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May 18 2017

09:00

'Dadland': the father who was also an undercover guerrilla agent

Keggie Carew discusses her book 'Dadland', a story about a madcap English childhood, the poignant breakdown of a family, and dementia. The novel centres upon her father Tom Carew, an enigmatic, unorthodox character, who was an undercover guerrilla agent during the Second World War.

'Dadland' is the winner of the Costa Biography Award 2016 and a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller.

April 25 2017

00:03

Black British politics and the anti-apartheid struggle

In 1948, from the introduction of apartheid in South Africa, racial discrimination galvanized the international community into protest. British people and black communities in particular attempted to lead the global opposition against apartheid.

Historian Dr Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths, University of London) will discuss aspects of the documents she looked at while writing her book 'The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa: Black British Solidarity and the Apartheid Struggle' (2015).

Please note, due to a technical error this recording ended a few minutes prior to the end of the talk.

April 18 2017

09:00

From the Somme to Arras

Andrew Lock discusses the progress made by the British Expeditionary Forces between the battles of the Somme (1916) and Arras (1917). Although lessons were learned during the Somme campaign, Arras clearly exposed command and preparation deficiencies, leading to setbacks and the highest casualty rate of any British offensive in the war.

March 29 2017

09:00

Bureau-cats: A short history of Whitehall's official felines

Public interest in the cats of Whitehall began long before Larry, Palmerston and Gladstone graced our front pages and Twitter feeds.

In this podcast, records specialist Christopher Day reveals his favourite anecdotes from the 'Home Office Cat' files, including the story behind the naming of Nelson, Winston Churchill's favourite cat; the controversy surrounding the behaviour of Peta, the first 'Chief Mouser' gifted to the UK government; and the verses exchanged between staff regarding the cats' upkeep.

March 06 2017

09:00

Tracy Borman on 'The Private Lives of the Tudors'

Tracy Borman reveals how the Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers, even in their most private moments. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed.

Dr Tracy Borman is a historian, author and joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces. Her books include the highly acclaimed 'Elizabeth's Women: the Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen'; 'Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror'; and 'Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction'. Her latest book is 'The Private Lives of the Tudors', published by Hodder & Stoughton.

February 20 2017

15:00

Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: Hilary McCollum on 'Sapphic Suffragettes'

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for 'OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival' on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, Hilary McCollum discusses her research into the roles lesbian women played in the suffragette movement.

15:00

Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: Emma Vickers on trans veterans of the British Armed Forces

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for 'OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival' on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, Emma Vickers discusses the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces.

15:00

Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: E-J Scott on collecting for the Museum of Transology

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for 'OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival' on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, curator E-J Scott discusses the process of collecting trans artefacts for the Museum of Transology. The exhibition is on display at Fashion Space Gallery in London until 22 April 2017.

January 19 2017

15:00

Archive Notes: Prosthetics and the First World War

The first episode of a Q&A series in which we talk to researchers about the records and stories they've uncovered at The National Archives.

In 'Prosthetics and the First World War', our First World War diverse histories researcher Louise Bell discusses the impact of the war on disability history through our records: from designs for lighter, more flexible prosthetics to new rehabilitation methods trialled by specialist hospitals.

December 09 2016

16:02

The Eternal systemd Discussion and Implications for System Administration

Recently we had a power outage at one of our sites. A construction site brought down a power line, and the subsequent efforts to repair the damage took the power company longer than the UPS could handle. So all systems shut down cleanly. After the power was back most servers restarted automatically. Two servers were missing. A manual inspection revealed that they hung still in the init phase. According to the logs on the screen systemd was trying to unlock the encrypted harddrives (with a key stored on an external storage media, accessible by the init system). The system were rebooted in Debian 8 System V init mode, and they started immediately. No hangs, no errors, nothing. All systems go, as it should be.

Out of frustration this tweet went out to the world. Unsurprisingly comments about the init system religious war came as reply.

We did not report the error on the servers to the developers for a simple reason. systemd is advertised as a drop in replacement for System V init scripts. It clearly anything but a drop in replacement. If you have to do a migration from System V to systemd, then it is not a drop in replacement. Furthermore everything necessary to get these two servers up and running is stored in their /etc/crypttab and /etc/fstab. It is not really hard to unlock a LUKS-encrypted partition. Even a shell script can do this.

So to cut the bashing short, here is the message: If you want to see your software deployed, do not anger the users (or the sysadmins) using it. We have ditched a lot of software applications, because of misguided development processes. We will replace Debian with Devuan as a lesson from this episode. We already replaced a lot of window managers, because of the ever increasing feature creep, cruft, and bloat. Do not go this way when developing software. Focus!

November 29 2016

15:00

The life and death of King John

King John's acts of misgovernment prompted his barons to demand reform, setting the kingdom on the road to civil war and leading to John's grant of Magna Carta. Why was he seen as such a terrible king and how did Magna Carta come about?

Professor David Carpenter, Professor Stephen Church and Dr Marc Morris discuss the life and reign of King John, 800 years after his death in October 1216.

November 24 2016

15:00

Defeating the Zeppelins

For almost two years during the First World War, German airships roamed over the British countryside, bombing towns and villages without fear of a significant response from the aircraft assigned to defend the country. But all that changed in the late summer of 1916 when a new weapon was introduced, one that spelt the end of the Zeppelin menace.

Ian Castle is the author of two books and a website detailing Germany's air campaign against Britain during the First World War (www.IanCastleZeppelin.co.uk).

November 16 2016

15:00

The Battle of Agincourt

In 1415, King Henry V led an army to victory on the field of Agincourt. In this talk, which commemorated the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Professor Anne Curry discusses the events leading up to the conquest, and the myths surrounding it that have developed over the centuries.

October 19 2016

15:00

Jonathan Dimbleby on 'The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War'

In this talk, broadcaster and acclaimed author Jonathan Dimbleby shows how Britain's success in the Battle of the Atlantic led to the allied victory in 1945. Through extraordinary personal diaries and letters written by both sailors and politicians, he will tell the epic story of how the allies won the war.

Jonathan Dimbleby's illustrious career in broadcasting has spanned nearly five decades. He has presented television programmes on both the BBC and ITV, and has written numerous critically-acclaimed non-fiction history books.

October 11 2016

15:00

Traces through Time: a new tool for finding linked records across our collections

This talk introduces 'Traces through Time', a project by The National Archives which combines historical data sets and the latest technology to help researchers find linked records across our collections. Starting with service records from the First World War, the project has so far identified and published over half a million links. This work enables new insights from archival records and allows people's stories to emerge from the data.

Dr Sonia Ranade is the Principal Investigator on the 'Traces through Time' project. She has a background in Information Science and, since joining The National Archives in 1998, has worked to improve access to our unique collections.

October 07 2016

15:00

Never Forget: The Holocaust and Nazi Persecution

In this talk – held as part of Holocaust Memorial Day - record specialists Ela Kaczmarska and Lauren Willmott shed light on the atrocities committed during this dark period of history and the millions of victims who were persecuted by the Nazis' fascist ideology.

September 28 2016

15:00

Security Service file release September 2016

Professor Christopher Andrew, formerly official historian of MI5 and author of 'The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5', introduces key files from the release of Security Service files to The National Archives in September 2016.

September 21 2016

15:00

Blindness in Victorian Britain

This talk traces how blind and visually-impaired people in the Victorian era became increasingly vocal in seeking control and ownership over the social and political issues that directly affected them, and introduces some of the era's most prominent and influential blind campaigners.

Heather Tilley is a British Academy postdoctoral research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently curated an exhibition at Birkbeck on the history of assistive reading technologies for blind people and a display of prominent blind and visually-impaired people for the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

September 13 2016

15:00

A tourist's guide to Shakespeare's London

Discover what it was like to wander the streets of Shakespeare's London. Though large portions of the city from Shakespeare's time have since been destroyed by fire, war and developers, a surprising number of buildings and places still survive.

Author David Thomas discusses the sights, cuisine and pastimes of 16th century Londoners, while providing insight into what it was like to be a tourist during Shakespeare's lifetime.

Please note that there are occasional disruptions to the sound quality during this recording.

September 06 2016

15:00

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy

In this podcast, Julian Harrison discusses Magna Carta's fascinating history and legacy, focusing on some of the key loans made by The National Archives to the British Library's 'Magna Carta' exhibition in 2015.

Julian Harrison is a curator of Pre-1600 Historical Manuscripts at the British Library, and is also co-curator of 'Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy'. He is a specialist in medieval history, and is also editor of the Library's award-winning Medieval Manuscripts blog.

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