Centre for Metropolitan History

The Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH), established by the Institute in 1988, is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the history of London and other metropolises. It specialises in innovative research projects, covering a wide range of periods, themes and problems in metropolitan history, publishing the results and data online and in print. The Centre runs a seminar, and organises workshops and conferences on many different topics in metropolitan and urban history. Staff at the Centre supervise more than a dozen PhD students and are involved in the Institute’s MA programme.

CMH News

London and the First World War conference (20-21 March 2015)

Final bookings now being taken for this conference, organised by IWM (Imperial War Museums) in partnership with the CMH, which will explore the ways in which London and its inhabitants were affected by, and involved with the 1914-18 conflict. Plenary speakers are: Adrian Gregory (Pembroke College, Oxford) and Jerry White (Birkbeck, University of London). Panel sessions include: 'Daily life and institutions', 'Enemy aliens', 'Communications and transport', 'Empire view', 'Dissent', 'Air war', and 'Leisure'. For the full programme and booking information, see www.history.ac.uk/london-ww1.

Metropolitan History Seminar

The Metropolitan History Seminar is held on alternate Wednesdays at 5.30 pm in Room 203, 2nd floor, Institute of Historical Research. The seminar is free of charge and open to all. The speaker on 4 March will be David Roberts (Bartlett) on 'Housing Acts: performing the pursuit of public housing'. The final seminar of the term will be on 18 March: Radha Dalal (Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar), 'Postcarding the Capital: representations of Ottoman Istanbul, 1890-1914'. The full programme for the spring term is available at www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/134

Previous Metropolitan History seminars are available as podcasts on the IHR Website

Call for Papers: The Global City, Past and Present - Workshop 2 'Political Economy'

Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 9-10 November 2015

The Global Cities AHRC International Research Network invites proposals from scholars of all humanities and social sciences for its workshop on the topic of “Political Economy” in cities – colonial, imperial, or other – of the early modern or modern and contemporary period.

The interplay between international power and finance and the micro geographies and politics of the global city has been an important topic of study among sociologists and urban historians in the past decades. Likewise, historians of the colonial and imperial city have focused on the dynamic between envoys of imperial authority and economy and local economic agents. The organizers of this workshop wish to encourage a stimulating exchange between scholars of the global city and those of early modern and modern world cities. By exploring intersections in both scholarships we aim to produce an improved understanding of the effect the interaction between such local and global political and economic forces had on the trajectory of urban settings across time and space and within global processes.

Applicants should email a 500-750 word proposal and a one-page CV to Mariana Dantas at dantas@ohio.edu by March 30th, 2015. Submissions must reflect unpublished work that has potential for inclusion in the volume of essays that will be edited by the project’s organizers. Selected participants will be asked to submit a paper of up to 8,000 words by September 1, 2015. The network has funds to support travel and accommodation costs, especially for early career scholars. Full CFP. See also Global Cities Website

People, Property and Charity: The Clothworkers’ Company 1500-1688 (http://www.clothworkersproperty.org/)

Arising from a CMH project, funded by The Clothworkers’ Company, with research carried out by Dr Annaleigh Margey, this website was officially launched on 10 October. It provides the first detailed history of the benefactors, property acquisitions and other bequests of The Clothworkers’ Company in the City of London during the late medieval and early modern periods. Focusing specifically on the properties that came to the company through the bequests of several benefactors, it traces the company’s management of these properties and associated charities. The site provides biographies of the most significant property benefactors, as well as listings of benefactors who bequeathed silver, plate, and monies for charity and entertainment purposes, and histories of the properties granted to the Company.

Records of London's Livery Companies Online (ROLLCO) Project

The ROLLCO database has see two recent updates, which have included freedom and apprenticeship records from the Bowyers', Girdlers', Musicians', Salters', and Tallow Chandlers' Companies, and brings the total number of individuals contained in the database to over 350,000. The database can be searched at londonroll.orgThe new records include a number of notable people. To read more about them and the updates, see the the ROLLCO blogs here.

The next ROLLCO update will feature the membership records of the Founders' Company.

Medieval Merchants and Money conference podcasts

Seventeen papers from our highly successful conference held last November in celebration of the work of Professor Jim Bolton (QMUL) are now online as free podcasts. We are very grateful to the speakers who have given permission to make their papers available.

Locating London's Past wins BSECS Prize

We are delighted that Locating London's Past has won the 2014 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) Prize for Digital Resources. This prestigious prize, sponsored by Adam Matthew Digital, is awarded annually to the best resource supporting eighteenth-century studies.  Locating London's Past was funded by a grant from the JISC e-content programme 2011, and is a partnership between the CMH, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Sheffield. Visit the website at: http://www.locatinglondon.org

CMH Publications

A number of our publications can still be purchased online from the University of London's bookstore. Bestsellers include: The Religious Houses of London and Middlesex; Guilds, Society & Economy in London 1450-1800 and London in the 1690s: A Social Atlas. Also available are IHR Conference Series volumes: London and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Derek Keene and A History of the French in London: Liberty, Equality, Opportunity

Mobilising London's Housing Histories Conference Podcasts

Papers from the 'Mobilising London's Housing Histories: The Provision of Homes since 1850' conference, held on 27-28 June, are now available as podcasts on History SPOT

Life in the Suburbs Project

Datasets compiled by the ESRC-funded 'Life in the Suburbs: health, domesticity and status in early modern London' project are now available from the UK Data Archive: Study No 7244: Life in the Suburbs: Health, Domesticity and Status in Early Modern London, 1523-1720

Going Underground Conference Podcasts

The majority of papers given at the recent 'Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013' conference, marking the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground, are now available as podcasts on History SPOT

Book: London and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Derek Keene (ed. Matthew Davies and James A. Galloway)

The third title in the IHR's new conference series, London and Beyond arose from the CMH's 20th Anniversary conference in 2008, at which Derek Keene was guest of honour. Derek was the founding director of the CMH, from 2001 Leverhulme Professor of Comparative Metropolitan History (also based at the Centre) and, before his retirement in 2008, acting director of the IHR. The papers in this festschrift are written by internationally renowned and long-standing colleagues, postgraduate students, or researchers who began their careers under Derek’s guidance.  Chapters range from the effect of flooding around the Thames in the middle ages to railways in early 20th-century Paris and London. Buy

Book: Cities into Battlefields (ed. Stefan Goebel and Derek Keene)

Arising from the Centre's 2004 'Metropolitan catastrophes' conference on cities' role in warfare, Ashgate have just published Cities into Battlefields: Metropolitan Scenarios, Experiences and Commemorations of Total War.  The volume explores the cultural imprint of military conflict on metropolises world wide in the era of the First and Second World Wars and examines how the emergence of 'total' warfare blurred the boundaries between home and front. With contributions from Susan Grayzel, Peter Stansky, Patrice Higonnet, Eyal Ginio, Maureen Healey, Tim Cole, Antony Beevor, Lisa Yoneyama, Julie Higashi and Jay Winter, it is currently available at the reduced price of £58.50 (normally £65) from the Ashgate website.

Online mapping resource: Locating London's Past

The Locating London's Past website is now available at: www.locatinglondon.org. The website enables users to map information from a vast array of sources, including trial accounts from the Old Bailey, hearth tax, plague deaths and population data and even archaeological records, on to John Rocque’s 1746 map of London, now fully referenced to modern geographical coordinates. This new resource is the result of a collaborative project, funded by JISC, involving the CMH, the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire, and Museum of London Archaeology (see CMH project page for details).

'The Last of the Jobbers'

‘Big Bang’ in 1986 signalled the end of the historic jobbing system of the London Stock Exchange. Jobbers were market-makers who acted as intermediaries between stockbrokers on the floor of the exchange.  Few written records are left of their activities. In 1990 the CMH undertook a series of interviews - predominantly with former jobbers but augmented by those from the point of view of brokers and financial journalists - which now form a rare resource for the history of this distinctive part of the financial life of the City.

The tapes and transcripts of the 42 interviews were originally deposited at the British Library Sound Archive (ref no. C463) for permanent archiving but they are now also available online via the University of London School of Advanced Study’s e-repository, SAS-Space.  To access the collection visit http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/jobbing.

CMH working papers volume: Tides and Floods

The five papers in Tides and floods: new research on London and the tidal Thames from the middle ages to the twentieth century (ed. James A. Galloway; CMH Working papers series no. 4) arise from a conference held in October 2009, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the London and the tidal Thames 1250-1550 research project. Written by archaeologists, historians and historical geographers, they present up-to-date work on the flood threat from the later middle ages to the 20th century, focusing upon the changing political, institutional and economic response to this environmental challenge. Also included is a preliminary report on the medieval tidal mills recently uncovered at Greenwich and Northfleet and an overview of the multi-faceted work of the Thames Discovery Programme. 80pp (illus); price £5 + £2 postage. Order a copy from the IHR Bookshop.

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs screenshot

Want to investigate markets and fairs? Take a look at our Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 - the first systematic national survey of the establishment and operation of markets and fairs from c.900. It contains entries for 2,400 places and lists details for more than 2,600 markets and nearly 3,000 fairs.

Register of Research in Progress

The Centre's register of research in progress on the history of London has just been updated with information on theses completed in 2009, along with some thirty new topics currently being studied.  We would like the register to be as comprehensive as possible, so if you are actively researching an aspect of London history and you wish to be added to the list, please email the Centre providing details of your research and indicating whether you are willing for your email address to be included in the entry.


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London and Urban news and events

Archives for London seminar series. John Donne: Poet, Cleric, and Londoner

Thursday 5 March 2015, 6 pm-8.30 pm| London Metropolitan Archives (Huntley Room), 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB

The Revd Canon Mark Oakley, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, will discuss items from the Cathedral's collections (poems, sermons, engravings and monuments) in relation to the life of John Donne, metaphysical poet and cleric, as well as using Donne's sermons to provide an insight into his religious beliefs. Advance booking is essential. Please book through Eventbrite. Free to AfL members, non-members £5. See AfL website for details.

Tower Hamlets: Land and Lives Exhibition Launch

Thursday 12 March, 6.00-7.30 pm |Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 277 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DQ

The 'Land and Lives' pop-up exhibiton explores the history of the Bromley-by-Bow area, from the medieval period up until the 20th century, using title deeds and other material from our heritage collections. Archivists Mark Ballard and Malcolm Barr-Hamilton will present highlights from the title deeds that have been the subject of the Land and Lives project, and explain how this unique collection can be used for family and local history research. Free. No booking required. Website

CFP: London and the Nation (10 July 2015)

A conference sponsored by the Raphael Samuel History Centre and the London Studies Network, hosted by Birkbeck, University of London

The cultural, demographic, socioeconomic, geographical, and political connections between the metropolis and the nation have appalled, excited, perplexed, and fascinated commentators for centuries and have played a decisive role in shaping British history. This conference seeks to illuminate the nature of these connections and the organizers are particularly interested in continuities and ruptures in the way that the relationship between London and the nation has been perceived and portrayed over time. See the full CFP

Please send a 250-word abstract, along with a proposed paper title to londonandthenation@gmail.com by 20 March 2015. Papers should be 20 minutes in length. 

The conference will be followed by a public event at the British Library on 11 July 2015, bringing together politicians, journalists, activists and academics to discuss the relationship btween London and the UK as it stands today.

The Historical Association lectures and events October 2014-June 2015

The Central London Branch of the Historical Assocation has organised a varied programme of lectures, walks and other events. See Programme. Some events require advance booking - Booking Form.

New Publication: London's Sailortown, 1600-1800: A Social History of Shadwell and Ratcliff, an early-modern London riverside suburb

by Derek Morris and Ken Cozens

Published December 2014 by The East London History Society; ISBN 978-0-9564779-2-7

The first book to describe this unique area of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London. Features the rich and the poor, the churches and chapels, the East India Company, Hudson's Bay Company, brewers, coopers, mariners, sailmakers, ship builders, ship chandlers. It also includes extensive indexes to names, places and subjects. Available at £12.60 (plus p&p UK £3.50; Europe £8.35; USA £13.15; Australia £13.90) per copy from Philip Mernick, East London History Society, 42 Campbell Road, London E3 4DT (e: mail@eastlondonhistory.org.uk; www.eastlondonhistory.org.uk).

Historic Hospital Admissions Records Project (HHARP)

This project provides online access to nearly 120,000 individual admission records between 1852 and 1914 for three London children's hospitals: Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Evelina Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease, as well as the recently added Royal Glasgow Children's Hospital. Website