LGBT History Month Poster: Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake

This double silhouette portrait is of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, two women who lived together in the small village of Weybridge, Vermont, USA, in the first half of the nineteenth century.  It is typical as a piece of sentimental, amateur art that, with its heart-twisted hairs, commemorates the devotion of a couple to one another.  The fact that both silhouettes portray women was less unusual than we might think.


Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, Wikimedia Commons

Rachel Hope Cleves, Charity and Sylvia’s biographer, explains how, living in a small village, surrounded by relatives and family-friends, the two women could live as a couple because it was an “open secret” that they were in a relationship.  Villagers were willing to abide by this “open secret” because the women were pillars of the church, economy, and society.  Training young people in tailoring and sewing, running Sunday schools, caring for their dozens of nieces and nephews, the women were celebrated for their devotion to each other.  A nephew, Cullen, who benefited from their tutoring wrote of “how, in their youthful days, they took each other as companions for life, and how this union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for forty years, during which they have shared each other’s occupations and pleasures and works of charity while in health, and watched over each other tenderly in sickness”.

Source: Rachel Hope Cleves, Charity and Sylvia: A Same Sex Marriage in Early America (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Further reading: 

John D’Emilio & Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1988)

Lillian Faderman, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women From the Renaissance to the Present (London: Junction Books, 1981)

Thomas Foster, Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America (Boston: Beacon, 2006)

Richard Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America (Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)

“Death in the Pot”: The Long History of Food Adulteration

Blog written by Dr Claudia Kreklau

“Death in the Pot”—an appetizing title! In 1820, German-born chemist Friedrich Accum, known as Frederick Accum to his colleagues in London, published a monograph written to make your stomach turn. In early nineteenth-century Britain, an increasingly urban population relied on food vendors and a growing industrial complex to provide their daily bread. Accum revealed to them that their flour contained alum, their Gloucester cheese lead, and tea (good old British institution tea!) contained cherry leaves, acting as a rather unwanted, very strong laxative.

Inflammatory as Accum’s work undoubtedly was, “food adulteration” as Accum called it, was a problem, and in good German fashion, Accum criticized the condition in Britain relentlessly. His British colleagues and industrialists were of course delighted to be told off by the young German chemist-upstart. “If Mr. Accum were as accurate and perspicuous as he is industrious, his services to the science of chemistry would be less equivocal,” one critic wrote. He also found it particularly egregious that Accum “tried to give [his work] such ‘a popular form’ as to place” testing food contents “within the reach even of those who are unacquainted with the principles of chemical science.” Accum’s works gave the public a set of simple tests to make sure their own foods did not contain poisons. After all, lead, arsenic, copper, and chrome were popular colorings – the E-numbers of the nineteenth century, if you like. The use of such substances caused more than one child to end up unconscious after eating “poisonous custard” artificially flavoured with cherry laurel.

Image attrib. Leeds University, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Accum was a pioneer in a discussion we are all familiar with today: food adulteration. Chances are that we have all watched the news at some point and wondered about what we ate the other day. The reasons for our worries are in essence the same one as in 1820 Britain. For one, we all need to eat, but most of us do not run our own farms, do not milk our own cow Daisy in the morning, nor do we pull our own carrots out of the ground. Modern consumption means being vastly dependent on agriculture and industry to keep us fed, and as consumers we have little control over what goes into our ready-made soup or can of beans. Furthermore, there are substances in our food that we would prefer not to be there: additives to give colour, texture, or taste. Substitutes can also prove tricky, as some of us may remember, horse-meat rather than beef may appear in last night’s lasagna  

All of these problems have a surprisingly long history, which is what my research on nineteenth-century food processing and consumption in Germany has explored over the past few years. Around 1870 in Germany, the food industry used, for example, potato syrup instead of real sugar, sick or dead animals to make sausages, and yeast extract to add flavour to food. The reason for this was simple: to decrease production cost and avoid financial loss. The same principles apply today. In the United States, high-fructose corn syrup is the twenty-first century cheaper sugar-alternative; the meat of sick or dying animals still end up in wontons in contemporary China; and it is hard to avoid monosodium glutamate used to mimic the savory taste of meat in the British ready-meal.

The important point is that food adulteration is not a story about contemporary China, early industrial Britain, the United States or even a rapidly modernizing Germany. It is a story about modernization more broadly. The moment a society moves from being a largely agricultural society to an industrial one with many of its people living in cities, the great majority of us outsource food-production, -processing and -preparation to agriculture, industry, grocery stores and eateries. At that stage, when we buy a sandwich, get fish-n-chips in a shop, or purchase a bottle of ketchup at the store around the corner, we have entrusted someone else with what goes into our stomachs..

Where industry rises (e.g. 1780s Britain, 1800s United States, 1860s Germany) food-changes quickly follow, at best quickly met by controlling legislation (Britain 1875, United States 1906, Germany 1878/9). Depending on how quickly lawmakers react, how much pressure they meet from their population, and how adamant consumers are about regulation, consumption habits will also change. In Britain, the United States, and Germany, for example, food industrialization was usually paired or soon followed by vegetarianism or back-to-nature movements. That was no coincidence. For consumers in Germany becoming a vegetarian in 1870 or even a vegan around 1890 was one way to reduce the risk of ingesting potentially harmful substances in a time before GMO (pesticides and fertilizers are another story!).

Accum’s story unfortunately had a sad ending: with a ruined reputation, he left Britain and it took the British government half a century to bring about the Food, Drink, and Drugs Act of 1875. However, Accum’s work simultaneous inspired one of the most comprehensive food laws in his own home country of Germany. The Food Law of 1878, paired legislation with a vast network of testing facilities, and even a food police that cracked down on reducing “bloody milk” and “urine-dyed pasta” on the market.


Frederick Accum, image attrib. Sidney Edelstein Collection, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The good news is that we have made progress on the “food adulteration” front, and for those of us who are still worried, there are a range of ways to curb our anxiety without ruining our appetite. Examples include calling for better legislation, reading labels, and committing to a food-selection matrix (better known as diets) to reduce risk. As agriculture, industry, and our consumption habits continue to evolve globally, we will hopefully not repeat the mistakes of the past by testing rigorously before we allow a substance to end up on our plate. Lawmakers and consumers now have the benefit of hindsight, and especially up-and-coming industries with rapidly evolving markets today have the chance to avoid making the same mistakes Britain, the US or Germany did centuries ago. Keeping a collective eye on industry and food laws will ensure there will never again be any “Death in the Pot.”

Interested in the history of food? For further reading, see:

Deborah Blum, The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. New York: Penguin, 2018.

Corinna Treitel, Eating Nature in Modern Germany. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Bee Wilson, Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

LGBT History Month Poster: James VI & I – King of Scotland, England and Ireland


James VI of Scotland, I of England and Ireland, Wikimedia Commons

James VI & I (1566-1625), the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was crowned as King of Scotland in 1567, at only thirteen months of age. Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the sixth James to hold the Scottish crown also became James I of England and Ireland.

James VI & I’s appointment of royal favourites – a practice entirely in keeping with other European monarchs of the age – has caused some modern scholars to speculate about James’s sexuality, particularly with respect to his relationship with his “greatest favourite”, George Villiers, who was appointed cupbearer to the king in 1614, gentleman of the bedchamber in 1615, knighted in 1616 and ultimately made duke of Buckingham in 1623. Whilst James made his affection for Villiers abundantly clear, and the relationship between monarch and favourite was necessarily one that was both deeply political and personal, the sources do not make explicit the nature of the two men’s intimacy. Rumours may have circulated – and been picked up on by later scholars – but these are difficult to disentangle from discourses on ‘court favourites’, from contemporary and later attempts to paint James’ court as sleazy and corrupt, and from practices that in the early modern context were commonplace, such as same-sex bed-sharing. 


Thumbnail of this poster. Click for larger version.

The problem of uncovering practices which would necessarily have been hidden, and in unpicking discourse from events, fall into especially sharp relief in this case. Whilst scholars disagree about how the evidence on James’s sexuality should be interpreted, this example is instructive for all historians as a reminder of the importance of seeking to understand the emotional lives and intimate relationships of past historical actors in their full complexity and contexts.

Postgraduate Spotlight: Emily Betz

Blog written by Emily Betz

Emily is currently a second year PhD student in Modern History. She’s an international student at St Andrews, originally hailing from the small and very snowy city of Erie, Pennsylvania. Her fascination with history began at a young age, when she first became obsessed with the idea of becoming an Egyptologist after seeing a handful of Discovery Channel specials (and, let’s be honest, the Indiana Jones movies). She has switched her focus to a more modern time period now, but her early interest in history has never faded.

During her undergraduate years at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Emily studied history alongside her major of German Literature and found a passion for traveling after studying abroad in Austria and Germany. Her travels inspired her to apply for a joint MA/MSc degree in Global Studies from the University of Roskilde in Denmark and Leipzig University in Germany. After graduating, she worked in a think tank in Berlin that researched higher education institutions for a year before deciding to go back to school for her true passion of history. This led her to begin an MPhil in Early Modern History from Trinity College Dublin. Her research in Dublin examined the spread of the Henrician Reformation in England in the 1530s-40s through in-depth analysis of churchwarden’s accounts of the period. She is now continuing her love affair with the early modern period at St Andrews under the supervision of Professor Rab Houston.

Emily’s doctoral research focuses on melancholy in England between c. 1550-1750. While it could be a rather dreary subject, she’s found that researching melancholy in the early modern period is far more than learning about a medical condition. Instead, it provides a reflection into the changing values and perceptions of society as a whole and is inextricably linked to the formation of English identity. What she hopes to elucidate with her research is just how the perception of the English as a particularly ‘melancholy’ nation came about, both within and without the country.

In addition to her PhD research, Emily is the editorial assistant with the School of History’s communications team. In this role, she prepares the fortnightly School of History Gazette and helps compile the annual alumni magazine with Dr Chandrika Kaul. In her free time, she loves dancing ballet, reading, and practicing her newfound love of horseback riding. This year she is moving to Edinburgh to try a taste of Scotland’s city life.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships 2019

The School of History, University of St Andrews, welcomes applications to act as a host institution for the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship competition. These fellowships are intended to enable early career researchers – who have a research record but have not yet held a full-time permanent academic post – to undertake a significant piece of publishable work. Further details, including eligibility criteria, are available on the Leverhulme Website.

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Photo attrib. Martin Abegglen, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

School of History selection process:

Eligible applicants must first identify and contact a potential mentor within the School of History. Applications submitted without a mentor having been specified will not be considered. Having secured the agreement of a mentor within the School, applicants need to send the following to histdor@st-andrews.ac.uk:

  1. A completed application form
  2. A CV (maximum four pages)
  3. The names, email addresses and current institutions of three referees.  No more than one referee should be from the proposed host institution and no more than one should be from the institution where you obtained your doctorate. The Head of School from your proposed host institution may not act as a referee.

The internal deadline for submission of applications to the School of History is 4 pm on January 10, 2019

All applications will be considered in line with the Leverhulme ECF guidelines.

Institutional (University of St Andrews) selection process:

Applications selected by the School will be forwarded to the internal University of St Andrews’ selection process. Successful applicants for institutional support will be notified by late January 2019. Please note: Applicants should not apply to Leverhulme, citing the University of St Andrews as the supporting institution, unless they have been given formal notification that they have been selected as an institutional candidate.

Leverhulme Trust application process:

Successful applicants for institutional support from the School of History at the University of St Andrews will need to complete the online Leverhulme application by 4 pm, 28 February 2019. Note that the Leverhulme requires a declaration of institutional support from both the Head of the host department and from an administrative officer on behalf of the host institution. Applicants should allow at least one week for this institutional approval process.

Applicants will be informed by the Leverhulme Trust of the result of their applications by email at the end of May 2019

Summer and Autumn Round Up

News

b1In celebration of Black History Month, members of the St Andrews History department have compiled a list of essential texts

Congratulations to one of our history students, Jack Abernethy, on being awarded one of six national prizes of 2018 by the British Commission for Maritime History for his exceptional undergraduate thesis.

Congratulations to Morag Allan Campbell, whose ‘Face to Faceexhibition was presented  by Professor Rab Houston in the Members’ area of the Scottish Parliament in September

Congratulations also to Professor Rab Houston in his role as a contributor to The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Society 1500-1700, which received the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference Bainton Reference Prize award

Congratulations are also in order for Dr Tomasz Kamusella for being awarded the Supporter of the Silesian Language award by the publishing house Silesia Progress

b3Staff Activity

On 3rd July , Professor Hillenbrand gave a paper titled ‘The Sultan, the Kaiser, the Colonel, and the Purloined Wreath’ at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds

Professor Hillenbrand presented ‘Saladin’s Spin Doctors’ for the Annual Prothero Lecture at the Royal Historical Society on July 6

On 8th July, Dr Chandrika Kaul was a Panel Guest Reviewer on BBC World Service Weekend Review

On 4th September, Dr Tomasz Kamusella gave a presentation titled ‘Tears of Blood: A Poet’s Witness Account of the Poraimos’ at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society and Conference of Gypsy/Romani Studies at the National Library of Romania in Bucharest

Between 4th-8th September Professor Elena Marushiakova and Professor Veselin Popov presented ‘Gypsy Nomadism vs. Roma Activism in Eastern Europe during the Interwar Period’, while Dr Aleksandar Marinov presented ‘The Roma and the Protestant Mission in Bulgaria between the Two World Wars’. Professor Marushiakova was also the convenor of the panel ‘Roma in the Period between WWI and WWII’

On 27th September Dr Margaret Connolly and Ms Rachel Hart gave a paper, ‘The Marchmont Regiam Maiestatem comes full circle: a book and its owners, 1548 to 2018’, to the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society

On October 3, Paul Malgrati organised the ‘Joe Corrie (1894-1968); Miner, Poet, Playwright Anniversary’

From 5 to 7 of October, Professor Elena Marushiakova and Professor Veselin Popov took part in the 14th Asia Pacific Sociological Association Conference. They presented the paper ‘Nomadism vs. Sedentarisation: Central Asian Gypsies during 20th -21st century’

On 6 October, Konrad Lawson presented on ‘Statistical Stratigraphy and Thinking Critically about the Digital Humanities’ at the workshop Statistics, Categories, Politics: Analyzing, Interpreting, and Visualizing Data in Recent Chinese History at the University of Freiburg

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Konrad Lawson gave the paper ‘Liberating Order: The Seoul Metropolitan Police and Self-Narratives of Discontinuity 1945-1947’at the University of Edinburgh Yun Posun Memorial Symposium

On 12th October Dr Chandrika Kaul presented ‘The Monarch and the Mahatma: Political personae in a mediated world’ at the ‘Politics in Public: The Mediatization of Political Personae 1880s-1930s’ conference at KU Leuven.

On October 13, ISHR hosted ‘Re-thinking the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland:
A Conference in Honour of Roger A. Mason, Professor of Scottish History

On 15 October, Konrad Lawson presented on ‘Su Lin Lewis Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920-1940‘ for the Institute of Transnational and Spatial History Reading Group at St Andrews

On October 18, Professor Michael Brown presented the paper ‘Leading the Realm’s Estate: Royal Authority and the transformation of fifteenth-century Scotland

Between October 24 and October 27, the Institute of Intellectual History organised the After Pufendorf: Natural Law and the Passions in Germany and Scotland conference

On October 25, Smart History St Andrews hosted the one-day conference Open Doors to Digital Heritage

On Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October, Professor Elena Marushiakova,  Professor Veselin Popov  and Dr Aleksandar Marinov hosted the conference ‘Roma Civic Emancipation between the Two World Wars: Challenges in Archival Research of Roma’

New Publications

Bavaj, Riccardo and Martina Steber (eds). Civilisational Mappings. ‘The West’ at the Turn of the Century [Zivilisatorische Verortungen. Der ‘Westen’ an der Jahrhundertwende (1880-1930)] (De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2018)

b5Cox, Rory.Approaches to Pre-Modern War and Ethics: Some Comparative and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives’, Global Intellectual History (26 September, 2018)

—‘Historicizing Waterboarding as a Severe Torture Norm’, International Relations (20 September, 2018)

—‘Gratian’, in Just War Thinkers. War, Conflict and Ethics series, eds. Cian O’Driscoll and Daniel Brunstetter (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017): 34-49.

—‘The Ethics of War up to Thomas Aquinas’, in The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War, eds. Seth Lazar and Helen Frowe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018): 99-121.

Dawson, Tom, Hollesen, Jorgen, Martin Callanan, Rasmus Fenger-Nielsen, T. Max Friesen, Anne M. Jensen, Adam Markham, Vibeke V. Martens, Vladimir V. Pitulko, and Marcy Rockman. ‘Climate Change and the Deteriorating Archaeological and Environmental Archives of the Arctic’, Antiquity 92, no. 363 (2018): 573-586.

Greenwood, Timothy. ‘Ananias of Shirak’, Encyclopaedia Iranica (2018).

Halstead, Huw. ‘”Ask the Assyrians, Armenians, Kurds”: Transcultural Memory and Nationalism in Greek Historical Discourse on Turkey’, Indiana University Press 30, no. 2 (2018): 3-39.

Hillenbrand, Carole. ‘Fremd wie Ausserirdische. Wie reagierten die Muslime auf die Invasion?‘, in Kulturkonflikt im Mittelalter. Die Kreuzüge, Der Spiegel Geschichte 5, no. 18 (2018): 30-35

Kamusella, Thomasz. ‘Belarus: A Chinese Solution?’, New Eastern Europe (31 July 2018)

— ‘Diskussion um Stand, Ausbau, Status und Kodifizierung des (Ober-Schlesischen [Discussion on the State, Development, Status and Standardization of the (Upper) Silesian Language]’ in Kai Witzlack-Makarevich (ed), Kalkierungs- und Entlehnungssprachen in der Slavia: Boris Unbegaun zum 120. Geburtstag (Frank & Timme, 2018): 263-302.

Ethnic Cleansing during the Cold War: the Forgotten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria (Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2018).

— ‘Bulgaria: An Unlikely Personality Cult’, New Eastern Europe (7 September, 2018)

Marushiakova-Popova, Elena and Veselin Popov.Migration vs. Inclusion: Roma Mobilities from East to West’, Baltic Worlds 11, no. 2-3 (Sep 2018): 88-100.

Lawson, Konrad. ‘Reimagining the Postwar International Order: the World Federalism of Ozaki Yukio and Kagawa Toyohiko’ in Simon Jackson & Alanna O’Malley (eds.), The Institution of International Order: From the League of Nations to the United Nations (Routledge, 2018)

Lugt, Mara van der. ‘Les Mots Et Les Choses: The Obscenity of Pierre Bayle’, The Modern Language Review 113, no. 4 (October 2018): 714–741

b4Palmer, James. Early Medieval Hagiography (ARC Humanities Press, 2018)

— and Matthew Gabriele (eds). Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages (Routledge, 2018).

—‘Climates of crisis: apocalypse, nature, and rhetoric in the early medieval world’, Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 48, no. 2 (2018): 1-20.

Rostvik, Camilla Mork. ‘Cernoises and Horrible Cernettes: A History of Women at CERN 1954-2017’, Women’s History Review 27, no. 5 (2018): 858-865.

Rowlands, Guy. ‘Life after Death in Foreign Lands: Louis XIV and Anglo-American Historians’ in Penser l’après Louis XIV. Histoire, mémoires, représentations, eds. Charles-Édouard Levillain and Sven Externbrink (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2018)

Toffolo, Sandra. ‘Pellegrini stranieri e il commercio veneziano nel Rinascimento,’ in: Elisa Gregori ed., Rinascimento fra il Veneto e l’Europa. Questioni, metodi, percorsi (Padova: Cleup, 2018): 263-284.

Woolf, Alex. ‘Columbanus’ Ulster Education’ in Alexander O’Hara (ed), Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe (Oxford University Press, 2018): 91-102.

Re-thinking the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: A Conference in Honour of Roger A. Mason, Professor of Scottish History

ramblog.jpgOn October 13, a conference was held to celebrate the contributions of Professor Roger Mason to the field of Scottish history. Roger, having only recently retired from St Andrews, wrote on many topics including Buchanan, Knox, and many other matters related to the Renaissance in Scotland. The conference was opened by Sally Mapstone, Principal and renowned scholar of Scottish literature in her own right. She shared wonderful anecdotes about Roger’s history, and highlighted his contribution to the understanding of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Scotland.

The day continued with a lecture by Professor Dauvit Broun. In ‘Rethinking medieval Scottish regnal historiography’, he encouraged everyone to re-evaluate their study of the Fordun-Bower-Pluscarden corpus. The modern editions distort the medieval and early modern origins of these texts, and understanding their original reading would be more helpful in researching these texts. After a brief coffee break, Professor Nicola Royan presented ‘Talking for Scotland: another use of early Scottish humanism’. Moving towards the late fifteenth century, she discussed the speeches given by Scottish diplomats and how they deployed rhetoric in order to flatter and persuade foreign monarchs.

ramblog1Professor Jane Dawson looked at two formidable figures of the Scottish early modern period in her talk ‘James and John: the stormy relationship between Regent Moray and Knox’. Both men were heralded as stalwarts of the Scottish reformation, but while they often acted together, their similarities stemmed from their shared enemies, rather than any common goals. During the lunch, Special Collections arranged for a special viewing of manuscripts related to Roger’s work, career, and this conference. From a Blaeu map based on Buchanan’s work, to John Knox’s writing and a tiny manuscript by Esther Inglis, the audience was spoiled for choice.

After lunch, Dr Bess Rhodes spoke about ‘“The Tyme of Reformatione”: Early Modern Protestants’ memories of religious change’. She explored the ways in which the Scottish perception of the reformation changed within fifty years. Esther Meijers followed, and she focused on the international dimensions of Scotland. In ‘The Dutch in Scotland: The diplomatic visit of the States General upon the baptism of Prince Henry (1594)’, she examined the intricate matters of diplomacy between the newly constituted United Provinces and Scotland.

ramblog3The conference was concluded with a Lightning Round by several scholars. Ali Cathcart, Katie Stevenson, Jamie-Reid-Baxter and Steven Reid shared both personal stories about Roger’s influence on their work as well as professional opinions about where the field would be going. They will also all contribute to a festschrift, to be published in the near future. The day was truly a celebration of Roger’s contribution to Scottish history, and his impact on scholars: all the participants enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed the conference.