Institute of Historical Research

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...

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...

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 today, this important new book details how successive governments have applied a selective...

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...

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...

Edited by Siân Pooley and Jonathan Taylor
September 17, 2021

The history of childhood and welfare in Britain through the eyes of children. Children’s Experiences of Welfare in Modern Britain brings together the latest historical research on welfare provision by the state, charities and families from 1830 to 1980. Demonstrating how the young were integral to the making, interpretation, delivery and impact of welfare services, the chapters consider a wide range of investments in young people’s lives, including residential institutions, emigration schemes, hospitals and clinics, schools, social housing and familial care. Drawing upon thousands of personal testimonies, including a wealth of writing by children themselves, the book shows that we can only understand the history and...

Edited by Fiona McCall
June 23, 2021

In 1645, as the First Civil War approached its end, a second Reformation took place which created profound dislocations in religion and in British society. The Church was disestablished, and godly puritan practices promoted in parish churches and everyday life. Some clergy and parishioners embraced change; others were horrified, experiencing these as times of madness and trouble. Historians continue to debate the extent of the social disruption that resulted, and the impact of godly ideals. 

With an introduction from Professor Bernard Capp, pre-eminent social historian of the period, this collection of essays assesses interregnum religious practice at ground level, based on a sophisticated understanding of the...

Ewan Gibbs
February 15, 2021

The flooding and subsequent closure of Scotland’s last deep coal mine in 2002 brought a centuries long saga to an end. Villages and towns across the densely populated Central Belt owe their existence to coal mining’s expansion during the nineteenth century and its maturation in the twentieth. Colliery closures and job losses were not just experienced in economic terms: they had profound implications for what it meant to be a worker, a Scot and a resident of an industrial settlement. Coal Country presents the first book-length account of deindustrialization in the Scottish coalfields. It draws on archival research using records from UK government, the nationalized coal industry and trade unions, as well as the...

Sarah Goldsmith
November 30, 2020

The Grand Tour was a journey to continental Europe undertaken by British nobility and wealthy landed gentry during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a rite of passage, the Tour also played an important role in the formation of contemporary notions of elite masculinity.

Examining letters, diaries and other records left by Grand Tourists, tutors and their families, this book demonstrates how the Tour was used to educate elite young men in a wide variety of skills, virtues and masculine behaviours that extended well beyond polite society. Sarah Goldsmith argues that dangerous experiences, in particular, were far more central to the Tour as a means of constructing Britain’s next generation of leaders than has...

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