President’s 2012 Report to the Membership

At the NACBS conference in Denver (Nov. 19-21), Jason Kelly and I organized and co-chaired an informational semi-plenary session designed to introduce scholars (especially younger ones) to the services on offer from a group of research organizations. It was part of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the IHR and intended in part to encourage attendees to consider joining the AFIHR. Our panel members were from the IHR (Miles Taylor), the Huntington Library (Steve Hindle), the Folger Library (Kathleen Lynch), the Walpole Library (Maggie Powell), the Beinecke Library (Kathryn James), the W.A. Clark Library at UCLA (Rebecca Fenning), and the Ransom Center at UT-Austin (Rich Oram). After brief remarks from them, a lively Q & A session followed with questions and comments from a large audience.

At our board meeting, Professor Miles Taylor, the IHR director, encouraged us to inform AFIHR members that the IHR’s magazine, Past and Future, is available on-line and provides us all an excellent means of keeping up with what is happening there. He also discussed the IHR’s temporary move to the South Block of the Senate House while the old quarters in the north block are being refurbished. We were pleased to hear the seminar program continues to thrive and that a number of the seminars are being made available as podcasts and in some cases webcasts that we can have direct access to in our offices, homes, or classrooms. You may register for notices of new podcasts at History SPOT for free.

As always, we also decided how to allocate the funds that you, our members, contributed, and the result was grants for library purchases ($3500), digitization projects ($3000), bursaries to support participation by graduate students from North America in the summer History Lab conference at the IHR ($2000), and this year’s Anglo-American Conference ($1000).

We thanked board member Nancy Ellenberger for many years of service as our membership secretary. This important task will now be performed by a new board member, Paul Hammer (University of Colorado).

I am also pleased to announce that we have negotiated a discount of approximately two thirds for AFIHR on a subscription to the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH). Formerly available free from the Royal Historical Society, this important and ever growing database is currently provided by Brepolis to subscribing libraries or individual subscribers (currently ₤110). I expect to be able to give full details in my June message to you all. Please note that the individual subscriptions will be for the calendar year beginning January and that the IHR will be supplying its list of subscribers to Brepolis in November. I am most grateful to Miles Taylor and his colleagues at the IHR for helping us create this valuable option.  Information about it will also be posted on the AFIHR website and described in more detail in my spring newsletter.

Please renew your membership in the AFIHR so we can continue to support the work of the IHR from this side of the Atlantic. More information is available elsewhere on this website, and we remain grateful to Newton Key for his excellent work as our webmaster. A contribution of $45 or more annually to the American Friends of the IHR ($30 for graduate students) confers membership in the Institute.

All officers and board members of the AFIHR serve without compensation. Administrative costs are minimal, consisting of mailing expenses, occasional technical services, and accounting fees. Therefore nearly every dollar contributed is forwarded to the Institute in order to help pay for some aspect of its work.

Thank you for your past support.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2011 Report to the Membership

Next month, the Institute of Historical Research has its 90th birthday. Celebrations began earlier this year with a series of birthday tie-in events featuring notable personalities and events of 1921 (including Asa Briggs, Marie Stopes and the first birth control clinic, the first PhDs in history). Still to come in December is a conference on Princes Consort in History (marking the 90th birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh and the 150th anniversary of the death of Prince Albert).

The IHR is also looking to the future. The Institute is undergoing an extensive refurbishment which requires a temporary relocation in 2011-2013 while the space occupied since 1948 receives a facelift. The result will be new meeting and teaching rooms, a modernized library, and more space for academic and research staff – an IHR fit for the 21st century.

Since 1989, the American Friends of the IHR have played a valuable role in supporting the IHR library and postgraduate training.  The AFIHR board wants to continue this work and also to help lay the foundations of financial sustainability by increasing the institute’s endowment. Professor Miles Taylor, the IHR’s director, has written that “the American Friends already do so much for the Institute.  Now we are asking you to do a little more: by making our birthday year an opportunity to introduce a new American Friend. For every new Friend introduced by 31st December 2011, we will offer you a discount… on your subscription to British History Online.” Many of us have friends, colleagues, and students who would enjoy the benefits of membership, and we can now save money on our subscriptions by bringing new members into the fold. [The offer to members of AFIHR have expanded since this was written.]

I also take pleasure in announcing know that I have organized a panel on research libraries that hold sources for British Studies at  the upcoming NACBS meeting in Denver (Nov 18-20), with the help of Jason Kelly. We will hear brief remarks by representatives from the following institutions – IHR (Miles Taylor), Huntington (Steve Hindle), Folger (Kathleen Lynch), Walpole (Maggie Powell), Beinecke (Kathryn James), Clark (Rebecca Fenning), and the Ransom Center (Rich Oram) – followed by questions from the audience. The goal is to enable graduate students and younger faculty members who are planning research trips to meet and talk to our speakers. Those of us who are not young and have already worked in some of these collections might also benefit from updating our knowledge of their collections and procedures. The session will take place on the Friday afternoon (Nov 18).   The IHR is planning a reception which will follow it and allow the conversations to continue. If you are planning to be in Denver, please join us (and maybe bring your new AFIHR members along as well).

I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that AFIHR members can obtain a discounted access to the BHO’s “premium content” feature BHO which now provides keyword access to over 800 volumes of valuable materials (including the Commons and Lords Journals, Victoria County History, Statutes of the Realm, Treasury Books and Papers 1557-1754, Calendars and Close Rolls and the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, and many others). This is a substantial discount on the rate charged to individual subscribers to BHO. The most recent addition to the BHO material is the first half (A-K) of Foster’s Alumni Oxoniensis, and we expect that the rest will be added soon….

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2010 Report to the Membership

In my last report, I mentioned that one of the new projects that we helped to fund at our Louisville meeting was the digitizing of Foster’s Alumni Oxoniensis. I am now pleased to report that the IHR staff has begun the process of putting Foster on the British History OnLine website. As it happens, I suggested that Foster and Venn’s volumes be added to BHO when I was visiting the IHR in summer 2008, so I’m particularly pleased about this development. If any of you have suggestions about other reference materials that would be good to have online, please let me know. I’ll be happy to pass along any suggestions I receive to the appropriate staff members in London.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2009 Message to the Membership

The AFIHR board met during the NACBS conference in Louisville early in November. Once again, we are grateful to your contributions which enabled us to make grants of  $16,400 to underwrite important parts of the IHR’s program. The board approved a grant to help graduate students from North America to participate in the History Lab conference on “Spaces and Places” from June 26-29 at the IHR. This is part of our endeavor to acquaint a new generation of graduate students with the IHR Library, its seminars, and its facilities supporting historical research.

Let me encourage those of you who know or teach graduate students to consider applying for a History Lab grant and to find out about the plans for History Lab’s June conference. Our $16,400 allocation is to be devoted to the History Lab conference for graduate students ($2,000), the digitization and addition to British History OnLine (BHO) of Foster’s Alumni Oxoniensis($6,000), and the IHR library purchasing fund ($8,400).

We also created a new membership category for graduate students; they may join us for $30 annually.

The new director of the IHR, Professor Miles Taylor, has just completed his first year, and we enjoyed hearing from him about the progress of numerous initiatives that are under way.

Readers of this report may recall that last year we began an effort to address the problem of access to digital historical sources on-line for those members of our profession who teach at institutions whose libraries cannot afford the subscriptions that must be paid to provide access to these vital materials. Thanks to generous cooperation from the IHR staff in London, we announced at least a partial solution at this time last year. AFIHR members can have access to the “premium content” of BHO for $30 annually.  Among other perks, subscribers to this option can make keyword searches of most of the Calendars of State Papers. Funds generated in this way will be spent on expanding the range and variety of digitized sources for British history. Further details about how all this operates are available on the AFIHR and IHR websites.  We are pleased that approximately fifty of our members have opted to make use of this benefit and hope that more will do so. We especially hope that our efforts to reach younger scholars with news of this option will bear fruit. One of my own graduate students has recently presented in my seminar a terrific dissertation chapter  on the transmission and “spinning” of “news” in the late 1640s and early 1650s which relied heavily on exploitation of this keyword search.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2008/09 Message to the Membership

The AFIHR board met during the NACBS conference in Cincinnati in November 2008. The new Director of the IHR, Professor Miles Taylor, opened our meeting with an excellent sketch of his ambitious and exciting plans and ideas for the future.

Thanks to your continuing generosity, we were able to allocate funds to help support important programs and library acquisitions. We devoted $2,500 to bursaries to help North American graduate students attend the IHR’s summer History Lab conference in 2009; last year’s grant for this purpose supported participation by three graduate students in the 2008 meeting. We granted $5,000 to the library (for the purchase of Macaulay’s journals, Harriet Martineau’s collected letters, the African American national biography, and a contribution to the cost of obtaining access to the digitized version of the 17th and 18th century Burney newspapers). The remaining $4,600 will support implementation of Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) in the Royal Historical Bibliography of British and Irish History. This will enable users to register searches in their areas of interest which will receive automatic e-mail updates as new items are added to the Bibliography. This is a version of SDI which we can all heartily welcome.

Our board also approved a new option for AFIHR members to receive for $30 (a substantial discount) a year’s remote access to British History Online’s “premium content” which makes the 800 volumes that have been digitized fully cross-searchable. These include the Journals of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the Statutes of the Realm, the Victoria County History, and most of the Calendars of State Papers. It is expected that the remaining CSP volumes will become available during the next twelve months, along with the Calendars of the Close Rolls and the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England.

Income from charges for the “premium content” will be used to publish further free content.

I am most grateful to David Bates, Miles Taylor, Jane Winters, Michelle Waterman, Mira Chotaliya, Emily Morrell and others at the IHR for consulting with me via e-mail and meeting with me when I have been in London to discuss this attractive idea and figure out how to turn it into a reality. I am also grateful for the enthusiasm my fellow board members displayed when I first proposed it over a year ago and delighted that we are now in a position to move ahead. We hope that this option will be a boon for scholars who work at institutions whose libraries cannot afford access to the online resources that those of us who work for research universities enjoy.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2007/08 Message to the Membership

As you may recall from my letter of last year, your contributions enabled us to make grants to the IHR of approximately $16,000. The money funded important acquisitions for the library, as always, and bursaries to help graduate students from North America to attend the summer History Lab conference on the theme of “Turning Points” (June 26-27).

The academic year which is now ending has proved a time of transition at the IHR, in that David Bates stepped down as director on March 14 in order to take up a new post as Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. He will spend the coming year preparing to give the Ford Lectures in 2010. He worked hard and effectively during his years at the helm of the IHR, and we are most grateful to him for his excellent service to our profession. The Leverhulme Professor of Comparative Metropolitan History, Derek Keene, is serving as Acting Director until the new Director, Professor Miles Taylor, takes over in the autumn.

An important problem that we have been trying to address is that of access to digital historical sources on-line for those members of our profession who teach at institutions whose libraries cannot afford the subscriptions that must be paid to provide access to these vital materials. I will be discussing a possible solution or at least partial solution with IHR staff members when I am in London in July and very much hope to be able to make an announcement about it later this year.

Please renew your membership in the AFIHR so we can continue to support the work of the IHR from this side of the Atlantic. More information is available elsewhere on this website, and we remain grateful to Newton Key for his excellent work as our webmaster. A contribution of $45 or more annually to the American Friends of the IHR confers membership in the Institute and facilitates. All officers and board members of the AFIHR serve without compensation. Administrative costs are minimal, consisting of mailing expenses, occasional technical services, and accounting fees. Therefore nearly every dollar contributed is forwarded to the Institute in order to help pay for some aspect of its work.

Thank you for your past support.

Our annual meeting of the Board of Directors of American Friends of the IHR was held in October 2008 in Cincinnati. Our next meeting will be held in Louisville, KY on November 6-8, 2009.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2006/07 Report to the Membership

I write to report on the decisions made at the AFIHR board meeting in Boston in November 2006. Thanks to your continuing generosity, we made grants totalling almost $11,000. These included adding important works to the library’s holdings: the collected works of Florence Nightingale; six volumes of publications by and for the London Corresponding Society (1792-99); the 1872 edition of the Cartulaire de l’abbaye royale de Notre-Dames des Chatelliers; the trials for treason and sedition from 1692-94 (five volumes); and the coalition diaries and letters of H. A. L. Fisher (four volumes, 1916-22). We funded the purchase of a portable data projector and three computers for the use of postgraduates working in the IHR. And, after hearing an engaging presentation from Liza Filby about the History Lab’s annual conference for graduate students, we made a grant of $2,000 to support bursaries to help students from North America to participate in this year’s conference on “Generations.” At the latest report, four students (one each from Princeton, Drew, Stanford, and Columbia) are beneficiaries and will be presenting papers at the conference on 25-26 June at the IHR. The History Lab was established in 2005 with the goal of creating “a social and intellectual forum for the postgraduate community” based at the IHR. We were delighted that we could help broaden its reach to include more students from abroad who will learn to value the IHR as a base for their activities when in the UK.

Please renew your membership in the AFIHR so we can continue to support the work of the IHR from this side of the Atlantic. More information is available elsewhere on this website, and we remain grateful to Newton Key for his excellent work as our webmaster. A contribution of $45 or more annually to the American Friends of the IHR confers membership in the Institute and facilitates.  All officers and board members of the AFIHR serve without compensation. Administrative costs are minimal, consisting of mailing expenses, occasional technical services, and accounting fees. Therefore nearly every dollar contributed is forwarded to the Institute in order to help pay for some aspect of its work.

Thank you for your past support.

Sincerely yours,

Sears McGee

President’s 2003 Report to Members

The American Friends of the IHR (AFIHR) was founded to help the Institute by providing funds for particular projects – most recently, the trustees decided at their Baltimore meeting (November 9, 2003) that the funds raised in the current appeal, 2002-03, would be applied to the purchase of Palmer’s Full Text Online version of the (London) Times, covering the period 1785-1870. At that meeting the trustees also voted unanimously to name Professor Jacob M Price “Founding President of the American Friends of the Institute of Historical Research.” This was in recognition of his role in creating the organization and in guiding it during its first eleven years.

We are always eager to enlist new members — just fill out and mail in the contribution form.  Individual contributions made through the American Friends are U.S. tax-deductible, and the AFIHR is also eligible to receive funds from charitable foundations. Checks of $45 or more should be sent to the Membership Secretary.  American Friends enjoy the privileges of individual IHR membership, including full access to Institute facilities in London, and a discount on all IHR publications.

All officers and trustees of the AFIHR serve voluntarily, with compensation only for administrative expences, ensuring that almost every dollar is forwarded to an Institute project. Thank you for your support of the Institute.

Sincerely,

Daniel A Bough