The History of Parliament in 2012

As the New Year approaches, Emma Peplow reviews 2012 at the History of Parliament.

2012 has been an exciting year for Britain, and a very busy one for the History; aside from our continuing work building up accounts of politics, politicians and constituencies in the fifteenth, seventeenth (the lords and commons) eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were new publications, new projects and a great deal new online!

This year our oral history project really got underway. Sponsored by Dods and in partnership with the British Library, the History is trying to interview all former MPs. We made an excellent start this year, our team of wonderful volunteers (organised by Dr Priscila Pivatto) interviewed nearly 50 MPs and more than half of these are already available in the British Library. For 2013 we’re planning both more interviews and further sharing the material we have collected so far. For more, see our website and watch this space for news.

Over the summer, it was another good year for our schools and university competitions and we received some entries of a very high standard. You can read all about this year’s winners here, and do keep your eyes open for 2013’s competition.

Our ‘Parliament, Politics and People’ seminar at the IHR has been a great success over the past year, with a wide range of excellent papers from academics all over the country. You can catch up with the seminars on this blog, and look out for those in 2013 – the programme will be available here.

In November, Priscilla Baines published her research on one of our founder’s major projects: ‘Colonel Josiah Wedgwood’s Questionnaire: Members of Parliament, 1885-1918’. In the 1930s Wedgwood sent questionnaires to Members who sat between 1885 and 1918. The replies provide a rich source of information on the political and personal backgrounds of these MPs and the highlights of the fascinating responses are all in Priscilla’s book. To mark the publication Priscilla gave an excellent talk in the House of Lord’s this month, and you can buy her book here.

In the online world, the History had a very busy year. Our 1604-29 volumes were made available on our website for the first time and includes biographies of the major figures of the period, including Sir Edward Coke, John Donne and of course, Oliver Cromwell. We took part in parliament week with a series of specially commissioned articles that you can still read on our website. In November, we also launched a fully updated ‘about’ section, twitter and facebook accounts and, of course, this blog, so you all know exactly what we’re up to. Our Victorian Commons’ section have also been prolific bloggers this year, with blogs on a wide range of material such as their new preview site, the experience of new Victorian MPs and Robert Fitzroy MP, a pioneer of the weather forecast.

It’s been busy in 2012, but we’re all looking forward to 2013 – watch this space for our news!


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