing that the English domination of the kingdom was by no means a foregone conclusion, Carpenter looks at a drawn-out competition for domination between England, Scotland and Wales which shaped the history of the British Middle Ages.

1660-1680

The aftermath of the English Civil War is one of those cases where the label attached by historiographers clearly reflects the spin put on the conflict by the prevailing party – in his 2006 Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms Tim Harris examines the late 17th century as a period of extraordinary turbulence and political violence in Britain, tracing the fate of the monarchy from Charles II’s triumphant accession in 1660 to the growing discontent of the 1680s. Looking beyond the popular image of Restoration England revelling in its freedom from the austerity of Puritan rule under a merry monarch, Harris surveys some of the shadier sides of a desperately insecure regime after two decades of civil war.

1660-1680

Looking at the same aftermath of the English Civil War through the eyes of the Puritans is Fear, Exclusion and Revolution, a collection of essays on the ‘Entring Book’ of Puritan minister Roger Morrice, his detailed record of public affairs in Britain between 1677 and 1691 which charts the rise of British party politics, and the transformation of Puritanism into ‘Whiggery’ and Dissent. The essays collected in this volume address some of Morrice’s key concerns in his book, including the atmosphere of fear and foreboding, the profound effect of events on the continent on the English, or the anxieties and opportunities caused by a socially diffuse culture of news and information, and sheds light on a social, political and religious situation which ultimately led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

1788-1887

Moving into the 18th and 19th centuries, Blackburn’s The American Crucible is a vivid and authoritative history of the rise and, more importantly, the fall of slavery in the Americas. It looks at Europe’s conquest and colonisation of the Americas with its system of slavery, and the promotion of the rise of capitalism in the Atlantic world through the slave labour which helped establish empires, fostered new cultures of consumption and financed the breakthrough to an industrial order. Blackburn interprets the New World as a “crucible” for a succession of experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement, colonial rebellion, and slave resistance, and charts the great movements of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, Britain in 1833-8, the United States in the 1860s, and Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s, with a view to how they influenced many of the ideals we live by today.

1800-1815

The turn of the 19th century saw what is usually regarded as the revolution par excellence, but in his Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution Martin Lyons looks not at the French Revolution itself, nor at Napoleon in one of his many other roles from Jacobin to Republican to Emperor, but focuses on developments in French society and economy as a background to a view of Napoleon specifically as an heir and executor of the French Revolution, preserving its social gains, and consolidating the triumph of the bourgeoisie.

1916

In a century that offers plenty of examples of violent revolts, the 1916 Easter Rising still stands out, and still invites new interpretations and insights over a century later. In his Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion Charles Townshend looks at both the rising itself and the violent British response to it, which made an entire nation turn away in revulsion. Townshend’s account of the stasis which launched Ireland into a new era asks and answers questions on what the rebels actually hoped to achieve, what the thinking behind the British response might have been, and how the events were regarded by ordinary people across Ireland.

1936

Bloodless and peaceful but nevertheless superbly effective socialist, pacifist, and feminist protests, campaigns and movements characterise the life of Ellen Wilkinson, whose 2016 biography Red Ellen by Laura Beers is now available online. Best remembered as the leader of the 1936 “Jarrow Crusade”, the 300-mile march of two hundred unemployed shipwrights and steelworkers to petition the British government for assistance, Wilkinson’s fight for social justice extended to involvement in a range of campaigns, from the quest for official recognition of the Spanish Republican government to the fight for Indian independence or  the effort to smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany. Beers paints a portrait of a remarkable woman whose achievements include the founding of Britain’s Communist Party, a seat in Parliament, a post as one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, a central role in Britain’s post-war Labour government as Minister of Education, and in general successful activism as an advocate for the poor and dispossessed.

1940-45

The memoirs of another remarkable women whose life was defined by the involvement in opposition against the established powers are edited and translated in Résistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, the diaries of Agnès Humbert, founder of one of the first organised groups of the French Resistance in 1940s Paris. Betrayed to the Gestapo in 1941, Humbert was imprisoned but escaped execution, spending the years until the end of the war in a German forced labour camp. First published immediately after her liberation in 1946, and now available as an ebook in its first English translation of 2008, the memoirs, written with a deft touch and sardonic wit, offer a very personal and candid perspective of this dark period.

1968

With the understanding of the year 1968 as a marker of an emerging will for social change around the turn of that decade, rather than as a particular calendar year, the essay collection Women, Global Protest Movements, and Political Agency explores women’s historical involvement in “1968” in different parts of the world and the different ways in which women’s experience as victims and perpetrators of violence are remembered and understood.  The topics touched on in the various contributions include for example transnational memories of Northern Ireland’s ’68, West German documentary drama, female terrorists and women in the jihad, women fighters during the Lebanese civil war, and violence against women in Yugoslavia.

You can find more books on the topic on our LibraryThing shelf tagged with “revolutions”  and “political violence”, and browse all our new ebooks on LibraryThing here.

New: African American Periodicals 1825-1995

[re-blogged from the VHL blog post]

The Vere Harmsworth Library has purchased online access to the resource African American Periodicals for the University.

Based on the work of James P. Danky in African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Harvard, 1998), this vast collection covers over 150 years of American history, from slavery up to the modern era. The collection features over 170 titles, written by and for African Americans.

Primary sources found here include news, commentary, advertisements, literature, drawings and photographs, Key titles in this unique resource include African Repository, El Mulato, The Black Warrior, Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Bulletin, Colored Harvest, Voice of the Negro, Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line, The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, Blue Helmet: A Magazine for the American Negro Soldier of All Wars, Harlem Pointer, African World, Black Pride Newsletter, Right On! and others from every region of the United States. Primary sources found here include news, commentary, advertisements, literature, drawings and photographs, helping to capture the voice of African American history and culture.

Our online platform allows our readers to search the African American Periodicals by full-text, or to browse by periodical title, historic period, or themes. Readers may also search via article type, such as advertisements, or opinion pieces. You may access the resource by clicking here

Bodleian readers may also search across our Readex databases, using Readex AllSearch. This allows researchers to cross-search across multiple primary resources, including the African American Newspapers and Ethnic American Newspapers.

Similar resources include:

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).

Trial until 17 July: Perlego (ebooks)

We are delighted to announce that Oxford readers now have trial access to Perlego until 17 July.

Perlego contains 300,000 ebook titles across a broad range of subjects. This includes all of Wiley and Pearson titles. You may browse by subject, topic, curated reading list or publisher.

The History section includes just under 24,000 ebooks, the vast majority being popular history but it also includes works by e.g. Prof Lyndal Roper, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and many more eminent scholars.

Users can browse the full collection to identify titles of interest without creating an account at www.perlego.com.

However, to access the full-text, users need to create their own Perlego account. To set this up, go to Databases A-Z and find Perlego.

Then, click on the link to WebLearn to find the access code and the link to the platform. A registration form will be generated. Use your ox.ac.uk email address and the access code to set up your account. Once this is done, in future,  you can go to Perlego at perlego.com and just login in with your email address.

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

For more information on Perlego: have a look at the YouTube tutorial

We only have a one month trial so please make good use of the resource!

New: LGBT Magazine Archive; Women and Social Movements, International; Trench Journals

I am delighted to announce that access to a number of major new eresouces is now available.

The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers.

The list of purchases of ProQuest eresources includes items which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. Under the banner of diversity, we are particularly pleased to improve our resources useful for the study of gender, LGBTQ, women’s history and race.

The new acquisitions include:

  • Art and Architecture Archive (part 1)
  • Black Abolitionist Papers (1830-1865)
  • Die Deutsche Lyrik
  • Digitale Bibliothek Deutscher Klassiker
  • LGBT Magazine Archive
  • Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War
  • Twentieth Century Religious Thought III & IV
  • Women and Social Movements, International

Oxford researchers should use their SSO to gain remote access. The resources can be access via SOLO or Databases A-Z.

Art and Architecture Archive

Full-text archive of periodicals (cover-to-cover colour scans) in the fields of art and architecture. Date range: 19thC – 21stC. Subjects covered include fine art, decorative arts, architecture, interior design, industrial design, and photography worldwide.

Black Abolitionist Papers (1830-1865)

This collection covers a unique set of primary sources from African Americans actively involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States between 1830 and 1865. The content includes letters, speeches, editorials, newspaper articles, sermons, and essays from libraries and archives in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Over 15,000 items written by nearly 300 Black men and women are available for searching.

Die Deutsche Lyrik

Die Deutsche Lyrik in Reclams Universal-Bibliothek covers almost 500 years of German lyric poetry and includes the work of over 500 authors from the 15th to the 20th century. Published with the co-operation and support of Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart, it contains the complete text of each poem, including material such as dedications and authorial notes which are an essential part of the original volumes. Publisher’s prefaces and epilogues, introductions, editorial notes, biographies, glossaries and indices are not usually included.

Digitale Bibliothek Deutscher Klassiker

The Bibliothek Deutscher Klassiker series has been in print publication since 1981. Published with the cooperation and support of the publishers Deutscher Klassiker Verlag Frankfurt am Main, this database covers covers the works of major authors spanning eleven centuries and includes historical, philosophical, theological, political and art history texts. Collections of essays, speeches and other non-literary material add context and background material. As every individual text is edited to the same high standard, you can rely on the quality and accuracy of each edition and the collection as a whole.

LGBT Magazine Archive

The resource archives of 26 leading but previously hard-to-find magazines are included in LGBT Magazine Archive, including many of the longest-running, most influential publications of this type. The complete backfile of The Advocate is made available digitally for the first time. As one of the very few LGBT titles to pre-date the 1969 Stonewall riots, it spans the history of the gay rights movement. LGBT Magazine Archive also includes the principal UK titles, notably Gay News and its successor publication Gay Times.

Twentieth Century Religious Thought III and IV

Twentieth Century Religious Thought Library is a multivolume, cross-searchable online collection that brings together the seminal works and archival materials related to worldwide religious thinkers from the early 1900s until the first decade of the 21st century.

Vol I (Christianity) and Vol II (Islam) are already available in Oxford.

Vol III (Judaism): Focuses on modern Jewish theology and philosophy and details Judaism’s evolution from the late 19th century by examining printed works and rare documents.

Vol IV (Buddhism, Hinduism & Taois): Focuses on the various facets of Eastern Religion spanning over two-hundred years.

Women and Social Movements, International

Through the writings of women activists, their personal letters and diaries, and the proceedings of conferences at which pivotal decisions were made, this collection lets you see how women’s social movements shaped much of the events and attitudes that have defined modern life.  This digital archive includes 150,000 pages of conference proceedings, reports of international women’s organizations, publications and web pages of women’s non-governmental organizations, and letters, diaries, and memoirs of women active internationally since the mid-nineteenth century.  It also includes photographs and videos of major events and activists in the history of women’s international social movements. Additionally, there are 30 essays from leading contemporary scholars exploring themes illuminated by the primary documents in the archive.

Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War

Published by every type of military and support service unit, from every involved nation, trench journals were a means of expression through which men and women engaged in all aspects of World War I could share their thoughts and experiences.

Over 1,500 periodicals, drawn from the holdings of major libraries and research collections, including the Imperial War Museums and the British Library, make this resource the most comprehensive collection of trench journals available to scholars anywhere in one place.

This resource brings together complete runs of journals from disparate sources. Functionality allows both browsing and precision searching for editorials, advertisements, poetry, cartoons and illustrations, photographs, and obituaries, opening up opportunities for research in multiple fields: literature, history, war studies, cultural studies, and gender studies.

Bodleian New History eBooks – May 2020: The History of the British Isles

Bodleian New History eBooks – May 2020: The History of the British Isles

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise…

(William Shakespeare, Richard II, II.1, 40-43)

The “British Isles” are defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica simply as the “group of islands off the northwestern coast of Europe” consisting of the two main islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and numerous smaller islands and island groups, including the Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Man, and possibly also the Channel Islands. The accompanying illustration of the “Terminology of the British Isles”, however, already contradicts the seeming simplicity of the definition.

In addition the expression itself is of course politically controversial, particularly for many people in Ireland – prompting General Editor Paul Langford in his Preface to the Short Oxford History of the British Isles to make the disclaimer that in the series they “use the words British Isles solely and simply as a geographical expression” and to reassure the readers that “[n]o set agenda is implied”. Considering the number of different peoples who at one point or another colonised, invaded, annexed, left or were driven out of various parts of the island group, and the various kingdoms, colonies or republics they founded (as illustrated beautifully in this video), the difficulty in establishing a sense of unity among these changing sovereignties and shifting boundaries is readily understandable.

Such difficulty also extends to the subject of the History of the British Isles and its scope: scholars and students of English History are often accused of ignoring the History of Britain as a whole, while those who study the History of Britain are often accused to take the inclusion of Ireland for granted, and those who want to write on or study specifically the History of Scotland, Wales or Ireland quickly find that such exclusivity can be difficult to achieve. To quote Paul Langford again, “What constitutes a concept such as British history or four nations history, remains the subject of acute disagreement, and varies much depending on the period under discussion.”

The plethora of such periods that can potentially be discussed, stemming from a recorded history of over two millennia, is not helping either – the “short” Oxford History of the British Isles spans 11 volumes from The Roman Era and Vikings and Normans to The British Isles since 1945, with individual volumes covering the 12th/13th, 14th/15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and two full volumes dedicated to the 20th century. The subject of the History of the British Isles in the Further Honours School here at Oxford on the other hand is subdivided into seven eras from “The Early Medieval British Isles, 300-1100” via “The Late Medieval British Isles, 1330-1550” and “Liberty, Commerce and Power, 1685-1830” to finally “Changing Identities, 1900 to the present”. In short, the options for subdividing the 2000 years of history into thematically coherent segments of widely varying length are legion, from Pre-Historic Britain to The Anglo-Saxon Era, The Elizabethan Age, The Tudors, The Victorians, The Long 19th Century, The Edwardian Era, The World Wars, The Inter-War Period, Britain Post-1945, The Cold War, The Sixties, The Thatcher Era, or The 21st Century, to name only a few possibilities.

In the face of this, this blog on the new eBooks arrived at the Bodleian on the subject of the History of the British Isles cannot hope to be anywhere near comprehensive, or touch on every important, let alone every interesting era or aspect of these 2000 years. This edition, then, features a somewhat eclectic (but hopefully interesting) rather than representative sample of the various books on the wider topic which are newly available for online access. You can find all our new eBooks on our LibraryThing shelf here, and all our books tagged “Great Britain” here.

The envy of less happier lands

The 2000 years of British History have seen a lot of armed conflict, some of it occasioned by, some of it causing the changes or shifts of borders. I have chosen just three studies on the topic, two from the early modern and one from the modern era, to highlight here.

Paul E. J. Hammer’s Elizabeth’s Wars charts several of the politically and materially costly but ultimately successful military conflicts England engaged in between 1544 and 1604 under Elizabeth I. Starting with the gradual rebuilding of England’s military power on both land and sea against the double threat of France and Spain at the beginning of her reign, the study covers England’s great war with Spain in the 1580s and 1590s with its campaigns spanning the Low Countries, northern France, Spain and the Atlantic, as well as the famous Armada campaign of 1588; and also touches on the last Irish resistance to English domination which was crushed towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign. Ann Hughes’ 1991 The Causes of the English Civil War, one of the standard textbooks on the subject, is also now available online through SOLO in its second, revised edition. Hughes offers an accessible and  comprehensive guide to the historiographical debates surrounding the middle of the 17th century, with discussion not only of the political leaders and their parliaments, but of the wider European context, the general political and religious background of the era, and relevant social and cultural issues and aspects. For the 20th century, Angus Calder examines The Myth of the Blitz as a piece of World War II propaganda in a detailed discussion of the events of 1940 and 1941. While acknowledging its sustaining powers in Britain’s “finest hour”, his close scrutiny inevitably dispels a good part of a myth which rested upon the assumed invincibility of an island race distinguished by good humour, understatement, and the ability to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat by team work, improvisation and muddling through.

Dear for her reputation through the world

There is inevitable overlap with the topic of warfare in the studies of England’s and later Great Britain’s international relations, which am turning to next.

A collection of new studies on Tudor international relations, Tudor England and its Neighbours analyses important changes and continuities in England’s foreign policy between 1485 and 1603. Taking into account recent developments in cultural, gender and institutional history, the contributors discuss Tudor England’s relations with Germany, France, Spain or Scotland, examining such wide-ranging subjects as Henry VII’s pursuit of peace with France, the impact of the break with Rome and the introduction of Protestantism on England’s relations with other countries, and, yes, the inevitability or otherwise of war between Elizabethan England and Spain. The British dimension of the whole span of the American Revolution, from its origins to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and its aftermath, is the topic of another collection of essays newly available online, Britain and the American Revolution. The nine contributions discuss Britain’s response to the blow the Revolution represented both to her Atlantic empire and to her position as a great colonial and commercial power, as well as the importance of the Revolution in the dynamics of British politics in the later 18th century. The chapters cover the problems governing the American colonies, Britain’s diplomatic isolation in Europe over the war, the impact of the American crisis on Ireland, ideological dimensions and public opinion, and the consequences of the loss of America for Britain. Imperial Britain is also the subject of Andrew S. Thompson’s beautifully titled The Empire Strikes Back?, which looks at the influence of the global superpower Britain on its colonies in Africa, Asia and America not only in terms of politics and government, but in aspects of life as varied and wide-ranging as culture, religion, law and order, health and sexuality. More than that, however, the study shows how the dependent states hit back, affecting and changing British social life and class, economics and domestic politics, and British identity itself.

Bound in with the triumphant sea

Or, as Flanders and Swann phrase it in their 1963 parodistic “Song of Patriotic Prejudice”, a work “calculated to offend practically everybody”,

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We’ve left in the hands of three unfriendly powers:
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot,
You’ll find he’s a stinker, as likely as not!

True to this prompt to examine these nations (but obviously with rather different outcomes!), several of the new eBooks focus specifically on the history of Wales, Ireland, or Scotland.

Kathryn Hurlock’s Medieval Welsh Pilgrimage examines the Welshmen with respect to this most popular expressions of religious belief in medieval Europe, looking both at the historical and religious significance of the Welsh holy pilgrimage sites to explore what motivated pilgrims to visit these particular sites, and at Welsh pilgrims to both local and overseas pilgrimage destinations – their expectations, their engagement with pilgrimage both practically and ideologically, and their experiences and emotions on the journey and in the achievements of their ultimate goals. A very close examination of a fascinating group of Irishmen and Irishwomen is offered by R. F. Foster in Vivid Faces, which deal with the “revolutionary generation” of 1890-1923, surveying the lives and beliefs of the people who made the 1916 Irish Revolution, and their shared youth, radicalism, subversive activities, enthusiasm and love. Working from contemporary diaries, letters and reflections, Foster brings to life the members of the student societies, theatre groups, feminist collectives, volunteer militias, Irish-language summer schools, and radical newspaper offices who made the revolution, as well as the disillusionment in which it ended. Finally, Tom Devine’s 2017 Independence or Union turns to the Scots, and looks closely at the vexed and uneasy relationship between Scotland and England which has shaped the island since the Middle Ages though a continuous exchange of inhabitants, monarchs, money and ideas, both in peacetimes based on consent and mutual advantage, and in wartime characterised by force and antagonism. Devine’s study explores the relationship between the two countries from the 17th century to the present, weighing up benefits, and raising the question which has become possibly more pressing than ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

This happy breed of men

British Society, and the Brits themselves, are the object of a number of widely varied nwly available studies in the fields of social and cultural history.

Authority, Gender and Emotions in Late Medieval and Early Modern England collects essays on situations of authority, governance, and influence related to gender before 1600. Investigating how gender and emotions shaped the ways different individuals could assert or maintain authority, or indeed disrupt or provide alternatives to conventional practices of authority, the contributions explore case studies of women and men’s letter-writing, political and ecclesiastical governance, household rule, exercise of law and order, or creative agency.

Ideology is at the heart of two further new eBooks on British culture, both focusing on the 20th century: The Culture of Fascism explores the cultural history of fascism and the Far Right with a view to British fascism from the early 1900s not just as a political movement, but one that established a wide-reaching fascist culture reaching into film, theatre, music, literature, the visual arts and mass media. The contributions offer discussions of fascist marching songs and “Aryan” music, fascism in science, the cult of the New Fascist Man, and fascist masculinity and femininity. Peter Clarke’s Hope and Glory also looks at British society in the 20th century, considering a number of diverse aspects of three generations who lived through a century of unparalleled change. He offers a wider examination of the political, social, cultural and economic changes throughout, and how issues such as jobs and prices, food and shelter, and education and welfare have shaped the society we live in.

Finally, fundamental questions of Britishness and British identity in the 21st century are raised in Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, a provocative exploration of the personal experiences of a mixed-race British woman living in a nation in denial about its imperial past, and about the racism that plagues its present. Described as a memoir with social analysis and a political and social challenge of unconscious biases, or as part historical exploration, part journalistic exposé of racism and class disadvantage in modern Britain, Hirsch’s book looks at the real world impact of concepts such as ‘racism’,  ‘prejudice’, and ‘disadvantage’ on the lives of real people, placing her own lifelong search for identity against the backdrop of a national identity crisis, and offering insights on the issues of race, identity and the multiple meanings of Britishness.

Temporary access until 30 July: Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War: Intelligence, Strategy and Diplomacy

Colleagues in the Social Science Library have organised temporary access until 30 July to Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War: Intelligence, Strategy and Diplomacy. Oxford researchers, use your SSO for remote access.

This resource provides access to British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files from 1873 to 1953, with the majority of files dating from the 1930s and 1940s.

Spanning four key twentieth century conflicts, with a spotlight on the Second World War, the material is sourced from The National Archives, U.K.

Please send feedback to Jo Gardner, Bodleian Social Science Librarian.