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Theme: “Populations: counting, classifying, moving and managing groups of people”

Proposal deadline: February 15, 2018

Materials: CV and 1-page abstract

This workshop will explore the topic of “populations” in the early modern period. How, by whom, and to what ends were groups of people defined or treated as populations? What were the intellectual and practical consequences of such classifications? What historical or historiographical legacies have they had? How do historians’ definitions of “population” replicate or resist early modern categories and practices? How do current social-scientific, political, or legal understandings of population help or hinder historical analysis? Papers may address these questions from perspectives including but not limited to migration and colonization; slavery, race and ethnicity; reproduction; medicine and health; religious and national difference; political economy and governance; political arithmetic and information.

The session will include 6-8 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages each. Participants will be chosen with a view to the complementarity of their research topics and strong preference will be given to graduate students and early career scholars. Participants must be prepared to submit their papers by September 30, 2018. Each participant will be required to read all papers for the session, and to share written comments on two of the papers, prior to the conference. The session itself will include brief presentations and discussions of each paper, followed by a more extensive conversation between participants and the audience around common questions and themes.

Those interested must submit a CV and a one-page abstract to Rachel Weil (rjw5@cornell.edu) and Ted McCormick (ted.mccormick@concordia.ca) by February 15, 2018. Results will be announced by March 1.

Note: Those not accepted for the early modern workshop may still submit proposals for NACBS poster sessions, or paper or panel proposals for regular NACBS sessions, by the general deadline of March 30, 2018. Some financial assistance will be available for graduate students (up to US$500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed members within ten years of their terminal degree (US$300). Details of these travel grants will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members once the 2018 meeting program is prepared.

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America Meredith, 2012

The road to Indigenous London, strangely enough, began in Seattle. For my doctoral research, I completed a dissertation that would eventually become Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (2007), a book that examined three kinds of Native history in the city: the experiences of the local Duwamish people, in whose traditional territory the city was built beginning in the 1850s; the histories of Native migration to the city from other places, starting in the later nineteenth century; and the uses of “Indian” imagery such as totem poles and the iconic Chief Seattle in the urban imaginary, something that has always been a part of the city’s history. Instead of treating Indigenous and urban histories as mutually exclusive – a typical way to narrate North American history – I argued that they have in fact been mutually constitutive.

During the same years that I was finishing Native Seattle, I was married to a Londoner. We travelled to the city on the Thames regularly, and each time, I found myself wishing I was not a historian of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century American West, but instead one with expertise in the kinds of history that would allow me to write about London. I was especially captivated by the idea of hidden histories within the urban landscape, from the works of Thomas de Quincey and Henry Mayhew through to P. L. Travers, Arthur Machen, Iain Sinclair, and China Miéville. I also became obsessed with lost rivers like the Effra and the Fleet, many of which still flow under the city. It was this sense of fugitive and occulted landscapes within a palimpsestic and deeply storied civic fabric that I found so compelling. And so, when my husband jokingly suggested I should write a book like Native Seattle about London, I at first scoffed, but quickly realized that this would be something potentially innovative. What would it look like to take the basic premise of Native Seattle – refracting a city’s history through Indigenous experience – and apply it to the centre of empire?

The result is Indigenous London. It is a five-hundred-years-and-then-some history of London framed through the experiences of Indigenous women, children, and men to traveled to the city, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, the US, New Zealand, and Australia, beginning in 1502 and continuing into the early twenty-first century. Built around what I call “domains of entanglement” – knowledge, disorder, reason, ritual, discipline, and memory – and including six poetic interludes built out of archival fragments, the book, parallel in many ways to Native Seattle, makes the claim that London’s urban history is bound up with the histories of Indigenous peoples throughout these four settler societies.

To get at this history, I not only had to become conversant in the histories of, for example, the Māori peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand, but to work my way into the massive literature on the social and cultural history of London itself. The research not only took me to archives with strong Indigenous holdings – most notably the Newberry and Huntington libraries – but deep into the stacks of the British Library and the Institute for Historical Research.

For example, one of the stories in Indigenous London that readers tend to have strong responses to is that of Nutaaq, an Inuit baby who was put on display in a City tavern in 1577 but who died soon after. He was buried at St. Olave’s Church, Hart Street. To understand Nutaaq’s context, I not only had to survey the history of Inuit-English encounters in the early modern period; I also needed to create a “deep map” of St. Olave’s, a church whose most famous congregant was Samuel Pepys. (Indeed, the fragmentary archive related to Nutaaq, contrasted with Pepys’s encyclopedic, self-referential corpus, symbolizes for me the very nature of colonialism.) I also needed to include the story of Peter Morin, a Tahltan scholar and performance artist from Canada, whose “cultural graffiti” in London included a 2013 ceremony to honour the spirit of the lost boy. This interleaving of the urban and the Indigenous, of the past and the present, is emblematic of the work I was trying to do with Indigenous London.

Another interleaving of this sort can be found on the cover of the book. In 1762, three Cherokee diplomats traveled to London to cement peace after the close of the Anglo-Cherokee War. Like Indigenous travelers before and since, Utsidihi, Kunagadoga, and Atawayi were massive celebrities during their time in the city, with references to their stay appearing in London newspapers and even in the work of William Hogarth, and their political work resonated in Cherokee territory as well. Two hundred and fifty years later, in fact, the Cherokee Nations sent a delegation to Britain to walk in the footsteps of the three diplomats. Among this group was an artist named America Meredith, who commemorated the 2012 trip by creating a work that imagined the three original travelers walking across the iconic Abbey Road zebra crossing. Simultaneously iconically London and immediately recognizable as Indigenous, the image does work that parallels the story I was trying to tell, of the intersections between urban and Indigenous histories on a global and imperial scale, and of the power of Indigenous memory despite the traumas of settler colonialism.

There are so many other stories to share: not just of captives and diplomats, but of athletes and poets, medicine people and missionaries, and many others. And these are just the stories of London; there are other projects currently in the works on Indigenous histories in other imperial cities: Rome, Madrid, and beyond. To tell these kinds of urban Indigenous histories is to reframe not only the cities in question, but the place of Indigenous history in world history. Instead of relegating Indigenous peoples to the past as foils to global modernity, this work illustrates the ways in which Indigenous people and peoples were co-creators of that modernity. To do so, I hope, speaks back to empire in solidarity with today’s Indigenous communities and nations.

 Coll Thrush is professor and graduate chair at the history department of the University of British Columbia.

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Finding a Dissertation Topic with Edward Perry Warren

When I applied for the NACBS Pre-Dissertation Grant last year, I wrote that I hoped the research I would undertake would help me to settle on a coherent topic for my dissertation. Indeed it did—though it wasn't until I returned home, stepped back, and took stock of my research, that a clear line of inquiry emerged. I realized I'd been working on this project all along, though I hadn't known it at the time.

Five years ago, I started a master's thesis about a classics teacher at Oxford in the late nineteenth century, and since then I've been grubbing about in the personal papers of British academics, trying to figure out what story might tie together these people and the world they inhabited. I tried intellectual developments, politics, professionalization. But as I extended my network of actors, pushed my chronology into the first couple decades of the twentieth century, turned my master's thesis into an article, and read new sources, a clearer way to make sense of these people's lives emerged.

My dissertation is a new history of coeducation in British universities between 1860 and 1930. It seeks to understand how coeducation happened and what logics spurred it at different institutions, and how individuals within universities negotiated, impelled, or resisted the professional and personal shifts it demanded. As I investigate further, I hope to find out more about the ideas and the professional and personal lives of the students, teachers, administrators, donors, and politicians who were invested both in maintaining and in challenging the norm of gender segregation, how they did this, and what happened to homosocial cultures as this change was taking place.

Through the research I did last year, I became interested in both men and women who maintained an investment in single-sex higher education even after the First World War (relatively late in the game), and the extent to which homoeroticism was a part of how they conceived of their commitment to single-sex educational communities. Take, for example, E.P. Warren, a wealthy American art collector respected for his knowledge of sexually explicit ancient art, some of which depicted sex between men. His collecting, and the efforts (spurred partly by his own sexuality) that he made to understand the objects he was collecting, gave visual evidence a role alongside the literary evidence scholars used to understand sex between men in antiquity.

When Warren's relationship with his long-term romantic and business partner John Marshall ended in 1907, he folded up his collecting business and sought another outlet for his expenditure. He lighted upon Oxford: a place where he had been happy as an undergraduate, and whose colleges offered a ready-made intimate all-male community. He got in touch with an old friend—Thomas Case, the president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford—to offer Case's college a major bequest. Negotiations about this went on for some time, but in a draft will codicil of 1927, one year before his death, Warren left £30,000 (about a quarter of a million US dollars today) to endow a "praelectorship" at Corpus, "[b]ecause the Founder of Corpus Christi College desired that Greek should be studied therein and the College has distinguished itself in the study of Greek and in the defense thereof…." The Praelector was to teach Greek and Latin, with a preference for Greek; he was only to teach students from Corpus, and never to do so "in the presence of any woman"; he was only to teach within the physical walls of the college, and must live within them as well, "it being my special desire that the Praelector… and the members of the college receiving his instruction shall as far as possible be in close contact and associate together." Needless to say, "No woman shall at any time be eligible for the Praelectorship" (Corpus Christi College Archives, B/12/4/1).

The college were thrilled by Warren's generosity, and no one seems to have been concerned about women's exclusion from the bequest. But Case's successor as president, P.S. Allen, was concerned about another aspect. Warren had proposed an additional fund for the construction of an underground passage, linking the original sixteenth-century quad to buildings that the college had recently built on the opposite side of the street. This would have been costly and complicated, and Allen struggled to understand why it was important to Warren that students should be able to access the Praelector even in the middle of the night when the college gates were shut. But Warren made clear that his goodwill—and perhaps the future of the entire bequest—rested on the college beginning construction of the passage.

Knowing that Warren believed sex between older and younger men to be a key part of the high culture of the classical world, it is difficult not to impute insalubrious motives to his efforts to see the passage built—and indeed to his bequest altogether, and its insistence on the exclusion of women from the increasingly outmoded form of classical learning it attempted to enshrine. Allen accepted the fund, assuring Warren that he would pursue the building project. But Warren was the ultimate loser in this story. The tunnel was never built—a river runs under the road in question, and the council refused planning permission. When it decided to admit women in the 1970s, Corpus went to court to have the gender-exclusionary terms of the bequest invalidated, and today the Praelectorship is held by its first woman occupant.

I'm still working out what I think of Warren's story, and how it will fit into my dissertation. But it's partly what led me to my dissertation topic: Corpus's records about the donation are rich with detail about why and how someone might have been a reactionary against the tide of coeducation, the ways that a discourse about classical antiquity shaped the terms of the coeducation debate, and the ways that conflicts over gender relations occurred in physical space (within buildings and on campuses) and were shaped by the vagaries of institutional politics. These are the sorts of issues which my project will continue to explore. They tell us a great deal about gender and universities at the turn of the twentieth century, and continue to resonate today. 

Emily Rutherford is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Columbia University

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“The firm” is the source base par excellence in the new history of capitalism. Prolific recordkeeping and influence in the political economy of cities, regions, nations, and empires mean that these bodies cast a long shadow in the historical archive. My research enters this conversation from a different angle. I see the local retail market—a collection of firms working under the very watchful eye of the state—as a nexus of informal, sometimes desperate, economy. The flexible structure and low-overhead costs of market trading attracted fledgling entrepreneurs, either women who straddled the divide between family and business, or recent immigrants seeking non-manual work. While working at the West Yorkshire Archive Service in Bradford this February, I came across an entry in the local market committee records that sheds some light on this particular socio-economic configuration: 

Application for stalls, 25 Oct 1951. H. Sharp. Trading as Sharp & Aldred.

Stall 69. Mrs. Aldred was looking after the stall but owing to domestic issues she had to finish with the business. Mr. Sharp has now arranged a partnership with an Indian, Sohal Singh. The Indian supplies the goods (or as he says acts as buyer) and Mr. Sharp’s mother looks after the stall. All profits are shared 50/50. 

Subsequent meeting: Sohal Singh gets 25% for buying and supplying the goods for the stall. This is not an actual partnership. I informed Mr. Sharp that if he gave up the stall at any time, Sohal Singh must not expect the stall to pass to him. Mr. Sharp accepted this.[1]

However brief and elliptical this entry may seem, it actually gives us a rich picture of a market firm in Bradford in the early 1950s. First off, we’re introduced to the various people involved with the stall. Behind the official façade of Sharp & Aldred are Sohal Singh and Mrs. Sharp; however, they are hardly equal partners in the firm. Despite doing the legwork of securing supplies during post-war rationing and price regulation conditions, Singh gets neither the full share of the stall’s profits, nor the benefits of stallholder rights (which usually meant the ability to inherit the business). Singh is literally spoken for in this exchange, as Sharp “accepts” that his Indian partner cannot expect the stall to pass on to him.

Just as Singh’s participation is circumscribed by race, Mrs. Aldred and Mr. Sharp’s mother are affected by traditional gender roles. It seems that Mrs. Aldred was the face of the business, currying customer favor during a period of shortage. However, an unknown upheaval in Mrs. Aldred’s personal life forces her to choose, presumably, between family and business. Her retirement clears the way for another woman to enter the stall, Mr. Sharp’s mother. While Mr. Sharp is the official side of the business, the one side we hear in dealings with the markets committee and Bradford local government, more informal economic relationships form the foundation of the Sharp & Aldred stall. The raced and gendered inequities of this system are inscribed in this source document.

While this brief record affords us a fairly complex picture of one market stall’s power dynamics, the source ultimately raises more questions than it provides answers. We don’t know how Singh became involved with Sharp & Aldred in the first place, or how long their relationship lasted. I have found evidence of other Anglo-Indian market trader partnerships in the archives, some of which arose from marriages or other domestic relationships that spilled over into business. It appears, however, that there was no domestic connection between Singh and the Sharp or Aldred families.

The goods on sale at this stall are also left unspecified. From my related research, I know that the specific goods on offer at open-air markets like John Street in Bradford could change quite quickly. This was especially true in the 1940s and early 1950s, when rationing meant that itinerant traders moved quickly between goods depending on supply and demand.

That said, Singh’s identity as “an Indian” provides some useful information on this front. In the mid-1940s, Indians trading in combs garnered interest from the Board of Trade. In periodicals and Board of Trade documents, demobilized South Asian workers or deserters were caricatured as mobile “spivs” who supplied such goods to gullible provincial women.[2] In 1950-51—the period when Sharp, Aldred, and Singh were active—the nylon trade caught the nation’s attention. In late 1950, there was a high profile case at the Old Bailey in which Framrose Patel, an Indian trader who came to London via East Africa, was found guilty of supplying nylons to itinerant Indian traders working the markets in Birmingham and Bradford.[3] While we can speculate that Sharp & Aldred was a women’s clothing and accessories stall based on the Indian supplier profile, it is impossible to be certain.

Finally, we can’t speculate about the duration of this business. Most of the archival information surrounding market trading in the immediate post-war period is found in the records of local Price Regulation Committees. Open-air market stalls like Sharp & Aldred did not appear in trade directories and only entered the public record when they broke the law or made changes to their ownership or goods structure. In this case, a firm personnel change brought Singh into the archive, but we can only imagine how many other “unofficial” suppliers were left unrecorded. In the ladder of informal trading, suppliers like Singh occupied a very low rung, more often than not below the level of official documentation.

My project, in many respects, suffers from an embarrassment of archival richness. Local government bureaucracy—compounded by the particular attention that retailers attracted in the 1940s and 1950s—provides multiple entry points into the retail market. This stall application entry, however, underscores the tenuous nature of this coverage. Archival records largely replicate the power structure of businesses themselves, privileging the identity of the white, male entrepreneur. To meet this challenge in my research, therefore, I integrate the methodologies of cultural history, namely reading against the grain for hidden subjectivities, to bear on who “counts” as an economic agent. 

-Sarah Mass, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan and winner of the 2016 NACBS Dissertation Travel Grant.


[1] West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS), Bradford, Bradford Borough District Council, Market and Fairs Department, John Street Market, application for stalls, 1950-1952, BBD12/1/3. Thanks to the WYAS for permission to quote this archival material.

[2] “‘Black Market’ in Combs” Birmingham Post, 13 July 1944.

[3] “Nylons Diverted for Export,” Drapers’ Record, 23 December 1950. 

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Getting to Know Lady Maria Nugent at the Huntington Library

 Thanks to the generosity of the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship, I spent October 2016 in the Huntington Library’s Ahmanson Reading Room, huddled over a cache of Lady Maria Nugent’s letters, which are essential sources for my dissertation. It was the first time I would see in person and touch a manuscript that Nugent – the fascinating, well-written, and well-traveled wife of Sir George Nugent, Commander-in-Chief of India from 1811-1815 – herself had touched. To view the hand-written pages of a woman I had spent so much time reading about on impersonal, published pages was thrilling. Getting up close and personal with Nugent’s letters and reading her sincere words gave me new perspectives on her imperial experience.

It was then, while bent over Nugent’s brisk, hurried letters, that it occurred to me how these seemingly simple pages had gone through quite the journey. Nugent was sitting in India when she scratched words to the page, regaling her adventures and misadventures on the subcontinent to Anna Eliza Grenville, the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos, her friend back in England. From Nugent’s hand, the letters had traveled overland and then undertaken a multi-month sea voyage before they arrived at the palatial Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, where they remained for a century. In the 1920s, the yellowed parchment ended up in sunny southern California, where a young woman from graduate school in New York was perusing them in 2016.

The global journey of Lady Maria Nugent’s letters mirrors the trans-regional scope of my dissertation. My research focuses on the British wives who accompanied their husbands on high-ranking posts across the empire during the Age of Revolutions. These women – like Lady Maria Nugent – left behind friends and family to do their wifely duty by supporting their husbands and traveling to faraway colonies in the Atlantic and Indian worlds. I am primarily interested in what my subjects actually did in their time abroad and what significance and meaning can be interpreted from their actions. My source base consists of the texts and documents that my subjects themselves produced, including their journals, letters, and artwork.

Lady Maria Nugent was my gateway into this project and she remains at the center of it. Born in New Jersey just before the American Revolution, Nugent would spend much of her life colony-hopping. From North America, her loyalist family would travel to Ireland before finally settling in England. After marrying George Nugent in 1797, she would undergo further journeys: to Jamaica from 1801-1805 as the Governor’s wife and, finally, to India. In both these locations, Nugent wrote incredibly rich and detailed journals to share with friends and family back in England.

Though her Jamaican and Indian journals have been published in various forms, her private letters have not - and many of them happen to be at the Huntington Library in the Stowe Collection. When the Nugents embarked for India, they left behind their four young children – including an infant who was only a few weeks old - in the care of their friends and relations. Over the course of her four-year absence, Nugent wrote frequent, long, and remarkably revealing letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos, who eventually took over the care of Nugent’s children.

While reading Nugent’s candid letters to her friend, I was struck by how emotional they are. More often than not, the pages are filled with the trauma of familial separation and longings of maternal reunion. While her journals make clear that the separation was difficult for Nugent, her letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos are much more emotionally candid. She wrote more specifically and deeply about her emotional state and the anguish of separation. She also gave elaborate instructions regarding childcare to the Duchess, demonstrating that though she was thousands of miles from her children, her maternal role was still important to her. Discussions about her longing for home and family sometimes outnumbered her descriptions of Indian life. Indeed, Nugent seemed to write of her experiences in India almost as a distraction from her heartache, and because she knew it was her duty as a good correspondent to keep Anna Eliza up-to-date on the goings-on in India. The letters were not, as I had expected, merely a record of life in India. They were also a moving, emotional testimony of a woman who felt as if her life had been split in two.

Accessing the manuscript letters at the Huntington Library has enabled me to think more holistically about Lady Maria Nugent and her experiences abroad. Though my research focuses on her social activities and practices in Jamaica and India, her letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos also challenged me to think about the private and personal costs of imperial service. She was not just a body moving from one site to the next; she was also a human being whose mind and heart existed in multiple locations at once: though she was physically in India, England and the family life it represented for her were always at the forefront of her thoughts. The affective dimensions of her experience are just as important as the social, cultural, and political ones, and no less deserving of my scholarly attention. Without the generous support of the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship that allowed me to excavate this collection, I may have overlooked this very human component of Lady Maria Nugent’s complicated imperial story.

Parissa Djangi is a PhD student in the Department of History at Stony Brook University. 

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Dane_Kennedy.jpgAn interview with Dane Kennedy by Stephen Jackson [1]  

Dane Kennedy is Elmer Louis Keyser Professor of History at The George Washington University. He has published extensively on the history and historiography of the British Empire, and recently served as President of the NACBS. He agreed to an interview with the British and Irish Studies Intelligencer to discuss recent trends in the field of British Imperial History. 

 

1) You recently suggested that contemporary events have dramatically shaped both scholarly and public conversations on the history of the British Empire.[2] What responsibility do professional historians have to utilize our specialized forms of knowledge to inform the public understanding of empire?

The questions we ask about the past invariably echo our current concerns.  In this respect professional historians are engaged for better or for worse in public conversations that involve moral and political issues.  For worse if that engagement leads to categorical pronouncements about the ‘lessons of history’.  But for better when we challenge unexamined assumptions about the past’s relationship to the present and provide a deeper, richer understanding of that relationship.  What I tried to suggest in my JBS essay is (1) that the renewed interest in British imperial history since the 1980s has been spurred by contemporaneous forces and events that have preoccupied the public at large; (2) that these preoccupations have both been informed by Britain’s imperial past and have themselves informed how that past is viewed and its meaning interpreted; and (3) that those of us who are professional historians of the British empire need to be sensitive to this dialogue between the past and the present, contribute to it responsibly, and challenge deceptive claims about the past.  How do we do this?  By doing what historians do best: analyze evidence, contextualize it, expose its complexities and nuances, and, at the same time, seek out the distinguishing patterns and processes that help to explain change over time.  Let me stress that I’m not suggesting we can provide objective ‘truth’ about the past.  But we do possess a shared set of disciplinary tools and critical skills that allow us to distinguish legitimate claims about the past from those that are deliberately distorted to advance current agendas.

 

2) Elsewhere in the article, you called on professional historians to be more aware of how their own subjectivities shape their work.  In what ways has this awareness affected your own understanding of the British Empire? How would the field look differently if historians approached their research in this way?

It so happens these are questions that Antoinette Burton and I have asked ourselves, along with fifteen other historians who work on various aspects of British imperial history, for a forthcoming volume we’ve co-edited, How Empire Shaped Us (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2016).  We invited the contributors to reflect on the ways their personal, professional, and public lives intersected with and were informed by empire — and, in turn, the ways their experiences shaped their historical preoccupations.  I’ve found it fascinating to learn how historians whose work I admire were drawn to their subjects and what made those subjects meaningful to them.

As for myself, I came of age during the Vietnam War, and I realize in retrospect that I turned to British imperial history at least in part to make sense of that war, to frame and clarify my moral and political objections to it.  The time I spent conducting research in Rhodesia, which was then in its death throes as a colonial society, also had an important impact on my development as a historian.  The British imperial past has continued to intrude on the world I inhabit in various ways, most recently and urgently when the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

Will greater awareness by historians of their own subjectivity make any difference in how they write history?  Honestly, I don’t know, but it sure can’t hurt. 

 

3) Over the past two decades you have written extensively on the inclusion of new historical perspectives that challenged more traditional understandings of imperial history.[3] Do you believe that imperial historians have effectively incorporated these new perspectives into a more holistic understanding of the British Empire, or do we now simply have even more contending understandings of the meaning, substance, importance, and perhaps even the definition of imperialism?

I don’t think it’s possible to achieve a ‘holist’ understanding of the British empire—or any other historical subject, for that matter.  I do think our understanding of the empire has been immensely enriched by the new approaches that have been introduced over the past few decades under the banners of postcolonial studies, the new imperial history, Subaltern Studies, the ‘British World’ project, settler colonial studies, and more.  But each of these approaches has its own agenda, and I don’t see much chance of pulling them together into a grand meta-narrative.  Just read the essays by John MacKenzie and Bill Schwarz in the latest issue of The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History and you’ll see that the relationship between different schools of imperial historians remains as testy and polarized as ever.  These debates are signs of the continued vitality of the field, so I’d hate to see some bland consensus take their place.  What’s changed, however, is that the new approaches to imperial history have become far more pervasive and institutionally entrenched than they were, say, a decade ago, and their influence is felt even among historians who work on ostensibly ‘traditional’ subjects.


4) What new directions do you see emerging in the historiography of the British Empire? What are the major topics or research questions that you think will drive the scholarly conversation over the next decade? 

The nice thing about being a historian is that you get to interpret the past rather than predict the future.  At this point in my career I’m probably the last person to recognize the next big thing in British imperial historiography.  I will simply say that we’ve begun to see some innovative work in those aspects of imperial history that got left behind by the cultural turn, such as economic, political, legal/constitutional, and military history.  There’s also some great history being written about other empires, as evidenced by Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper’s brilliant synthesis.  The most exciting book I’ve read recently happens to be about the Russian empire — --Willard Sunderland’s The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Cornell UP, 2014).  Finally, we should acknowledge the growing influence of transnational and global histories.  They raise the possibility that British imperial history will lose its identity as a distinct field and become submerged in these larger projects.


5) Would you reflect on your time as President of the NACBS, and how it has influenced your understanding of the wider field of British Studies?

What I learned from being president of the NACBS is how much the organization depends on the generosity of its members, who devote a great deal of time and effort to its operations.  It’s pretty remarkable that a scholarly society as large and active as the NACBS relies entirely on volunteers.  This includes its administrative officers, its governing council, its various prize and fellowship committees, its program committee, its webmaster, the local arrangements team that organizes the annual conference, and many others.  This speaks, I think, to the intellectual and professional value these volunteers attach to the NACBS.

We can be proud of what the NACBS manages to do with our limited resources. We host an annual conference that has a well-deserved reputation for its quality, congeniality, and reach, attracting large numbers of British and other overseas participants.  We also have remarkably vibrant regional organizations, each with its own annual conference.  Our JBS is quite simply the best journal in the field, its reputation the result of the hard work done by a long line of superb editors — again, each of them volunteers.  We have taken care to honor British studies scholarship with our book and article prizes.  And we work to nurture the next generation of scholars with graduate fellowships and other forms of financial aid, including stipends to attend our conference, as well as the essay prizes we give to undergraduates.  We have an increasingly active web presence, as this Intelligencer blog demonstrates.

The challenges we face come from the broader forces at work in higher education.  The corporatization of colleges and universities is causing the erosion of history and other humanities disciplines.  Fewer students, fewer faculty, and fewer financial resources for those faculty who remain, especially those who struggle as adjuncts, don’t bode well for the NACBS.  Our membership is shrinking, and it’s hard to see this trend reversing so long as the marginalization of the humanities within higher education continues.  At least in the near term, however, the NACBS has the financial resources and the allegiance of members to weather the storm.     

 


 

[1] In the interests of acknowledging my own subjectivity, I was a graduate student of Dane’s at The George Washington University from 2007-2013.

[2] Dane Kennedy, “The Imperial History Wars,” Journal of British Studies Vol. 54, Issue 1, Jan. 2015, 5-22.

[3] Dane Kennedy, “Imperial History and Post-Colonial Theory,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 24, No. 3 (1996): 345-63; Dane Kennedy, “Postcolonialism and History,” in The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Graham Huggins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 467-88.  


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In his 1690 treatise, A Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke wrote, “The business of true religion is quite another thing. It is instituted in order to the erecting of an external pomp, nor to the obtaining of ecclesiastical dominion, nor the exercising of compulsive force, but to the regulating of men’s lives, according to the rules of virtue and piety.”[1]  Locke, who was an ardent supporter of toleration, was attempting to elucidate the differences in what he saw as the role of government versus the role of the church in the life of Britons.  “Everyone is orthodox to himself,” he proclaimed.[2

In many ways, revivalism fostered this notion of individual orthodoxy, while also testing the boundaries of British toleration. The religious toleration with which Whitefield was concerned stemmed from seventeenth-century English notions that individuals ought to be able to choose their own church and religious practice without interference by the government.[3]

Like others associated with the early Methodist movement, Whitefield saw schism with the Anglican Church as undesirable, seeing themselves as reformers. In 1733, an article appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in London, as part of a regular series titled “Civil Power in Matters of Religion.”[4]  The author insisted that individuals should be permitted to embrace doctrinal differences from the Church of England.  The writer was primarily concerned with legislative efforts that were favorable to the Church of England, but Whitefieldian revivalism took that point a step further.

When English missionary George Whitefield’s career began in the late 1730s, he advocated regeneration, itinerancy, and other doctrinal and worship practices that were inconsistent with those of the Church of England into which he was ordained.  Relatively early in his career, Whitefield also advocated arguments made by Pennsylvania New Light Presbyterian Gilbert Tennent that the conversion experience mattered more for the dissemination of religious truth than a minister’s credentials.[5] He interpreted toleration to mean more than just the ability to choose one’s own church and minister, but also to accommodate the doctrinal differences of revivalism while maintaining respectability within the Church of England.  Given revivalism’s emphasis on the conversion experience, it also implied that individuals could function as their own orthodoxies.

Unsurprisingly, Whitefield’s preaching was not well received by the hierarchy of the Church of England.  Even New England Congregationalists like Charles Chauncey challenged Whitefield to explain how he could reconcile views and practices that were inconsistent with the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, particularly the 26th article, which required clergy to be properly educated and sanctioned by the Church.[6]

By the time Whitefield died in September 1770, few of his contemporaries associated him with the Church of England.  He had largely ignored denominationalism in his preaching.  His career had angered influential Anglicans like South Carolina Commissary Alexander Garden, who devoted 10 years to a letter writing campaign to discredit Whitefield, including pleading with the Bishop of London to try Whitefield in ecclesiastical court.[7] British toleration did not come to recognize everyone as his own orthodoxy, but Whitefield’s career and the evangelicalism he helped to popularize tested its limits.

 

About the Author

Jessica M. Parr is a historian who specializes in race and religion in the Early Modern British Atlantic.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire at Durham in 2012 and currently teaches at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and Emmanuel College (Boston).  Her first book, Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon was published in March 2015 by the University Press of Mississippi.

  


 

[1] John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1690).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jessica M. Parr, Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (Mississippi, 2015): 18.

[4] “Civil Power in Matters of Religion,” Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 6 (January, 1733): 14.

[5] Gilbert Tennent, On the Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry (1739); Parr: 157.

[6] Parr: 98.

[7] Ibid: 55-56.


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April
10
2015

Finding Margaret Morice

Posted by jaskelly under BISI, Blog | Tags: early modern, eighteenth century, Gender, Scotland, women | 0 Comments

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By Dr Deborah Simonton, University of Southern Denmark


I ‘met’ Margaret Morice in 1998. I had just finished writing A History of European Women’s Work.[1] Needing to get into some real primary research and since I was working at Aberdeen University, I asked myself the fairly simple question, ‘What kind of work were women doing in eighteenth-century Aberdeen?’ It was provoked by a number of factors, curiosity not being the least of them.

One of the first steps was a visit to Aberdeen City Archives, one of the best in Scotland. The initial visit was a bit demoralising, because the staff could only suggest the usual finding aids. Undeterred, I trundled through these and found the Register of Apprentices. This produced the first surprise, and was where I first found Margaret. With the exception of one entry for another female baker, she was the only one on record — but in regular entries, between 1776 and 1797, she traded as ‘Margaret Morice and Co., baker in Aberdeen’.[2] This is notable on a number of levels. The bakers, along with the weavers, were seen as the most prestigious of the seven Incorporated Trades in Aberdeen. As their historian insisted:

Notably in Aberdeen, the baking of loaf and biscuit bread has been preserved as a strict monopoly for the men bakers. According to the acts and ordinances of the Baker craft in Aberdeen, women were not allowed to bake any bread, pastry, or pies to be sold in the streets or chops, a restriction that was maintained until the abolition of trading privileges in 1846.[3]

Margaret also traded using her married name, when most Scots women kept their family name. She did so, I believe, because it furthered her commercial position as a widow.

Her husband had not been recorded in the Aberdeen Register of Apprentices, which misled me until I discovered that his apprentices were recorded in the Inland Revenue Apprenticeship Registers. Margaret’s, in contrast, appeared only once at Inland Revenue; all of her apprentices followed his death.[4] As a relatively prominent member of the Incorporated Trades, and their Council representative from time to time, her husband would have paid the stamp duty and ensured that his apprentices were properly recorded. On the one occasion when she did, she had just ended a partnership with a previous apprentice. (She twice entered into such a partnership.) Thus a ‘properly’ registered apprentice may have been essential to retaining the prestige of the business. Over the 30 years that she ran the business herself, Margaret Morice apprenticed 16 boys from the tradesman classes (compared with John’s 12 over 25 years). The apprentice fee paid and the boys’ terms of service compared well with those for male bakers, including John’s, in Aberdeen, Essex, Birmingham and Staffordshire.[5]

The discovery of Margaret Morice sent me on a trail, which I followed alongside other research on Gender in European Towns.[6] In fact, I became addicted to finding Margaret Morice. Since there was little business information available in the archives, I turned to the parish records of births, deaths and marriages, available on microfilm in the Local Studies section of the Public Library. Here I found her birth on 25 August 1718 and the birth of her seven children, including twins, beginning in 1739 and ending in 1750. Through serendipity, tucked in the back of the Council records, I found a notice of John’s burial in January of 1770, when she was 52. These also noted the death of a ‘child of John Morice’ on a couple of occasions. Thinking laterally, I tried Ancestry.com, and found the death of four of the children at very young ages. The eldest, David, and the female twin, Barbara, have a bigger part to play in her story. The seventh is still AWOL.

Trying a different line of enquiry, I went to the National Archives of Scotland (now National Records of Scotland), hoping for a will or inventory — no luck. I did however find window- and inhabited house-tax lists, showing her to have paid these through much of the same period that she was taking apprentices. Council Enactment Books added snippets here and there, mostly about John, but clarified that the bakery was well-established, that they owned the property from 1752 and that he was gradually building up a business and political persona. I felt I was coming closer to ‘seeing’ Margaret Morice, but frustratingly still with a great deal of speculation on my side. Gradually her story was becoming more and more visible — but still with gaps and a sense of incompleteness.

A return visit to the Archives, assisted greatly by a Strathmartine Trust grant, turned out to be an epiphanic experience.[7] On arrival, Fiona Musk, the archivist, simply asked what I was trying to do. Not very optimistically, I told her, and then said flippantly, ‘What I would really like to do is find Margaret Morice’, that is, literally locate her in the town. I knew roughly where the business was, but Fiona’s response, ‘I am sure I have seen her name on a map,’ was astonishing after sixteen years of research. A few hours later, she returned with a bundle — and there was Margaret, on the plans for the ‘New Street ‘(now Union Street) — in one of the houses to be demolished.[8] I confess I did a dance in the record office to the amusement of the other four people in the room.

Furthermore, Fiona pulled up the records of saisine, which I had previously been told would be useless. They unfolded the story of the property, from John’s purchase to its sale to the Council in 1800. At first I was perplexed as to who the sellers were: the two boys were named Abercrombie. Through antiquarian books in the Record Office, we identified that they were her grandsons, the sons of her daughter Barbara, who had become the second wife of an esteemed clergyman. This bundle corroborated and clarified the narrative of her son David’s bankruptcy and Margaret’s right to the property.[9] I had simultaneously been reading the Aberdeen Journal for the period, and there, in a notice Margaret Morice placed in 1789, I found her ‘voice’ for the first and only time. Her statement ensured that none of David’s debts were charged to her and asserted her role as baker in Aberdeen.[10] Up to then, all other mentions of her in the press had been oblique: a partner announced the end of a partnership with her; her son asked for a lease for his mother; and lawyers asserted her claim to the property.

There are still other small trails to follow up, but from piecing together an array of disparate records, I have been able to create a picture of her business, which was clearly long-standing and central to the commercial area of Aberdeen. It was also tolerated by the guild and held its own until near her death. Stories of women such as Margaret Morice are the bread and butter of our research; they whet our curiosity and through them we see the lives of towns come alive. This tale is not yet finished. Margaret Morice’s story, taken together with that of other businesswomen, about whom there may be yet less detail, will help us to explore how women’s businesses inflected the character of eighteenth-century towns.

This tale of discovery probably replicates many other searches and journeys made by other historians. Our curiosity leads us on; we get ‘addicted’ to finding answers, not all of which are terribly important. Perseverance and asking the same question, or similar ones, of the records, over and over, or of tangential material and of librarians and archivists is our stock in trade. In an age that prioritises publication — and publication of a particularly designated sort — we must not lose the curiosity and love of the past that drives us; we need to hang on to the wonder and joy of discovery — even with a little dance or two. And we need to keep using our skills, training and insight to solve these little mysteries; they can help solve the big ones.

 



[1] Deborah Simonton, A History of European Women’s Work, 1700 to the present (London: Routledge, 1998).

[2] Aberdeen City Archives (ACA), Enactment Books, 5. Register of Indentures, 1622-1878, see also Simonton, ‘Margaret Morice’, in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, eds, Elizabeth L. Ewan, Sue Innes, Sian Reynolds and Rose Pipes (Edinburgh University Press, 2006), 272; Simonton, ’Negotiating the Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Town’ in Katie Barclay and Deborah Simonton, eds, Women in Eighteenth-century Scotland (Ashgate, 2013), 225.

[3] Ebenezer Bain, Merchant and Craft Guilds, A History of the Aberdeen Incorporated Trades (Aberdeen: 1887), 212.

[4] Great Britain, Public Record Office, Board of Inland Revenue. Apprenticeship Regis­ters, 1710-1808, IR1. For John, volumes for 1743-68; for Margaret, 1788.

[5] Simonton, ‘Education and Training’, 341, 352; see also Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600-1914 (London, 1996), 117.

[6] Gender in the European Town, www.sdu.dk/geneton

[7] See the Strathmartine Trust website on support for Scottish research, http://www.strathmartinetrust.org/

[8] ACA, New Street Trustees, CA/10/1/30 South Entry Plan - Castle Street & Narrow Wynd, 1799

[9] Ibid, CA/13/NStT/5-16 Act ordaining David Morrice jnr to dispone his real & personal estate, 1789.

[10] Aberdeen Journal, 20 July 1789.

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Edited by Stephen Jackson

Stephanie Barczewski, John Eglin, Stephen Heathorn, Michael Silvestri, and Michelle Tusan discuss the hard work involved in crafting an undergraduate level history textbook on Modern Britain.

1)   What was it that initially drew each of you to this project? How is the process of publishing a textbook collaboratively different than the typical experience of publishing a scholarly monograph?

Stephanie Barczewski: This all started because Eve Setch from Routledge was on a tour of southern American universities and came to visit Clemson.  She asked me what I thought British history was lacking, and I replied (not for the first time to a publisher) that I did not think that there was a British history textbook that covered the period from 1688 to the present, which is the standard modern survey at most American colleges and universities, in a relatively compact single volume and in the way that most British historians today conceive of and teach the subject.  She asked if I was interested in writing one.  After thinking “yike!,” I said I would consider it, and I ultimately decided that it was hypocritical to complain about the lack of a good textbook if I wasn’t willing to take a stab at it.  Plus, the idea of trying to define and shape what British history is all about these days was appealing, if also daunting.  At that point, I already had two other book projects under contract, so I really couldn’t take on the entire thing single-handedly, plus I thought it would be better to recruit specialists in the relevant periods.  So I rounded up a few colleagues and off we went.  I had no experience of writing a textbook and no idea how different it is from writing a monograph.  It is a much more systematic process.  Instead of writing the entire manuscript before anyone sees it, textbooks are written in sections that go out to a massive panel of readers as you go along.  We sometimes got more words back in criticism and comments than we had written!

Michelle Tusan: When Stephanie approached me about doing the textbook as a team project I thought it sounded really appealing. We historians are not used to working collaboratively and this seemed to me a perfect opportunity to engage a different writing and research muscle. I, too, was dissatisfied with the textbook I was using and thought that this was the perfect opportunity to have a hand in creating a book that better spoke to my own research interests and those of my students. For example, it was important to me to have sections on informal empire in the Middle East which is relevant both to current scholarly concerns and how I teach British history in the classroom. 

John Eglin: The opportunity to write a British history textbook aimed specifically at American undergraduates was particularly appealing to me. There are actually lots of textbooks out there, but they tend to be written for UK and Commonwealth students, and thus assume a great deal of prior knowledge about culture and institutions and so forth. It is significant that most of us teach at large public institutions in the US, and are correspondingly aware of the need to explain thoroughly but without condescension aspects of a history and culture that is terra incognita for so many of our students. That sense of shared responsibility also drew me in. As for collaborating with four other co-authors, to be honest, I initially feared that it was a disaster in the making. In the end, however, largely due to the heroic efforts of Stephanie and Michael, it wasn't. 

Stephen Heathorn: The challenge of having so many peer reviewers was particularly daunting.  It explains why textbooks are rarely radically revisionist.  One of the consequences for us, however, was actually a harmonization of the content/viewpoint in a positive way.


2)   From the earliest point in the process there must have been tough organizational choices to be made. How did you determine the narrative structure of the book and strike the right balance between the types of history to be included (political, cultural, social, economic, etc…)? 

Stephanie: We knew from the beginning that we wanted the textbook to be up-to-date but not too radical a departure so as not to confuse undergraduate students.  So we knew that we would need to retain a fair bit of traditional political history but also incorporate newer approaches.  For us, the latter meant two things primarily.  First, a global focus that looked closely at both the British Empire and Britain’s place in the world more broadly, and secondly, the inclusion of all four parts of the United Kingdom and the avoidance of Anglocentrism.  It was interesting, though, that we really resisted a “core narrative” until we offered a round table at the NACBS in Portland in November 2013.  We were pleasantly surprised by how many eminent historians from both sides of the Atlantic attended, and by the liveliness of the discussion.  The attendees really pushed us to develop our themes into a stronger central narrative, and I’m very glad they did, because it made the book, I think, much better.  I’m pleased that every scholar who has taken a look at it so far has concurred that, as Sir David Cannadine put it, “It’s very clear what it’s about.”

Michelle: There were some concerns at the beginning about structure. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel yet we also wanted the narrative to be both familiar and clear. In the end, history is more than facts and dates but those facts and dates really do matter. This meant situating recent theoretical debates in the field into the larger narrative in a way that was both sophisticated and straightforward.

John: I will admit to pursuing an agenda here, as the lone early modernist among the co-authors. The eighteenth century often doesn't fare well in textbooks, sandwiched as it is between the tumults of the seventeenth century "crisis" and the industry- and empire-building of the nineteenth, making it seem like an insubstantial intermission during which nothing of any real significance occurred. Fortunately, the very serious pains everyone took to take an archepelagic and global perspective, and to go beyond political narrative, made it impossible to slight the earlier periods. It turns out that you can only ignore the eighteenth century if you look only at England, and only from the top down.

Stephen: Getting a good balance among the types of history was always a goal but was very difficult to achieve.  The session we had at the Portland NACBS certainly helped in this regard, as did having Stephanie edit the entire manuscript.  Not only did she smooth out the narrative voice, she ensured that we were indeed balancing the types of material.  Still, personally, I’d have liked at least another 50,000 words to do justice to all that we covered too quickly – but that was not feasible with the publisher, nor likely what our intended audience wanted!

 

3) What distinguishes your narrative from previous textbooks, and how do you think the work will benefit instructors teaching a Modern Britain survey course?

Stephanie: The global and imperial focus and the inclusion of more material on Scotland, Wales and Ireland are, I think, real strengths.  We have also incorporated more historiography, not always by referring to specific historians by name, though there is some of that, but by ensuring that students are aware that many things in history are the subjects of scholarly debate and contention, and that history is not just about memorizing facts.  Also, there is a very nifty website with documents, detailed descriptions of the events on our timeline and all kinds of links to excellent websites and documentaries.  The website is not just an add-on – we put lots of time into preparing something that we will find useful in our own teaching, and I think others will too.

Michelle: This book is very much of the moment. By that I mean that it was written from the perspective of a cohort of scholars who came of age in a period when British history was no longer a core course in the curriculum. Many of us have had to make the case why British history matters to their students and sometimes their universities. Our book reminds readers why in an era of devolution the story of the British Isles and the Empire maintains its relevance. The four nations and imperial themes are real strengths of the book as they demonstrate how contemporary debates about the nation and democracy remain embedded in the British story.

Michael Silvestri: We set out to write—and I believe we have been successful in writing—a textbook which presented British history rather than simply English history writ large.  And by that I mean a history which pays attention not only to the histories of Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England, but to the “British world” beyond the United Kingdom.  Equally important, I believe that we’ve achieved a good balance between coverage of the different centuries.  One of the fastest-expanding fields of British history is the post-1945 era, and we believed that it was important to give in-depth coverage not only to Britain’s experience in the world wars, but Britain’s history in the subsequent decades.  To give an example from my own field, the history of decolonization is being reinterpreted and rewritten as new sources such as the “Migrated Archives” become available, and it is important not to glide quickly over Britain’s disengagement from empire, thus giving the impression that this was somehow an effortless process and also that empire had come to a definitive “end,” rather than having multiple legacies in Britain today.  The goal instead is to encourage students to reflect on the nature of the decolonization process, and the ways in which Britain sought to preserve its empire as well as divest itself of territories.

Stephen: The narrative does try to be more geographically inclusive than previous texts.  We’ve attempted to think about Britain in a global context.  Hopefully it will be more accessible for a North American audience with little or no prior knowledge of British history (or indeed of British institutions).  There is a concerted effort to make relevant connections to American (and Canadian) events, people and themes.  Personally, I think a real strength of this text is that cultural and gender historiography is woven into the political and social narrative and is not just an ‘add on’ or in separate sections.  Our text could not cover everything we wanted it to – but I think it is a good starting point for students; it provides adequate context and preparation and hopefully will stimulate them to investigate British history more thoroughly.

 

4)   How did you balance the individual histories of the four nations of Britain (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) with the need to provide a straightforward and accessible narrative for a mostly undergraduate and non-specialist audience?  How did the British Empire fit in with the larger narrative?

Stephanie:  The United Kingdom is a unique country in that even the terminology that you use to describe it and its constituent nations is fraught with all kinds of political and cultural meaning.  There are times when you can describe all four nations as a whole, but many, many others when you have to recognize their distinctiveness.  Though I was obviously aware of that before, writing this book made me realize it so much more.  For example, you don’t realize just how Anglocentric the standard way of teaching the Great Reform Act is.  It has a completely different effect in Scotland, and in particular in Ireland, than it does in England and Wales.  (Wales presents its own challenges as a subject because unlike Scotland and Ireland it didn’t have separate laws.)  The Empire is obviously essential.  It’s been the dominant paradigm in British history for over a decade now, and that shows little sign of abating.  But with it, too, you have to make sure you’re being sufficiently comprehensive: historians tend to focus on India, and to forget about the settlement colonies, which were crucial to how British people thought about the Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Michelle: There is a lot of empire in this book. It is both integrated into the text and has its own separate treatment in distinct chapters. The story of Ireland, too, gets extensive treatment. I think this integrative approach mirrors what is happening in both the scholarly and teaching worlds in our discipline. 

Michael: I don’t believe that the two things -- presenting the histories of Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England and providing a straightforward and accessible narrative -- are incompatible.  In order to achieve both of those things, we decided that the stories as much as possible needed to be integrated; chapters which simply narrated a discrete story of the “Celtic Fringe” had the effect not of highlighting but of isolating and marginalizing these histories.  An emphasis on telling the histories of Wales, Scotland and Ireland with those of England is important for students in terms of their understanding of Britain and the United Kingdom historically but of Britain and Ireland today, such as the prominence of the Welsh language or the division among Scots about whether or not to advocate independence or remain within the Union.  I believe that such an approach can give students a richer picture of shared experiences such as industrialization or war.  Britain was and is, however, a diverse place and the histories of Scotland, Wales and Ireland also highlight the contrasts in the historical experience of different parts of the United Kingdom.  For example, in discussing the Great Famine, Ireland was not the only place within the Union where the potato blight took place, and exploring the issue of crop failures in the Highland and islands of Scotland helped illustrate why Famine took place in Ireland but not within Britain.

The British Empire was a natural subject to approach in this fashion.  In addition to the British World of the settlement colonies, as many historians have recently explored, British Empire very much a product of not only of English, but as many historians have emphasized, Scottish, Irish and Welsh efforts as well.  While we decided that the Empire was such a historically important subject that it needed to be dealt with mainly within separate chapters, although in some cases empire appears in conjunction with domestic events in Britain.  Empire is undoubtedly a complicated subject and we strove not simply to make it a catalogue of dates and places (either those being added to the empire or those breaking free of its control) but of the dynamics of imperial expansion, rule and decolonization.  In doing so, we put an emphasis not merely on the experiences of the colonized as well as the colonizers, but of the impact of empire on Britain: economic, cultural and social.

John: It is easier, I think, in the early part of the period to write from a "four nations" perspective, because of the much clearer political separations among three of the four. Nevertheless, one has to fight the tendency to treat the history of the other nations of the British Isles only to the extent that developments in Scotland, Ireland, or Wales impact the English. Many textbook writers just throw up their hands; I know of one case where authors tell their readers that "Scotland and Ireland and Wales were just less important, and we just have to accept that." The empire, of course, necessitates taking an archipelagic perspective, given that diasporan communities from the "Celtic Fringe" were important components particularly of the Atlantic and Antipodean empires. Nationality and empire are thorny and complex issues that have to be tackled in a text like this one, as are religion, gender, sexuality, class, and so forth.

 

5)   All five of you have different historical specialties, stylistic tendencies, and, I’m sure, strong opinions on what the finished product should look like. Throughout the process of writing this textbook, how did you ensure consistency in the overall narrative, in tone, and in style?

Stephanie: Actually, we were all remarkably in tune with what we wanted the book to emphasize and include – there was very little disagreement or argument about thematic issues or subject matter.  But consistency of tone and style was a real challenge.  The main theme of the responses to the first batches of chapters that went out to the readers’ panel was “the book needs more of a single voice and not five different ones.”  Though I am not listed as the editor, I eventually realized that as the person who had instigated the project I was going to have to deal with that issue, and so I took on the job of smoothing everything out to make it sound consistent.  I’m pleased that the group of eminent scholars from whom we solicited blurbs felt that the book was now in a single “voice” and that there was no longer a problem with multiple ones.

Michelle: This project made me see how broad the training in British studies is in the academy.  As a team, we had to find a center and stick to it in order to offer a coherent story that was useful to North American students.

Michael: I would certainly second Stephanie’s comment about the need for a single editor, and that was something which was important in terms of finding a common voice.  In my own experience, I found that as my writing progressed, my writing shifting away from what you might term a more “academic” style of writing (or perhaps more precisely one most suited to academic monographs) to a style more appropriate to presenting broader developments in history to a wider audience.  As historians, we tend to be cautious –and rightly so-- about the statements we make about the past as it relates to our specializations, and wary --as we should be-- of crude and sweeping generalizations.  We did not try to “dumb down” material, or present a simplistic or uncomplicated vision of the past, but rather one that challenges students and provokes thought and reflection.  In doing so, one has to be aware of things that might be of interest to specialists in the field as opposed to undergraduates, or things that might confuse or clutter the narrative rather than illuminate.  For example, while our text gives great attention to Irish history within the context of British past, I was conscious that we were not writing an Irish history textbook and even less so a book for specialists in Irish history.  Thus while we sought to portray ways in which Ireland variously upheld and opposed the Empire, as was pointed out in the editing process, I did not have to point about every single figure in British history who was Anglo-Irish!

John: I, for one, cheerfully submitted to Stephanie's blue pencil.

Stephen:  A lot of the credit for smoothing out the stylistic and tone issues must go to Stephanie for her editing prowess and to Michael for his judicious insertion of imperial perspectives.  There are still some subtle variations in prose style in different parts of the book, but I don’t think most readers will notice them.

 

6)   How has creating this book impacted your development as scholars, teachers, and informed intellectuals? What advice would you give to other scholars thinking about writing a textbook in their area of expertise? 

Stephanie:  For me, because I not only wrote my own chapters but edited the entire text, it very much increased both the breadth and depth of my knowledge.  Most scholars probably think about writing a textbook as being a somewhat superficial approach to history relative to their monographs, but in fact you have to read very deeply about the individual subjects in order to distill them into 500- or 1000-word explanations.  By the time the book was finished, I was really excited about teaching the survey again, which I’m doing this fall, so I’ll get to put all that I’ve learned into action.  I had just finished a very heavily archival project on country houses and the British Empire, and this was obviously very different in terms of the writing process.  It was fun to have them juxtaposed against each other.  I’m not sure that you write a textbook in your “area of expertise.” Mostly you find out what you don’t know, which is the most valuable part of the experience!

Michelle: Stephanie worked very hard to bring us together as a group. It was challenging at times but the process went relatively smoothly. I enjoyed engaging fellow historians in the audience and my co-authors at the NACBS and realized that writing a textbook is necessarily a group project broadly defined. After all, these books are only given life when they are read by students and taught by our peers.

Michael: In terms of advice, I would advise scholars to prepare for a lot of hard, but rewarding, work.   Be prepared to go beyond your field of scholarly expertise, and if you don’t like that idea, don’t write a textbook!  The reward is not simply in the finished product, but in how the experience of writing history for a broader audience broadens one’s own understanding your field of specialty.

John: I confess I have always disliked teaching nineteenth century Britain, and detested teaching the twentieth century. Now, however, armed with a first-rate, spanking new textbook, I feel equal to the challenge for the first time. As for the experience of writing a textbook, it is a marvelous way for scholars to take inventory of themselves: what do I really know and understand? What do I need to re-examine? And what are the best ways to convey this?

Stephen: I learned much about topics and issues that I thought I already knew quite a bit.   Michael inserted material on the Empire and Ireland that was particularly instructive to me.  I have already revised my own British survey in lieu of my own research for my sections of the book, and will now revise other parts of my survey due to the work of my co-authors.  As to advice: well don’t go into this as naïvely as I did!  I suspect most scholars think they could write a better text than the one they currently use.  After this experience I have much more respect for the accomplishments of the authors of existing textbooks, and a better sense of why texts don’t do everything you think they should.  You can’t do everything or please everybody all of the time.  But I do think our book is a very good alternative to the texts already out there.

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February
27
2015

Open Access, Learned Societies and the Public Good by Martin Eve

Posted by jaskelly under BISI, Blog | Tags: open access, publishing | 0 Comments

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Open access (OA) – the idea that research work should be free to read and reuse – has gained international traction in recent years. Many governments around the world have mandates to ensure the broadest societal return from research that they fund, and a growing number of institutions in the US and beyond have their own internal policyrequirements for open access. This can work, for the most part, because (surprisingly) the vast majority of existing subscription journals willallow authors to deposit their manuscripts in institutional repositories, where the material can be freely read. This is called green open access and it is already a reality today.

An alternative to green open access is “gold” open access. This refers to situations where publishers themselves make work openly available. It does not refer to any particular business model to achieve this, but it does imply that publishers, in this mode, will derive revenues from sources other than subscriptions. In other words, publishing becomes a service that might be remunerated from the supply side (academic institutions or funders). 

The most well-known, although not the most common, business model that existing publishers are using to adapt to open access is called an “Article Processing Charge” (APC) or “Book Processing Charge” (BPC). In this mode, authors, institutions or funders must pay a fee to publishers once work is accepted so that the piece can be made freely available to all. This is less philosophically problematic than some might assume. It does not lower standards, and there are ways in which those who can't pay can be given a waiver through cross-subsidy. It is, however, economically challenging in several ways. This is not because there isn't enough money in the system if we could instantly switch everything tomorrow. It is rather the result of disciplinary and institutional differences, a reconfiguration of the cost/risk pool, and, to some degree, the role of learned societies.

In order to understand this environment, a little economic unpacking is necessary. As I wrote in myrecent book on open access in the humanities disciplines, the APC demanded by the subset of publishers who have fees varies. For PLOS, fees range from $1,350 to $2,900 per article. For SAGE Open, the publisher currently charges $195 (discounted from the “regular” price of $695). More traditional subscription publishers such a Taylor & Francis offer the ability to make an article open access in one of their journals at $2,950. "As a result, there is a wide variance in APC levels from £100 up to £5,000, according to Stuart Lawson in the UK’s Finch Report. This

incorrect and outdated information has now created a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby a more narrow range of £1,600–£2,000 has become the norm."

This is fine in some scientific disciplines. If you have an enormous grant for expensive lab work, such dissemination costs are tiny compared to the overall award. In the humanities and social sciences, however, far less work is funded and it is unclear where this money might be found. Furthermore, as it currently stands, the subscription environmentserves as a cost/risk pool. Under such a system, costs for publication are shared by institutions who all subscribe, rather than being borne by a single author/institution. Gold open access concentrates costs, which may be problematic in some disciplines and institutions.

Which brings me, finally, to the role that learned societies might play here. As the “Societies and Open Access Research” project shows, many societies have embraced open access for their publications. Indeed, what could sit more firmly in line with the mission of societies to promote their scholars' work than making it freely available to all online? Some societies, though, are strongly resisting. The reasons for this are clear: they derive extensive revenues from the sale of subscriptions. Indeed, my initial non-systematic trawl of the charity commission website in the UK reveals that some humanities societies profit by up to £283,811 per year (sciences go even higher). New not-for-profit publishers, with lower costs and open-access missions, cannot hope to match this revenue return from corporate giants. This means that we are unlikely to see price cuts in the open-access offerings of such societies. Furthermore, their publications are also typically high-prestige, valued venues. In other words, they carry great cultural weight, and set norms and expectations for disciplines.

Views on this structure vary. Some claim that the value of scholarly societies’ activities are more important than open access. I disagree. In fact, our university library budgets are being used to subsidise scholarly societies, which publish these journals. In other words, this means that the good work that your society does comes at a price: walling off knowledge from other researchers and students. This goes against the public good and transforms learned societies into agents of private benefit.

The solution is not easy. Societies need to get their revenue from alternative sources – not library budgets – so that we are not tied into one particular model for the economics of publication. This could, for instance, involve allocating savings from a library budget (from cheaper OA) at each institution to a “society fund”, which would then be proportionately paid forward to societies. However, such a reconfiguration would be difficult, and would involve a great deal of inter-institutional cooperation. Only when this is achieved, however, will the tension between learned societies' missions to spread the word and an economic model based on exclusion be eradicated.

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January
27
2015

Considering Community Archives: Migration and Family in Postwar Britain

Posted by StephenJackson under Blog | Tags: archives, Diaspora | 0 Comments

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Who were the Punjabi migrants who traveled to postwar Britain? When and why did they leave the fertile foothills of the Himalayas for the frosty damp British Isles? In what political, social, and cultural circumstances did they live? How did these Punjabis experience, negotiate, and articulate belonging (and non-belonging) in the former metropole? And how did these politics of belonging change over time? These questions, of what it means to be Punjabi in diaspora, have been for me questions of the heart and family, for I was raised in the suburbs of London (what will always be my home) by two parents born in Punjab. While my journey for the answers to these questions is ongoing, my research thus far has steered me to the wonderfully rich and yet largely marginalized archives of local community newspapers.

The lives of my extended family are intimately bound up in the imperial history of Britain. For the historian, the westward journey of my maternal family from the green fields of Punjab to the black foundries of the Midlands, represents just some of the ways in which imperial webs continued to shape mobility after the formal ends of empire. In attempting to explore what it meant for migrants like my family and others, whose lives were shaped by the great currents of empire and decolonization, to forge a new home in a foreign place, my research met a rather abrupt end in the national archives. The lives I was interested in were invisible, or marginal and scattered at best, within the files and folders at Kew. My own history and this research project, both of which I saw as part of what Bill Schwarz has called "the many inchoate histories of post-colonial Britain," had stalled on an unusually bright day in west London.

A week later, through a family friend and a favor called, I found myself within the office of the editor of the Des Pardes Weekly (home and away) newspaper, a Punjabi language paper published from offices in Southall, west London. The Des Pardes was established in 1965 in Kent by a Punjabi Sikh immigrant, Tarsem Singh Purewal. It is currently the most widely circulated Punjabi language newspaper printed outside India. As such it provides a broad window on to the everyday conversations through which Punjabi speaking migrants have articulated community and belonging on British shores since the mid-60s. When I arrived at the offices in 2011, no researcher had ever requested to explore their archives in full before. The treasure trove of materials, including the back catalogue of the newspaper and unpublished photos and readers' letters, were housed in an unused room on the top floor of the newspaper's offices. A messy combination of folders and piles, the archive had been ignored and abandoned (figures 1 and 2). At the top of the first box I opened lay a picture of my grandfather's older brother sprightly marching in the street (figure 3).

Along with oral histories collected and preserved by numerous heritage projects across London, the Des Pardes archive illuminates in my project diverse social histories of postwar Britain, from the inscribing of communities through the circulation of Punjabi folk songs, to the migrants guide to Christmas television specials. The newspaper includes sections devoted to topics ranging from politics and reader's letters, to poetry and travel. Outside of the pages of the paper, numerous boxes house the traces of family histories like my own. The difficulties of language have concealed such archives to a generation of historians. It may be time for departments to think deeply about the languages in which historians of postwar Britain train. For now, preserving the value of archives like the Des Pardes is a huge task, particularly within an increasingly bleak funding landscape. I hope that posts such as these will help make the archive more visible, and request that other historians working with foreign-language newspapers and other community archives in the UK may reach out to me (in the comments or via email) to share the common trials and triumphs of researching outside of mainstream archival spaces.

Rajbir Purewal Hazelwood is Assistant Professor of History at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is currently working on her first book which examines Punjabi migrants in postwar London. She can be reached at rajbir.purewal@gmail.com.

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Author’s Note

The Dominion of Newfoundland, which included mainland Labrador, was independent of Canada; it did not join the confederation until 1949. During the First World War, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment/Royal Newfoundland Regiment was raised, and distinctly maintained, from Canadian divisions and the Canadian Corps. The unit fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front independent of Canadian formations and government. Although Newfoundland–Labrador’s indigenous history, including that of the First World War, is now generally allied to that of Canada, it will be excluded from this analysis. Given its small and remote population (an estimated 1,700 in 1914), Newfoundland did not formulate any specific military policies towards indigenous peoples. Through Canadian and Newfoundland–Labrador archival records, I have confirmed only twenty-one men of indigenous heritage who served in Newfoundland forces during the war.

Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that the scattered Yupik, Iñupiat and Inuit populations of Canada, totaling roughly 3,450 in 1914, were given any consideration by either the Ministry of Militia or Indian Affairs as a source of military manpower. In fact, they were wholly ignored in both policy and practice. Accordingly, these peoples are generally excluded from this synopsis, as are the Métis. The Métis were not legally bound to or defined by the tenets of the Indian Act, and they were able to enlist in the same manner as Euro-Canadians. The experience of First Nations peoples is, therefore, the focus.

Introduction

From a population numbering 7.88 million, over 620,000 Canadians served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) between 1914 and 1919. This number included over 4,000 First Nations individuals from a total 1914 population of 103,774 (excluding non-status individuals). This enlistment figure represents 35 percent of First Nations men of military age, roughly equal to the percentage of Euro-Canadians who enlisted. According to a 1919 Indian Affairs report of the Great War, “it must be remembered, moreover, that there were undoubtedly cases of Indian enlistment which were not reported to the department.”[1] The exact number of Canda’s indigenous population to serve in the First World War cannot be decisively tabulated. Most Status Indians were not recorded as such upon enlistment, as attestation papers did not record race. Likewise, Indian Affairs lists compiled through the “Return of Indian Enlistments” form by agents for individual reserves in 1917, and again in 1919, rarely included those from the Territories, and, most conspicuously, Non-status Indians.[2]  Nevertheless, through these lists it is certain that at minimum 4,000 status Indians were enrolled in the CEF.

Although embarrassingly under-prepared at the outbreak of war, Canada was able to deploy an expeditionary force much larger than could have been imagined.  With Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914, most First Nations communities and leaders openly declared their loyalty and sought avenues to exemplify their allegiance and worth to both Canada and the Crown. The majority of treaties and military alliances were fostered with Britain, not with Canada. Many communities offered support of men and money directly to the king, or the “Great White Father.” The majority believed that by entering and engaging in Canadian society as Indians, they could participate on equal terms and win the respect of the dominant non-Indian society in order to gain rights for their own peoples. Accordingly, many viewed the First World War as an extension of this approach.

Canada had a long history of British-First Nations alliance throughout the settler-state experience. First Nations groups had been British (and French) allies during the colonial wars, as Britain and France vied for North American hegemony. Following the 1817 Rush–Bagot Treaty and the American Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which nullified future American and external European threats, they lost their importance as military allies. However, while First Nations peoples lost their military importance as a collective, individuals continued to support British military campaigns after the War of 1812 when mustered by imperial/Canadian authorities. Given this pattern of allegiance to the British Crown, enthusiasm towards the First World War was not historically unfounded.

The 1904 Militia Act also identified those Canadians eligible for military service. Section X stated, “All the male inhabitants of Canada of the age of eighteen years and upwards, and under sixty, not exempt or disqualified by law and being British subjects, shall be liable to service in the militia; provided that the Governor-General may require all the male inhabitants of Canada capable of bearing arms.”32[3] The act, however, made no specific mention of indigenous peoples even though they had consistently been called upon to assist in Canadian or imperial ventures.

Unofficial Exclusion

With the initiation of hostilities, the majority of British and Canadian politicians and senior commanders, believed that the “war would be over by Christmas.” Within this general atmosphere, Canada initially promulgated an unofficial exclusionist policy regarding enlistment of indigenous peoples. The war, however, was not short-lived, and contributions by First Nations individuals, overseas and on the home front in support of Britain, increased dramatically over the course of four-and-a-half years of horrific warfare.  Although the majority of people offered their immediate support to the war effort, their active participation remained dependent on the existing 1904 Militia Act or, in the absence of any clear policy, on the whims of the federal government. Throughout 1914 the general policy towards service remained one of exclusion or limited involvement.

On 8 August 1914, four days after the British declaration of war, the minister of militia, Sir Sam Hughes, received a query from Colonel W.E. Hodgins asking, “Is it intended that Indians who are anxious to enlist for service Overseas are to be taken on the Contingent?”  Hughes replied on the same day: “While British troops would be proud to be associated with their fellow subjects [First Nations peoples], yet Germans might refuse to extend to them the privileges of civilized warfare, therefore it is considered … that they had better remain in Canada to share in the protection of the Dominion.”[4] Many historians have incorrectly applied Hughes’s statement to represent an official policy of exclusion, while others inaccurately argue that this passage was not widely disseminated. First, although the Ministry of Militia tried to dissuade indigenous enlistment in 1914 and 1915, no official policy of exclusion was ever promulgated. Secondly, this passage was identically reproduced, and extensively circulated, in correspondence concerning Indian service, from its first usage in August 1914 until December 1915, when official authority was finally given to enlist Indians.  Hodgins, who received the initial reply from Hughes, became the adjutant general of militia shortly thereafter. When replying to enquiries concerning his ministry’s Indian enlistment policy, Hodgins simply quoted the passage relayed to him earlier by his superior. Eventually, this passage was frequently used by officials in the Ministry of Militia and the Departments of Indian Affairs and Justice. It became the unofficial policy surrounding Indian service until December 1915.

There was also apprehension that including Indians in an expeditionary force could violate treaties.  During the negotiations of Treaties 1 through 6 (1871–86) — covering roughly the southern half of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and western Ontario — Indian chiefs specifically asked about military service. In October 1873, during the discussions of Treaty 3, governmental representative Alexander Morris was asked by an Ojibwa chief from Fort Frances, Ontario: “If you should get into trouble with the nations, I do not wish to walk out and expose my young men to aid you in any of your wars.” To this Morris replied: “The English never call Indians out of their country to fight their battles.”  Morris echoed this sentiment to Cree chiefs at Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt, Saskatchewan, in August 1876 during consultations over Treaty 6A: “I assured them, you will never be asked to fight against your will; and I trust the time will never come of war between the Queen and the great country near us…. My words, where they are accepted are written down, and they last; as I have said to others, as long as the sun shines and river runs.” [5] Treaties were signed collectively, not by Canada, but in the name of Queen Victoria; thus, Indian nations saw treaties as an alliance with the Crown through Canada, not with Canada itself. Indians often related more to the British Crown than to Canada, because treaties signed on behalf of Queen Victoria signified sovereignty in partnership with Britain.

Throughout 1914 Indian men rushed to recruiting depots for reasons other than loyalty to the British Crown. Although the warrior ethic had stagnated as a result of residential schooling, religious education, and isolation on reserves, it had not been completely repressed. While many joined for money, adventure, and employment, as did their white comrades, scores of others enlisted to revive the warrior tradition and gain social status within their communities.[6]  War in Europe seemed a feasible means to circumvent governmental policies and the Indian Act, and it offered freedom and escape from reserve life. In summary, unofficial policies of exclusion and inclusion were operating conjointly until December 1915, although exclusion remained the dominant premise. This dichotomy led to great confusion within departments and among Indians and their agents as to the regulations pertaining to Indian service. Correspondence from agents, chiefs, and individual Indians asking for clarification of policy flooded into both the Department of Indian Affairs and the Ministry of Militia throughout 1914 and 1915. Most, but not all, replies were consistent with an exclusionist policy. However, under the frantic “call to arms” units recruited directly from their regions, without interference from the Ministry of Militia or the DIA.  Local recruiting officers, therefore, had absolute discretion over whom they enrolled, provided recruits met the medical standards. Although race was not recorded on enlistment documents, some recruiting officers listed “Indian” under the section entitled “Description of [Name] on Enlistment — Complexion” on the attestation form.

The war was generally met with a jingoistic outpouring in the British segments of Canada in 1914, and support for the imperial government was given in the form of men, material, and money. The outward support for the war given by most Indian leaders did not in all cases reflect the opinions of those whom they purportedly represented. Many Indians did not endorse the recruitment of their men for a European war. This was no different from the divisions within the Euro-Canadian populations and should be viewed as such. Most French-Canadians, and some Irish-Canadians, did not back the war effort either. For many Indian leaders seeking full and equal sovereignty, support offered directly to the Crown was viewed as a means to lobby the imperial government to pressure Canada to alter oppressive laws.  As the war progressed and Canadian forces expanded and accrued the horrific casualty rates of modern trench warfare on the Western Front, Canadian policies regarding Indian service were substantially altered to provide for greater inclusion to meet the pragmatic requirements for manpower. Britain increasingly looked to her dominions as a source of men and materials.

Indian Service

Within this general atmosphere, in October 1915 the British War Office issued the most important imperial documents of the war pertaining to indigenes of all dominions. Official inclusion of Indians in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the clarification of policy in December 1915 were directly linked to the requests of the imperial government.  On 8 October 1915 all governors general and administrators of British dominions and colonies received a confidential memorandum from the Canadian-born colonial secretary, Andrew Bonar Law:

The [War] Cabinet have asked for a report as to the possibilities of raising native troops in large numbers in our Colonies + Protectorates for Imperial service. What is wanted is an estimate of the numbers that could be raised; the length of time needed for training; an opinion as to their fighting value; and any pertinent remarks on such points as climatic restrictions on their employment, the influence of religion…[and] the difficulty of officering.

A second request was sent on 18 October. War exigencies now required the military inclusion of indigenous men.  In the British interpretation, the loyal service of Indians during the colonial period still resonated and was again requested in aid of the empire. A third, albeit not as direct, call was written by Bonar Law, on behalf of the king on 25 October. [7]  

A November 1917 report from the Ministry of Militia replied to the question of “whether there was any General Order of the Department by which Indians were not allowed to enlist. No Such General Order was issued. Towards the latter part of 1915, the number of Indians who volunteered to enlist was continuously increasing, and representations were made from the Crown … that they should be allowed to do so, and the following circular letter was issued on December 10, 1915. This regulation has never been altered since that time.”[8]  The aforementioned circular from the Ministry of Militia promulgated “that owing to the large number of applications for enlistment of Indians, authority is hereby granted to enlist Indians in the various Units for Overseas Service.” The response to the change in Indian enlistment policy was overwhelming. A number of battalions formed after December 1915 had a high percentage of Indians, although none rivalled the 107th and the 114th which 50% to 75% Indian in composition. Most were dispatched overseas in 1916, although all, save for the 107th were broken up as reinforcements, many boosting the Indian complexion of the enduring 107th.  In November 1916, roughly one year after the official sanction, the distribution of known Indian enlistments (1,187) was released by the DIA and was widely published in newspapers across the country.  The same report stated that Indians had donated $24,679.30 to various war funds.[9]

Canadian recruitment policies at the outbreak of war and into 1915 could not sustain national formations in the face of mounting casualties, a decline in voluntary enlistment and an expanding expeditionary force. Pragmatism required policies be altered to allow for the inclusion of Indians, and eventually for their conscription. Canada introduced conscription with the controversial Military Service Bill on 11 June 1917, to the indignation of most French-Canadians. Confusion and capricious policy concerning the position of Indians was immediate and pronounced. On 29 August the Military Service Act (MSA) legally sanctioned conscription.

The act applied to all male British subjects in Canada, including Indians, Asians, and blacks, between the ages of twenty and forty.  Driven by the necessities of the war, Canada’s policy towards Indian military service had reversed since 1914. Ottawa was now demanding, under law, Indian participation.  Before the closing registration date of 1 February 1918 arrived, however, Ottawa passed legislation exempting Indians (and Japanese) from the terms of the MSA based on the tenets of prior treaties.

The need for manpower, however, drastically influenced the military position of Indians during 1917 and 1918, and voluntary recruitment drives were undertaken on reserves across the country.  In addition to serving as snipers and scouts, Canadian Indians were employed in every other branch of the combat arms and auxiliary formations except for the Royal Tank Corps.  They served in both the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve, and the Royal Navy. Three members of the defunct 114th Battalion served as pilots in the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force.[10]  One, Lieutenant Oliver Milton Martin, went on to serve in the Second World War, attaining the rank of brigadier general, the highest position ever attained in the Canadian Forces by an Indian.  In total, at least seventeen Indians were commissioned officers in the CEF during the First World War.  For the majority of men who served in the Great War, the camaraderie created by the horrors of trench warfare transcended race. From the historical record available, it appears that the age-old adage of relying on the man beside you in combat, and in turn fighting for him, held true for most men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, regardless of race, colour, or creed.

Legacy

For all nations, the sacrifice of the First World War was measured in blood and the staggering number of dead. This was no different for the Indian nations of Canada. They shared equally in the burdens of war, and they still remind the government of their sacrifices for king and country. Indian casualty rates, however, cannot be precisely calculated, since race was generally not recorded on military records.  Based on nominal roles and soldier-specific details submitted by individual Indian agents (or reserves), it is known for certain that at least 4,000 status Indians served in the CEF and that they suffered roughly 1,200 casualties. These numbers exclude non-status Indians, Inuit-Yupik, and Métis, and are based on the 1914 status-Indian population of 103,774, which increased only slightly during the war years. (The 1917 population was 105,998.)  While the number of Canadian Indians awarded honours is not officially known, Veterans Affairs states that “at least 50 medals were awarded to aboriginal people in Canada for bravery and heroism.”[11]  Indian women also formed patriotic and Red Cross societies on their reserves. They made bandages, knitted various items of clothing, and raised funds by selling traditional crafts. The Canadian Red Cross Society stated that the articles made by Indian women were the finest quality of knitting and sewing they received.  By the end of the war, Indians had donated almost $45,000 to war funds.[12]

Nevertheless, significant Indian participation in the war effort both on and off the battlefield did little to alter governmental policy. Indian veteran Private Daniel Pelletier remarked: “The army treated us all right … there was no discrimination ‘over there’ and we were treated good.”[13] This relative equality, however, was not manifest in government veteran programs and benefits, and Indians remained wards of the state under the paternalistic Indian Act.  Indian veterans also did not receive equal consideration for pensions, disability or War Veterans’ Allowance, despite the promises.  Following the war, with their service no longer required, Indian soldiers returned to the position of unwanted peoples and did not receive equitable treatment as veterans.

The inclusion of Indians in the Canadian Expeditionary Force was a pragmatic decision on the part of the Canadian government, one based on the necessity for manpower to meet national war aims and in response to requests from British authorities. This inclusion was not intended to transcend contemporary social, political, or cultural norms within Canadian society. The elevated and unprecedented participation of Indians during the First World War, however, was a potential catalyst to accelerate their attainment of equal rights. This did not happen. Paternalistic and authoritative policies prevailed, and the recognition of Indian military contributions was fast forgotten. War service, both on and off the battlefield, did not alter their socioeconomic or political realities within Canada, nor did it hasten the attainment of equal rights or enfranchisement. Following the war, veterans were also denied access to most veteran programs.

Conclusion

In late 1917 Arthur Meighen, minister of the interior and superintendent-general of Indian Affairs, summarized the relationship between Indians and Canada during the Great War: “It is an inspiring fact that these descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of a continent so recently appropriated by our own ancestors should voluntarily sacrifice their lives on European battlefields, side by side with men of our own race, for the preservation of the ideals of our civilization, and their staunch devotion forms an eloquent tribute to the beneficent character of British rule over a native people.”[14] No better statement represents the negligible impact Indian participation in the war had on the broader social and political realities of Indians within Canada. Indians were willing, through the bonding experience of a common war, to enter into Canadian society as equals. Canada, as evidenced by Meighen’s declaration, rejected this offer, refusing to acknowledge the shared experience of the First World War and, more importantly, the benefits that could have been derived from it. The sacrifices of Indian soldiers and communities shaped the eras that followed. These experiences challenged notions of Indian identity, as well as their appropriate place in national orders. Although the Great War began 100 years ago, for the indigenous peoples of Canada the war for cultural, territorial, and socio-economic equality and recognition is still being fought today.

 


 

[1] Duncan Campbell Scott, 1919 Report of the Deputy Superintendent General for Indian Affairs: The Indians and the Great War—House of Commons Sessional Paper No. 27 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1920), 13.

[2] LAC, RG 10, Vol. 6767, File 452-17. Return of Indian Enlistments, 1917; LAC, RG 10, Vol. 6771, File 452-29. Return of Indian Enlistments, 1919; Duncan Campbell Scott, 1919Report of the Deputy Superintendent General for Indian Affairs: The Indians and the Great War—House of Commons Sessional Paper No. 27 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1920), 13.

[3] LAC, RG 24, C-1-a, Vol. 6564-Part I. Revision of the Militia Act, 1904.

[4] LAC, RG 24-c-1-a, Vol. 1221, Part 1 HQ-593-1-7. Hodgins to Hughes, with Reply, 8 August 1914.

[5] James Dempsey, Warriors of the King: Prairie Indians in World War I (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1999), 38–39.

[6] Tim Cook, At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914–1916, Vol. 1 (Toronto: Penguin Group Canada, 2007), 28–30.

[7] House of Lords Records Office/Parliamentary Archives (London, UK), Andrew Bonar Law Papers, BL/55/16. Memorandum Colonial Office to Governors General and Administrators of British Dominions, Colonies and Protectorates, 8 October 1915; Cabinet Memorandum to the Dominions: The Question of Raising Native Troops for Imperial Service, 18 October 1915 (also contained in Harcourt Papers-445).

[8] LAC, RG 24-c-1-a, Vol. 1221, File HQ-593-1-7. Letter from Ministry of Militia to A.G. Chisholm (Lawyer, London, Ontario), 26 November 1917.

[9] For example, these numbers appear in the Ottawa Citizen, “Red Men on the Firing Line,” 19 November 1916, and the Regina Leader, “Indians are doing their bit in the Great War,” 18 November 1916.

[10] Duncan Campbell Scott, 1919 Report of the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Sessional Paper No. 27: The Indians and the Great War (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1920), 15, 27.

[11] Veterans Affairs Canada, athttp://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/pdf/cr/pi-sheets/Aboriginal-pi-e. pdf.

[12] LAC, RG 10, Vol. 6762, File 452-3. Native Contributions to War Funds; Department of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the DIA, 1917 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1918), 18.

[13] LAC, RG 10, Vol. 3211, File 527, 787. Various Correspondence on Loft and the League of Indians of Canada, 1919–1935.

[14] Department of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the DIA, 1917 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1918), 17.

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December
16
2014

Lost in Translation by Isaac Land

Posted by jaskelly under BISI, Blog, British and Irish Studies Intelligencer | Tags: historiography, translation | 0 Comments

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My story, appropriately enough, begins with an unexpected meeting.  A historian based in Brittany crossed la Manche to present at a conference in Portsmouth.  He heard me speak, and at a pub afterwards, wrote down the name of one of his colleagues back home.  That handwritten note turned out to be a ticket to a path breaking article in my subfield by a historian who has published almost exclusively in French.  I have since devoted many hours to bringing his work to a larger English-speaking audience, laboriously working through his sentences (dictionary in hand), and blogging about why people need to pay attention to him.

If you would like the specific example, you can look at my blog postings here and here.  I would like to emphasize, though, that the issues I am raising apply equally well if the work in question had been published not in French, but in Bengali or Russian.

Most historians and other humanists passed a required language exam or two in the course of their path to the PhD.  Why aren’t more of us putting those skills to good use?  To answer that, we need to think more broadly about the incentives — or the lack thereof — for translation projects in academia.

Google Translate produces prose that too often resembles one of the forced monologues from Waiting for Godot.  Barring the advent of some earth-shaking new software, we can be certain that only a minority of peer-reviewed publications will get translated into English.  Which ones? Much of it will be driven by market forces.  For example, among French scholars, Alain Cabantous is a name to conjure with on anything connected with maritime or coastal matters.  None of that material has appeared in English, however.  Just one of Cabantous’ many books has been translated; not coincidentally, it is on the more colorful and marketable topic of blasphemy.

This month, the French novelist Patrick Modiano learned that he would receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  A BBC profile noted that he remains largely untranslated into English.  This should serve to remind us of how much terrific writing — of all sorts — hasn’t yet won the support of a big publishing house in the English-speaking world.

It’s always easy to blame publishers, but translators themselves may bear part of the responsibility as well.  Rather than just asking “what gets translated,” we should be asking “who are our translators?”  If we assume that only a fully bilingual individual is a translator worthy of the name, then whatever escapes the attention of this elite cadre will be accessible only to readers of the original language. There is no guarantee that the most historiographically interesting scholarship will even appear on a superstar translator’s radar.

In an ideal scenario, experts in various subfields would each seek out the best work in their areas of expertise and devote substantial time to translating and summarizing.  Yet in the real world, we must ask: how would all that effort be recognized and rewarded?

It’s fair to say that for most of us, reading even a single article in a foreign language is a bit of a gamble.  We read it slowly.  We could spend that time on something else.  We may devote the time, only to conclude that this particular piece of scholarship is undistinguished.  It’s not surprising that most of us wouldn’t assume the risk of a serious translation project unless a publisher invited us to take it on.

There are intermediate solutions, though.  I’ve already mentioned that blogging about untranslated scholarship is one option.  For those with some reading fluency and a good reason to make the effort, I would say: “Go for it!” Historians are a plain-spoken lot.  Their sentence structures are grammatically simple.  About one quarter of the words I have to look up turn out to be everyday academic lingo.  For example, échantillon is a sample (in the statistical sense) and a sillage (wake or furrow) in a historiographical context refers to scholarship that follows up on earlier trailblazing work.  These sorts of terms will recur, so I advise making up a handy glossary for quick reference.

As a blogger, I’m not presenting myself as a fully qualified and proficient translator.  I know enough to summarize the highlights and encourage others to delve deeper.  I’ve not turned my blog over entirely to my translation work; I translate when I have the time and inclination.  So the commitment is manageable.

Not everyone has a blog, of course. Consider, though, if you are writing a review essay or delivering a keynote address, could you do more to include perspectives from scholars who are not yet translated, but should be? What about conference panels devoted to a roundup of important untranslated work in an area that would interest attendees?  In most subfields, we don’t even know what we are missing.


About the author

Isaac Land is an Associate Professor of History at Indiana State University. He is the author of War, Nationalism, and the British Sailor, 1750-1850, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and can be reached at Isaac.Land@indstate.edu or on Twitter @IsaacLand2


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The National Library of Wales (NLW) is based in Aberystwyth on the west coast of Wales and is the national legal deposit library for Wales. Established in 1907, it is home to over six million printed books and journals, as well as many rare and historically significant manuscripts and varied archive collections relating to Wales and its people, including photographic, map and art collections. The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales is also based at the Library. Since its establishment, the Library’s primary objective has been to develop and maintain the documentary heritage of Wales. As reflected in its Charter, the Library’s ‘mission’ is ‘to collect, preserve and give access to all kinds of forms of recorded knowledge, especially relating to Wales and the Welsh and Celtic peoples, for the benefit of the public, including those engaged in research and learning’. This commitment to collection, preservation and access is reflected in the Library’s enthusiastic adoption of digitization as a means of facilitating the broad dissemination of Welsh culture and heritage and delivering its strategic aim of providing ‘Knowledge for All’ (NLW Strategic Plan 2014–2017). 

NLW Research Programme

To address the challenges of delivering effective, usable and sustainable digital resources the Library established its own Research Programme in Digital Collections in 2011. The Programme’s main areas of focus include developing an understanding of the use, value and impact of the Library’s existing digital content; identifying ways of enhancing this content; and developing new collaborative digital projects that address specific research and educational needs. Research is undertaken on existing and emerging digital content through the application of interdisciplinary tools and methods. This work is further enhanced through collaboration with partner libraries, museums and archives, universities, and cultural heritage organisations that cross institutions, collections and disciplinary traditions. 

Underlying all of this work is NLW’s commitment to providing free and open access to its digital resources. The Library has embraced open standards allowing for data to be shared, used and re-used in multiple ways for research, teaching and community engagement purposes. This commitment to openness raises awareness of Welsh history and culture in Wales and beyond and reaffirms the Library’s position as ‘one of the great libraries of the world’.

In keeping with the open access initiative, NLW is in the early stages of opening up some of its raw data for others to download and interrogate for their own research purposes.  These data sets will come from some of our biggest collections and will be available during 2015 at http://data.llgc.org.uk

Among the Library’s most significant current digital resources are:

Welsh Newspapers Online (http://bit.ly/1rF1vmk)

In 2013, the Library launched Welsh Newspapers Online, a free, searchable digital archive of the historic newspapers of Wales dating from 1804 to 1919. The resource provides access to a wide range of over 100 Welsh newspapers in the Library’s holdings, both in English and Welsh, enabling researchers to examine this rich collection in ways that were not previously possible. Over one million pages have been scanned and processed using Optical Character Recognition to allow free-text searching of the entire corpus. 

Cymru1914 (http://bit.ly/1vpAoL6)

Cymru1914 is a JISC-funded project to digitize primary sources relating to the Welsh experience of the First World War and its impact on all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture. The project has brought together fragmented and often difficult to access materials from the libraries, archives, museums and special collections of Wales to form a consolidated digital collection of interest to researchers, students and the public on life in Wales during this significant period of change. The collection includes relevant newspapers, archives and manuscripts, photographs, journals and sound recordings.

Welsh Journals Online (http://bit.ly/1Bw6MgM)

Welsh Journals Online provides free access to a selection of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century Welsh and Wales-related journals held at NLW and partner institutions. Researchers are able to browse and keyword-search the corpus, which covers a wide range of humanities, science and social-science subject areas.


Other collections of interest include the Library’s digitised wills and probate collection (http://bit.ly/1DRzVXZ). The collection includes over 190,000 wills and associated records that were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts dating from the mid-sixteenth century to the introduction of civil probate in England and Wales on 12 January 1858. Researchers are able to view and search the collection for free using specific criteria. A variety of other digitised collections and manuscripts are also available via the NLW website. [Will of Thomas Johnes] 

Happy searching!

Paul McCann and Rhian James (both NLW).

All images provided by NLW.

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Statue of John Wilkes in Fetter LaneAmong the panoply of 18th-century ‘characters’, John Wilkes stands out as one of the most memorable. His twisted visage, which was such a gift to the caricaturists of the day, his libertine lifestyle and championing of radical causes are by themselves more than enough to warrant interest in him. To these may be added his mercurial character, at the one time a friend of the mob, at another an aspiring gentleman and patron of the arts. It is unsurprising, then, that he has attracted so much interest from a variety of angles. But there is another aspect of John Wilkes, for which he is perhaps less well known: Wilkes the tourist.

Wilkes the traveller in France and Italy is well documented, most notably in his own unfinished autobiography, his voluminous correspondence and two recent book-length studies.[1] Wilkes had fled to the continent in the winter of 1763 to avoid imprisonment over the North Briton number 45 affair and his publication of the pornographic Essay on Woman. He remained there, on and off, until 1768. The majority of his time was passed in Paris but there was also an extended tour of Italy, taking in Bologna, Rome and Naples, as well as a visit to Geneva and time spent with Voltaire.

On Wilkes’s return from exile he was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment in King’s Bench prison. It is to the period after this that his significance as a source for the history of travel in England is most obvious. At first his tireless journeyings were closely connected with his political campaigning, but latterly they were more dominated by leisure pursuits. He visited notable country houses and watering holes, as well as friends and acquaintances, mostly in the south of the country. Besides his correspondence, documentation for these peregrinations comes from his diaries, which he kept (with the odd interruption) between 1770 and 1797.[2] At first sight they are a little disappointing. They lack the repartee of his letters but they do reveal a good deal about the logistics of travel in the period. There were certain favoured destinations: Bath and Tunbridge Wells for his health, the Isle of Wight for relaxation. In December 1776, for example, Wilkes left his London residence in Prince’s Court for a sojourn at Bath. He left at 10 in the morning on the 7th and by 1.30pm had arrived at his first port of call, the Castle Inn at Salt Hill. The next day he left Salt Hill at 9am and by 11.30am was at Reading, 18 miles away, where he paused to change horses. He then proceeded for a further 17 miles to Speenhill, before continuing on the next 19-mile stage to Marlborough, where he passed the night. The next day two more stages of 14 and 19 miles respectively at last brought him to his lodgings in Bath. For Wilkes, this was a relatively leisurely journey. In August 1792 he journeyed back and forth from the Isle of Wight to Portsmouth to dine with friends and acquaintances, enjoying swift crossings of just an hour each way.

The value of Wilkes’s diaries for the history of travel and tourism lies in the careful detail he provides of his trips. He notes his regular stopping places – some he liked, others were visited by accident, a few condemned as poor hostelries. Timings too are instructive. He could make it from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight in as little as 40 minutes on a good day and he names the captains who commanded the vessels on which he tended to rely. Wilkes’s later career may often be dismissed as one of relative mediocrity (the final 15 years of his life are dealt with summarily in Arthur Cash’s otherwise supremely detailed study in just 17 pages) but there is much about the history of travel in England that can still be mined from a study of Wilkes’s activities in his respectable twilight years.

 

Robin Eagles

Robin Eagles is a senior research fellow at the History of Parliament. His edition The Diaries of John Wilkes 1770-1797 (London Record Society, 2014) has recently been published through Boydell and he is now embarking on a study of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

 

 


 

[1] Arthur Cash, John Wilkes: the scandalous father of civil liberty (New Haven: Yale, 2006), ch.8; John Sainsbury, John Wilkes: the lives of a libertine (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 120-3, 179-81, 215-17.

[2] British Library, Add. MSS 30866; Robin Eagles, ed., The Diaries of John Wilkes 1770-1797 (Woodbridge: London Record Society, 2014).

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Stephen_H_Gregg.jpgOver the past couple of years I’ve been guiding some final year undergraduate students to create online digital editions of literary texts from the eighteenth century (see here, here, and here). To me, getting students to work with digital technology alongside eighteenth-century British Literature is now an exciting, but also essential, facet of my teaching. So I thought I would share how I got here with a brief overview of some developments, exercises and courses I’ve picked up in my own browsing over the past few years that teach eighteenth-century literature and are inspired by digital humanities.[1]

Digitisation

The huge acceleration of the digitisation of historical texts in the past decade and a half has been the catalyst for a trickle-down effect from research to teaching practices. Released in 2003, and as the biggest database of eighteenth-century material, Eighteenth-century Collections Online (ECCO) arguably generated some the first reflections on using digital resources to teach eighteenth-century literature at undergraduate level: see my own 2007 paper and the many posts on teaching with ECCO on Anna Batigelli’s Early Modern Online Bibliography blog. The issue of cost and accessibility aside, the exponential rise of such resources – such as the Burney Newpapers database, English Broadside Ballads, and Old Bailey Online – has enabled students to enrich their knowledge of eighteenth-century literary culture: they were able to see unusual and non-canonical texts, to examine literary works in the light of historical or cultural ideas specific to the period or even decade, and to pose invigorating questions about literary value. 

Blogging and Wikis

This initial phase crossed over with tutors and professors experimenting with writing assignments and the different engagement with literary texts that might be enabled by digital platforms such as the wiki or the blog post. See for example, the work of Tonya Howe (Marymount University); the course run by Emily M. N. Kugler (Colby College) Histories and Theories of the 18thC British Novel; and Prison Voices 1700-1900, which has for example, this piece on Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (this via Helen Rogers, Liverpool John Moores University). Adrianne Wadewitz (now sadly deceased) was also a leading experimenter using Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

Beyond the Blog

Sharon Alker (Whitman College) and Benjamin Pauley (Eastern Connecticut SU) reflected on using a variety of tools to teach Defoe including Second Life and Google maps. Laura Linker (High Point University) asks her Gothic novel students to use Google Earth to map narrative journeys, and even Second Life as a way of entering into characterization. In a course entitled ‘Remediating Samuel Johnson’, John O'Brien (University of Virginia) set up a collaborative digital anthology of Samuel Johnsons’ works using texts accessed via 18thConnect (significantly, a platform that begins to deal with the problem of access). John’s aim was explicitly student-centred: “m]y hunch is that students will have a good idea of what students like themselves need to know to make sense of challenging eighteenth-century texts.” Students of Rachel Sagner Buurma (Swarthmore College) experience hands-on work with a wonderful digital resource the Early Novels Database — see the students’ own blogs here. In a different course Rachel asks students to create experimental and imaginative bibliographical descriptions of unusual and non-canonical eighteenth-century novels, see here. 

Media shifts

Most fascinating are those courses and projects that use the very medium of digital technology to enable student to grasp the eighteenth-century’s own preoccupation with changing forms and media. As Rachael Scarborough King (New York University) suggests: “[d]rawing such connections between the experimentation and advances of eighteenth-century print culture and our own period of media transformation can offer a crucial foothold for students encountering eighteenth-century texts for the first time.” Rachel asks students to write blog posts incorporating different adaptations of English literature as a way of getting a sense of these texts’ original meaning, form and transmission. In a course devised by Mark Vareschi (Wisconsin-Madison) he sets an “experimental assignment in digital composition and adaptation” tasking students to tweet, 140 characters at a time Samuel Richardson’s Pamela as they were reading the novel. The course designed by Evan C. Davis (Hampden-Sydney College), Gutenberg to Google: Authorship and the Literature of Technology, also pays close attention to the form of literature in this period. In “Friday assignments” there are intriguing tasks such as comparing how we read via print and via e-readers, and using online resources about typography and the Letter M Press app to enable students to re-create and reflect upon the physicality of print in the hand-press era.

I’m about to run my own digital literary studies course focusing on the eighteenth century this coming academic year, and I’ve found the work of others in this field fascinating and tremendously inspiring.[2] My thanks to everyone for letting me link to their courses and students’ projects.


About Dr. Stephen H. Gregg

Dr Stephen H. Gregg is a senior lecturer in English Literature at Bath Spa University. He has published widely on Daniel Defoe and various aspects of eigteenth-century literature and is currently pursuing research on early eighteenth-century print culture and digital pedagogy.  Dr. Gregg’s blog is Manicule.  He can be reached via Twitter at @gregg_sh

 


 

[1] See Rachel Schneider’s blog post Eighteenth-Century Literature meets Twenty-First Century Tech, which reviewed the SHARP roundtable at ASECS 2014, organised by Katherine M. Quinsey, 'Wormius in the Land of Tweets: Archival Studies, Textual Editing, and the Wiki-trained Undergraduate.’ Quotations in this post are from the authors’ proposals for the Digital Humanities Caucus panel ‘Digital Pedagogies’, organised by Benjamin Pauley and Stephen H. Gregg.  The phrase ‘inspired by digital humanities’ is my deliberately broad definition that covers the wide variety of uses of digital technology and digital resources across the courses I’ve found. Since my particular interest is in eighteenth-century literature, if you are interested in syllabi that are focused on digital humanities beyond literature, or beyond the eighteenth century, then there are superb bibliographies here. Because I’m most interested in how these tools have been brought into the undergraduate classroom, I’ve not discussed here the (impressive and exemplary) graduate work in courses run by Lisa Maruca (see Mechanick Exercises), or Allison Muri’s Grub Street Project.  For an excellent set of tips and examples see Adeline Koh’s essay ‘Introducing Digital Humanities Work to Undergraduates.’

 

[2] In this context I should acknowledge my debt to George Williams (University of South Carolina Upstate). George’s own course – despite being an eighteenth-centuryist – is focused on an earlier media shift, and is organized around Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


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Wilfred Owen from Poems (1920)Wilfred Owen was in France 1914, though not near the battlefields that his war poems would memorialise. He had been teaching English at the Berlitz School in Bordeaux since the autumn of 1913 and took up the post of tutor to Madame Léger and her daughter Nénette in July 1914. The Legers owned the Villa Lorenzo, near Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the La Gailleste valley at the foot of the Pyrenees, an idyllic location that impressed Owen from the time he stepped off the train on the 31st of July. “What luck!”, he wrote to his closest confidante, his mother Susan. His hosts were also enchanting. M Léger was a former engineer who had given up the profession for a career in the arts. Nénette was “perfectly a child” with “more than her fair share of intellect”. and she made her tutor “immensely happy”, declaring “Monsieur Owen est trés-joli garçon, n’est-ce-pas?” (Owen 1998, 116) Madame, he tells Susan, is “elegant rather than belle [...] with shapely features luxuriant coiffure, but is much too thin to be pretty” (Owen 1998, 116). But he has to reassure his mother that although Madame “has a considerable liking for me, both in a physical and intellectual sense”, he does not reciprocate “the former liking” (Owen 1998, 116).

After 4 August, war began to rage in Europe. By the time Owen was fully ensconced at Villa Lorenzo, Bagnères was overcome by the news: “Women were weeping all about; work was suspended. Nearly all the men have already departed.” He had “to declare” himself to the authorities and “get a permit to remain” (Owen 1998, 109). Yet he continued “to be immensely happy and famously well” (Owen 1998, 110), immersing himself in French literature and making the acquaintance of the poet Laurent Tailhade, who guided him to the work of Paul Verlaine, Gustav Flaubert and others. As the war carried on around him, Owen found that it “affects me less than it ought”, and argued that he could “ do no service to anybody by agitating for news or making dole over the slaughter.” He felt his “own life all the more precious and more dear in the presence of this deflowering of Europe” and commented that “the guns will effect a little useful weeding” (Owen 1998, 119). There is no poet of pity here. While he was not entirely oblivious to press rhetoric about shirking young Englishmen, he told his mother that the real reason he would go to fight — “what would hold me together on the battlefield” — was “the sense that I was perpetuating the language in which Keats and the rest of them wrote!” (Owen 1998, 130) It was only after his horrendous experiences on the Western Front in 1917 and his recovery from shellshock, that the Owen with whom we, in the early 21st century, are most familiar would emerge: “I came out here to help these boys — directly by leading them as well as an officer can; indirectly by watching their suffering that I may speak of them as well as a pleader can. I have done the first.” (Owen 1998, 351)

Thus Owen’s letters of this early period of the war, and through most of 1915, reveal him weighing many options (including joining the French or the Italian army), as he continued to tutor in Bordeaux and attend courses at the University. It had been mooted that he accompany Madame Léger on a business trip to Canada, but instead, in December, he took up the post of tutor to two English boys, Johnny and Bobbie de la Touche at Mérignac. The boys were meant to return to their public school, Downside near Bath, but the threat of submarines in the Channel continually delayed their leaving until September 1915. After accompanying them back to England, Owen, in mid-October, enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles at its headquarters in London: “I don’t want the bore of training, I don’t want to wear khaki; nor yet save my honour before inquisitive grand-children fifty years hence. But I now do most intensely want to fight” (Owen 1998, 153).

Owen, Wilfred. 1998. Selected Letters. Edited by John Bell. Oxford: OUP.

 

About Dr. Jane Potter

Dr. Jane Potter is Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. Her monograph Boys in Khaki, Girls in Print: Women's Literary Responses to the Great War 1914-1918 (OUP 2005; paperback 2007) was joint winner of the 2006 Women’s History Network Book Prize and she has published widely on many aspects of war literature, book history, and women's writing. Her current research is a collaborative project with Dr Carol Acton (St. Jerome's, University of Waterloo, Canada) entitled Working in a World of Hurt: Trauma and Resilience in the Narratives of Medical Personnel in Warzones (forthcoming, Manchester University Press, 2015). A Trustee of the Wilfred Owen Literary Estate, she is the author of Wilfred Owen: An Illustrated Life (Bodleian Library Publishing, 2014) and is currently working on a new edition of Owen's Selected Letters for Oxford University Press, due to be published in 2015.  

 

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WWI_Propaganda_-_Royal_Navy.jpgAs we mark the centenary of the Great War this August it reveals just how much this episode of our history continues to interest and influence our understanding of the past. However, the Great War continues to be studied primarily as a land-based conflict despite the Royal Navy’s crucial role. Ask someone about Jutland and they will probably look perplexed. Much remains to be done to put the navy back into the public memory of the war, and my own research is working towards this. It considers the personal experience of British sailors during the war as expressed in their diaries, particularly the collection held by the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth.[1] This blog will give a brief insight into my findings so far.

The poignant image of the Great War is of young men rushing to the colours full of patriotic fervour. Surprisingly, little research has been done on sailors’ displays of war enthusiasm. This is especially interesting as many sailors were not volunteers: the navy was a career in those days, and men joined at a young age.[2] Yet sailors’ diaries reveal excitement and celebrations amongst seamen when war was declared. Ships left port cheered by other vessels, and men proudly recorded their first encounters with German ships.[3] Further, diaries repeatedly refer to the “long awaited scrap” with the enemy.[4] When they did meet, British sailors boasted of the Germans’ poor gunnery in comparison with their own, and clearly there was a distinct belief in the Royal Navy’s superiority, which reflects the latent imperialistic sentiment in British society at the time.[5] Yet, not all were caught up with war fever; Walter Dennis recorded that he knew of a number of sailors who were relieved to get posted overseas away from any real action.[6]
However, prolonged warfare, understandably, had a noticeable effect upon sailors. Despite the distancing effect of technology, sailors remained part of the killing machine which some enthusiastically embraced, becoming numb to the brutalities of war.[7] Interestingly few historians have considered this. One sailor - known as Wood - recorded shelling Turkish forts at Gallipoli as “amusing”.[8] This is further demonstrated by the practice of collecting war souvenirs. Seamen often served in support of the army which allowed them ready access to items such as helmets, rifles and bullets.[9] The impact of curios has been widely considered amongst soldiers but, again, sailors have so far been overlooked.[10] Their obvious engagement in this practice suggests a desire for immediacy. It would be interesting to compare the diaries of artillerymen serving at the front, and see whether they encountered similar experiences.[11]

Yet, despite sailors’ interaction with killing, not all became numb to the brutalities. Witnessing the sinking of ships or even hearing about losses was traumatic. For example Walter Dennis recorded being ‘rather concerned’ as to the fate of one of his friends lost at sea.[12] Sailors were acutely aware that if their ships were sunk then death was likely, which made moments such as these particularly sobering. It is not surprising that some succumbed to psychological stresses, or in their words had ‘a tile loose’.[13] Sailors had to develop their own coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of everyday life; these were similar to those developed by soldiers, such as humour. Reflecting on battles many became flippant about the dangers they experienced. One diarist, Henry Welch, recalled: ‘One shell burst on the water’s edge… Ye gods! it was lovely – only a trifle further and there would have been a few gaps among us.’[14] Coping with pressure was essential.

It is clear that personal histories of the Great War continue to find a receptive audience as more people become interested in their own history. The opportunity is there for the navy to make up lost ground. The NMRNP’s on-going project, Hear My Story, is a step in the right direction and forms a new twentieth century exhibition collating personal memories and public interaction.[15] Another interesting project is the AHRC funded Gateways project which provides centres to encourage public interest through organized lectures and study days.[16] These projects show that there was much more to the Great War than mud, blood and the trenches. It is time to put the navy back in the picture and, as the diaries of Dennis, Fletcher, Welch and Wood show, each diary tells its own unique story, and there are many more to be uncovered.

Simon Smith read History at the University of Portsmouth followed by an MA in The History of War, Culture and Society. He is currently doing a PhD on Sailors and the Royal Navy c.1870-1939 as part of the University of Portsmouth's Port Towns and Urban Cultures project.


[1] The NMRNP holds approximately 200 diaries in its collection. Other comprehensive diary collections include the Imperial War Museum which has just re-opened with a new WW1 exhibition.
[2] For more information see Christopher McKee, Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy, 1900-1945, (London: Harvard University Press, 2002) and Brian Lavery, Able Seamen: the lower deck of the Royal Navy, 1850-1939, (London: Conway, 2011).
[3] RNM 1984/467: Diary of Wood.
[4] RNM 1980/115: Diary of Edwin Fletcher; RNM 1984/467: Diary of Wood; RNM 1980/82: Diary of W Dawson; Diary of Walter Dennis.
[5] RNM 1984/467: Diary of Wood.
[6] Diary of Walter Dennis. Diary digitalized by McMaster University, Ontario Canada and available at http://pw20c.mcmaster.ca.
[7] See Edgar Jones, “The Psychology of Killing: The Combat Experience of British Soldiers during the First World War”, Journal of Contemporary History, 41, 2, (2006), 233; Joanna Bourke, An intimate history of killing: face to face killing in twentieth-century warfare, (London: Granta Books, 1999), 7.
[8] RNM 1984/467: Diary of Wood.
[9] Diary of Walter Dennis; RNM 1984/467: Diary of Wood.
[10] See Jones, “Psychology”, and Bourke, An intimate history, for further information of the study of soldiers.
[11] The Imperial War Museum does hold artillerymen’s diaries but these have not yet been considered.
[12] Diary of Walter Dennis.
[13] Diary of Walter Dennis.
[14] DOC: Diary of Henry Welch.
[15] See http://www.nmrn.org.uk/explore/hms-hear-my-story for further information on this project.
[16] The Arts and Humanities Research Council – see www.kent.ac.uk/ww1 for further information on this project.

 


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Caroline Boswell

LOFFWhome.png

The Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917— during the darkest days of World War I. Its creators envisioned crowded,glass-covered exhibits filled with the memorialized objects of a haunted generation — “even if they be of trifling character.” The founders crafted plans for a “Hall of Memories” that would commemorate every individual’s contribution. Their request for memorabilia flooded the IWM with mementos — the bedrock of the current collection — but no physical space could hold all the memories and artifacts of total war, and their vision had to be abandoned.

Just as the Museum’s founders desired to build a structure that honored those who fought, the directors of “The Lives of the First World War” aim to create a permanent digital memorial that archives the experiences of everyone in Britain and the British Commonwealth who participated in the war effort.  According to Luke Smith, the IWM’s Digital Lead, the site’s reliance on user-generated data continues the laborious process the Museum began in 1918. The “Lives of the First World War” allows the IWM to realize its founding vision a century later.

LOFFWLifeStory.png

Participating in “Lives of the First World War” is relatively easy for anyone familiar with digital archives. You simply sign up and identify those whom you wish to “Remember.” The site directs you on a hunt for evidence of your individual in its numerous digital records. A word of caution, readers: many of the records on the site cannot be accessed without subscribing, which costs either £6 a month or £50 a year. This practical decision limits what otherwise has the promise to be a truly remarkable attempt to crowd-source history. The fee, however, also allows you to create or join a “Community” designed to “Remember” a group of soldiers and/or civilians.  Possible organizations of “Communities” appear limitless: active users have created “Communities” of regiments, former schoolmates and hometowns, such as Smith’s own “Community,” “Ballydehob at War.”LOFFW_External_Reference.png

While the site does limit non-subscribers’ access to records, it encourages all users to provide “external evidence” of an
individual’s “Life Story.” Several “Lives” are already dotted with pictures, diaries and images of war memorials that users contributed from personal, local or Internet resources. Smith is quick to emphasize how much the project relies on user-generated “evidence” to document the lives of those who rarely appear in official records.  Female workers in munitions factories and soldiers from the Indian subcontinent seldom surface in accessible sources; thus, it is up to their families, communities and historians to ensure that their experiences are not forgotten.

While the primary mission of the project is to create a permanent digital memorial, the IWM also designed the site to serve as a resource for academic scholars. The project has an academic advisory group of roughly thirty scholars from the UK and Ireland, which includes archivists and digital humanists as well as leading historians. Professor Richard Grayson — whose pioneering study of the impact of war on West Belfast covers the experience of roughly 12,000 individuals — chairs the group. As Grayson noted in a blog post, the IWM’s digital program offers “an opportunity for academic historians to learn from the vast amount of expertise to be found among those working on First World War projects inspired by local or family interests.”

Keenly aware of the potential pitfalls of user-generated information, Smith and his team have “slacker-proofed” the site. With every entry — whether “Fact” or “Story” — the site prompts a user to note the origin of her information. All “Facts” must be tied to “evidence,” and users who wish to enter personal memories or anecdotes must do so through the “Stories” function. Though use of the terms “Fact” and “Story” may make historians cringe, the project directors believe the division helps users grasp basic standards of historical evidence. “We are trying to aim for something like academic standards of reference,” explains Smith, “without it feeling too academic.”

While the current infrastructure may be slightly burdensome, it holds great potential for history instructors. Introductory-level students could use the site to become familiar with the issues and practicalities of researching, recording and using historical evidence, while upper-division students could set their critical eyes on the site to examine its strengths and weaknesses. Students in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and, soon, Australia, can easily research individuals in external records and make important contributions to “Life Stories” without paying any fees. Over the next several years the site will incorporate additional records from across Britain and its former empire, and Smith sees the potential to include records from Britain’s allies — particularly the U.S. — but this would be several years down the road.

OperationWarDiary.pngPeople from all over the globe can freely participate in the IWM’s other crowd-sourced digital archive — “Operation War Diary” — which it launched in partnership with the National Archives and Zooniverse.  Collectively they have digitized 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries, and they are asking “Citizen Historians” to assist by tagging pages and their contents. The long process of tagging these diaries makes them ripe for use in courses. Deglamorizing historical research for students has its own benefits and student participation in the project also allows them to contribute to scholarship outside of the confines of the classroom. By its very nature, crowd-sourced digital history blurs the distinctions between “Citizen Historian,” student and academic, and it empowers students to approach the discipline as active participants versus passive learners.

The enthusiasm Smith expresses for these projects is contagious, and his vision of “The Lives of the First World War” is admirable. By emphasizing the inherent connections between public, digital and social history, these user-generated archives suggest a bright future for a field of British history that many have presumed to be on a sharp decline for decades. It will be interesting to see which scholars find the growing number of crowd-sourced projects valuable, and who will smile, nod and slip back into the dusty caverns (or sign into the exclusive online databases) of archives whose vastness and biases pose problems for the academic trying to capture the toil and triumph of everyday experience. For, even with the digitization of more and more archives (often at a steep price), who is there to enter the searchable metadata that makes them truly usable?

We would like to hear from you:  what is your opinion of crowd-sourced digitization projects? Would you use them in your own research and/or teaching?  

 

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BISI-Logo.pngThe North American Conference on British Studies has chosen the inaugural editorial board and blog team for its new blog dedicated to British Studies, the British and Irish Studies Intelligencer (BISI).

The BISI editorial board consists of

Elaine Chalus, Bath Spa University
Craig Hanson, Calvin College
Jason M. Kelly, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Isaac Land, Indiana State University

The BISI bloggers are

Caroline Boswell, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Stephen Jackson, University of Sioux Falls

As a blog, BISI will include discussions about the state of the field, methodological approaches, teaching, reports on conferences and symposia, videos, podcasts, and editorials focused on British Studies across the disciplines.

BISI will host discussion forums, and it will provide a space for scholars to share their current research in a format that is accessible to the non-specialist.  

BISI has its origins in the British Studies Intelligencer, first published by the society in 1962.  The new platform marks a divergence from the Intelligencer's earlier newsletter formats, and it will allow NACBS members to engage with each other more regularly.

The BISI team encourages the British Studies community to submit blog posts (and re-posts) as well as offer suggestions for special projects or themes.

If you would like to contact BISI to discuss a potential blog post, make a submission, or offer to organize an online forum, please contact us at nacbsblog@gmail.com.

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