Unopened Letters, and the Secrets Within

Ellen Smith, University of Leicester ecss3@leicester.ac.uk @EllenCSSmith We are pleased to share this blog by Ellen Smith, runner up in the 2020 SHS Postgraduate Prize. Several times during my research project, on family life in British India during the long nineteenth century, I have reflected on how privileged I am to read, almost daily, personal … Continued

Making a stand with Mary: Precarious Employment in Pandemic Times

Kate Brooks, Bath Spa University K.Brooks@bathspa.ac.uk We are pleased to share this blog by Kate Brooks, the winner of the 2020 SHS Postgraduate Prize. In 1851, Joseph Lowe was working as a barber in Willenhall, Staffordshire, with four children and a house servant named Jane. Willenhall was an overcrowded, impoverished district, known for locksmithery and … Continued

SHS Book Prize Runner Up: The Social History of Trust in the Middle Ages

Professor Ian Forrest, University of Oxford ian.forrest@oriel.ox.ac.uk We are delighted to share this blog about Ian Forrest’s Trustworthy Men: How Inequality and Faith Made the Medieval Church (Princeton University Press, 2018), the runner-up of the 2020 SHS book prize. No-one had really noticed the ‘trustworthy men’, but as I pondered this medieval administrative term I … Continued

Children, Covid-19 and Parental Responsibility

Dr Deniz Arzuk, University College London @denizarzuk https://changingchildhoods.com/ On June 1st, after 10 weeks of lockdown, primary schools in England have reopened for children in Years 1, 6, and Reception. Yet, the initial reports suggest that turn-out is low, and parents are still unconvinced and hesitant to send their children back to school. This is … Continued

Death in the archives

Kate Brooks, Bath Spa University We may never know the exact number of deaths caused by this pandemic, not just because of Government obfuscation. Establishing a definitive cause of death is not as straight forward as it may seem, and the current debates about numbers can be read as yet another iteration of an almost … Continued

On the historical value of ‘bumfodder’ – Loyalty, Memory and Public Opinion in England, 1658-1727

Ted Vallance, University of Roehampton Edward.Vallance@roehampton.ac.uk In a rather pungent outburst, the earl of Lauderdale once told Charles II that loyal addresses were ‘fit for nothing but to wipe his Royal A…’ Until recently, historical opinion on the value of these texts has been no less severe: J. T. Rutt, the editor of Thomas Burton’s … Continued

DIY facemasks and the domestication of personal protection in the First World War

Dr Michael Reeve, Bishop Grosseteste University/Leeds Beckett University @DrMichaelReeve As a historian of wartime resilience, I have found it difficult not to draw parallels between aspects of the current public health crisis and elements of my own research into public safety and early forms of civil defence during the First World War. Though such parallels … Continued

A good send-off in the strange new world of Covid-19

Dr Helen Frisby, independent historian Helen.Frisby@uwe.ac.uk Just over twelve months ago, fuelled by coffee, toasted bagels and an impending deadline, I noted in the concluding chapter of my book Traditions of Death and Burial how, over the past millennium: The ideal (if not always the practice) of a ‘good’ death nonetheless has remained remarkably consistent … Continued

The Pandemic Victorian Post Office

Professor David Green and Dr Laura Newman, King’s College London @PostalHealth Much has been written in the news lately about how best to protect the health of postal workers during a pandemic. At a time when we’re all beginning to reconsider what or who constitutes a ‘vital’ worker, it’s becoming increasingly apparent just how critical … Continued