Easter Opening: closed Friday 19 to Sunday 21 April; open Easter Monday 22 April

The library will be closed over the Easter weekend, from Friday 19 April to Sunday 21 April inclusive. However, we will be open on Easter Monday (22 April), from 9am-5pm. Please note, there will be no book delivery service on this day. Normal Vacation hours (9am-7pm) and deliveries will resume on Tuesday 23 April.

If you decide you’d like to combine your chocolate with some reading whilst the library is closed, don’t forget you can access many of our resources electronically. With your Single Sign On, you can make use of all our ebook, ejournal and database subscriptions while away from Oxford.

Happy Easter everyone!

Early modernists: Learn how to use State Papers Online (SPO) (webcast)

Researchers and students working on early modern history will usually, at some point or other, come across the need to use State Papers Online (SPO) which is accessible via SOLO and Databases A-Z. SPO a wonderfully rich source database but not easy to use and the extent of the content is not always fully understood. Oxford researchers now have access to a webcast of a 1h12m long training session with Cengage’s trainer Caroline Beckford and a few historians, 3 May 2018, 1.30-3pm, Lecture Theatre, History Faculty.

The training session goes into some detail explaining the content of the materials that have been digitised (letters, treaties, maps, plans, etc.) and how to find them. If you want to learn more about SPO and have an hour to spare, then I highly recommend watching the webcast from the comfort of your armchair and a cup of tea by your side.

What is State Papers Online?

SPO contains the Tudor and Stuart governments “domestic” and “foreign” papers – the equivalent of today’s documents from the Home and Foreign Offices and the Royal Archives. These everyday working papers of the British royal government reveal Tudor and Stuart society and government, religion and politics in all its drama allowing scholars to trace the remarkable – and frequently violent – transformations of the 16th & 17th centuries.

This major resource re-unites the Domestic, Foreign, Borders, Scotland, and Ireland State Papers of Britain with the Registers of the Privy Council and other State Papers now housed in the Cotton, Harley and Lansdowne collections in the British Library. The papers are digitised images and are accompanied by the Calendars. The Calendars State Papers are fully searchable, and each Calendar entry has been linked directly to its related State Paper.

Charter for the Levant Company, [Jan 7] 1591; Document:SP 97/2 ff. 159-60 – State Papers Online (accessed 10 April 2010)

Among the Calendars included are the HMC Calendars and the Haynes/Murdin transcriptions of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House.

SPO is relevant to those studying Early Modern British and European history: diplomatic, political, social, cultural, local, legal, religious, kingship and queenship, exploration, travel and trade and early empire; Early Modern literature; Renaissance and Reformation Studies; Tudor & Stuart history.

Also of interest

New Bodleian History Books: March 2019 – Ireland

In honour of St Patrick’s Day celebrated not two weeks ago, I would like to use this March edition of the New Bodleian History Books blog to showcase a number of studies on Ireland and Irish history newly arrived at the library this month.

The history of the island of Ireland is a long one, from the first evidence of human habitation 12,500 years ago through the Christianisation period and St Patrick’s work on the island in the 5th century; the Viking presence from the raids in the 8th century to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014; the Norman invasion in 1169; the conquests, rebellions and religious conflicts in the early modern period; the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; the union with Great Britain in 1801; the great Famine in the mid-19th century; the Home Rule, Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century; the Troubles in the late 1960s and Bloody Sunday; the Good Friday Agreement; all the way to the threat of a hard border in Ireland and the role of the DUP in Britain’s Brexit negotiations today.

Rather than attempting to provide anything like a comprehensive overview of any of these eventful eras, most of the books on Irish history that have arrived in the Bodleian this month can be seen as presenting a variety of interesting snapshots of Ireland’s long history, and its societies and cultures.

The Great Famine

This year marks the sesquicentenary of the end of the Great Irish Famine (1845-49), and two of the volumes deal with this watershed event in the history of Ireland: The Great Irish Famine and Social Class looks at the impact of the catastrophe on Ireland’s economy (including its relations with Britain) and investigates topics such as the suffering of the rural classes, landlord-tenant and class relations, Poor Laws, and relief operations during the food crisis. A rather different approach is taken by Niamh Ann Kelly in Imaging the Great Irish Famine, which examines commemorative visual culture – memorial images, objects and locations – from that period to the early twenty-first century, linking these artefacts of historical trauma and enforced migration to the ongoing dispossession of people across the world who are driven out of their homes and countries on a wave of conflict, poverty and famine.

The Irish Abroad

Voluntary rather than enforced emigration and travel by Irish nationals is thematised in two other new studies. In Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela Bernadette Cunningham traces the long connection between Ireland and the shrine of St James in Galicia, and tells the stories of some of the men and women who undertook the hazardous journey by land and sea between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, drawing on sources from official documents, historical chronicles, literary texts and saints’ Lives to archaeological finds to look at the varied influences on and motivations of these pilgrims. The story of a group of 1,300 young Irish men who travelled across Europe several centuries later to defend Pope Pius IX’s Papal States on the Italian Peninsula is told by Donal P. Corcoran in The Irish Brigade in the Pope’s army 1860. The volume looks at the battles in which the Irish fought and died for the pope at Perugia, Spoleto, Castelfidardo and Ancona, as well as their imprisonment at Genoa after the defeat of the pope’s forces, and their heroes’ welcome when they were finally allowed to journey home to Ireland.

Irish Local History

Charting the history of the diocese of Derry is Ciarán Devlin’s The Making of Medieval Derry; originally published in 2013 it is out in a new paperback edition made greatly accessible through a number of new indices. Devlin’s history of Derry is a tale of saints and sinners, of churchmen and warlords, of scholars and craftsmen, of Derry itself as sacred city, as frontier citadel, as royal capital and episcopal see. Also looking back at local history is John O’Callaghan in his volume on the role of Limerick as a key social, political and military battleground during the Irish revolution, Limerick: The Irish revolution, 1912-23. This is only one of so far eight similar volumes on these eventful years published by Four Courts Press which draw on a wide array of contemporary sources to try and draw a realistic picture of the lives of local people in Mayo, Louth, Derry, Monaghan. Waterford, Tyrone and Sligo as well as in Limerick during this time.

Residing in Ireland

The long and varied relationship between religion and landscape in Ireland during the dawn of Christianity, the Middle Ages and the post-medieval era is discussed in Church and Settlement in Ireland, with twelve individual essays on how, over the centuries, the church formed a core component of settlement and played a significant role in the creation of distinct cultural landscapes in Ireland. For the 20th century, Emer Crooke takes a look the same topic of residence and buildings on the island with his book White Elephants, which discusses the country house and the state in post-independence Ireland from 1922 to 1973. Not regarded as an integral part of the national heritage, but rather symbols of British oppression, hundreds of former landlords’ residences were sold on, demolished or simply abandoned to ruin in these decades, with politicians torn between conserving them, or burying them and the past they represented.

 Ireland in the Press

Finally, historians and journalists celebrate the character, role, culture and history of the Irish Sunday newspaper over the course of the last century in The Sunday papers: a history of Ireland’s weekly press, with chapters, with individual chapters each examining a particular paper, from long-running, prestigious publications like the Sunday Independent or the Sunday Times to papers such as the Sunday Freeman which only ran in the years 1913–16. The chapters examine the Ireland in which these papers first appeared, their origins, proprietors, editors, journalists and contributors, their major stories and controversies, business dynamic, circulation and readership, and assess their overall contribution to Irish journalism, society and culture.

You can find all our books tagged with “Ireland” on LibraryThing here.

New ejournal: Brill Research Perspectives in Jesuit Studies, 1, 2019-

Oxford historians will be pleased to know that online access to Brill Research Perspectives in Jesuit Studies (eISSN 2589-7454) is now available via SOLO.

This peer-reviewed journal publishes four fascicles each year on various thematic subjects. It has a global reach and covers early modern and modern history.

Vol.1, Issue 1 (2019): Jesuit Schools and Universities in Europe 1548–1773

Vol. 1, Issue 2 (2019): Gathering Souls: Jesuit Missions and Missionaries in Oceania (1668–1945)

While you are here, you might also be interested in:

  • Index Religiosus: International Bibliography of Theology, Church History and Religious Studies [subscription resource]: Index Religiosus is a reference bibliography for academic publications in Theology, Religious Studies and Church History. It covers publications written in various European languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, etc.) and is the result of collaboration between the Catholic University of Louvain and the KU Leuven, which are both recognized internationally for their excellence in the field of Theology and Religious Studies. The new bibliography starts on the basis of two existing bibliographies: the bibliography of the Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique and the Elenchus Bibliographicus from the journal Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses. From January 2014 onwards, the printed version of the bibliography of the Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique and the Elenchus Bibliographicus will be no longer available. These printed bibliographies will be replaced by the Index Religiosus.
  • ATLA with ATLASerials [subscription resource]: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials is the full text version of the ATLA Religion Database (ATLA). This database is a collection of major religion and theology journals selected by some of the major religion scholars in the United States. Coverage of this database dates back to 1949
  • Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation [subscription resource]: Catholic authors of the 16th and 17th centuries took advantage of print technology to create a vast treasury of published documents–a legacy that to this day has been but selectively sampled and appreciated. The Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation makes the documentary riches of this era more accessible than ever, adding powerful functionalities that maximize the flexibility with which researchers can search, view, organize, and manipulate this historically important source material. With new content uploads occurring on a regular basis, the database offers a constantly growing treasury of documents, including papal and synodal decrees, catechisms and inquisitorial manuals, biblical commentaries, theological treatises and systems, liturgical writings, saints’ lives, and devotional works.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

Vacation loans begin Monday!

From Monday 4th March you may start checking books out for the Easter vacation.

You can borrow up to 15 books but from Thursday 7th March the limit goes up to 20 including short loans.

Please return or renew your current loans by Wednesday 6th March and remember to pay your fines.

Vac loans must be returned by Monday of first week in Trinity Term (29th April). Please don’t leave them at home or you will be fined!

New Bodleian History Books: February 2019 – Historical Letters

In this 21st century, corresponding in longhand is a dying art – the idea of a “love email” really does not ring right, and online blogs have all but replaced the open letter and the handwritten diary.

But as primary sources for the study of history, letters, whether hand- or later machine-written, have a unique appeal – however much distance the individual contemporary conventions may add, letters still always convey a sense of directness and immediacy. They seem to us to open a window into the writers’ innermost thoughts, and let us feel a special closeness to their lives and circumstances.

There is certainly no shortage of famous letter-writers whose creations have been preserved for posterity – the letters of Pliny the Younger to the Roman historian Tacitus with their eye-witness accounts of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; the Epistles of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, Corinthians or Ephesians; the exchanges of the tragic lovers Heloise and Abelard in the 12th century; or the around 3,000 letters of Queen Elizabeth I, some of them to her youthful successor James VI of Scotland.

Occasionally, even more interestingly, letters of not-so-famous people survive, and offer the historian unique insights into the lives, concerns, and views of (mostly) ordinary people. The Paston family’s letters to each other which cover over 70 years and document their rise from peasantry to aristocracy are a case in point, or the collections of so-called pauper letters, written in the 18th and early 19th century to the overseers of the poor by the poor people themselves.

The modern electronic letter may, however, have one advantage over the traditional handwritten one – it is far easier to save, store, or make accessible. Historical letters on paper, if they even survive, can be difficult to access; they are stored in archives or museum collections, or remain in the possession of the writers’ relatives and heirs, or the original correspondents. To be useful as sources for historians, historical letters need to be laboriously collected, preserved, edited, perhaps even translated, in order to become an accessible source for historians to study.

This February, a number of the new history books acquired by the Bodleian are such collections of letters as primary sources of history from the early modern and modern periods, which supply insights into a multitude of different lives, minds, and concerns.

Two of these are part of vast collections of letters that shed light on some of the Greats in the history of science. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a compulsive letter-writer and respondent, who made a point of replying to every letter he received. As a result, the edition of his collected correspondence runs to currently 26 volumes, the latest of which has just arrived in the Bodleian. The correspondence of Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), the foremost systematist and system builder of Darwinism, reaches similar proportions with over 44,000 letters which represent a rich resource of information about intellectual, cultural, and social life during the industrializing era of Germany. A major 25-year project by the Ernst Haeckel House has just published the first volume of a planned 25-volume critical edition of his collected letters.

There are also three new collections of letters with a political focus. Although all three are concerned with German history, they are very different otherwise. From the era of World War II comes a collection of letters written and sent back home by both German and Russian young soldiers from Stalingrad. Two more collections shed light on German politics of the later post-war era: letters and other documents that illustrate the interactions of the author Heinrich Böll with German Socialist Party leader and Chancellor Willy Brandt throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, and the political reports and correspondence written by Swiss diplomats stationed in East Berlin in the 1980s.

Last but not least (because it is after all not even two weeks since Valentine’s Day) there are the love letters. J’ai tellement envie de vous presents 25 years’ worth of love letters written by the (in)famous ladies’ man and King of France Henry IV (1553-1610) to his many and various wives and mistresses. Of slightly less elevated status, but still from aristocratic circles, are the correspondents of the collection Briefe der Liebe: in 18th century Germany Henriette von der Malsburg, 16 years old, enters into a marriage of convenience with Georg Ernst von und zu Gilsa  – but they subsequently, and surprisingly to them both, fall passionately in love. Their letters explore both the overwhelming emotional and the physical aspects of their love, but come to an abrupt end after only a year of married bliss with Henriette’s death in childbirth in 1767. Rather longer-lasting is the literary relationship of Balthasar and Magdalena Paumgartner, a merchant couple from Nürnberg, Germany, whose 169 letters from over 16 years of marriage provide a fascinating look at the  work conditions, property issues, gender roles, emotions, married life and family relations at the turn of the 17th century.

If this sounds interesting, do check out the lists of all Bodleian History books on LibraryThing tagged with “letter writing” and “correspondence”!

 

New: Diccionario Biográfico Electrónico (DBE)

I am pleased to report that Oxford researchers now have access to the Diccionario Biográfico Electrónico (DBE).

The DBE is an updated and corrected version of the Spanish national biography, Diccionario biográfico español, providing online access to more than 45,000 biographies of deceased individuals which span 2,500 years of Spanish history. While its focus is on the Iberian Peninsula, it has a global reach to include biographies of individuals active in territories which were part of the Spanish administration. Each biography has a brief listing of key readings.

Important: please note that only the basic search is available without login. For advanced search, log in using the username and password on WebLearn (see instructions in Databases A-Z). Please log out when you have finished as only one Oxford user can be logged in at a time.

Advanced search is particularly useful to locate biographies of individuals whose names you don’t know. For instance you can search by religion, profession, locality, etc. Once you have found a biographical entry, DBE then suggests other individuals related in some way to your person of interest.

While you are here…

  • List of other online biographical resources (only some will be freely accessible)
  • New books on historical biography (blogpost January 2019)
  • Tip how to find published biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, etc. in SOLO:
    • In SOLO, go to Advanced Search
    • Change Any Field to Subject
    • Add biography to the Subject field
    • Can you refine your search further by adding for instance a country to the search, limiting it by language or publication year.

 

Trial until 1 March: Foreign Office Files for the Middle East 1971-1981

Colleagues in the Social Science Library (SSL) have arranged trial access to Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 which is available until 1 March 2019.

This resource is an online collection of documents sourced from The National Archives, UK, which are useful for the understanding the events in the Middle East during the 1970s. It comprises formerly classified British government documents, including correspondence, annual reports, dispatches, maps, minutes of ministerial meetings and printed leaflets. The documents relate to a number of topics including the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Oil Crisis, the Lebanese Civil War and the Camp David Accords, the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. The resource also assesses military interventions and peace negotiations carried out by regional and foreign powers like the United States and Russia.

Commercial interests are also scrutinised, with in-depth analyses of Middle East nations’ economic stability and reviews of international arm sales policies. The activities of oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia are closely monitored, with particular reference to the Gulf States and members of OPEC.

Utilising the significant collection of diplomatic correspondence, minutes, reports, political summaries and personality profiles, users can explore a decade characterised by conflict.

The online archive will be of particular interest to researchers in International Relations, Politics, Global Governance and Diplomacy, Public Policy, International Development, Economics, Area Studies, History and more.

Please send any feedback about this trial to jo.gardner@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

While you are here…

… the following related source databases and guides are already available to Oxford researchers:

New for early modernists: The Cecil Papers

It gives me great pleasure to announce that early modernists at Oxford now have access to The Cecil Papers. The purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of many donors and contributors across the University: English Faculty Library, History Faculty, Merton College, All Souls College, St John’s College Library, Lincoln College, Oriel College Library, Balliol College Library, Keble College Library, New College, Pembroke College Library, and St Hugh’s College Library. I am very grateful to all donors without whom the purchase of this important historical source database, which has long been on the history eresources desiderata, would not have been possible.

The Cecil Papers provides online access to a collection of Tudor and early Stuart documents, principally from the reigns of Elizabethan I and James I/VI, privately held by the Gascoyne-Cecil family at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. After 1585. Attrib. to Marcus Gheeraerts the Yr [Public domain]

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1602.
John de Critz [Public domain]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The resource contains nearly 30,000 documents gathered by William Cecil (1521-98), Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612), First Earl of Salisbury. These important statesmen were Lord High Treasurer and Secretary of State serving under Elizabeth I and then James I. It complements extremely well the State Papers Online.

The collection includes many 16th and 17th century state papers, grants from the Crown, legal documents, treaties, correspondence, political memoranda, reports but also family and estate papers.

Key events covered in this collection include:

  • The clandestine plans for James’ accession to the English throne
  • Mary Queen of Scots’ imprisonment and execution
  • Tudor re-conquest of Ireland
  • The Spanish Armada
  • Military events in the Low Countries
  • Gunpowder Plot
  • The Main Plot and imprisonment of Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Early English settlement of America

The manuscripts are full-text searchable on the ProQuest platform. You can see both the scanned original manuscript as well as the transcribed version which will help those struggling with their palaeographical skills. Full-text searching is possible and hits are usefully highlighted.

The names and number of the ships that served against the Spanish Fleet.

July [1588] CP 166/83, The Cecil Papers. All Rights Reserved. Images reproduced by courtesy of Hatfield House Archives.

The Publication Search allows you to browse specifically for Family / Estate Papers, Maps, and Petitions.

Researchers will find a number of additional support material, available in the About section. They include:

  • An essay about the archival history of the collection.
  • Notes on the numbering of the Cecil Papers and the scope of the digital collection.
  • brief introduction to some key points of palaeography.
  • Some quick reference material, relating to differences in dating, numerical and monetary systems, likely to be found in documents such as those contained within The Cecil Papers.

The Cecil Papers are now available on Databases A-Z and will soon also be in SOLO.

While you are here…

New Bodleian History Books: January 2019 – Historical Biographies

Throughout the ages writers have produced countless famous biographies of similarly famous men in history, from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (2nd century AD) to Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects of Renaissance Italy (1550), Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), Carlyle’s Life of Frederick the Great (1858), or even Ian Kershaw’s Hitler (1991).

Because of its connection to and overlap with popular books of the less scholarly “life writing” tradition, academic historical biography has been something of a stepchild for the subject: “The border separating history and biography has always been uncertain and anything but peaceful” is how Sabina Loriga puts it in her chapter on “The Role of the Individual in History” in a recent volume on Theoretical Discussions of Biography (Loriga, 2014, p. 77). Loriga discusses questions of biographical analysis (“What is important and unimportant in the life of a person?”) as well as questions concerning the relationship between biography and history (“Can the life of an individual illuminate the past?”) (Loriga, 2014, 89). Academic historical biography is thus concerned with both these types of questions, and uses biographical information to examine the lives of individuals in relation to secular and ecclesiastical institutions, local communities, social groups, and other entities, to, as Loriga phrases it, “reassess the balance between personal destinies and social structures” (Loriga, 2014, 90).

Thomas Carlyle famously stated that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”, but the latest Bodleian acquisitions of the genre beg to differ on both the “great” and the “men” parts of this statement – they include accounts of the lives of undeniably fascinating and influential but not necessarily history-making men and, importantly, women from a vast range of different times, locations, societies, and social circumstances. Here are only a few examples from the three main historical eras to whet your appetite.

For the medieval era, Giorgio Godi describes in detail a few years of the fascinating life and times of the 14th-century longbow man, soldier and mercenary captain John Hawkwood, a man of almost mythical proportions.

Medieval women are also well-represented: Leonora Alice Neville presents a volume on the life and work of Anna Komene, the 12th century Byzantine princess, scholar, physician, hospital administrator, and historian, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and historical biographer in her own right as the author of The Alexiad, her account of her father’s reign. In her Stories of women in the Middle Ages, Maria Teresa Brolis then tells the fascinating tales of sixteen other medieval women who led equally interesting lives as fashion icons, art clients, businesswomen, saints, healers, lovers, or pilgrims throughout the European Middle Ages, from Hildegard of Bingen to Heloise, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Saint Clare of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and to lesser-known but still well-documented women such as a moneylender, a healer, and a pilgrim.

The early modern era is represented by a man very close to home in Vittoria Feola’s biography of Elias Ashmole, whose donation of his cabinet of curiosities to the University of Oxford in 1677 led to the establishment of the world’s first university museum, the Ashmolean. Rather less fulfilled (and certainly shorter) lives were led by the three women of the Italian Renaissance which are the subject of Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan’s and Jean-Claude Maire Vigueur’s book Décapitées. As the title rather suggests, she singles out three cases of women who were beheaded – or more precisely publicly executed for adultery on the orders of their husbands. These wives of three of the greatest lords of Renaissance Italy – Mantua, Milan, and Ferrara – were executed for adultery, though on a closer look it seems what they were most guilty of was having tried to take an active part in the great political and cultural innovations of their time.

On the cusp of the modern era we then find In Napoleon’s shadow, an account of a life lived not as, but alongside a traditional “great man” – it is an edition of the complete memoirs of Louis-Joseph Marchand, the personal valet to Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile to Elba, the Hundred Days, and his exile to St Helena until his death.

Moving into the 20th century the men are represented by a very brief life, with an even briefer apogee, but nonetheless one which : Robert M. Zoske’s Flamme sein! (“Be a flame!”) is a biography of Hans Scholl, founder of the nonviolent Nazi resistance movement Die Weisse Rose. It was less than a year after the group started  distributing their leaflets at German universities in the early summer of 1942, Hans and his sister Sophie were arrested, tried, and shortly after executed on 22 February 1943. A detailed look at the same period of German history from the female side is shown in Elisabeth Krimmer’s German women’s life writing and the Holocaust, which looks at memoirs, diaries, or autobiographically inspired fiction of women who were complicit bystanders during the National Socialist regime, whether as army auxiliaries or nurses, but also as female refugees, rape victims, and Holocaust survivors – their continuing support for the regime and, in some cases, their growing estrangement from it.

You can find all items tagged as “biography” in the Bodleian History collections here.