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.

 

 

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“.

New sit-stand desks in the Upper Gladstone Link

We are currently trialling two ergonomic desk devices in the Upper Gladstone Link that allow readers to adjust their position to either sit or stand at their work space. The WorkFit-Z mini is adapted to hold one of our Reader PCs, whilst the Opløft facilitates materials, such as books, notepads and laptops, to be raised to varying heights.

We’re interested in hearing any reader feedback on the benefits or disadvantages of these devices in helping you study. Please let a member of staff know your views!

The location of the devices is indicated on the map below:

Dyslexia, Visual Stress, and Accessibility Equipment

#DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019

At the History Faculty Library, we’re very keen to create the best possible environment for learning and research.

So, to celebrate #DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019 and the neurodiversity of our readers, here is a guide to our accessibility equipment and how it could help if you are dyslexic, experience visual stress, or have any other barriers to learning.

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?

Dyslexia is diagnosed differently across the world and there are many different hypothesized causes. As it is currently understood in the UK, however, dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that exists on a continuum and frequently overlaps with other types of learning difficulties or disabilities.[1] Professor Margaret J. Snowling, author of the newly published Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction and president of St John’s College, defines dyslexia as ‘a problem with learning which primarily affects the development of reading accuracy and fluency and spelling skills’, though it can also cause problems with speech. It affects phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.[2]

Poor spelling, slow reading and writing speeds, confusing similar letters (like ‘b’ and ‘d’) or your left and right, along with visual stress (discussed below), are all well-known signs of dyslexia. Some of the lesser-known difficulties that affect students at university-level, however, involve more systemic differences in structural thinking. These can make organization and time management, writing and structuring essays, note taking, remembering the right words in tutorial discussions, and finding your way around Oxford University’s many libraries a challenge.

Yet dyslexic ways of thinking can equally result in brilliant insights, creativity, and excellent pattern recognition. Though dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder, it has little to do with education or general intelligence, and affects people of all ages and abilities in diverse ways. A holistic approach and a fair amount of experimentation are therefore required to find out what helps to overcome these difficulties and for dyslexic students to reach their potential.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Friendly librarians and library assistants are always on hand in the History Faculty Library and Bodleian Libraries to show you how things work, help with shelf-marks, retrieve books and find resources. There is no such thing as a silly question!

We also have a variety of accessibility equipment so you can access the resources you need to learn.

Who can use accessibility equipment?

Anyone! If you think you’ll find it helpful, you may use any of the equipment, no questions asked.

What’s available and where can I find it?

Here’s a list of what we have available and where to find it. The equipment can be used anywhere in the Radcliffe Camera or Gladstone Link as long as it’s returned to its original location when you’ve finished using it.

WHAT IS VISUAL STRESS?

Visual stress’, also known as Meares/Irens Syndrome, is a common symptom of dyslexia. Yet not everyone with dyslexia experiences visual stress, and many who do not have dyslexia, do. It’s also a symptom of a whole host of other associated learning difficulties, disabilities, and illnesses that include attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), headaches and migraines, and traumatic brain injuries. Visual stress is a perceptual processing disorder thought to be caused by the way some brains process certain frequencies of light.

What is it like?

Those of us with visual stress interpret regular black lines of text on a white page a bit differently, resulting in perceptual distortions. Serif fonts like Times New Roman make it worse, as do particular colours. When I look at a page of text, for example, it can seem like things are moving in the corners of my vision and white ‘rivers’ constantly emerge from the patterns between the words and lines. I know that these distortions ‘aren’t real’, but my brain interprets the neural data from my eyes in this peculiar way regardless. The same phenomenon occurs with other regular high-contrast patterns like narrow stripes. It reminds me of the way TV screens sometimes appear on film with flickering lines rolling across them. In all, the blurring, double vision, and glare from the white page caused by visual stress present an extra barrier to absorbing and understanding a text and can lead to poor comprehension, eye strain, fatigue, headaches and migraines. It can be particularly unbearable if you are already tired.

What helps? Colour!

Though visual stress does not cause the cognitive problems that you might face if you are dyslexic, relieving this symptom can help with fatigue and aid focus.

Coloured acetate sheets can dampen perceptual distortions by reducing the sharp contrast between the white of the page and black of the text. These transparent plastic sheets can be simply laid over the page you are reading. It is a myth that these ‘cure’ dyslexia, but lots of people report that they do alleviate visual stress.[3] A range of colours are available upon request at the staff desk in the Lower Camera, so if you think these might help, don’t hesitate to ask.

The History Faculty Library also has a variety of coloured paper to use in the printers for the same reasons, as well as coloured reading rulers that help stop your eyes wandering from the line that you want to read. Both are available on request. If you are reading from a screen, try changing the background colour of the document or reducing the brightness and enlarging the size of the text.

Other Assistive Equipment

Brain ‘fog’, procrastination, poor focus, and fatigue are also common challenges for dyslexic readers, so it is important to minimise distractions, support good posture, and make studying as comfortable as possible. Ergonomic equipment is available in the Lower Camera and Upper Gladstone Link to focus your attention and keep you comfortable. The History Faculty Library has ergonomic chairs, foot stools, book stands, and height adjustable desks for standing or sitting.

Daylight lamps at these desks can help prevent eyestrain, and a magnifier is available on request for texts with tiny fonts or help if you are visually impaired.

Ear plugs are available to muffle distracting sounds and if you find these uncomfortable, try listening to white noise tracks on a loop. There are also quiet laptop-free areas on the Gallery in the Upper Camera.

Height Adjustable Desks in the Lower Camera

How do I get further support?

More information about the History Faculty Library’s Services for Disabled readers can be found here. There are many more ways that the University can give support if you are dyslexic that are not discussed here, so if you haven’t already, head to the University’s Disability Advisory Service to find out more.

We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions about how the History Faculty Library can support you, so come and talk to us in person or email us at radcam-enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

HFL Disability Contact: rachel.darcy-brown@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Radcliffe Camera Gladstone Link Disability Contact: lyn.jones@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

LINKS AND RESOURCES 

Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (An independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, June 2009).

British Dyslexia Association’s website.

University of Oxford’s History of Dyslexia Project.

Watch Professor Maggie Snowling’s British Academy lecture on ‘Dyslexia: An Impairment of Language Learning’.

Notes

[1] Sir Jim Rose’s independent review for the UK government in 2009 defined dyslexia using the best evidence and remediation practises. It is still widely accepted today. It is worth noting that a discrepancy between ‘IQ-reading skill and actual reading level’ is no longer accepted as a diagnostic-criteria for dyslexia. See Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (2009) <https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/14790/7/00659-2009DOM-EN_Redacted.pdf>.

[2] Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2019), 1.

[3] Despite the widespread acceptance of coloured lenses as a treatment for dyslexia, there is little evidence that specifically tailored colours for each person are required to gain the calming benefit of coloured overlays. Nevertheless, Professor John Stein’s research suggests that blue and yellow overlays may be most helpful. Read about his research here.

 

New Bodleian History Books: July 2019 – Primary Sources

The German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886) is usually hailed as the founder of modern source-based history and the originator of the idea of source criticism (Quellenkritik) in his Zur Kritik neuerer Geschichtsschreiber, a short treatise published as an appendix to his Geschichte der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494–1514 (1824). The form of primary historical sources can of course vary immensely, from written documents and eyewitness accounts to data recorded in interviews and fieldwork, from archaeological sites to artefacts, and from images in paintings, photographs and video recordings to audio recordings and recorded oral history. The later 20th and early 21st century have seen a veritable explosion in the amount of primary source material available in the form of electronic data, whether from internet pages, emails, blog posts, or YouTube contributions.

Ultimately primary sources are what all historiography relies on, even if it is through secondary and tertiary studies, but access to sources can be problematic. Source materials in the form of “relics” (tangible objects) may be one-of-a-kind artefacts in a museum somewhere or archaeological evidence in a remote, restricted dig. Human “narratives” (written sources) may only exists in the original documents in a foreign language kept in the basement of an archive, or in a priceless manuscript or unique handwritten letters secured in a private collection or library. Access to such primary sources is made vastly easier through the painstaking and often undervalued work of researchers who find and edit or document them, possibly translate and write a commentary on them, and then publish the results in order to make these materials available to other historians who, naturally after application of rigorous Quellenkritik, are able to use them to illuminate the past. In this month’s blog I would like to highlight some of the editions of primary source materials newly added to the Bodleian History collections.

The Middle Ages

Samu Niskanen presents a first volume of the collected Letters of Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1109), one of the most interesting theologians and philosophers of the 11th century. With a new edition and English translation of 148 letters from Anselm’s time at the abbey of Bec in Normandy (1060-1093), this first volume offers a fresh account of the saint’s life before becoming archbishop of Canterbury. A critical apparatus, detailed commentary, and an introduction analysing the letters’ transmission to the present day accompany the text. Of interest to political and social (rather than religious or philosophical) historians of the earlier Middle Ages is Neil Stacy’s edition of the Cartae baronum of 12th-century England, documents which detail the numbers and names of all knights on English estates held by the tenants-in-chief of Henry II in the year 1166. Bringing together all the extant cartae for the first time, as well as including evidence of cartae now lost, this edition is a key source for any scholars interested in tracing the histories of individual honors and identifying comital, baronial and knightly landholders of the time.

Rather more local, but also rather longer-term history is covered in two new editions (and translations) of original source material from Germany and Italy respectively. Karin Gieschen has edited the documents of one of the prominent convents of Lower Saxony in her volume on the Urkundenbuch des Augustinerchorfrauenstifts Katlenburg. Founded in 1105 in a former ducal castle, the convent attracted high numbers of female nobility from the 13th century until its secularisation in 1534. Many of its documents were lost over time through fire and sacking; the remainder, held at the regional archives since 1721, is here edited for the first time with an introduction charting the colourful history of the convent and surrounding area. A similarly fascinating detailed look at small-scale local history is offered by Gabriele Archetti and Irma Bonini Valetti with their Italian translation of the Medieval Chronicle of Giacomo Malvezzi. A doctor and humanist of the 15th century, Malvezzi compiled the history of his hometown of Brescia in Lombardy from its founding myth through Roman times to the 14th century, drawing on earlier materials such as Paul the Deacon’s History of the Langobards, and painting a colourful picture of the town through real and imaginary events and characters. This edition includes an introduction with biographical information on Malvezzi as well as a discussion of the structure, the aims and the classical and medieval sources of the chronicle.

The 18th and 19th Centuries

More documents that shed light on Italian history, this time of the 18th century, are offered in Andrea Zedler’s historical-critical edition of the Italian travelogue of the Bavarian Kurprinz Karl Albrecht (later Holy Roman Emperor Karl VII) in Giro d’Italia: die Reiseberichte des bayerischen Kurprinzen Karl Albrecht (1715/16). Accompanied by a commentary, the four accounts by the Prince himself and people who travelled with him offer detailed information on the route, elaborate courtly ceremonial and expenses associated with the royal trip abroad, and help to illustrate political as well as cultural aspects of the voyage and its various destinations. Returning to great Britain, an important part of the Victorian era is made accessible in the 16th and final volume of the collected works of Florence Nightingale edited by Lynn McDonald, Florence Nightingale and Hospital Reform. The volume includes writings on her ideas on safer hospital design, location, and materials; plans for children’s, general, military, and convalescent hospitals and workhouse infirmaries; her influential Notes on Hospitals; her anonymous articles on hospital design; and her copious correspondence with architects, engineers, doctors, philanthropists, local notables, and politicians on the subject.

The 20th century

Two of the new editions of primary sources newly arrived at the Bodleian collect or examine primary sources from World War II. Somewhat controversial in its critical approach to a collection of sources often regarded as sacrosanct, Jürgen Graf presents a thorough Quellenkritik of eyewitness accounts from survivors as well as confessions from the perpetrators of the Holocaust in Auschwitz: Augenzeugenberichte und Tätergeständnisse des Holocaust. 30 Gaskammer-Zeugen kritisch geprüft. The volume offers a new edition of the primary sources themselves as well as a critical analysis on their reliability with a view to possibly misremembered or deliberately embellished or understated accounts, and their alignment with other contemporary historical documents and material evidence. More eyewitness accounts from World War II are also newly edited by David G. Roskies in Voices from the Warsaw Ghetto, a collection of reports, diaries, prose, artwork, poems, jokes, and sermons by the Jewish residents of the ghetto, which were gathered in secret and buried for safekeeping, and rather miraculously survived the devastation of the war.

Into the 21st Century

Very current issues are the topics of the final two volumes I would like to highlight in this month’s blog. In his Making Climate Change History, Joshua P. Howe collects key documents from the scientific and political history of climate change from the 19th to the 21st century, including congressional testimony, scientific papers, newspaper editorials, court cases, and international declarations. The collected documents range from Joseph Fourier’s 1824 “General Remarks on the Temperatures of the Globe and the Planetary Spaces” through The Conservation Foundation’s Implications of Rising Carbon Dioxide Content of the Atmosphere from 1963 all the way to Pope Francis’ 2015 Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Finally, though it is not in the first place an edition of primary sources, Ian Milligan’s History in the age of abundance? How the web is transforming historical research fits in superbly with the topic of this blog in that it discusses the issue of the enormous surge of primary source materials in our age of technology. Historians studying the last decade of the 20th and the first decades of the 21st century encounter historical records radically different from what has ever existed before, being faced with massive quantities of digital information in materials such as old and current websites, social media, blogs, photographs, and videos. In this study Milligan discusses the opportunities as well as technical and ethical challenges of these materials, outlining possible approaches, methods, and tools, and considering the wider implications of this shift to digital information for historians, their professional training and organization, and society as a whole.

You can find more editions of primary sources available at the Bodleian here on our virtual LibraryThing shelf.

New: Oxford Medieval Texts online (Oxford Scholarly Editions Online)

William, Mynors, R. A. B, Thomson, Rodney M., and Winterbottom, Michael. Gesta Regum Anglorum. Vol. 1. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford, 2019.

Medievalists rejoice!

You now have online access to some of OUP’s Oxford Medieval Texts volumes via Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) which is accessible via SOLO.

Oxford Medieval Texts (OMT) is an important series of published scholarly editions of selected key Latin texts relating to the history of medieval Europe. Authors include, for instance, Abelard, Bede, Malmesbury, Saxo Grammaticus, and others.

The critical texts are accompanied by a full scholarly apparatus and include a commentary and English translations on facing pages.

Currently 31 ebooks in the OMT series are now available.

This subscription is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Madeline Barber Bequest.

The earliest OMT example in OSEO is

The latest is

The Bodleian hardcopy of the OMT series is in the Upper Reading Room (URR), Old Bodleian Library, at shelfmark K.7.34.

Check here for a full list of the 100+ titles in this series.

While you are here, check out…

Women history resources at Oxford University (Part 2): a selection of digital resources in the Oxford Libraries

Following on from the first History Day 2018 blog post on Oxford’s archival resources for women’s history, I now turn my attention to interesting full-text online source databases which are available to all registered Bodleian readers. The resources span early modern to modern periods and cover a range of materials, such as diaries, letters, papers and publications by women or for women. Many have a surprisingly global reach though English-language sources still dominate.

Conducting full-text searches in these resources is very difficult. However, many databases are structured in such way as to help find information about women’s daily lives, their thoughts and feelings, but also provide facts and reports on their contributions to e.g. the war efforts. As ever, the more you know about your topic, gleaned from secondary readings, the more success you are likely to have when searching these resources.

More information can also be found on our LibGuide to Women’s Studies.

British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries 1500-1950 (subscription resource)
Documents the personal and immediate experiences of approximately 500 women, as revealed in over 90,000 pages of diaries and letters.

Defining Gender, 1450-1910 (subscription resource)
A thematically organised collection of original primary source material from British archives, which ‘explores the study and analysis of gender, leisure and consumer culture’.

Association for Promoting the Education of Women, 1889-1899 correspondence. Defining Gender.

Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO) (free on web)

EMLO provides access to a combined finding aid and editorial interface for basic descriptions of early modern correspondence: a collaboratively populated union catalogue of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century letters.

Includes, for instance, the correspondence of Anne Conway (1631-1679)

21 Feb 1650: More, Henry (Dr), 1614-1687 (Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England) to Conway, Anne, 1631-1679. EMLO.

Gerritsen Collection–Women’s History Online, 1543-1945 (subscription resource)
A collection of ‘books, pamphlets and periodicals reflecting the revolution of a feminist consciousness and the movement for women’s rights’, with ‘more than 4,700 publications from continental Europe, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand, dating from 1543-1945. This resource has a more global reach than it might appear.

Granet, La polygynie sororale… (1920), Gerritsen Collection

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries (subscription resource)
Collection of some 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals writing from colonial times to 1950. Documents the personal experiences of over 1,300 women.

International Women’s Periodicals, 1786-1933: Social and Political Issues (Archives Unbound) (subscription resource)
Online access to 57 women’s magazine and journal publications covering the late eighteenth century to the 1930s. The material allows researchers to explore the role of women in society and the development of the public lives of women as the push for women’s rights (woman suffrage, fair pay, better working conditions, etc.) grew in the United States and England. Some of the titles in this collection were conceived and published by men for women; others, conceived and published by male editors with strong input from female assistant editors or managers; others were conceived and published by women for women. It is therefore also useful for the study of the history of women’s publishing. The strongest suffrage and anti-suffrage writing was done by women for women’s periodicals. Suffrage and anti-suffrage writing, domesticity columns, and literary genres from poetry to serialized novels are included in these periodicals

Gallery of Fashion, Nov 1794. International Women’s Periodicals 1786-1933.

London Low Life (subscription resource)
This collection brings to life the teeming streets of Victorian London, inviting students and scholars to explore the gin palaces, brothels and East End slums of London in the 19th century. From salacious ‘swell’s guides’ to scandalous broadsides and subversive posters, the material sold and exchanged on London’s bustling thoroughfares offers an unparalleled insight into the dark underworld of the city. Children’s chapbooks, street cries, slang dictionaries and ballads were all part of a vibrant culture of street literature.This is also an incredible visual resource for students and scholars of London, with many full colour maps, cartoons, sketches and a full set of the essential Tallis’ Street Views of London – resource for the study of London architecture and commerce. Also includes George Gissing’s famous London scrapbooks from the Pforzheimer Collection, containing his research for London novels such as New Grub Street and The Netherworld.

Women’s Refuges 1871-1880 in London. Thematic Data Map. London Low Life.

Mass Observation Online (subscription resource)
This is a collection of much of the material from the Mass Observation Archive which also records the voices of women. It includes the entire File Report sequence 1937-1972, access to all of the Day Surveys, Directives and Diaries, 1937-1967, Mass Observation Publications 1937-1965 and 87 Topic Collection (e.g. e.g. Smoking Habits 1937-1965, etc.). The Worktown Collection includes material of a major study of the towns of Bolton (Worktown) and Blackpool (Holidaytown).

Diarist 5387, 11 July 1940 [on sexual harassment]. Mass Observation

Useful for the study of social history, sociology, etc., of modern Britain, it covers topics such as abortion, old age, crime, eating habits, shopping, fashion, dance, popular music, coal mining, adult education, sex, reading, ethnic minorities, and the decline of Empire. It is a resource that will be useful to historians, literary scholars, sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists.

Past Masters: Full-Text Humanities (subscription resource)
A collection of primary-source full-text humanities databases, including:

  • Les Œuvres de Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Letters of Jane Austen
  • Bluestocking Feminism 1738-1785.
  • The Letters of Charlotte Brontë
  • The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney
  • The Notebooks and Library of George Eliot
  • The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844

Perdita Manuscripts: Women Writers 1500-1700 (subscription resource) Access to 230 digitised manuscripts from the Perdita Project, written or compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Women, War and Society, 1914–1918 (Archives Unbound) (subscription resource)
A digital collection of First World War charity and international relief reports, pamphlets, photographs, press cuttings and more. It fully documents the essential contribution of women during the Great War as well as the revolutionary and permanent impact the World War I had on the personal, social and professional lives of these women. It is an important collection for research into 20th century social, political, military and gender history.

Report On The Increased Employment Of Women During The War With Statistics Relating To July 1917. The Women at Work Collection, Imperial War Museum, London, in Women, War and Society, 1914–1918.

Women Writers Online (subscription resource)
A full-text collection of texts by pre-Victorian women writers, published by the Women Writers Project at Northeastern University.

I close with reference to the underrated Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900 (subscription resource). For instance, it helps you locate details of Victorian periodicals on e.g. women’s interest as well as give details of editors, circulation figures, etc.

Waterloo Directory for English Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900 – Women Fashion search

There is even more!

It goes without saying that other online source databases will of course have material relevant for women’s history, even though they are not dedicated to them. Browse our Databases A-Z to discover more.

Useful links:

Vacation Loans Start Today!

Vacation loans start today – borrow up to 15 books. This increases to 20 books on Thursday 29 November and will include Short Loans. Everything will be due back on Monday 14th January (1st Week).

Camera staff would like to wish all readers a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! If you decide you’d like to combine your mince pies with some online reading, don’t forget you can access access many of our resources electronically. With your Single Sign On, you can make use of all our ebookejournal and database subscriptions while away from Oxford.

Books Recently Added to the History Faculty Library

Your prayers have been answered! The library has recently bought books on Catholic History, from Catholic revolutionaries in Poland and France to a history of the Second Vatican Council and much more.

For a full list of recent acquisitions, including other topics, click on the image below:

Kosicki. Catholics on the barricades : Poland, France, and “revolution”, 1891-1956 (2018, New Haven, YUP)

Pollard. Catholicism in modern Italy : religion, society and politics since 1861 (2008, Abingdon, Routledge)

Walser-Smith. Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914

Farrelly, Anti-Catholicism in America, 1620-1860 (2018, Cambridge, CUP)

Tallett. Catholicism in Britain and France since 1789 (1996, London, Hambledon Press)

Alberigo. History of Vatican II (1995-2006, Maryknoll, Orbis)

There are more! Find them here.

You will also find our New Books Display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

Personalise your alerts

If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

Important: Summer Vacation Loans 2018

With the end of Trinity Term fast approaching, readers are advised that vacation borrowing for the summer will commence on Wednesday 20th June (9th week). From this date onwards, HFL borrowing limits will increase to 30 items (short loans inclusive), with a due date of Monday 8th October. Please note, these changes will take place a week later than in previous years, due to the introduction of a new History of the British Isles assessment for 2nd year History undergraduates, which means that there will be greater demand than usual for library resources in 8th and 9th week.  If you borrow any items during this period, please be sure to check the due dates carefully in order to avoid getting caught out. Email library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with any questions. Good luck in the coming weeks!