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The National Archives

Bessant Dr

Kew

TW9 4DU

United Kingdom

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Fragmentary Lives: the survival and interpretation of historic ego documents

Autobiographies, love letters, and pauper writing have revealed a suprisingly literate ordinary population in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The evidence these provide, of individuals contesting welfare, asserting rights and recording experiences, have caused us to rethink deeply held historiographical truisms.

As part of the collaborative research project 'In their own write', funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Archives and the University of Leicester are hosting this academic conference to explore how perspectives drawn from these ego documents are reshaping the future research agenda.


Programme


9:20 - 9:35 Welcome (Paul Carter, The National Archives)

9:35 - 11:05 Session 1: The boundaries of public and private (Chair: Paul Carter)

‘“My freind who writes for me”: Scribes and scribal relationships in the letters of seamen, 1793-1815’ (Helen Watt, The National Archives)

‘“I fear my letters & drawings are given far more publicity to than I warranted…” Locating ego and agency in Joseph Dalton Hooker’s correspondence.’ (Cam Sharpe Jones, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)

‘New directions for studying working-class autobiography’ (Emily Cumming, John Herson and Helen Rogers, Liverpool John Moores University)

11:05 - 11:35 Break

11:35 - 13:05 Session 2: Lives under the information state (Chair: Steve King)

‘“I am not one of those … to set people agst the laws”: Redrawing the boundaries of the epistolary relationship under the New Poor Law' (Natalie Carter and Peter Jones, University of Leicester).

‘“To My Dear Mr Ware”: Uncovering the words of ragged school children’ (Laura Mair, University of Edinburgh)

‘Voicing grievance in the nineteenth-century: Pauper complainers and prison petitioners’ (Kim Price, University of Liverpool)

13:05 - 14:05 Lunch

14:05 - 15:50 Session 3: Fragments of the unusual (Chair: Anna Sexton)

'Fragments and fury: Writing in the Great Yarmouth Workhouse 1890s-1900s' (Steve King, University of Leicester)

‘Gathering up the fragments’ (Helen Rogers, Liverpool John Moores University)

Concepts of self, home and New World in a corpus of historical Irish migrant correspondence’ (Emma Moreton, Coventry University)

15:50 - 16:20 Break

16:20 - 17:50 Session 4: Military voices (Chair: Chris Day)

‘A tale of two tommies’ (Ruth Imeson Da Silva, County Archivist for Nottinghamshire)

‘Reading trauma in the auto-biographical writings of First World War nurses’ (Bridget Keown, Northeastern University, USA)

‘A self-aware account of war: Boer War letters and diaries of Veterinary Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Smith’ (Lorna Cahill, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons)

17:50 Close

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The National Archives

Bessant Dr

Kew

TW9 4DU

United Kingdom

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