Institute of Historical Research

Edited by Peter Collinge and Louise Falcini and series edited by Elizabeth Hurren
July 18, 2022

The Old Poor Law in England and Wales, administered by the local parish, dispensed benefits to paupers providing a uniquely comprehensive, pre-modern system of relief. The law remained in force until 1834, and provided goods and services to keep the poor alive.

Combining short and long-form articles and essays, Providing for the Poor bring together academics and practitioners from across disciplines, to re-examine the micro-politics of poverty in the long eighteenth-century through the eyes of the poor, their providers and enablers. From the providence of the parochial sixpence given in order to move a beggar on, to coercive marriages, plebeian clothing and the much broader implications of vagrancy towards the end of the...

Pamela J. Fisher
June 29, 2022

This publication, the fourth VCH Short from Leicestershire, tells the history of Lutterworth, a small market town in the south-west of the county. John Wyclif was the town’s rector from 1374 until his death in 1384, and the ongoing impact of his controversial writings so concerned the Church that his bones were disinterred and desecrated in 1428 on the instructions of the Pope. Lutterworth was also the birthplace of the jet engine, which was developed by Sir Frank Whittle between 1937 and 1942 in a disused foundry building in the town.  

The evolution and development of Lutterworth from small beginnings before the Norman Conquest to the challenges posed today by its position as a key location for the modern...

Penelope J. Corfield and Tim Hitchcock
May 18, 2022

Writing history is an art and a craft. This handbook supports research students and independent scholars by showing how the historical profession works and how to participate in its vibrant community of scholars. It outlines techniques to help design large-scale research projects, demonstrates the difference between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and provides advice on bringing projects to a positive conclusion. This friendly guide is frank about the pains and pleasures of sticking with a long-term project, and explains how to present original research to wider audiences, including the appropriate use of social media, the art of public lecturing and strategies for publication.

Written by esteemed historians...

Sarah Fox
April 13, 2022

This fascinating new book radically rewrites all that we know about eighteenth-century childbirth by placing women’s voices at the centre of the story. From quickening through to confinement, giving caudle, delivery and lying-in, birth was once a complex ritual that involved entire communities. Drawing on an extensive and under-researched body of materials, such as letters, diaries and recipe books, this book offers critical new perspectives on the history of the family and community. It explores the rituals of childbirth, from birthing clothing to the foods traditionally eaten before and after birth, and also how a woman’s relationship with her family, husband, friends and neighbours changed...

Charlotte Berry
February 15, 2022

The Margins of Late Medieval London is a powerful study of medieval London’s urban fringe. Seeking to unpack the complexity of urban life in the medieval age, this volume offers a detailed and novel approach to understanding London beyond its institutional structures. Using a combination of experimental digital, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the volume casts new light on urban life at the level of the neighbourhood and considers the differences in economy, society and sociability which existed in different areas of a vibrant premodern city. It focuses on the dynamism and mobility that shaped city life, integrating the experiences of London’s poor and migrant communities and how they found...

Simon P. Newman
February 1, 2022

Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London reveals the hidden stories of enslaved and bound people who attempted to escape from captivity in England’s capital.

In 1655 White Londoners began advertising in the English-speaking world’s first newspapers for enslaved people who had escaped. Based on the advertisements placed in these newspapers by masters and enslavers offering rewards for so-called runaways, this book brings to light for the first time the history of slavery in England as revealed in the stories of resistance by enslaved workers. Featuring a series of case-studies of individual "freedom-seekers", this book explores the nature and significance of escape attempts as well as...

Patrick Salmon
December 6, 2021

Herbert Butterfield (1900–1979) was one of the earliest and strongest critics of what he saw as the British government’s attempts to control the past through the writing of so-called, ‘official histories’. His famous diatribe against the 'pitfalls' of government-mandated history first appeared in 1949, at a time when the British government was engaged in publishing official histories and diplomatic documents on an unprecedented scale following the Second World War. But why was Butterfield so hostile to official history, and why do his views still matter today?

Written by one of the few historians employed by the British government, this important new book details how successive governments have applied a selective approach...

Edited by Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Lyndsey Jenkins
November 1, 2021

From 1832 to the present day, from the countryside in Wales to the Comintern in Moscow, from America to Finland and Ireland to Australia, from the girls’ school to the stage, women’s suffrage was the most significant challenge to the constitution since 1832, seeking not only to settle demands for inclusion and justice but to expand and redefine definitions of citizenship. This collection advances ongoing debates within suffrage history whilst also drawing on a range of new sources, different intellectual techniques and methodological approaches, which challenge established interpretations. 

With its focus on politics and political activism in its broadest sense, this collection makes a timely and substantial...

Edited by Heidi Egginton and Zoë Thomas
October 15, 2021

Precarious Professionals uncovers the inequalities and insecurities which lay at the heart of professional life in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. The book challenges conventional categories in the history of work, exploring instead the everyday labour of maintaining a professional identity on the margins of the traditional professions. Situating new historical perspectives on gender at the forefront of their research, the contributors explore how professional cultures could not only define themselves against, but often flourished outside of, the confines of patriarchal codes and structures.

Putting the lives of precarious professionals in dialogue with master narratives in modern British...

Edited by K. J. Kesselring and Natalie Mears
September 30, 2021

An extraordinary court with late medieval roots in the activities of the king’s council, Star Chamber came into its own over the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, before being abolished in 1641 by members of parliament for what they deemed egregious abuses of royal power. Before its demise, the court heard a wide range of disputes in cases framed as fraud, libel, riot, and more. In so doing, it produced records of a sort that make its archive invaluable to many researchers today for insights into both the ordinary and extraordinary.

The chapters gathered here explore what we can learn about the history of an age through both the practices of its courts and the disputes of the people who came before them. With...

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