University helps map environmental way forward with Green Heritage film

A major initiative aimed at raising the profile of green spaces in the Canterbury district has received a boost with the release of a new film by a Kent environmental historian.

Dr Karen Jones of the University’s School of History, working with Dr Eirini Saratsi of its School of Anthropology and Conservation, helped launch the Growing Canterbury’s Green Heritage initiative in October 2018.

The film provides a campaigning focus for those working on environmental and green space projects in the district.

Please read the full article here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/news/society/21009/university-helps-map-environmental-way-forward-with-green-heritage-film#.

University historian Dr Emily Guerry uncovers Danny Dyer’s royal ancestry

Senior Lecturer at University of Kent, Dr Emily Guerry, has recently appeared on a BBC One documentary offering her knowledge and expertise on Medieval History.

The documentary, Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family, follows British TV actor and personality, Danny Dyer, as he discovers his royal ancestry. Dr. Guerry reveals to Dyer that he is distantly related to the French King Louis IX, a devout religious leader who died in 1270.

Dr. Guerry explained: “He wasn’t just a king… he was a Saint. Twenty-seven years after his death, the Pope canonised him Saint Louis. There are very few saints that aren’t virgins or martyrs, so to have the blood of a saint in your blood is an extraordinary thing.”

Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family aired on 23 January and is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer, or alternatively read about it here: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jan/14/danny-dyer-discovers-more-royal-ancestry-with-french-king-saint-louis.

 

Age of Revolution project

Waterloo200 is a registered charity that was set up and funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with a view to promoting and documenting the bicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015. With the remainder of the grant, Waterloo200 undertook to develop an educational programme that documents and supports teaching about the ‘Age of Revolution, c.1775-1848’, organised around four major themes which envelop the period and remain topical today:

  • political revolution
  • war and the international order
  • social and cultural revolution
  • economic and technological revolution.

The legacy project, developed by an educational committee and delivered through a set of partners in the education and heritage sectors, aims to reach some 2,000 schools by the end of 2020 and to make available a host of digital resources that includes the original military collection from Waterloo200 but enlarges it to cover all aspects of society in more scope and detail.

The University of Kent’s involvement in the project is led by Dr Ben Marsh, whose research and teaching experience in the subject area was the basis of his collaborative volume on pedagogy (co-edited with Mike Rapport), Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017). Marsh’s background in public engagement and the involvement of a number of specialists at Kent who have conducted research or taught extensively about the period in question – including Dr Ambrogio Caiani and Dr Mark Lawrence (European history), Dr Tim Bowman (military history), Dr Rebekah Higgitt (history of technology and science), and Dr Claire Jones (history of medicine) – made the School of History an obvious choice to support key strands within the project, because of the range and breadth of our research and our links with museums and archive partners.

The academics have helped feed into the selection and description of the many of the objects digitised and annotated within the main Age of Revolution project: https://ageofrevolution.org/. These draw on collections from around the UK, and reflect discussions in partnership with major organisations such as Culture24 and the Historical Association. The project will continue to grow until June 2020, and one of the most exciting features has been the opportunity to involve School of History students at Kent in our ongoing partnerships and projects. We have our own internal blogsite that documents this work, as our student volunteers make important contributions to gathering information, authoring digital text, recording podcasts with major historians of the period, working with schools and museums, and delivering projects such as films and exhibitions: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/ageofrevolution/

In the months to come, we will be working with the Old Operating Theatre, the Peterloo2019 team, Bowes Museum, and a range of regimental museums and archives to pull together more resources and objects that can make a difference to how teachers, students, and the general public think of the Age of Revolution and its legacy – which remains relentlessly topical in today’s world plagued by concerns about nationalism, communication, new technologies, protests, human rights, and global sensibilities.

Let us know if you are interested in learning more, or wish to get involved, at: ageofrevolution@kent.ac.uk

BOOK LAUNCH OF “YPRES” by Professor Mark Connelly and Dr Stefan Goebel

– A book about the history of Ypres and its first tourists after World War 1 –

INVITATION

Tuesday 22 January 2019 @ 18.00

Flanders House, 1a Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0LD

Professor Mark Connelly and Dr. Stefan Goebel, from the University of Kent’s School of History, have co-authored a new book entitled “Ypres” as part of Oxford University Press’s Great Battles series.

Over the last century, Ypres has become an iconic city for the British Commonwealth, and the Germans during the mid-20th century, as well as its significance for the Belgians and French. In this this new book, the authors take a look at the image of Ypres as it was built up in wartime media coverage, through painting and photography, and in the post-war years to look at the memorial projects undertaken by the British and the Germans. It takes a look at the way in which Ypres was also woven into Second World War public debate, and then the revival of a battlefield tourism industry after 1945.

VISITFLANDERS would cordially like to invite you to an informal book launch to celebrate the publication of this thoroughly informative and engaging insight into the way that Ypres has been viewed, imagined and visited over the years.  Joining us, will be the authors and their publication team with opportunities to interview them.

R.S.V.P to nuria.goethals@visitflanders.com or anita.rampall@visitflanders.com  to confirm your attendance.

Dr Julie Anderson wins teaching award

The School of History’s Dr Julie Anderson, has won the Royal Historical Society’s inaugural Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History.

Judges said the prize was awarded in recognition of Dr Anderson’s ‘outstanding’ teaching of history at undergraduate level and ‘creative and highly effective’ supervision of postgraduate historians in her field.

More information about this story is available on the University’s Kent Life news centre.

Women, Work and Health: The Match-Girls Strike of 1888

On 5th July 1888, approximately 1400 female workers walked out of Bryant and May’s match making factory in Bow, East London, in protest over low pay and poor working conditions. Each woman and girl worked 12- to 14-hour days in hot and unventilated rooms to make and pack match boxes in order to earn an average piece rate wage of around 8 shillings per week; skilled male labourers could expect around 40 shillings. Prompted by the perceived unfair dismissal of one of the workers, one woman reported that the strike ‘just went like tinder, one girl began, and the rest said ‘yes’ so out we all went’. Match production stopped for 16 days. The strike finally ended after the workers accepted a number of concessions offered by the company. These concessions included the abolition of the system of fining workers for being late, deductions from wages to cover cost of paste and brushes and the recognition of the Union of Women Match Makers by management.A sepia picture of Bryant and May 'match girls'.

The match girls’ strike, as the 16 day walk out of women workers famously became known, shaped the future of Britain’s labour movement. As the first strike by unskilled women workers in Britain, this moment was hugely significant in the rise of New Unionism of the late 1880s and 1890s. It was the prelude to a wave of strikes that swept the country, the most famous of which was the Great Dock Strike of 1889. Workers across Britain were no longer willing to accept their poor working conditions and began to demand more from their employers. This wave of strike action resulted in the unionization of tens of thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled workers and sowed the seeds of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). Moreover, the Union of Women Match Makers had a long legacy; it was one of only a few unions that survived the turbulent years after the peak of New Unionism and was still going strong into the 1930s.

Yet, the strike was also important for highlighting and ultimately improving the dangerous working conditions that Bryant and May’s management concessions did not address. Match making was considered part of the ‘dangerous trades’ under the Factory and Workshops Acts due to the fact that highly toxic white phosphorous paste was used to make the hugely popular Lucifer ‘strike anywhere’ matches. Renewed media attention on Bryant and May following the strike highlighted cases of necrosis of the jaw – ‘phossy jaw’ – among both male and female match workers resulting from exposure to the white phosphorous. The resulting government inquiry revealed the horrors of the disease. One testimony stated:

A drawing depicting a woman suffering from necrosis of the jaw (colloquially known as 'phossy jaw'.‘In a certain town I dug out cases of men and women, hidden away in the slums – piteous cases they were. One woman had completely lost her lower jaw, a young girl at earlier stages was constantly in great pain while her suppurating jaw bone was gradually decaying.’

This spectre of an identifiable industrial disease was a powerful weapon not only in the political struggles around working conditions, but also in debates over the degree to which the state should regulate the twenty five match making companies across Britain. State regulations of the late 1890s enhanced worker hygiene through the provision of soap, water and free toothbrushes and toothpaste; improved factory ventilation to prevent phosphorous fumes spreading all over the factory, as well as the separation of dangerous manufacturing processes; and provided medical examinations of anyone with reported toothache. It was a legal requirement for all match factories to employ a resident dentist by 1900 and Bryant and May employed one from 1898. Yet, some match making firms pushed back against new regulation. The underreporting of cases of workers with phossy jaw was rife in the Bryant and May factory. There was also a strong suspicion of collusion between medical practitioners and employers to conceal phossy jaw cases and evidence of at least one case of company intimidation by threats of lost income. Mrs Lean, whose son had died of phosphorous necrosis, was told ‘if I called another doctor in, the pay (ie the sick pay from the firm of 29 shillings a week) would be stopped.’ Prohibiting the use phosphorous in match making production would have decisively ended phossy jaw outbreaks, but such action was quickly dismissed because ‘strike anywhere’ matches were so popular and formed a vital part of Britain national and global trade. Phossy jaw only disappeared as an industrial disease once phosphorous was outlawed in 1910, but the effects of the discussions and events of the preceding decades, and indeed those who took part in them, should not be underestimated.

Boxes of Bryant and May matches.Historical debate has centred on the role of the female workers of Bryant and May in initiating and sustaining strike action and in shaping the fight for better working conditions. Early historiography portrayed women as passive victims, who were only led to action by the campaigns of Annie Besant and other leading middle-class Fabians of the period. Such work largely relied on Besant’s autobiography and documents from the firm, which of course present a rather narrow view of the story. More recent historical work, however, has argued that the workers themselves were central to securing better rights and conditions and has attempted to reconstruct their own experiences from scant evidence. Securing the historical legacy of these women is ongoing, not least by their ancestors. More on Sarah Chapman, one of the match girls, can be found on the blog of the East End Women’s Museum: https://eastendwomensmuseum.org/blog/2018/3/13/sarah-chapman-matchgirl-strike-leader-and-tuc-delegate

Dr Claire Jones

References:

Barbara Harrison, ‘Not Only the Dangerous Trades:’ Women’s Works and Health in Britain, 1880-1914, (Taylor Francis, 1996).

Louise Raw, Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History (Bloombury, 2011)

The ‘Women’s War’, 1929

In the closing months of 1929 the women of Nigeria rose up against British colonialism in a coordinated effort that has subsequently become known as the ‘Women’s War’. Rioting against the power of British-imposed Warrant Chiefs, women from the Igbo ethnic community congregated in their thousands, re-mobilising the traditional practice of ‘sitting on a man’ as a form of anti-colonial and anti-corruption collective action. Ostensibly a revolt against the imposition of a tax specific to Nigerian women, whose marketplace activities allowed them a level of financial independence from their husbands at the same time as supporting their families, the causes of the revolt can be traced back to the imposition of Indirect Rule in Nigeria under Lord Lugard in 1914. The Women’s War was a co-ordinated strategic rejection of British colonialism, and led to reforms in the way the colony was ruled, as well as the abolition of the women’s tax itself.

Indirect Rule and British Colonialism

 Lord Frederick Lugard was famously the architect of indirect rule in Nigeria, a policy by which the British handpicked local African elites who were friendly to colonial rule as ‘Warrant Chiefs’, responsible for the day-to-day running of the colony, and in particular the administering of the law, the organisation of labour, and the levying of taxes. The appointment of the Warrant Chiefs was not only an attempt to have ‘colonialism on the cheap’ on the part of the British, but also to impose British notions of colonial hierarchy – including changes to the gender relations of the people. While in Igbo culture, women and men worked collectively, the British imposed systems of forced labour and taxation that pushed women into what they considered their rightful place: the domestic sphere. When they attempted to tax women’s economic activities (the selling of palm-oil) in 1929, rioting and protest ensued.

‘Sitting on a man’

The women of the ‘Aba Women’s Riots’ (as they were known by the British) cleverly fused traditional forms of protest with collective action against the colonial state. They embarrassed the local Warrant Chiefs by ‘sitting on’ them – a ritual action involving dance, lewd gestures, songs and noise. At the same time, though, they attacked Native Court buildings, cut down telegraph wires, and damaged banks, post offices and factories – all seen as manifestations of white colonial oppression. Thousands of women were involved, and many more suffered from the reaction of the British, who burnt down villages as collective punishment, and fired into crowds of protesting women. In one incident at Opobo on 16th December eighteen women died at the hands of colonial troops, leading to questions in Parliament back in Britain.

Collective Action

Female protesters involved in the Women’s War were savvy and determined. They wore palm leaves as a link to the economic roots of their discontent, they mobilised traditional practices of protest through marching, singing and dance, and they disrupted the administrative mechanisms of the colonial state. Despite attempts in the British press to put this down to female ‘hysteria’, the Women’s War is an example of collective and organised female political and economic action. The British introduced reforms to the Warrant Chief system in an attempt to curb corruption, and abolished the women’s tax itself. Women also became involved in administration, but continued their action when necessary in future disputes such as the Tax Protests of 1938 and the Oil Mill Protests of the 1940s.

Women and Political Activism

‘A feature of the disturbances was that women were the actual aggressors’, noted a shocked correspondent for The Times in January 1930. ‘The trouble was of a nature and extent unprecedented in Nigeria’, continued the correspondent for Nigeria in August of that year. ‘In a country were the women throughout the centuries have remained in subjection to the men, this was essentially a women’s movement, organised, developed, and carried out by the women of the country, without either the help or permission of their menfolk, though probably with their tacit sympathy.’ The Commission sent to investigate the revolt, and the reactions of British troops in particular, came to many conclusions. Perhaps the most interesting for us in the current context is this: ‘More attention… should be paid to the political influence of women.’

Dr. Emily Manktelow

Autumn 2017 School of History Research Seminar series

This year, our research seminars will take place on alternating Wednesdays (weeks 1,3,5,7,9, & 11) in term time at 4PM in Eliot Lecture Theatre 2 (ELT2). We also have an excellent line-up of post-graduate seminars that will take place at 5:15PM in Rutherford Seminar Room 7 (RS7) on the other Wednesdays (weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, & 12). Please see the attached schedule for a full list of speakers.

In week 1 (at 4PM on Wednesday 27 September), we are delighted to welcome Dr Suzanna Ivanič, a new lecturer in Early Modern History here at the University of Kent.

The title of her paper is Locating Religion in the Homes of Seventeenth-Century Prague Burghers.

A recent focus on religion in the home has provided fertile new evidence about lived religion – the beliefs, practices and identities of the faithful in an everyday context – but, what if we interrogate the relationship between the home and religion more thoroughly? How does religion change as it crosses the threshold? Is ‘domestic devotion’ really more unorthodox and individualistic? What do we mean by ‘domesticating’ religion? It is now well-established that not only Protestants, but also Catholics, practised religion in their homes in early modern Europe. By analysing inventories and objects from the multiconfessional setting of Prague across the seventeenth century, this paper explores the differences in domestic religious practice between confessions, how domestic space enabled unique aspects of devotion (‘private’ forms or particular rituals focusing on doors and beds, for example), and how objects that came into the home could either subvert or reinforce orthodoxy and orthopraxy within this extra-ecclesiastical space.

As ever, a drinks reception will follow this seminar. Please see the attached poster for more information.

School of History Away Day

Such a lovely and productive day on Wednesday! The School of History Away Day was held on Wednesday 13 September at Brogdale, Faversham, with thirty-seven members of staff in attendance. The event focused on key aspects such as recruitment and education, as well as offering attendees the opportunity to raise issues and share their own views. The event was very well received, with a great of positive feedback highlighting areas of improvement and future development. The day concluded with a tour of Brogdale – The home of the National Fruit Collection, and some members of staff went on a tour of the Gothic paintings in St Mary’s Church, Faversham.

The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union

On 22 June 2017 the University of Kent’s School of History and Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will be hosting an international conference ‘The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union‘.

The two-day conference, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the launching of the Five Articles of Perth by James VI & I in Scotland in 1617, is held in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University and its Centre for Kent History and Heritage.

All conference sessions will take place in Keynes College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus and aim to bring together scholars with an interest in religion across the British Isles during the 17th century.

The Conference will also include the official launch party for Dr Leonie James’s new book – ‘This Great Firebrand’: William Laud and Scotland 1617-45 (Boydell Press, 2017).

Further information about the Conference including a programme and registration details can be found on its dedicated webpage.