Posts Tagged ‘Institute of Historical Research’

 History DMT project* event, Thursday 12th December, Hull History Centre, 11:00 am-4:00 pm

As part of the History DMT project between the Institute of Historical Research, Department of History at the University of Hull, and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, we will be running a series of workshops on the topic of managing data.  Here are the details for the first workshop.  Attendance is free and bursaries are available for travel costs.

800px-SteacieLibraryThe management of research data is often associated with scientific research: data flowing from technical equipment as the result of experimentation.  Data in a research context, though, covers many different types of raw material that can act as the basis for analysis.  This can include survey data, collections of facts or evidence, images, videos, interviews, statistics, etc.  In this digital age it is also easier to generate and collect this data than it has ever been, with readily available tools and storage options.

Increasingly, attention is being given to data management within the humanities, and history is no exception.  The UK Data Archive houses many historical datasets, and much historical research relies on gathering data together to carry out analysis.  Well-managed research data is being seen as a sign of good research practice, and having increased value as a research hull history centreoutput in its own right.

This event will explore the issues and benefits of research data management for history, highlight recent case studies, and introduce training materials being developed to assist history researchers in embedding data management as part of research practice.

To register for the event, please contact Chris Awre (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event.  Bursaries to assist with travel are available for PhD students and early career researchers – please indicate if you wish to apply for one of these in your registration.

For location details see the Hull History Centre webpage.

* The AHRC-funded History DMT (Data Management Training) project is arranging three workshops to address how research data management relates to, and can benefit, history research.  These will address different aspects of research data management and history, and the training materials being developed to support this.

Subsequent workshops will take place on 13th February in London, and 14th April in Sheffield.  Attendance at all three is recommended where feasible.

For more details about the History DMT project please see our previous blog post describing the project.


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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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Historians don’t often like to think about data management.  Indeed, it is almost considered an ugly word or a taboo.  Data Management gets in the way of the interesting stuff – the research, the learning.  Nevertheless, it is vital to the work that we do.  History is data.  It is the essential essence of the subject.  Yet, it is so easy to leave your folder system in a complete mess or not to consider issues of preservation or back-up until necessary (or until your hard drive dies on you!).  Stuff that you produce now, for current use is understandable, but 6 months down the line, a year?  Perhaps not so much.

It is for this reason that the Institute of Historical Research in partnership with the Department of History at the University of Hull and Sheffield, as well as the Humanities Research Institute (Sheffield), applied to the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development strand late last year, to undertake a project called History DMT.  The bid was successful and work began in February.

History DMT stands for Data Management Training and Guidance.  We seek to integrate best practice, good principles, and skills of research data management within the postgraduate curriculum and among early career historians through a series of specialist workshops at London, Hull, and Sheffield and through the development of a free online training course dedicated to the research data types that historians are most likely to come across in their research.

Various pathways will enable a hands-on approach to research data management that covers the many types of data which historians generate, as well as the means with which to share that data. These will cover:

  • Textual materials
  • Visual sources
  • Oral History
  • Statistical data

Over the coming months the History SPOT blog will contain various posts about this project as it progresses, so please keep an eye out.

Further Information

This is an AHRC-funded project, as part of the Collaborative Skills Development strand. History DMT is led by the Institute of Historical Research in collaboration with the Department of History, University of Hull and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield. The principal grant holder is Professor Matthew Davies (IHR), with Dr Matt Phillpott (IHR) acting as project manager. Chris Awre (Head of Information Management within Library and Learning Innovation, University of Hull) and John Nicholls (Hull) will lead at the University of Hull, and Michael Pidd (HRI Manager, University of Sheffield) and Sharon Howard (HRI, University of Sheffield), from the University of Sheffield.

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The Institute of Historical Research now offer a wide selection of digital research training packages designed for historians and made available online on History SPOT.  Most of these have received mention on this blog from time to time and hopefully some of you will have had had a good look at them.  These courses are freely available and we only ask that you register for History SPOT to access them (which is a free and easy process).  Full details of our online and face-to-face courses can also be found on the IHR website. Here is a brief look at one of them.

When the Institute of Historical Research began building research training modules online, we decided fairly early on that they needed to be much more than just text.  In the Tex Mining for Historians module we included various videos to help learners to improve their knowledge of the subject.  One of these was a very simple introduction to natural language processing.

This video – available on the course and on vimeo is very short and discusses natural language processing (or NLP for short) in very basic terms.  This is intentional as the rest of this section of the module looks at the subject in much more detail.

What is Natural Language Processing? from History SPOT on Vimeo.

If you would like to have a look at this module please register for History SPOT for free and follow the instructions (http://historyspot.org.uk).  If you would like further information about this course, and the others that the IHR offer please have a look at our Research Training pages on the IHR website.

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Why does the British monarchy matter?  Were the ceremonies enacted earlier this year for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee really as traditional and ancient as they appear?  How similar were these enactments to the previous diamond jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria?  Or are these all modern constructs, a new definition of monarchy for the ‘modern’ age?  These are the issues that David Starkey chose to address for this year’s Marc Fitch lecture.

Let us first begin with a brief history of the Marc Fitch lecture, which is an annual event, first organised in 1956 by Marcus Felix Brudenell Fitch (1908-1994).  After the Second World War, Fitch developed interests in historical and genealogical matters, and took a leading role in the British Record Society (of which he became chairman in 1956).  Under his guidance the society increased publications, most notably the testamentary records of the Canterbury province.  According to his ODNB entry (only available via subscription) Fitch set up the Marc Fitch Fund in 1956 as a result of his friend Francis Steer (Sussex county archivist) who complained of the difficulties of attracting financial support for publishing local historical material. 

The Marc Fitch Fund upon which the event is now organised is a long time supporter of the Victoria County History which has, since 1933 worked in coordination with the Institute of Historical Research.  The fund provides small grants towards research and publication projects whose primary focus is on regional and local history.  This year, however, the lecture holds a greater importance, for the Victoria County History (VCH) has been rededicated by Her Majesty the Queen in celebration of her jubilee.  All future volumes of the VCH county histories will contain this dedication:


This history is dedicated by gracious privilege to Queen Elizabeth II in celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, and inscribed to the memory of her late Majesty Queen Victoria who graciously gave the History its title

David Starkey talked about the foundations of the VCH in his presentation and noted the great differences between Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee celebrations from that held this year.  Starkey sees the ceremonial monarchy as a very modern tradition forged by people in the early twentieth century with very powerful connections.

To listen to the podcasts from the Marc Fitch lecture click here.


The VCH was founded in 1899 to produce a history of each county and parish in England.  This work continues to this day with the large red volumes becoming its most recognisable output, although they do also produce various smaller publications and host the website VCH Explore, which has recently received a new overhaul and upgrade.   If you would like to learn more about the VCH have a look at their website or check out their new publication The Victoria County History 1899-2012: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

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Andrew Foster (Historical Association) and Miles Taylor (IHR)
The IHR – The HQ of History
April 2012

Hello, today we have something slightly different for you.  In April this year Andrew Foster (Historical Association) sat down with the director of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), Professor Miles Taylor, to discuss the past, present, and future plans of the IHR.  In this two part interview Andrew Foster and Miles Taylor discuss the original and present day objectives and importance of the IHR in the History profession both in the UK and abroad.  In addition, they look ahead to the plans that the IHR has for the development of its library and other spaces in Senate House and the importance of digital to the IHR’s future.   

To listen to these podcasts click here.

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History SPOT has now left the beta testing stage thanks to ULCC (University of London Computer Centre) who have recently worked hard to get the site completed.  Over the coming few months you will see History SPOT expand and grow as we add much more content and elements to the site.  In the meantime we have updated the project page on the IHR website which I thought worthwhile to repeat here.  In the coming days and weeks you will also see an increase in blog posts here as well as content appearing on History SPOT itself as we attempt to work through the backlog especially of seminar podcasts.  More news soon!

History SPOT [Seminar Podcasts and Online Training] provides an archive of Institute of Historical Research seminars, conferences, lectures and workshops as podcasts or live streamed events and is host to our online research training materials including handbooks and training courses. 


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.   Unlike many other podcast sites History SPOT attempts to embed the podcast within other resources such as abstracts, bibliographies, and discussions. 

Link to Podcasts   






Live Streamed Events

A small selection of our events are now streamed live on History SPOT with the additional capability for viewers to not only listen and watch in real time but to also comment and ask questions of the speakers in the post-paper discussion.  Slide show presentations and twitter feeds are also available to enable online viewers to get as close to ‘being there’ as possible.  

Link to Live Events





Historical Research Training

History SPOT presents to you for free and for the first time material from our research training courses and from our expertise’s as a research institute.  Initially we have provided several research handbooks but training courses will follow shortly.

Link to Historical Research Handbooks







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?  You can also add your own tags to the podcasts to help others find the resources they want more easily. 

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. 

Link to History SPOT Collaborate






Project Background

The History SPOT platform was developed between March 2010 and March 2011 as a pilot entitled IHR Digital Seminar and Research Training Project.  Its purpose was to re-develop IHR core activities as online resources.  This “Phase One” focused on establishing procedures to record the IHR Research Seminars as podcasts and to develop live streamed events in both audio and visual media.  The greater part of Phase One was focused upon the development of a new multi-system platform which would enable the IHR to lead the way in the provision and use of digital technologies in the humanities.  This platform went live as a beta (test) site on 19 September 2011 and became fully active in January 2012.


The initial project had two key aims;

  1. To deliver the IHR Seminars online through podcasting and live-streaming with additional content
  2. To develop an online presence for the IHR postgraduate research training programme


The Project Team

The project is managed by Dr Jane Winters, IHR Head of Publications and IHR Digital, with Dr Matthew Phillpott working as the Project Officer. It is also more generally supported by the IHR Digital team. Design and development was provided by the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) and by IHR Digital’s website manager Martin Steer.  The content of the Research Training Programme is being handled by the IHR’s Dr Mark Merry and Dr Simon Trafford.


Project Links:

History SPOT Platform: The online home for IHR podcasts, live streams and research training content

History SPOT Project Blog: The Project Officer’s blog and home to the SPOT Newsletter (a regular summary/review/opinion piece, for resources uploaded to History SPOT). 



Scoping report (2010) – Exisiting services for online lectures and seminars

Survey report (2010) – IHR Online Research Seminar Delivery Survey

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