Archive for June, 2013

Franco-British History seminar
Gaby Mahlberg (Northumbria University)
4 April 2013
Les Juges Jugez, ses Justifians (1663) and Edmund Ludlow’s protestant network in seventeenth-century Switzerland


Abstract: This paper aims to locate English republican thought and writing in a wider European context and to understand the personal connections that aided the distribution and reception of English republican ideas abroad through the case study of a little-known pamphlet published by the English regicide Edmund Ludlow during his exile in Switzerland after the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660. Les Juges Jugez, ses Justifians (1663) was a French translation of the dying speeches and other miscellaneous texts of some of the English regicides, produced in Geneva and subsequently printed in Yverdon with the help of Ludlow’s local protestant network. Rather than propagating a secular republican ideology, Ludlow offered his work to a European protestant audience in the language of Geneva, promoting a primarily religious cause in an attempt to make martyrs out of political activists. It is therefore to Ludlow’s protestant networks that we need to turn to find out more about the transmission of English republican ideas in Francophone Europe and beyond.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Sport and Leisure History
14 January 2013
Robin Mills (University of Cambridge)
How the British Isles Became British: The Residential Class in Jersey, c. 1815-1850s

In 1788 there were 20,000 people living on Jersey.  By 1851 this figure had trebled.  Immigration – largely in the form of retired or injured military personal – fueled not just an increase in population but a transformation of Jersey, and in particular Saint Helier.  At the beginning of the century Jersey was British in name more than fact, but by the end of it a British culture had taken over.  Robin Mills looks at this transformation – largely through the immigration of military families.  He asks who settled there and why, what change this brought to the island, and how Saint Helier itself became a multi-functional town because of it.

Freedom Tree sculpture in St. Helier, Jersey, marking 60th anniversary of Liberation of Jersey. Unveiled 9 May 2005 by HM Queen Elizabeth II (wikipedia)

Freedom Tree sculpture in St. Helier, Jersey, marking 60th anniversary of Liberation of Jersey. Unveiled 9 May 2005 by HM Queen Elizabeth II (wikipedia)

The last factor is important to Mills’ thesis.  Often scholars have looked at seaside towns with only the leisure function in mind – perhaps too the fishing industry.  For Mills – following in the footsteps of John K. Walton and Peter Borsay – these towns need to be examined with multiplicity in mind if they are to be truly understood.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Metropolitan History
16 January 2013
Robin Woolven
The rise and fall of John Sperni, Mayor of St Pancras, 1937-1938


St Pancras (wikipedia)

St Pancras (wikipedia)

John Sperni was mayor of the St Pancras municipal Borough during the 1930s.  He began life as an impoverished Italian immigrant, but slowly worked his way up through the construction industry until he was eventually elected mayor.   The year was fairly successful but after only a short while cracks began to appear.  Sperni came to odds with the members of his party (the Conservatives) and became viewed with suspicion as holding fascists views. 

Robin Woolven recounts the context in which Sperni lived and worked in local politics.  Part of his source material is the diary of Anthony Heap who, himself, had fascist leanings (although he was never a member).  Heap recorded many of the encounters with Sperni and the views of other councillors.  Another source is a large file held by MI5 on Sperni revealing early concerns that he could be a problem.  Not only was he Italian born and a potential fascist, but accusations were rife about corruption both when he had worked in the construction industry and as his time as Mayer.  During the Second World War, Sperni was arrested as a potential undesirable alien.  After 21 months internment, Sperni won his freedom, but the Advisary committee were far from convinced by any of the claims that he had made in his defence.  Sperni’s attempt to place all the blame on his son, for example – who had since escaped to Rome – failed when it was shown that he did in fact have contact with him (something which Sperni had denied).  This podcast is a look, then, at the brief career of John Sperni and the wider context of British concerns about alien nationals within London.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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In January 2013 we launched our first comprehensive online training course that enables you to learn why you might wish to use databases for historical research and how you would go about it.  The course takes you through the basics of creating the databases and shows you the main tools that can be used to analyse the data.

Building and Using Databases for Historical Research is a non-tutor led course – meaning that it can be taken at any time and completed at your own pace.  The fact that there is no tutor involved does mean that there are fewer opportunities for feedback, but there are forums for fellow students to discuss their issues and questions and we do keep a close eye out for any technical problems or misunderstandings coming out of the way part of the course is presented.  That said, we do offer feedback on the final exercise – which can be submitted at any time, so there is an opportunity to check that you have understood things properly.

The brief segment below comes from the second module in the course – looking at filtering data.


2. Filter by Form

The Filter by Form approach to filtering data in a table is much more flexible that Filtering by Selection, in that it allows you to specify the criteria to be used rather than selecting it from a value in a field. More importantly, this tool allows you to specify a variety of different kinds of criteria, as well as choosing more than one criterion in combination to apply in your filter.

The Filter by Form tool is located in the ‘Advanced’ menu of the Filter tools. When you click on this tool the ‘form’ appears into which you can add the criteria that you wish to apply to the table. The form itself looks like a blank row in the table, which can be a little confusing, but it is simply a means by which you can apply criteria to one or more fields.   


Filter by Form options

For example if you wished to filter your People table records to only show you the information for women with the surname Smith, you would enter the criteria:


Filter by Form criteria


Note that the quotation marks are added automatically, unless you have spaces in your criteria, in which case you will need to add them manually.

When you toggled the form ‘on’, you would only see the 65 records of women with the surname ‘Smith’ – that is, only those records where both criteria were matched. When adding criteria into a Filter form in this way, it is important to remember that if your criterion contains spaces, then your criterion needs to be enclosed with double quotation marks (“): for example the criterion:

All Hallows Honey Lane

will return an error message when you try to apply the filter, whilst

“All Hallows Honey Lane”

will work perfectly well.


To find out more about this course check out our research training pages.

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Just a quick reminder of tonight’s live stream:

Web archives: a new class of primary source for historians ?
Peter Webster (British Library) and Richard Deswarte (University of East Anglia)
 Joint Archives and Society and Digital History seminar
11 June 2013, 5.15pm GMT

For abstract and further details click here.

To join us at 5.15pm click here and open up the pop-out items.

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The next live stream will be a joint session from the Digital History seminar and Archives and Society seminar.  Details follows:

Web archives: a new class of primary source for historians ?
Peter Webster (British Library) and Richard Deswarte (University of East Anglia)
 Joint Archives and Society and Digital History seminar
11 June 2013, 5.15pm GMT

Abstract:  When viewed in historical context, the speed at which the world wide web has become fundamental to the exchange of information is perhaps unprecedented. The Internet Archive began its work in archiving the web in 1996, and since then national libraries and other memory institutions have followed suit in archiving the web along national or thematic lines. However, whilst scholars of the web as a system have been quick to embrace archived web materials as the stuff of their scholarship, historians have been slower in thinking through the nature and possible uses of a new class of primary source.

In April 2013 the six legal deposit libraries for the UK were granted powers to archive the whole of the UK web domain, in parallel with the historic right of legal deposit for print. As such, over time there will be a near-comprehensive archive of the UK web available for historical analysis, which will grow and grow in value as the span of time it covers lengthens. This paper introduces the JISC-funded AADDA (Analytical Access to the Domain Dark Archive) project. Led by the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) in partnership with the British Library and the University of Cambridge, AADDA seeks to demonstrate the value of longitudinal web archives by means of the JISC UK Web Domain Dataset. This dataset includes the holdings of the Internet Archive for the UK for the period 1996-2010, purchased by the JISC and placed in the care of the British Library. The project has brought together scholars from the humanities and social sciences in order to begin to imagine what scholarly enquiry with assets such as these would look like.


Dr Peter Webster is web archiving and engagement and liaison manager for the British Library, and an historian of contemporary Britain.

Dr Richard Deswarte is Research Associate in the School of History at UEA. He will speak about his AADDA project which examines how the Web Domain Dataset can be used to explore the rise of British Euroscepticism. He will highlight some of the digital approaches and wider research goals from his initial exploratory work using the archive.

To join us on the live stream click on the podcast page of History SPOT and open up the pop out boxes on 11 June.

Additional resources:

The AADDA project blog

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013

Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane

Ximena Alarcón

Listening and Sounding in the London Underground: sonic memories as embodiments of technological infrastructure

ABSTRACT: From 2004 to 2005, I undertook ethnographic research with twenty-four London Underground commuters regarding memories left by this sound environment during their routine journeys (Alarcón, 2007). I was interested in their memories as remnants of subjective experience, and also, in the commonality of these memories as a reflection of a collective aural memory. I understood the commuters’ process of remembering as a “mediated action” (Werstch, 2002), mediated, in this case, by the technological infrastructure in the underground. The concept of soundscape (Schafer 1984; Truax 2001) was used to describe certain aspects of the experience; however, I found it insufficient to encompass the varied dimensions of subjective listening experience and its cultural significance. In this paper, I am revisiting these commuters’ accounts, from the perspective of remembering and listening processes, in a wider, holistic manner. Nourished by railway and subterranean environments interdisciplinary studies (Schivelbusch 1986; Pike 2007; Williams 2008), and approaches to both outer and inner listening (Augoyard 2005; Oliveros 2005), I suggest that commuters’ sonic memories are embodiments of the technological infrastructure, which is reflected in their remembered sounds, in their perception of space and time while travelling, and in social, symbolic and political connotations that shape their auralization. Derived from further comparative studies with commuters’ memories from Mexico and Paris metros, the internet-based interface “Sounding Underground” acts as a disembodied technological environment to allow one to listen to everyday narratives from a distance, acknowledging their contrasts, and commonalities, while opening a path for transcendence of our technological condition.


Ximena Alarcón biography

Ximena Alarcón is a new media artist who focuses on listening to social context related sound, connecting it to individual and collective memories. She completed a PhD in Music, Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University and was awarded with The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship 2007-2009 to develop “Sounding Underground” at the Institute of Creative Technologies. There, in 2010, she worked as a Programme Leader for the Masters in Creative Technologies. Deep Listening practice and telematic musical performance are current interests that expand both the connections to other territories and the social and aesthetic possibilities of working with the migratory experience. Since October 2011, she works in Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice – CRiSAP, at the University of the Arts London, as a Research Fellow, developing her project “Networked Migrations – listening to and performing the in-between space”.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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