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The Tale of Jane Wenham: an Eighteenth-century Hertfordshire Witch?

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The Story The tale of Jane Wenham, found guilty of witchcraft in 1712, begins as all early modern witch stories do: with a suspicion.[1] A local farmer, John Chapman had long attributed the strange deaths of local cattle and horses to Wenham’s witchcraft, although he could not prove it. It was not until 1712 that… Read more »

October 30, 2014

Sloane the Chocolatier: A Tasty Myth

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By James Hawkes Sir Hans Sloane is a man who is justly remembered for many things, as a philanthropist, President of the Royal Society, and father of the British Museum. But one thing it seems he shall always be remembered for is inventing milk chocolate. For that alone he would truly deserve to be remembered… Read more »

October 19, 2014

How to Build a Universal Collection, or Nicknackatory

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By James Hawkes The sheer immensity of Sloane’s collection poses a daunting challenge for the researcher, especially given its present division among different institutions. It might be useful to consider Sloane’s collection alongside smaller and more manageable (not to mention intact!) ones. I recently had the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom as part of… Read more »

August 20, 2014

Strange Pigs

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There are strange pig tails in the midnight sun From men who moil for hog’s stones The science trails have their secret tales That would make monstrous piglets groan; The English nights have seen queer sights But the queerest they ever did see Was that marge on the note of Stephen Gray Concerned with porcine… Read more »

July 29, 2014

Shark Bits and Sloane Bobs

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It’s been an eventful couple months, which is why this blog has been a bit neglected. In case you’re wondering why: I had a baby in mid-June–a little earlier than expected! The time has been passing in a blur of wonder and delight… and hilariously awful B-movies about sharks. Thank you to the Canadian Space… Read more »

July 28, 2014

Bethlem Bed Shortages in the Eighteenth Century

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I just read an excellent post by Jennifer Evans (@historianjen) over at earlymodernmedicine on a sad case of madness from Hans Sloane’s correspondence. Go read the post in full, but to sum it up: over several months in 1714, the Earl of Derby was attempting to care for John Getting, who was in clearly declining… Read more »

June 4, 2014

Looking after your family until the end: the cost of caregiving in historical perspective

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Another day, another governmental exhortation that families just aren’t doing enough to keep society going… This time, it is Simon Hughes (the UK coalition’s justice minister) who suggested that British people had lost a sense of duty to care and were neglecting the elderly. Caregivers regularly bear the brunt of governmental disparagement, especially at a… Read more »

May 2, 2014

The Sir Hans Sloane Birthday Collection: Giants’ Shoulders #70

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Sir Hans Sloane, collector and physician, was born on 16 April 1660. To celebrate his 354th birthday, I’m hosting the history of science carnival: Giants’ Shoulders #70. Sloane collected stuff of all kinds, from curiosities (natural and man-made) and botanical samples to manuscripts. He was very thorough… So what does one give the man who… Read more »

April 16, 2014

The Problems of an Eighteenth-Century Menagerie

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One of my favourite letters in the Sloane Correspondence is a complaint from Charles Lennox, the 2nd Duke of Richmond (ca. 1729-1733). Sr I received your letter I am obliged to you for it. I wish indeed it had been the sloath that had been sent me, for that is the most curious animal I… Read more »

April 14, 2014

Day of DH 2014

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Ever wonder what a day in the life of a digital historian looks like? Yesterday, I participated in the Day of Digital Humanities 2014 and blogged a bit over there throughout the day.

April 9, 2014

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