Archive for September, 2011

Sport and Leisure History
23 May 2011
Nick Piercey (University College London)
Football Club Membership in Rotterdam in 1914: Walking through the Historic City in Search of the Individual 

In one week of August 1914 the lives of ordinary people began to change as war loomed and mobilisation began.  By looking at individual members of Rotterdam football clubs Nick Piercey gives us a glimpse of daily life, of businesses, transport connections and class division (and unity).  Members of football teams came from a wide variety of backgrounds but each were affected by mobilisation in much the same way.  Although Piercey tries to give a picture of individuals and not simply bare statistics the numerous lists of names, numbers and team affiliations seep through.  The picture is clear, however, Rotterdam on the eve of war maintained its interest in football at all levels and through that interest we can gain a glimpse of the cultural life and interconnectivity of that life in such a city.  


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With the launch of History SPOT the Institute of Historical Research have also launched a brand new handbook written by our own Dr Mark Merry on the subject of designing databases for historical research. Mark is the primary tutor on our various Databases course and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of database structure and function. As such this handbook provides both tuition and guidance for historians on what purpose a database should have and, once built, what can be done with it.

The handbook basically provides an introduction to designing databases for use in historical research; providing an overview of important concepts – both historical in nature and in terms of databases – that the historian will need to consider before embarking upon designing a database. It also provides a number of starting points for overcoming certain design problems that specifically affect historians when they come to wrestle their sources into a database.

So for anyone out there who wishes to make better use of databases, needs a refresher, or would simply like to gain a glimpse at the type of training we can offer on a face to face basis please check out History SPOT and Mark’s Databases handbook.

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Amelia Opie, by John Opie (died 1807). See sou...

Image via Wikipedia

 British History in the Long 18th Century
8 June 2011
Isabelle Cosgrave (Exeter University)
A Quaker convert and the writing of fiction: the case of Amelia Opie

Amelia Opie was a prominent English author who wrote novels, short stories, and poems between 1790 and 1834.  Her output was, however, curtailed when she joined the Quakers in 1825 at the age of 55.  The Quakers believed that all fiction writing was tantamount to lying meaning that Opie was prohibited from her former occupation.  Opie, Isabelle Cosgrave argues, truly believed in the Quaker ideals and that her decision was religiously motivated.  However, Cosgrave makes this argument based on a much wider reading of Opie than has generally been achieved in the past.  Cosgrave focuses on the manner of her conversion and her early radicalism.  She also attempts to explain why Opie’s radical views do not appear in her conservative writings. 


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Franco-British History
19 May 2011
Catherine Hall (UCL)
Troubled Memories: histories of the British slave trade and slavery

An example of the slave trade (Arab slave traders and their captives along the Ruvuma)

Catherine Hall asks and answers a lot of questions about the construction and reconstruction of histories and memory of the British slave trade.  How is the slavery business remembered?  What has been remembered and what has been forgotten?  How was the past of slavery constructed and presented in the present?  And what has been left silent? 

Between the 1780s-1830s slavery was intensely debated in Britain.  The focus of historical discourses was on the process of emancipation, such as the ‘heroes’ who had brought it about (e.g. Wilberforce), and the glorification of British liberalism.  The objectionable history of slavery itself is only more recently being debated and discussed properly.  This is where the Legacies of Slave Ownership Project  fits in.  Catherine Hall talks about memories and silences connected to those that directly or indirectly benefited from the slave trade.  Using the key examples of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and the 1st Baron Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) who was also an English historian, essayist and politician, Hall demonstrates how compensation given to owners of slaves upon abolition could have a significant impact on the individual and collective whole and has helped to shape Britain today.   

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Spotlight link for biographies, opinion pieces, and further details

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I have been waiting to write that title for well over a year now.  After a delay of over 5 months History SPOT is finally ready to launch!   

Research Seminars, Lectures and Conferences

History SPOT is brimming full of podcasts from IHR seminars, conferences and lectures from 2009 to the present.  In addition to our extensive archives you will have access to all new podcasts from the IHR in the coming months and have the opportunity to discuss, comment upon and debate their content online.   


In addition to the podcasts themselves History SPOT contains an archive of SPOT Newsletter reviews and abstracts which have thus far appeared on this blog along with various other additional resources.  The SPOT Newsletter will be growing over the coming months adding opinions, additional facts and information, and mini bibliographies.

Historical Research Training

History SPOT presents to you for free and for the first time material from our research training courses and from our expertises as a research institute.  Initially we have provided two research handbooks: one on the subject of Databases for Historians and another on podcasting.  More will follow soon.


History SPOT is not just a place to search for content it is also designed so that you can interact with the subject matter.  When you listen to one of our podcasts let us and other users know what you think.  Is there something that you disagree with or do you have something to add to what our speakers discuss? 

In addition you can create your own profiles, take part in social networking through Groups and Friends and create basic web pages.  You can also write your own blog posts and discuss our activities with each other in various group forums. 

Click below to access the site



History SPOT will be in Beta Mode for approximately one month while we iron out the final glitches and errors, however we would very much appreciate your feedback.  Do you like the new site?  Is there anything that you don’t like?  What could we do better?  Is there anything missing?  Please do let us know at History.spot@sas.ac.uk or through the Contact UsLINK option on History SPOT.

At some point soon I will write up another blog post here about the road to launch but in the meantime please do register for History SPOT, have a look around, and let us know what you think.

I hope you enjoy the site!


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