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BAHS Winter Conference: Neighbourliness in farming and rural society

As we have said before, we envisage that there will be a Winter Conference on Saturday 5 December although its exact format remains undecided. It is almost certain that it will be held by Zoom: a physical meeting would be a bonus but is very unlikely to happen.

Harvest Home

The subject will be Neighbourliness in farming and rural society. We have a number of papers offered but would welcome more. This then is an informal call for short presentations, no more than 20 or 25 minutes each with a bit of time allowed for discussion and questions. Suitable subjects might include

  • acts of solidarity as neighbourliness
  • the sharing of agricultural tasks, equipment and animals
  • gendered neighbourliness
  • the locations of neighbourliness
  • neighbourly support at times of illness and crisis
  • deviations from the ideal of neighbourliness 

We would especially welcome proposals from colleagues based in Scotland and Ireland who might not normally be able to take part in our meeting, and from those interested in neighbourliness in European rural societies. Time span from the middle ages to c. 2000. Please use the contact form to submit your proposal, with a title and short abstract (under Subject, choose Conferences (BAHS, Spring and Winter)).

The Society's Constitution

The Society’s Executive Committee has recently held a (virtual) meeting to consider revisions to the Society’s constitution. Some changes are forced on us, for instance the need to provide for on-line virtual meetings. Other desirable changes have accumulated over time and a thorough revision is now needed. We do not intend to change the way we work, but one proposal which might prove contentious is a clause that allows the Society to publish notices of Society business by email and on the website and not send a notification by post unless a member opts in to receive paper notifications. This is increasingly the practice in societies such as ours.

The timescale is that we will publish details of the projected changes in good time for the 2021 AGM and hopefully approve them at that meeting.

If any members would like to contribute to these discussions, do let me know. We would be particularly interested to hear of any members with legal expertise, and particularly of dealing with the Charity Commission, who could help us in a number of ways over the next few years.

BAHS Spring Conference 2021

The Spring Conference will be held as usual (unless conditions change) on 12-14 April 2021, at a location yet to be decided. Details will follow in due course.

MERL logo

We’d like to draw your attention to a Fellowship opportunity that relates to the Open Spaces Society archive, which is held at The Museum of English Rural Life. They advertised this Fellowship just before lockdown and have had a limited response. They have now extended the deadline to 31 August 2020.

The MERL has also published an Open Spaces online exhibition, and two blogs about the collection have been published, by Helena Clarkson and Felicity McWilliams. A full description of the collection is available here.


The Online LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature now comprises nearly 800 digitized items, classified into over 200 categories. The LIBRAL Gateway enables you to exploit this classification to find literature you didn’t know existed. And once you have entered the library itself, you can use its magnificent full-text search capability.

This month’s additions to LIBRAL are a deliberately eclectic lot. As always we mix pamphlets with large books. So there is a further General View – Holland on Cheshire - a late nineteenth-century Welsh pamphlet courtesy of Dr John Davies, a company history of Rank, the millers, and a second company history, of the ICI research centre at Jealott’s Hill. We have added a classic work of agrarian history, now hard to find (Barnes, on the Corn Laws) and a clutch of immediate post-second world war pamphlets, one on the continued governmental control of agriculture and the last four on farm mechanisation.  


Enjoy. Who knows what next month’s additions will be. But our next addition to the website will be our eight hundredth. We shall try and do something special.

Farm Mechanization

Please note, you can download a complete PDF of any item by clicking on the PDF icon PDF Icon in the item's toolbar.

The Agricultural History Review Garage Sale

The retiring editor has a large number of copies of past editions of the Review, some going back into the 1960s. They are, quite literally, in his garage. The car isn’t. (It ought to be emphasised that these are not the Society’s archive run of the Review, but oddments which have accumulated.) Yes, the Review is on the website, but we know that many of you still like paper copies. What’s available:

  • Set A: a complete run from vol 7 (1959) to vol 49 (2001): £125.00 plus carriage
  • Set B: covering vols 18 (1970) to to 44 (1996) with five missing parts (35 pt 1, 37 pt 2, 38 pt 2, 39 pt 1, 42 pt 1), £75.00 plus carriage
  • Lots of odds and ends

If you have a part missing from your run, this is the moment to plug the gap. Or if you would like to extend your run backwards beyond the date at which your joined the Society, then do it now as it is unlikely that the opportunity will arise in the future.

Prices will be £2.50 for a single part, £4.00 for a volume of two parts. Longer runs of five or more volumes (i.e. ten parts) at £3.00 per volume. No sensible offer refused for longer runs! Postage will be at cost, payment by cheque or Paypal. Please send details of what you would like using the contact form, and we will do what we can to meet your needs.

Contact (under Subject choose Garage Sale).

Agricultural History Forum

Apparatus for lifting hay

This image recently started a discussion on our Agricultural History Forum, although we still don’t have a name for it. The forum is the place where anyone can ask questions or start discussions on any subject related to agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society. We’ve noticed that far more people have signed up to receive our newsletters than have signed up for the BAHS forums. Some of you are missing out on some interesting discussions, and the world is missing out on a huge pool of rural history knowledge. We would really appreciate it if more of you could sign up and be ready to join in the discussions! You can register here.


And if you have trouble remembering to look at this web site, sign up for our email newsletter. We send one out about once a month when the content on the web site changes. We promise not to bombard you with spam, and you can un-subscribe whenever you like, from a link at the bottom of each newsletter.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress is a list of researchers working in the field of agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society – and related disciplines. Researchers listed here have reported contacts being made with them as a result of their entry, making it a valuable resource. This month we have redesigned the facilities for filtering the list. In particular, we used the keywords in your entries to make a drop-down list to choose from. And from the same list we made the word art below.

Word cloud for WIP keywords

If you don’t already have an entry in the list please use the contact form to let us know your research interests, keywords, and period and regions of interest. If you already have an entry, please check that it’s up to date and use the contact form to let us know what changes you want to make.

Support Agricultural and Rural History

It’s easy to join the BAHS and by doing so you will be supporting the work of the Society in promoting rural history.

But please note that due to the closure of university buildings during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are currently unable to access any incoming post.

Alternative Agriculture in Europe (sixteenth-twentieth centuries)

Alternative Agriculture In Europe (Sixteenth-Twentieth Centuries), by Gérard Béaur, is published by Brepols.

The issue of long-term agricultural transformations remains a hot topic in historiography. The texts of this book intend to take this debate seriously into account by putting several models of alternative crops to facts. This book can be purchased at a discounted price of 64 Euro until 31 May. For details use the contact form (select Other for Subject).

Seventeenth-century Lancashire Restored: The Life and Work of Dr Richard Kuerden, Antiquary and Topographer, 1623-1702

Seventeenth-century Lancashire restored: the life and work of Dr Richard Kuerden, antiquary and topographer, 1623-1702, edited by Bill Shannon, is published by the Chetham Society.

Bill Shannon has celebrated the end of his term as Treasurer by publishing this fascinating study of the seventeeth-century Lancashire doctor and antiquarian, Richard Kuerden. The special launch price is £25.00.

Peasant Perspectives on the Medieval Landscape: A study of three communities, by Susan Kilby, is published by Hertfordshire University Press.

This compelling new study forms part of a new wave of scholarship on the medieval rural environment in which the focus moves beyond purely socio-economic concerns to incorporate the lived experience of peasants.
Read more on the publisher’s web site...

The Political Economy of the Common Agricultural Policy 
Coordinated Capitalism or Bureaucratic Monster?

The Political Economy of the Common Agricultural Policy Coordinated Capitalism or Bureaucratic Monster?, by Fernando Collantes, is published by Routledge.

What is the balance of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy more than half a century after its birth? Does it illustrate the virtues of the European model of coordinated capitalism, as opposed to US-style liberal capitalism? Or is it an incoherent set of instruments that exert diverse negative impacts and, like Frankenstein’s monster, seems to have escaped the control of its designers?
Read more on the publisher’s web site...