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Irish politics: past, present, future?

By Aoife O’Leary McNeice (@aolmcn

For the past one hundred years, Irish parliamentary politics has been dominated by two political parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. This is now no longer the case. Ireland’s recent general election saw the left wing party Sinn Féin emerge as the third ‘big party’ in Irish politics, gaining more first preference votes than either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael (both centre right).  Witnessing the frustrations of an electorate faced with a housing crisis and overcrowded hospitals during a period of alleged economic recovery, pundits and politicians alike identified a thirst for change. The election has produced a complicated political  landscape, in which no single party has enough seats to form a majority.  Weeks if not months of coalition talks are now likely. And whilst many are more focused on the future than the past, these three parties share a complicated, overlapping history. This shared past may still impact upon their ability to form a government together.

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‘Twittering Historians: On Active Duty in the Rapid Reaction Force’

By Stephanie Brown (@StephEmmaBrown), Laura Flannigan (@LFlannigan17), and Robert Saunders (@redhistorian)

DHP were invited to speak at the Public and Popular History seminar on 5 February 2020. We sent along our Editor, Stephanie Brown, and member of the editorial team, Laura Flannigan. Also, on the panel was Dr Robert Saunders (Queen Mary London), who is a prolific author on nineteenth and twentieth century British politics, including his acclaimed book Yes to Europe: The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain (2018).

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Wiley Digital Archives: enhancing research capabilities

By Mobeen Hussain (@amhuss27)

I was recently invited to user-test Wiley Digital Archives’ (WDA) platform which holds digitised archives from various societies including The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (RGS) and The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI). The WDA platform is a wonderful resource, bringing together numerous collections and enabling cross-referencing across multiple archive collections.

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Suffrage, Arson, and the University of Bristol

By Georgia Oman (@Georgia_Oman)

Founded as University College, Bristol, in 1876, the awarding of a royal charter in 1909 allowed the University of Bristol to officially come in to being. In that time, the institution had earned a reputation as a trailblazer in the higher education of women. During the College’s first year, there were 69 women day students registered, compared to 30 men.[1] In 1882, outgoing Professor J. F. Main declared that Bristol ‘had been the first amongst the colleges of England to open its doors to all persons anxious to obtain instruction within its walls, without any distinction of sex’.[2] With this strong legacy of gender equality, it is perhaps not surprising that, in 1913, the women of the university began to think of forming a Women’s Suffrage Society. At a meeting held on the 11th of February of that year, a motion that such a society be formed was passed by 34 votes to two, and the meeting ended in the hope that ‘this Society will be formed during the present term.’[3]

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Victim Personal Statements: Are We Restoring a Wrong Right?

By Kevin Bendesky

Beginning in the 1960s, the Victims’ Rights Movement had profound impacts on English law. One result, Victim Personal Statements (VPS), raised the important question of whether the victim should have the chance to say how the crime affected them. A VPS happens after the adjudication of guilt, but before the sentence is determined. It is not supposed to influence the sentence, yet judges often refer to the VPS in their sentences.[1] Some studies demonstrate that the statements do not harshen penalties; but still, victims report that they sometimes hope their VPS will affect the sentence.[2] Clearly, then, the VPS is still a topic of debate. The Victims’ Movement was grounded in the common desire to “restore” the rights of crime’s many victims.[3] But what was there to “restore”? A careful retracing of the victim’s role in English history complicates this effort.

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Tour de Force: A Selected History of Guided Tours

By Clemency Hinton (@clemencyhinton)

Guided tours are part and parcel of today’s tourism industry. In fact, there are over 1,800 registered professional tour guides in the UK alone.[1] Tour guides (also known as rangers, couriers or interpreters) can be traced through history, leading one scholar to describe guiding as likely to be ‘among the world’s oldest professions.’[2] The World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations defines a ‘Tourist Guide’ as a qualified person who ‘guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area.’[3] However, guides have existed long before they became part of a recognised profession.

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Teaching Around Trauma: The Holocaust in Primary School Education

By Alex White (@alex_j_white)

It’s a sunny day in rural England. A football team is practising on the field outside, a group of schoolchildren are queuing for lunch, and I am working as a teaching assistant as a class of nine-year-olds learn about the Holocaust for the first time.

The room is quiet, and I can’t help feeling tense. The teaching of painful histories always carries emotional baggage, forcing educators to balance the need for factual accuracy with the risk of causing lasting trauma. This is particularly true for young children:  their emotional capacities are still developing and many can struggle to separate themselves from traumatic events while others will fail to engage empathetically at all.[1] At the same time, however, the schoolroom has been depicted as a formative space where educators can introduce complex topics in a mediated and emotionally appropriate manner.[2] When schools refuse to teach ‘difficult’ histories, they run the risk of exposing pupils to misinformation from less secure sources. For a topic as emotive as the Holocaust, this can have particularly dangerous consequences.

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Doing History in Public Review of 2019

Editor of DHP Stephanie Brown (@StephEmmaBrown) looks back at 2019.

As it is New Year’s Eve, let’s take one final look at 2019, before the resolutions of 2020 begin. In fact, it was a resolution that kicked off 2019 for DHP. Veganuary saw Greggs launch their vegan sausage roll and they quickly struggled to keep up with demand. Piers Morgan called the bakery ‘PC-ravaged clowns’, however, Zoe Farrell uncovered the long history behind veganism.

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The Cancellation of Christmas

Philippa Carter (@extispicium)

In The accomplisht cook (1660), the English chef Robert May recommended to his readers a feast ‘to be used at Festival Times, as Twelfth Day [of Christmas]’. All the budding cook had to do, May explained, was to construct – in pastry – a castle, a ship laced with gunpowder, a wine-filled stag impaled with an arrow, one pie containing live frogs, and another live birds. Once served, it was simply a matter of persuading ‘some of the Ladies’ Read more

24. A Celebrity Chef’s Recipe for Famine Soup

By Aoife O’Leary McNeice (@aolmcn)

Alexis Soyer was a nineteenth-century celebrity chief. Born in Mieux-en-Brie in France in 1810, Soyer fled to England during the French Revolution of 1830. He quickly became a public figure, publishing books like The Gastronomic Regenerator: A Simplified and Entirely New System of Cookery and The Modern Housewife or, Ménagère.

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23. A Salamander Pendant

By Abigail Gomulkiewicz

This pendant is a salamander set in gold with blue enamel. The salamander’s body is formed from a baroque pearl and it holds an emerald in its mouth. Although the provenance is unknown, the salamander imagery was something quite often gifted by men at court to Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). In fact, the salamander actually appears in more offerings than the oft-studied phoenix or pelican.[1] Mr. Thomas Hennage, for example, gave a gold jewel tablet with a salamander in opal on it while Charles Smythe presented a small salamander jewel with rubies, diamonds, and pearls. Mr. Carmardenn also offered a silver and gilt bodkin with a salamander pendant in mother of pearl.[2]

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22. ‘Against Idleness’ Mug

By Meg Roberts (@megeroberts)

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as industry and population swelled, an enduring fear of ‘idleness’ as a morally corrupting and irresponsible vice took on new significance in both Britain and America. This fear could almost be described as an obsession. Across print and material culture throughout this period, the indolence of ‘idleness’ was contrasted with the aspirational diligence of ‘industry’.

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21. The Seal of Robert Fitzwalter

By Savannah Pine (@savannah_pine)

Robert Fitzwalter’s seal-matrix is a typical early-thirteenth-century seal-matrix. Its imagery proclaims his identity through an equestrian figure brandishing a sword, which represents that he was a part of the elite warrior class, and through a shield displaying his coat-of-arms (a fess between two chevrons), which signifies his membership within a familial group.[1] However, in contrast to other elite laymen’s seal-matrices, Fitzwalter placed another man’s coat-of-arms on his seal-matrix – the mascles arms depicted on the shield which is underneath the horse’s neck. That heraldic device belonged to his ritual brother, Saer de Quincy, earl of Winchester.

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20. John’s Leaves and Elizabeth’s Flowers

By Maggie Kalenak

Botanical specimens like the ones pictured can be found in archives all over the U.K., delighting the unsuspecting reader by tumbling out of 19th century envelopes. Whether to a family member, friend or sweetheart, flowers and leaves were frequently tucked into letters to further personalise the experience of their recipients. In the 1870s John Sibree from Yorkshire sent his fiancee, Cissie, leaves he pressed in order to share autumnal walks with her despite their long distance relationship. In return she would send her responses in envelopes full of violets, their fragrance scenting the paper, giving John a full sensory experience and building their intimacy by creating shared experiences through their floral exchange.[1]

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19. A Sphinx Carving

By Martin Crevier (@Crevier__Martin)

This carving of a Sphinx came to the British Museum in 1896 from Haida Gwaii, a Pacific archipelago off the coast of what is today the Canadian province of British Columbia. The artist, Simeon Stildha (1799-1889), was a chief of the Haida people, the islands’ indigenous inhabitants.

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18. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Wheelchair

By Clemency Hinton (@clemencyhinton)

This wooden wheelchair was the often invisible, but invaluable, aid to President Franklin Roosevelt during his years of political prominence. Cobbled together from a standard kitchen chair with bicycle wheels attached, this wheelchair was designed to be discreet, light and mobile. Unlike the bulky and obtrusive counterparts of its time, this wheelchair allowed FDR to somewhat conceal the lower body paralysis he had experienced since the age of 39. It sits today at the Home of FDR, the National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York.

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Fashion Gallery as Archive: Researching Dress History in Museums

By Zara Kesterton (@ZaraKesterton)

In recent years, it has become fashionable to talk of an ‘archival turn’ in history, in which the site of record-keeping has itself come under scrutiny.[1] At the same time, material history has risen to prominence as an intriguing counterpart or companion to the paper-trail left by written documents.[2] As someone who became fluent in the visual language of a museum long before I encountered academic history, I like to think of a fashion gallery as something that can be ‘read’ in similar ways to an archive, combining the perspectives of both historiographies.

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17. Commemorative Button Badge of General Roberts

By Helen Sunderland (@hl_sunderland)

The Second Boer War of 1899-1902 is renowned for raising popular imperialist fervour to new heights in Britain. Extravagant public rejoicing marked key turning points in the conflict. Most notoriously, uproarious celebrations followed the Relief of Mafeking in May 1900, even coining a new term in the English language. Historians continue to debate the extent and significance of this public display of jingoism – or ‘mafficking’.

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16. Gandhi’s ‘Guide to London’

By Alex White (@alex_j_white)

Travel literature can be invaluable to historians studying the dynamics of migration, tourism and cultural difference. However, they can be equally useful for shedding light on the interests and preoccupations of their own authors. This is certainly the case with Gandhi’s Guide to London, an unpublished booklet from 1893 written for Indian students intending to study in Great Britain.[1]

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15. Hawkins Hostess Trolley

By Kate Schneider (@sonicteeth)

We fondly remember the hostess trolley as a relic of the 1970s, trundled ceremoniously into the dining room for special occasions, with its misted-up Pyrex dishes filled with damp Christmas dinners and near-sliceable gravy kept warm for hours before serving.

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