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November 23 2014
November 21 2014
The Chevalier d'Eon: Transgender Diplomat at the Court of George III, 1763-1777
In 1763 peace broke out between France and Britain, ending the Seven Years War. The defeated superpower France was left nursing its wounds, as well as thoughts of revenge. While King Louis XV’s foreign minister sought to maintain the peace, the King’s spy network, ‘the King’s Secret’ (Secret du Roi) developed plans to invade England. These conflicting agendas were embodied in the Chevalier d’Eon, France’s minister in London. A Georgian Edward Snowden. Shortly after his arrival the Chevalier began publishing confidential diplomatic despatches and blackmailing his King. The Chevalier escaped assassination and imprisonment by becoming a woman in 1777.
Dr Jonathan Conlin teaches modern British history at the University of Southampton. Currently he is researching a biography of the Anglo-Armenian oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian. His books include Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Making of the Modern City.
November 18 2014
Putting it all together: using archives to discover your community’s involvement in the First World War
The names of the First World War dead are there for all to see, on war memorials all over the country. Many individuals and groups are researching the stories behind the names, but what about delving even deeper? There is even more to be learned about the men and women who also served, and survived the War, as well as the families and communities left behind.
Drawing on a wide variety of documents, in record offices, libraries and online, Audrey Collins shows how you can discover how a whole community was affected by the First World War. She uses as a case study the market town of Chesham in Buckinghamshire, but the techniques used are equally applicable to any locality.
Audrey Collins is family history specialist at The National Archives and she is a regular speaker at genealogical events and conferences in the UK and worldwide.
November 16 2014
November 14 2014
The civil service in the First World War
The First World War affected every sector of society, as the nation’s resources were harnessed for the war effort. Like other employers, the civil service lost staff to the armed forces and had to replace them while they were away. It also had to deal with a greatly increased workload during wartime. Records in The National Archives describe how civil servants coped with these conditions: an eye-witness account of a Zeppelin raid, sugar ration coupons, and details of a scheme for gathering conkers are just some of the documents used to build a picture of the role of the civil service in wartime.
Audrey Collins is family history specialist at The National Archives and she has been researching the history and development of the General Register Office for several years, which led to an interest in the wider civil service during the First World War. She is a regular speaker at genealogical events and conferences in the UK and worldwide.
November 09 2014
November 02 2014
October 31 2014
1974: forty years on
Mark Dunton looks back at UK National events in 1974 in this illustrated podcast. Drawing on the public records he highlights some unusual or little known aspects about the events of that year. 1974 was a difficult year in modern British history – the two general elections, the economic situation, the collapse of the Court Line air travel business for package holidays, the disaster at the Flixborough chemical plant, and IRA bombings – but some popular culture references remind us of lighter moments.
Mark Dunton specialises in researching the records of post-1945 Britain, including political, social and economic history and the policies of the Heath government in the early 1970s.
October 26 2014
October 24 2014
Writer of the month: Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory in conversation with Caroline Kimbell, discussing how she uses original records and introducing her new novel, The King’s Curse.
Philippa Gregory was already an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl which was made into a TV drama, and a film. Six novels later, she looks at the family that preceded the Tudors: the Plantagenets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds. Find out more about Philippa Gregory’s work.
This podcast was recorded live as part of the Writer of the month series, which broadens awareness of historical records and their uses for writers. We apologise for any reduction in sound quality.
Security Service file release October 2014
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 October 2014.
October 19 2014
October 17 2014
Maps: their untold stories
Drawn from seven centuries of maps of places around the globe held in The National Archives, Maps: their untold stories offers a fascinating and unusual journey through the world of maps.
Hear from the authors as they explain who made these maps, why they were made and what they tell us about the politics of the time. Mapmakers range from a native American and a Maori priest to Captain Cook and George Washington. Subject matter includes London before the Great Fire, a map of Czechoslovakia that Hitler gave to Neville Chamberlain, beautifully hand-drawn estate maps, battle plans from the First World War and earlier conflicts, and perhaps the earliest depiction of Santa Claus on a map. After the talk the authors will be signing copies of their book at our onsite bookshop.
Rose Mitchell and Andrew Janes are specialist map archivists at The National Archives and have many years of experience in advising the public on maps and related records. They have written and spoken about a broad range of map-related topics based on the rich holdings at The National Archives, from the use of maps in sixteenth century law courts to the Second World bomb census survey.
October 10 2014
Big Ideas: Understanding patterns of behaviour for users of public records
When Google launched in 1998, a prime ingredient in their not-so-secret sauce was the question: if a user randomly clicked links where on the web might they end up?
They called the answer PageRank. This involved treating the web as a network rather than a bunch of isolated documents containing keywords. The outcome was a new verb and the near destruction of their competitors. Could repeating and refining 'the Google trick' help cultural bodies with research, collection care or digitisation?
One limitation to overcome is the assumption that all users behave in the same way. Users are individuals within fuzzy communities. So, can we personalise PageRank and treat people more like individuals than averages?
Matthew Pearce, from The National Archives, works on public sector information – in particular, its economics. His research is on the statistics and algorithms needed for personalised predictions.
October 07 2014
Inventions that didn't change the world: a history of Victorian curiosities
In an era when Britain led the world in technological innovation, a host of lesser inventors were also hard at work. Registering designs for copyright was quicker and cheaper than the convoluted patenting process; anyone with what they thought was a good idea could register a design. All manner of bizarre curiosities and their careful drawings were lodged with the Designs Registry (now held by The National Archives). Julie Halls looks at the world of lesser-known Victorian inventions and the historical context which gave rise to them.
Julie Halls is The National Archives' specialist for registered designs and is the author of Inventions that didn't change the world (Thames & Hudson, 2014).
October 03 2014
From British bobby to Hong Kong copper
This year marks the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Police. This talk traces the history of the organisation through the stories of a few very ordinary British constables from the 1840s up to the First World War. Some sacrificed their careers by standing up for the rights of their colleagues, while others spent a lifetime fostering good relations with the local community. These were the men who helped mould the Force into the highly respected organisation which it became during the 20th century.
Christine Thomas has had a 40 year career with the police in Hong Kong and London, working in the fields of Research and Archival Records Management. She is a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) and runs her own research service specialising in British expatriates who spent time in Hong Kong.
September 28 2014
September 21 2014
September 19 2014
The naval policy of the Free Church of Scotland
In 1843 the established Church of Scotland suffered a large secession of members who formed the Free Church of Scotland. In the early years of its existence the new church had to overcome a shortage of buildings and clergy, as well as the hostility of many landowners. Their response included the use of a floating church, a floating manse and the building of a yacht dedicated to the task of taking ministers to remote islands. The lecture looks at this curious episode in Scottish history and how and why the church evolved a 'naval policy'.
Alex Ritchie is the Business Archives Advice Manager at The National Archives. In this lecture he distils years of research into the shipbuilding industry, maritime history and Scottish church history. He also reveals a key fact discovered in The National Archives itself.
September 15 2014
'A World of Their Design': The men who shaped Tudor diplomacy
In a time of shifting politics and world changing events, three men would emerge as masterful diplomats, ambassadors and advisors who possessed a shrewd political acumen. They each shared a complex and intriguing relationship with the other, while manipulating the powers around them in the game of diplomacy. Lauren Mackay explores the intersecting lives of Thomas Boleyn, Eustace Chapuys and Thomas Cromwell: the men behind the thrones.
Lauren Mackay is a historian whose research focuses on courtiers and diplomats of the 16th century. She completed her Master of History with University of New England, and is currently researching her PhD on Thomas and George Boleyn in the English Reformation, with the University of Newcastle in Australia.
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