The IHR’s new blog has now been launched, covering news and activities from across the whole Institute. All of the old posts from here can be found at the new location, and there will continue to be frequent updates on all the IHR’s digital projects.

The IHR Blog can be found here

History SPOT 300dpiThis is my last post for History SPOT and the last blog post for this particular blog.  The History SPOT blog is closing down after almost four years.  That doesn’t mean that the History SPOT website is closing down; it’s just in the process of a reinvention alongside other changes occurring with the Institute of Historical Research’s online presence.

Over the coming months you will begin to see changes with the History SPOT website.  First, the podcasts have just moved over to the IHR website, integrating them with the seminar pages.  In addition IHR podcasts are now appearing on iTunes-u; You Tube; and the School of Advanced Study website.  This part has actually been happening since late last year.

Second, the History SPOT website will become solely a research training platform, moving the focus entirely towards training courses.  In this regard we have a lot in the works already.

Material Cultures

In partnership with the University of Kent and the Museum of London the IHR have been helping to organise a series of workshops around the topic of material culture. These workshops have looked at the meaning of objects, their historical uses, and different methods for analysis. In 2014 the results from these workshops will be redeveloped for presentation online in the form of a FREE short course.

Managing your data

In December the University of Hull held the first in a series of workshops on the topic of managing your data as an historian.  In February the IHR will be holding a second workshop on this topic and then the University of Sheffield will be holding a third workshop in April.  But this is only the start.  In 2014 an entire online course will be made available for FREE on History SPOT that will guide you through the research process and enable you to easily and quickly develop a data management plan, often essential for research proposals and useful for research itself.


A year ago the School of Advanced Study published the first module of the InScribe Palaeography materials course on History SPOT.  Another module is still in development looking more closely at scripts.  This will be ready for launch sometime soon.

All good things…

Although I personally will still have a role with developing these courses I am saying goodbye to the podcast service entirely.  I have now moved over to the School of Advanced Study working on digital projects for them, which will, admittedly, intersect with the IHR and History SPOT website from time to time.

It’s sad for me to close down this blog.  It was my first one, indeed, it’s because of this blog that I have developed others and spent time investigating and researching blogging practises in more general terms (see my Blogging for Historians blog for some examples of this).  I will still be blogging elsewhere as well, such as the SAS Blog and my own research blog, Sixteenth Century Scholars.  I hope too to contribute occasionally to the new IHR blog, and it is to this matter that I would like to particularly turn your attention.

Although the History SPOT blog is coming to an end the posts will live on in the new IHR blog that has just been launched.  You will find all the posts there alongside the archive from other IHR blogs, all rolled into one place.  I’m hopeful that there will still be the occasional review summary of a podcast on this new blog.  There will certainly be updates regarding research training online and updates about changes to the History SPOT website as and when they happen.

For now then I will say goodbye and thank you for reading this blog over the last four years.  It’s been great fun and I hope it’s also been useful and interesting to you, my readers.

The new IHR blog, including History SPOT blog posts can be found at The IHR Blog.  For IHR podcasts take a look at the events section of the IHR website.  New podcasts can also be found on the University of London iTunes-u account, the School of Advanced Study website and You Tube pages.

Metropolitan History
7 December 2011
Applying new spatial techniques in the study of late medieval London
Justin Colson (CMH/IHR)

Mapping London's PastAs part of the postmodern turn in the study of history, the focus on space (alongside the usual questions of who, when, why) has become a mainstream topic of study.  Justin Coulson summarises some of the latest studies to involve spatial data and in particular looks at how the digital is helping to transform what can be achieved and discovered through such studies.  Coulson notes current projects such as Locating London’s Past and Mapping London – both of which use geo-referencing to create accurate maps of pre-modern London.  Then there are postgraduate and postdoctoral studies such as Tim Bishop’s use of the Antwerp Alderman register to enable him to create an accurate map of the property boundaries in the fifteenth century city.  At the University of York, Gareth Dean is using tenement records to spatially understand nearby Swinegate, whilst Nick Holder is locating London friaries and their development through time.  Carley Dearing (Liverpool) is creating 3D maps of medieval Winchester and Marlas Craine is employing ‘space syntax’ to understand public spaces in the nineteenth century.

Coulson’s own research is focused on neighbourhood in medieval London.  Early modernists claim that the rise of the self (amongst other things) led to the decline in neighbourly activity that had previously existed.  However, this previous existence of a neighbourhood community is generally taken for granted and has yet to take on any properly understood shape.  Coulson therefore has sought to use spatial technologies to find out to what degree there actually existed a neighbourhood in late medieval London.  To achieve this Coulson needed to find out who lived where and map this onto an accurate medieval layout of the city.

To listen to this podcast click here.

Harrington, petitioning and the construction of public opinion
Edward Vallance (University of Roehampton)
Franco-British History seminar
8 November 2012

Abstract: Historians have noted that the republic depicted in Harrington’s ‘Oceana’ (1656) allowed little room for political debate beyond the confines of the senate. However, ‘Oceana’ did permit the localities to petition Parliament, allowing some channel for the expression of the popular voice, albeit in a form framed by the phylarchs, ‘the princes of the Tribes’. The Harringtonian circle itself engaged in petitioning activity in 1659, as the restoration of the Rump Parliament in May 1659 revived hopes of a new republican constitution. These political interventions were part of a wider petitioning campaign by the ‘well-affected’ in support of a republican settlement. Ruth Mayers, in her work on the revived English Commonwealth, has argued that these petitions provide   evidence of popular support for the republic. However, Harrington’s own view of the value of this petitioning activity, as expressed in Valerius and Publicola (1659) was much more pessimistic, seeing the exercise as essentially fruitless.


Harrington’s disappointment was understandable: the petitioning activity of 1659 bore little resemblance to the orderly scheme of political communication from periphery to centre mapped in ‘Oceana’. The cliques of the   ‘well-affected’ who submitted supportive petitions represented both a far more exclusive political constituency than the Harringtonians had hoped would be involved in settling a new Commonwealth, and a far more varied cross-section of the political nation than the ‘natural aristocracy’ that Harrington believed alone had the right to ‘debate’. Moreover, this petitioning activity was arguably orchestrated by the Rump and its propagandists rather than representing grassroots support for the Commonwealth. Nonetheless, this paper will suggest that the use of petitioning in 1659 to legitimate both the government and its programme set an important precedent that was followed by the Crown into the Restoration era.

To listen to this podcast click here.

The East India Company at Home: Domestic Interiors, Public Histories and Material Cultures
Margot Finn (University College London)
Franco-British History seminar
28 February 2013


Georgian_House_-_geograph.org.uk_-_704233Abstract: The East India Company at Home, Domestic Interiors, Public Histories & Material Cultures’ discusses the context and preliminary findings of a 3-year collaborative research project based in the History Department at University College London.  In recent decades, the Georgian country house has featured in films, television, tourism and history as an icon of ‘Englishness’ (and, to a lesser extent, of Scottish, Welsh and British identities).  This project contrasts this narrowly national representation of the Georgian country house to the increasingly ‘global’ forces that shaped country house construction, purchasing and furnishing in the Georgian era.  Its focus is on both ‘Oriental’ luxury objects and the significance of the country home and its furnishings for the families of the English East India Company.  How did the aspiration for an ‘English’ home sustain Company men’s participation in colonialism in India?  How (and why) were Indian fortunes domesticated through the purchase of country houses in Britain? What role did Chinese, Indian and Japanese luxuries play in building effective country houses?  Addressing these issues has involved the East India Company at Home team in new forms of collaboration, new forms of public history, aimed at illuminating the global underpinnings of British national identities.

To listen to this podcast click here.

Digital History seminar
9 October 2012
Camille Desenclos (ENC, Sorbonne)
Rethinking Historical Research in the Digital Age: A TEI Approach


Abstract: Historical research cannot be conceived without a close relation to physical text:  paper is still the main source. However the emergence and subsequent multiplication of digital technologies within the historical field have tended to modify the examination of sources. This change is particularly apparent for text editions: how is one to manage the transfer from the manuscript age to a digital one? Can sources be understood and analysed without physical support?

This paper will be based on experiences of using electronic editions of early modern texts, specifically diplomatic correspondences such as L’ambassade extraordinaire du duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux vers les princes et potentats de l’Empire. TEI, a XML-based language, has been chosen for those editions. Using such a structured language – a far cry from the plain text created by classical text editors – implies changing the conception of what an edition is. We need not just think about texts anymore but only about the historical information contained within the text and which has to be highlighted in terms of the research. This requires researchers to think more about what they want and what they want to show in their studies. Above all, it allows researchers to track specific features such as diplomatic formulas and then to facilitate their analysis.

The aim of this talk is to ask if and how digital technologies have changed how historians view sources and even if they have changed the historical studies themselves; how TEI can be used to create new kind of editions. This paper will try to show how, if well used, TEI and digital technologies highlight and add to the results of historical studies.


Biography:  Camille Desenclos is currently completing her PhD at the École nationale des Chartes where she is also engaged in leading several projects to create electronic editions of medieval and early modern texts including an edition of the correspondance of Antoine du Bourg. Her PhD is entitled ‘The Communication Policy of France in the Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the Thirty Years War (1617-1624)’. A fundamental part of her PhD research includes creating electronic editions and the encoding and ciphering of diplomatic correspondence and structures in related medieval charters. Camille has given numerous conference papers largely concentrating on the Text Encoding Initiative and its application to her research. She was also a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s last year. An electronic edition of the ‘Ambassade extraordinaire des duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux’ which she has written will be available online shortly.

To listen or watch this podcast go here.

Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Whose Home? Jewish migration and local reaction in the East End of London 1870-1914

Oliver Betts (York)
Metropolitan History seminar
13 February 2013

This is a guest post from the IHR intern Paris Jones (Roehampton)

In this seminar, Oliver Watts discusses and explores the cultural differences between Jewish migrants and their non-Jewish neighbours in East End London which caused tension between the two groups. After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, there was an increase of Jews moving into the East End of London. Watts notes that the Jewish migrants were not welcomed by their non-Jewish neighbours and as they moved in, their gentile neighbours moved out.

As more Jewish migrants began to settle in London, the gentile neighbours began to worried about their way of living. They felt that the new migrants were taken all the jobs from them. Oliver Watts suggested that the attitude towards the Jewish migrants was not because of their religious background but because of the cultural differences.

The way the Jewish migrants dressed and lived was foreign to their neighbours. The Jewish migrants lived off of little and worked long hours. They rented in the areas they worked so that they could live and worked at the same place. There were many similarities between local working class and Jewish migrants. The anxiety of the influx of the Jewish migrants allowed propaganda to be created in the area.  Jewish families co-existed with non-Jewish families and rarely crossed over. Not only did this cause tensions but cultural separation and misunderstanding.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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