AFIHR’s Support of the On-Line Exhibition ‘Fashion and Consumption in the First World War’

The 84th Anglo-American Conference of Historians was on the subject of ‘Fashion’. To coincide with the conference, the IHR collaborated with Senate House Library (SHL) Special Collections to develop a small digital exhibition. Senate House Library holds four unique fashion catalogues from London Department stores, dating from 1916/17. They are:

  • Bradley’s, Chepstow Place, known at the ‘Arctic Fur Store’. The store remained open until the 1950s, when it gradually switched over to dry cleaning. A couple of the dry cleaning stores remain, although not in London.
  • Dickins & Jones, Regent Street. Dickins & Jones was bought in 1914 by Harrods, and the brand was purchased more recently by House of Fraser.
  • Peter Robinson, Oxford Street. After the First World War Peter Robinson opened a store on Oxford Circus, which was subsequently bombed during the Second World War. The current Topshop fashion chain began in its basement.
  • John Barnes & Co, Finchley Road, Hampstead. This store opened in 1900 and was bought later by John Lewis.

In addition to being beautiful objects in their own right, the catalogues are a fascinating source for fashion, business and cultural history, as well as for the history of London. They are now very fragile, so digitisation (to be undertaken in SHL’s digital imaging suite) performed a valuable conservation function. Online delivery of the resulting images, with contextual historical material, was  provided by the IHR. The exhibition launched at the Anglo-American Conference in July 2015, and was a very successful in promoting the event to a wider audience.

For more information, please visit the project site: Fashion and Consumption in the First World War: Department Store Catalogues 1916/17.

President’s Letter to the Membership, October 2015

I write to report on the decisions made by the AFIHR Board of Directors at our annual meeting held in Minneapolis last November and to encourage you to renew your membership in the AFIHR if you have not already done so.  At our meeting, Professor Lawrence Goldman, the IHR’s new director, showed images of the extensively refurbished IHR premises and described its formal reopening on 14 October, 2014 with the Princess Royal in attendance.  Now back in its historic home, the Institute can turn its attention to developing its academic resources and making them accessible to the wider public, across the UK and indeed around the world.

I’d like to thank all of the current and renewing members, and also urge that you pass this message on to anyone you know (colleagues, graduate students, friends) who might be interested in joining us and reaping the advantages of doing so.  The IHR is the leading center for the support and promotion of historical research in Britain, and offers a vast array of projects and facilities to this end, including (in part):

  • A rich array of approximately sixty seminars covering a dazzling list of fields from the Crusades and the Latin East to Digital History (see http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars).
  • The superb and recently refurbished open-shelf IHR Library in the heart of London which contains a large and increasing collection of primary sources and finding aids.
  • An active program of online reviews (Reviews in History – http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/) and a large and still expanding collection of digitized primary sources and finding aids (British History Online – http://www.british-history.ac.uk/).
  • A great many fellowships and bursaries for graduate students (including the annual History Lab conference in the summer) alongside three Master’s courses and PhD supervision.

In Minneapolis, the AFIHR Board of Directors, a group of historians who volunteer their time and energy, allocated over $9,000 for such purposes as book conservation, the digitizing of London department store catalogues and bursaries for MA students at the IHR.  These projects have all met with success, and in November, we will meet again to vote future funding to the IHR.

In equal importance to the Institute’s academic role, the IHR is a passionate and active community of scholars, of which the Friends form the backbone.  Friends receive many benefits, including (in part):

  • Access to the IHR Library and the Common Room, a pleasant place for gathering in the afternoon or evening after attending a seminar or using the Library.
  • Reduced price individual subscriptions to the Bibliography of British and Irish History (which is based at the IHR) and to the premium content feature of British History Online. These are particularly helpful to independent scholars and those whose institutions cannot afford these resources, as well as to those of us overseas.
  • Free registration on select events, and email notification and priority booking for all IHR events.
  • Reduced rates on IHR publications, conferences, research training and registration fees

Besides access to the IHR’s facilities and activities mentioned above, AFIHR membership affords a tax-deductible way for Americans to help support, sustain and expand the IHR’s work.  A contribution of $45 (30 for graduate students) or more annually to the American Friends of the IHR confers membership in the Institute.  AFIHR membership and any charitable contributions you may choose to make are tax-deductible for US citizens.  Our website (http://america.ihrfriends.org/) makes payment easy via major credit cards and PayPal.  Whether you have long used the IHR resources and services (both in London and online), are just planning a visit, or have graduate students whose work you are directing, please join or renew soon.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee, President, AFIHR

jsmcgee@history.ucsb.edu