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The BAHS is the national society for the study of the history of agriculture, rural society and the landscape of Britain and Ireland. The Society regularly updates this web site, with it online Library of Rural and Agricultural Literature (LIBRAL), online discussion Forums, Work in Progress list, and Related Links. In addition we publish a magazine, Rural History Today, as well as a scholarly journal, Agricultural History Review (both of which are available online), and our conferences provide opportunities for historians (professional and non-professional) to meet, mix and exchange views in a friendly and sociable atmosphere.

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

Poultry Mania Past and Present

At this one-day event four past and present fellows of the Museum of English Rural Life will explore the revolutionary changes in poultry husbandry from the poultry mania of the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.

The event will be held twice on two successive days, 28 November 2019 at the Museum of English Rural Life and and 29 November 2019 at Harper Adams University Campus.

Programme [PDF] | Programme and Booking [Website].

Latest BAHS publications

Cover of current issue of Rural History Today

Agricultural History Review Volume 67 part 1 is available online.
Rural History Today issue 36 is available online.

Cover of current Agricultural History Review

Register now for Rural History 2019

Now is the time to register for Rural History 2019, the biennial conference organised by the European Rural History Organisation, of which the BAHS is a member.

This year the conference is hosted in Paris by L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 10-13 September.

Other Forthcoming Conferences

Animal History Group 3rd Summer Conference, ‘Animal Histories’ at King’s College London, 6th-7th June 2019. Keynote speaker: Professor Erica Fudge.

New Lives, New Landscapes: Rural Modernism in Twentieth-Century Britain at Northumbria University, 1-2 August 2019.
The post-1945 decades witnessed technological innovation and expansion. New networks of energy, communication and leisure facilities were established, often by a dirigiste state. These changes are usually associated with urban modernities, but much of the new infrastructure necessitated by these developments was located in rural environments.
How were twentieth-century rural landscapes ‘modern’ or ‘modernist’? What social, economic, political and cultural effect did this new infrastructure have on the ‘rural’? These are timely questions, for such structures are being decommissioned or fast becoming redundant just as a new and highly contentious rural modernity of wind-farms, solar panels and natural gas extraction is rapidly developing. In no small way do current debates mirror past controversies.

By bringing together scholars working on rural landscapes and societies from across the humanities, this conference will take a cross-disciplinary approach to questions directly relevant to current debates about planning, preservation and the environment.

The West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network:
26th Annual Conference: Histories of Women in Agriculture and Rural Life
at the University of the West of England, Bristol, Sat 29 June 2019.
Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Nicola Verdon, author of Rural Women Workers in 19th century England, will give an overview of work in this area with special reference to women and agriculture in the First World War.

Call for papers

The Scandinavian Economic History Review invites submissions for a special issue on ‘Agriculture and Economic Development’. Full description of the topic, suggested areas for contributions and contact details.

email newsletter

Do you have trouble remembering to look at this web site? Would you like a reminder now and again? We plan to send out email newsletters about once a month (on average) 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.

BAHS forums

Do have a look at BAHS forums, where you can ask questions or start discussions on any subject related to agricultural history and the history of rural economy and society. Even if you don't have a question in mind right now you might be the one person able to answer one of the questions that are there! So please register now and subscribe to the ‘Agricultural history’ forum so that you will be notified by email about any new posts.

Publicity leaflet

The Society has a publicity leaflet. If you would like copies of the leaflet to distribute to potential members, or to leave at a location likely to be frequented by potential members, please contact us.

Work in Progress

If you don't already have an entry in the list do fill in the online form to create one. If you already have an entry, do check that it’s up to date and contact the Web Weaver to amend it. Researchers listed here have reported contacts being made with them as a result of their entry, making it a valuable resource.

Funding opportunities

We have a fund available to support otherwise unfunded Conferences and Initiatives. If you are considering holding a conference, workshop, special meeting or something similar, why not apply?   We also offer bursaries to student members who want to attend our conferences and other meetings supported by the Society.

Spring Conference 2020

The 68th annual British Agricultural History Society Spring Conference, Historical Perspectives on Rural Economies, Societies, Landscapes and Environment, will be held at the Wortley Hall Conference Centre near Sheffield, 6-8 April 2020.
We are interested in receiving proposals for panels or papers on any aspect of the history of agriculture and of the wider rural economy, society, landscapes and environments, particularly in relation to the history of Britain and Ireland, but including comparative European or global contexts. We are keen to encourage papers from doctoral or post-doctoral researchers, for whom travel bursaries may be available for this event. Details [PDF]

Winner of the Thirsk Prize, 2018

The Society congratulates Dr Paul Warde for winning the Joan Thirsk Memorial Prize for the best book on rural or agricultural literature published in 2018, for his book, The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, c.1500–1870 (Cambridge University Press).

Get a 20% discount on this book.

Presenting the prize, the President of the Society, Dr John Broad, said, ‘There were more entries for this year’s Joan Thirsk prize than ever before, the standard was high, and the judges found a great deal of interest in them all. Nevertheless, they were unanimous in awarding the prize to Paul Warde for his lively and well-written book, The Invention of Sustainability, which uses the printed literature of Britain and many other European countries to show how ideas of a sustainable rural economy – forestry as well as agriculture – developed from the early modern period through to the mid-nineteenth century. Its concern is with agricultural writers and with European-wide linkages, and its success is both relevant to contemporary concerns and apt: these are themes that Joan Thirsk discussed and wrote about throughout her life.’

The recent Spring Conference

Around 50 people attended the Society’s Spring Conference at the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Conference Centre.

At the AGM a new President, Dr Paul Brassley of the University of Exeter, and a new Secretary, Dr Sarah Holland of the University of Nottingham, were elected.
Over the course of three days, we enjoyed papers with widely varying perspectives on the history of rural economies, societies, landscapes and environments: from the perceptions of wild animals in Anglo-Saxon England to the environmental impact of the expansion of the agricultural frontier in 21st-century Argentina, through peasant perceptions of the agrarian landscape, hare hunting and class tensions, the transition from the Welsh tribal system of landholding to landed estates, 19th-century female farmers in the Grampian area, and the impact of Britain’s expanded WWII industry on the agricultural landscape.

The Presidential Lecture by Dr John Broad was on the subject of the early modern rebuilding of England, with the introduction of fireplaces, chimneys, upper floors and so on, to cottages. The International Speaker was Professor Tim Soens, from the University of Antwerp, whose paper explained how the growing urban areas of late medieval Flanders managed to produce food for themselves.

A field trip to Laxton on the Tuesday afternoon gave conference attendees at opportunity to witness at first hand the last remaining open fields in England. Photos from past conferences...


Our online LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature now comprises over 500 digitized items.

The most recent titles are:
  • Bayldon, J. S., Art of valuing rents and tillages (4th edn, 1832)
  • Beeton, Samuel Orchart, Farmer’s own book (1895)
  • Blackshaw, Mary and Blackshaw, Jessie, Buttermaking for our pupils (2nd edn, 1894)
  • Board of Agriculture, Agricultural state of the Kingdom, in February, March and April, 1816 (1816)
  • Boase, Henry (‘A Freeholder’), A brief exposition of the agricultural question (1823)
  • Brown, William, British sheep farming (1870)
  • Donaldson, John, Bayldon’s art of valuing rents and tillages (6th corr. and rev. edn, 1844)
  • Fisher, John, of Carhead Farm, Yorkshire, Breeding and management of pigs (1865)
  • Gibson, John, Agriculture in Wales (1879)
  • Harris, J.B., Cheese and butter maker's handbook (1885)
  • Hoskyns, Chandos Wren, A catechism on the English land system (1873)
  • Housman, William and Axe, J. Wortley, Cattle: breeds and management (Live Stock Handbooks No. 4, 3rd edn, 1902)
  • Hunt, John, History of the Dishley System (1812)
  • Long, James, British dairy-farming (1885)
  • Martin, William Charles Linnæus, Raynbird, Hugh and Raynbird, William, Cattle: their breeds, management, and diseases (New edn, 1862)
  • McCombie, William, Cattle and cattle-breeders (2nd rev. edn, 1869)
  • McConnell, Primrose, Agricultural depression (1887)
  • McDougall Brothers, Bot or Ox warble fly (1886)
  • Munnings, Thomas Crowe, An account of some experiments for drilling and protecting turnips (1802)
  • Newby, Thomas, Remarks on mangel wurzel (1828)
  • Ogilvie, James, Beet root and beet root sugar (1877)
  • Scott, John, and Scott, Charles, Blackfaced sheep (1888)
  • Sheldon, John Prince, British Dairying: a handy volume on the work of the dairy farm (2nd, rev. edn, 1896)
  • Stewart, John, Advice to purchasers of horses (4th edn, 1836)
  • ‘Town Mouse’, Among the clods, or, Phases of farm life (1884)
  • Usher, John, Border breeds of sheep (1875)
  • Valentine, Charles R., Butter-making: illustrated (1889)
  • Voelcker, Augustus, Beet-root distillation (1870)
  • Voelcker, John Augustus, Butter and butter-making (1889)
  • Watson, John, Best breeds of British stock (1898)
  • Whitley, George, Cheese-colouring (1841)

To browse the collection sign up for LIBRAL here. If you already have an account go straight to LIBRAL. Please Contact Webweaver if you have forgotten your log-in details.

We continue to digitize new items and add them to the library, and to work with TannerRitchie Publishing to improve their MEMSOshell platform that hosts it. We welcome your suggestions for titles you’d like us to add and any other improvements you’d like to see.

New Boydell & Brewer Series

Boydell & Brewer, the leading independent publisher of academic works in History and the Humanities, announces the launch of a new series, Boydell Studies in Rural History, under the editorship of Professor Richard Hoyle.
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Bursary Announcement

The Richard Jefferies Society has established a bursary to support work on Jefferies or related topics: highly suitable for agricultural history applicants.