This post has been reposted from the LSE website to highlight this exciting new resource.
Charles Booth’s Inquiry Into theLife and Labour of the People in London was a path-breaking investigation into the social conditions faced by Londoners living in the late-Victorian era. To mark the 2016 centenary of Booth’s death, LSE has relaunched the website dedicated to Booth’s life and work as Charles Booth’s London (https://booth.lse.ac.uk/).
Booth’s famous poverty maps were pioneering in the use of colour to detail the street-by-street disparities of wealth and poverty in London. The maps were drawn from a series of “police notebooks” that Booth and his team produced by walking the streets of the Victorian metropolis. The newly redeveloped website makes available both the police notebooks and the poverty maps.
The poverty maps are available as a single interactive version using modern online mapping techniques, and are also available individually for download. The interactive version of the map allows users to search by location, and offers the ability to geo-locate individual notebooks according to the streets Booth and his team walked when doing their research. The police notebooks are available to browse and search, can be read using state-of-the-art manuscript viewer technology, and are available for download.
In addition to making available the maps and notebooks, the site has been thoroughly redesigned to reflect modern web design and accessibility standards, and features responsive design allowing it to be accessed on desktop computers, on tablets and on mobile devices. The site also includes contextual information about Booth’s life and times and about the Inquiry, and provides a series of highlights offering a “way in” to the rich archival material.
Nicola Wright, Director of LSE Library commented: “This was a pioneering study and I am thrilled to see this important archive reinvented again and made even more engaging and accessible. The innovative work of the LSE Library team and our partners is a fitting tribute to Booth’s great endeavour.”
In July 2016 the Booth archive was inscribed on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register, which recognises culturally significant heritage material from across the UK, joining other material such as the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. The redeveloped website reflects LSE’s ongoing commitment to make available LSE Library’s collections as widely as possible and via new and innovative means.
Joanna Southcott (1750-1814) was a prophetess, believing herself to be Biblically foretold in Revelation chapter 12 as the woman appearing clothed with the sun, wearing a crown of stars and with her feet resting on the moon as she gives birth to a new Messiah. At the height of her influence, her followers numbered in the thousands, and many of them waited patiently for their sexagenarian leader to give birth in the weeks before her death. As part of her legacy, Southcott left a sealed box of prophecies which she decreed was only to be opened at a moment of national crisis, and even then only with the attendance of all Church of England Bishops. In the decades after her death, the idea of the box acted for many as a talisman of hope against any and every fearful prospect. The box pictured was acquired by prominent paranormal investigator Harry Price in 1927, authenticated by him and then opened; it contained an assortment of uncharismatic objects including a large pistol, ear rings and coins. However, to the surviving cadre of Southcottians in the Panacea Society, based in Bedford, the box in Senate House Library was and is a fraud, while they acquired the true artefact from successive generations of guardians in 1957. Still unopened, the Society has repeatedly petitioned Bishops to assemble to allow them to break the seals, and still retains a room furnished especially for this ceremony.
Design showing the operation of John Lofting’s fire engine (1714-1727), Harley Collection, Volume 5 ‘London Prospects etc.’
Up to 1666 the quality of firefighting in London was poor, and people didn’t give much thought to the dangers of fire to human life or property. This radically changed after the Great Fire. There were few recorded deaths, but estimates put the destroyed property value at £10,000,000 (£1.5 billion in today’s money). Days after the fire thoughts returned to rebuilding the city, this time with the protection of building regulations and a system of fire-fighting. In 1668 the Act for the Prevention and Suppression of Fire within the City of London was passed. It divided the City into four zones, each given 100 buckets, 50 ladders, 24 pickaxes, 40 sod shovels and a hand-squirt so that future fires could be tackled.
The demand for such equipment accelerated technological innovations in fire-fighting. In particular the fire engine, which had previously been crude and ineffective, became increasingly ingenious. John Lofting (c.1659 – 1742) was probably the first person in England to advocating the use of a wired suction hose. Called a leather worm it could carry water over distances and throw it as high as 400 feet. The engines were used at several royal palaces, and were even praised by Christopher Wren.
This engraving from the Harley Collection shows Lofting’s fire engine in operation in a variety of scenes annotated with letters and a key. It depicts various ways the sucking worm can be used including fighting the fire on different stories of buildings, in distilleries and on ships. Famous London landmarks such the Royal Exchange and the top of Monument are also featured with the water reaching the top with ease. There is even a depiction of the watering of a formal garden, promoting alternative uses for the machine.
John Lofting, whose medallion portrait is at the far-right of the engraving, was a native of the Netherlands who came to England before 1686. He was a merchant and manufacturer of engines and he became a citizen of London in 1699. His patent was for the sole making and selling of ‘an engine for quenching fire, the like never seen before in this kingdom.’ The inclusion of a distillery in this image is probably not a coincidence as he also marketed an engine for ‘Starting of Beer and other Liquors’. After 1696 nothing is known of Lofting’s engines and production may have ceased.
This post was written by Alexandra Frost and Argula Rublack, Library Graduate Trainees at the Warburg Library. It forms part of a series of blog posts on the theme of Hope and Fear in library and archive collections, as part of the Being Human festival and History Day 2016.
The illustrations of ‘Hope’ and ‘Fear’ featured in this post are taken from a series of diagrams composed by the influential French artist Charles Le Brun (1619-1690). Le Brun was perhaps best known for the key role he played in the artistic program at Versailles, but was also the chancellor of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture during the reign of King Louis XIV. The illustrations accompanied his famous lecture on the effect of the passions on human expression, the Conférence sur l’expression générale et particulière (1668). The lecture addressed Le Brun’s conviction that the passions of the soul measurably affect the muscles of the face, and thus in turn prescribe the models upon which artists should construct the facial composition of their subjects.
Charles Le Brun, Conferenza del signor Le Brun (Verona: Presso A. Carattoni, 1751), p. 57
According to Le Brun, Hope ‘keeps all of the parts of the body suspended between Fear and Assurance, in such a manner that if one end of the eyebrow expresses Fear, the other expresses Assurance’. He continued, ‘… if there is no likelihood of obtaining that which we desire, then Fear or Despair replaces Hope. The movements of Fear are expressed by the inner end of the eyebrow slightly raised; the pupil is bright, in restless movement, and situated in the middle of the eye; the mouth is open, drawn back, and the sides more open than the centre, and the under lip drawn further back than the upper’. Despite Le Brun’s attempt to rationalise the precepts behind these illustrations scientifically (‘…the gland which is in the middle of the brain is the place where the soul receives the images of the passions, so the eyebrow is the part of the face where the passions are best distinguished’) they are certainly more influenced by personal intuition than he suggests.
Charles Le Brun, Conferenza del signor Le Brun (Verona: Presso A. Carattoni, 1751), p. 69
Le Brun’s codification of the passions is set within the seventeenth-century world view of Cartesianism. Shaped by the ideas of philosopher René Déscartes, particularly his Traité des passions de l’âme (“Treaty on the Passions of the Soul”), Le Brun and his contemporaries inhabited a world where the cosmos was conceived as a giant mechanism which could be ordered and explained through reason. Nature, humanity and all their products, including art, could be subjected to a set of universally applicable scientific rules. Following this new scientific spirit, the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was preoccupied with identifying axioms for the painter’s practice to establish une science acadèmique du beau (an academic science of beauty). This not only allowed the ennoblement of art as a scientific practice but also created a practical, pedagogical tool to train artists in a shared visual grammar which could be used for the precise communication of the emotions.
Frontispiece in Italian and French in Charles Le Brun, Conferenza del signor Le Brun (Verona: Presso A. Carattoni, 1751)
The presentation of the passions as a physiological and scientific theory garnered Le Brun a wide international audience. This bilingual French and Italian edition, published in Verona in 1751, from the holdings of the Warburg Library (classmark: DAC 2125), is a testament to the treatise’s translation and dissemination across Europe. However, by the end of the eighteenth century Le Brun’s theories made way for new approaches to anatomical knowledge and scientific questions challenging the assumption that facial expression could be explained by a limited number of principles.
Despite this, Le Brun’s theories highlight the continuing examination of the relationship between art and science. The founder of the Warburg library, Aby Warburg, was well-known for his interdisciplinary interests and advocated collaboration with scientific disciplines to further cultural studies. This is reflected in the Institute’s current “Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS)” project which investigates “biological mechanisms and cultural factors that shape our relations to other people in a culture powered by images” (http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/research/research-projects/bias). Le Brun’s enquiry into the nature and representation of human emotion thus becomes a historical artefact resonating in the wider debate on the hopes and fears of bridging the gap between scientific and art historical approaches. Find the book and more related to this subject at the classmark DAC 2125 (4th Floor) in the Warburg Library.
The Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies held in Special Collections at Brunel University London includes over 230 autobiographies. It was gathered together by John Burnett and colleagues whilst compiling their three volume annotated bibliography, “The Autobiography of the Working Class” (Harvester Press, 1984-1989). The authors “sought to identify not only the large numbers of printed works scattered in various local history libraries and record offices, but also extant private memoirs, many of which remain hidden in family attics, known only to the author and a handful of relatives” (Introduction to vol.1, p. xxix). The criteria for inclusion were: the writers were working class for at least part of their lives; they wrote in English; and they lived for some time in England, Scotland or Wales between 1790 and 1945.
William Belcher (1884 – 1961), is one whose handwritten autobiography is included in this collection. He served in the Navy 1903 – 8 and 1914-19, and was an electrician from 1919 onwards. Much of the interest in his autobiography lies in the supporting documents that accompany the notebooks: his school certificates, shorthand qualifications, and his naval career record.
Details from William Belcher’s naval record
In 1914 he rejoined the Navy, frightened of the war and of the doom and desolation he saw coming. Writing in hindsight based on his diaries, he says: “1914 starts:- the year to remember – when the nations went mad, and individuals comprising these nations were smitten with a materialistic frenzy: when the Boy Scout to do a good deed killed a Boy Scout; when army Salvationist killed his brother Salvationist; the nations prayed to the same god for victory.”
Excerpts from William Belcher’s autobiography
The next page of reminiscences begins “What has this year in store for me. Death. War strikes play their disastrous part. Marriage as well.” The triumphant beginning of new married life was overshadowed by the fear and reality of war: “On Aug. 1st 1914 at 2pm I got married not without some misgivings. I told my wife that war is here, + I may not see her for years.” Three days later, war was declared and William was aboard the HMS Victorious.
Throwing ‘Fear’ into our revamped Collage image database (at http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/ ) returns this rather wonderful image from the Chris Schwarz Collection of photographs.
Featuring over a quarter of a million digital images Collage is one of the most important digital resources about London history. Ranging from the 1500s to the modern day it incorporates everything from maps of the City, photographs of blitz damage, alternate plans for Tower Bridge, and many other startling historical images from the collections held at London Metropolitan Archives. The material on Collage ranges from prints and drawings to maps and photographs. All parts of London (not just the City) are included, as are the adjoining counties.
The new version of the Collage website presents a fascinating glimpse of nearly 600 years of life in the capital. Among the new features of the site, The London Picture Map provides a unique way to access images of buildings and places which no longer exist, presenting a searchable vision of a lost London which allows visitors to view pictures of their neighbourhood from bygone days.
Two of the most important collections at LMA are the records of the London County Council and the Greater London Council, the institutions that ran the county of London then Greater London from 1889 to 1986. These powerful Councils were responsible for many of the large scale housing projects in London during this time, and may well have originally built the wall shown in the photograph. Their building projects are heavily featured in their photographic collections, which have provided thousands of the images on the Collage website.
However, if we hold the ‘official’ records of London governance and control, we have also been active in collecting records of communities that were affected by the decisions made by these bodies, not least in the collection of the photographer of this image. Chris Schwarz was an artist and photographer who made his name working with communities south of the river during the 1970s and 80s. His collection illustrates the changes these areas went through in these tumultuous decades in a way official Council minutes simply can’t capture, and we have made over 900 of his photographs available on Collage under his collection page (see http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/collection?i=322292&WINID=1473255960551 ).
In addition to Chris’ collection, we also hold the records of a wide variety of community groups active in London at this time, ranging from LGBTI+ groups, such as the Rukus! Federation, to Afro-Caribbean activists like the Huntley Family, which present a broader picture of London in the twentieth century. To square the circle of history and archives, many London community groups received funding from the GLC, and the grants files we hold can also offer a glimpse into the diverse London of the 1980s.
For more information on our collections, or if you’d like to visit us for free on our open days, please have a look at our website – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lma . Alternatively, feel free to approach me on the IHR History Day where I’ll be running a stall with my colleagues from Guildhall Library.
“View of the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius, on Sunday night August the 8th 1779, taken from an original drawing done by M Peter Fabris, near his Sicilian Majesty’s Palace at Pausipolo at the moment of eruption.”, taken from Hamilton, W. (1799) Campi Phlegraei, ou, observations sur les volcans des Deux Siciles. Nouvelle éd. edn. Paris: Chez Lamy, plate 56. Hand coloured etching.
This post was written by Brandon High, Special Collections Officer at King’s College London. It is cross-posted from the KCL Library Spotlight highlights and is part of a series on the theme of Hope and Fear in library and archive collections to coincide with the Being Human festival.
This book examines the phenomenon of the ‘royal touch’ for the disease of scrofula, also known popularly as the ‘King’s Evil’. The author, as surgeon-in-ordinary to Charles II, would have witnessed the ceremony of the royal touch many times and this work provides the most overt ideological justification for its supposed healing powers.
Scrofula: precursor of tuberculosis
Scrofula was defined as such before the modern classification of diseases came into being. It was an infection of the lymph glands surrounding the neck, although adjacent parts of the body could also be affected. In many cases, the symptoms of this disease would today be classified as tubercular, though they could possibly have indicated other diseases, including cancers.
Origins and significance of the royal touch
Although Edward the Confessor is thought to be responsible for the earliest recorded use of the royal touch in England, its continuous use by monarchs in both England and France is thought to have originated during the 13th century.
Scrofula was not the only disease which was deemed curable by the magical powers of the monarch: until the reign of Elizabeth I, when the practice was discontinued, English monarchs regularly touched for epilepsy.
However, for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained, scrofula has been the disease which has been most closely associated with the royal touch. A possible reason could lie in the nature of the disease itself. Prolonged remission is a recognised medical characteristic of tuberculosis, as of epilepsy, and such alleviation could be presented as apparent cure.
Relapses could always be attributed to the patient’s lack of faith or to some other shortcoming. Failure to abide by the correct procedure, in particular the prohibited sale of the gold ring which was given by the English monarch to the sufferer, could also result in the royal touch being deprived of its supernatural power, as Browne emphasises.
There was a clear political reason why monarchs would desire to lay claim to this power. If monarchs asserted that their political legitimacy derived from divine sanction, and if they desired to trump the competing claims of the Church and the feudal aristocracy to such a supernatural mandate, they would have to offer tangible proof of semi-divine powers.
In so doing, they would aim to appeal over the heads of the Church and the aristocracy and establish a mystical communion with their suffering subjects, most of whom lay well outside the political system. It would also be important that it was generally accepted that this power was hereditary, and inhered in the monarch even when he or she was no longer on the throne, or even alive. Browne emphasises this with tales of miraculous cures effected through touching the blood of the executed Charles I.
The ceremony of the royal touch
It was no accident that the ceremony of the royal touch mixed religious trappings with a pagan ritual. Pre-Christian practices suffused the lives of many people from all social backgrounds throughout the medieval and early modern periods. In other contexts, ecclesiastics would denounce the use of such magical powers as wicked, even though they admitted their efficacy. However, the ceremony of the royal touch remained in the Book of Common Prayer until the middle of the 18th century.
Medical orthodoxy, King Charles II and the royal touch
The practice of the royal touch was much favoured by the Stuarts. King Charles II had practised it in exile as a method of asserting his rightful claim to the throne and of symbolising a bond with his subjects and his descendants continued to practise it after they were banished in 1714. Over 90,000 sufferers received the royal touch during his 25-year reign, reaching a peak in the two years before Browne’s book was published.
Browne makes explicit the political motivations for the royal touch and makes a point of referring to anti-Royalists, such as Quakers, who were ‘cured’ by it. Puritans regarded the royal touch with great suspicion, and viewed it as inherently Catholic.
It is no coincidence that when almost nobody believed in monarchical Divine Right, as was the case in Britain after 1714 and in France after 1789, the royal touch became obsolete.
There were also commoners who purported to possess similar thaumaturgical powers, the most famous of whom, the Irish landowner Valentine Greatrakes (1629-88) also performed surgical operations and was endorsed by leading members of the Royal Society, including the chemist Robert Boyle
Browne and other medical men accepted practices which would now be termed ‘faith healing’ partly because orthodox medicine, even by the admission of its own practitioners, was of very dubious efficacy
Those who could not afford physicians relied on a very mixed economy of practitioners and self-medication. Many of these ‘healers’ practised occult remedies.
Although Browne describes the orthodox regimen for scrofula in detail, which included the usual prescriptions for regulated diet, rest, air, emetics and phlebotomy and makes clear that thaumaturgy is the last resort, he does not believe that occult healing contradicts orthodox medicine, but compensates for its inadequacies.
Frank Barlow, ‘The King’s Evil’, The English Historical Review, 95, (1980), 3-27
Marc Bloch. The royal touch: sacred monarchy and scrofula in England and France. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974
Helen Bynum. Spitting blood: the history of tuberculosis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011
Harold J Cook. The decline of the old medical regime in Stuart London. Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 1986
Peter Elmer, ‘Greatrakes, Valentine (1629-1683)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/11367, accessed 26 Jan 2015]
Peter Elmer, ‘Medicine, religion, and the puritan revolution’, in: Roger French and Andrew Wear (eds.) The medical revolution of the seventeenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989 10-45
Kenneth F Kiple (ed.) The Cambridge world history of human disease. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993
Ian Lyle, ’Browne, John (1642-1702/3?’)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/3681, accessed 26 Jan 2015]
FG Parsons. The history of St. Thomas’s Hospital: volume II, from 1600 to 1800. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1934
Roy Porter, ‘The early Royal Society and the spread of medical knowledge’, in: Roger French and Andrew Wear (eds.) The medical revolution of the seventeenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989 272-293
KF Russell, ‘John Browne, 1642-1702, a seventeenth-century surgeon, anatomist and plagiarist’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 33 (1959), 393-414, 503-518
Keith Thomas. Religion and the decline of magic: studies in popular beliefs in sixteenth-and seventeenth-century England. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973 
Andrew Wear. Knowledge and practice in English medicine, 1550-1680. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000
This post was written by Danny Rees, Assistant Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library. It is part of a series of images on the theme of Hope and Fear in library and archive collections to coincide with the Being Human festival.
Is this the face of a terrified man? Look closely and you will see that that there are several devices being applied to different parts of his head and neck. What we may perceive as a genuine expression of fear is actually an artificial stimulation of muscle contraction, using electrodes.
This is from the Wellcome Library’s ‘Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine’ by Dr. G. B. Duchenne published in 1862, making it one of the earliest examples of scientific research to use photography. Duchenne employed electricity in his pioneering work into the roles of individual muscles and their combinations in producing emotional expressions.
Charles Darwin asked permission to reproduce some of the key images in his ‘The expression of the emotions in man and animals’ (1872) so it is likely that more people became familiar with Duchenne’s work via another person’s publication. The Wellcome library contains a significant amount and variety of material for those interested in what being human, fearful or otherwise, means.
This is the first in a series of blog posts on the theme of Hope and Fear in library and archive collections. Selected images will form an online exhibition at History Day in November 2016 to coincide with the Being Human festival.
This recording was distributed with “Lansbury’s Labour Weekly” (1925-1927). It features a speech by the magazine’s editor, the future leader of the Labour Party, George Lansbury (1859-1940). Lansbury was on the left of the Labour Party and at the time of this recording had not long completed a spell in prison for his part in Poplar Council’s refusal to remit money to the London County Council. Here, he defines the Labour movement as a revolutionary movement. In support of this, he quotes lyrics from the series of songs which are to be published on gramophone record by “Lansbury’s Labour Weekly”. Lansbury’s rhetoric is significant, focusing on unity, the struggle and the need to win emancipation for the workers. The recording is from the archives of Communist lawyer and activist Jack Gaster (1907-2007) and the image from the archives of international peace campaigner Muriel Lester (1885-1968), both held at Bishopsgate Institute.
This image is taken from the Campaign For Homosexual Equality (CHE) archive at Bishopsgate Institute. The photograph was taken by Brian Hart at the first London Gay Pride rally in 1972. Following the first London Gay Pride rally in 1972 the event has grown, and is now a regular fixture in the social calendar which is widely attended. Bishopsgate Institute holds a wealth of archives, pamphlets, books, press cuttings and other material, documenting the experiences of the LGBTQ community in Britain. Most notably, it holds the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA), a collection of around 350,000 press cuttings from the straight press about the LGBTQ community, and more information can be found at: www.lagna.org.uk.
About the Bishopsgate Institute
The purpose of Bishopsgate Institute’s Special Collections and Archives are to inspire, educate and entertain. The collections document our shared history and are open to all. More information about accessing the Special Collections and Archives can be found at: http://www.bishopsgate.org.uk/Library/About-the-Library