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BAHS Winter Conference: Neighbourliness in farming and rural society

The Society's Winter Conference this year, on Neighbourliness in farming and rural society, was held online, with an audience of about 120, and we are very pleased to announce that not only did we successfully record the proceedings, but we have also created our own YouTube channel and uploaded them to it. We can let people who registered for the conference view the videos. To view the videos you need to be able to log in to YouTube. If you registered and you want to view them, please use the contact form (subject ‘Conference Videos’) and let us know your YouTube login (which is often your Google login, or gmail address).

Thirsk Prize 2021

We are pleased to announce that we are looking forward to receiving submissions for the Joan Thirsk Memorial Prize 2021, which will be awarded for the best book in British and Irish rural or agrarian history published in the calendar year 2020. The closing date is noon on Monday 11 January 2021. Details of the rules and how to submit your entry...

BAHS Spring Conference 2021

In view of the on-going restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society has decided that it will not be able to hold its Spring Conference in the usual residential format in April 2021. Instead, we propose to convene a number of half-day Zoom meetings in the Spring of 2021. We have the beginnings of a programme, but anyone who wishes to present a paper is invited to get in touch with the acting secretary ( 

The Society’s AGM for 2019-20 and 2020-21 will be held on the afternoon of Monday 12 April. 

Full details of these meetings will be circulated with Rural History Today at the end of January 2021. They will also be posted here on our website, further circulated in the EURHO newsletter and in our own email newsletter. 

The Society also wishes to elect a new secretary to come into office no later than the 2022 AGM but who might shadow the acting secretary during 2021. Again, anyone interested is invited to contact the acting secretary ( 

New Books

We imagine that not many of you look to the BAHS newsletter for Christmas present suggestions, but if any of you haven’t written your letter to Santa yet, we have a couple of suggestions.

For the first we draw your attention to the work of Margaret Bird, Mary Hardy and her World (2020) the companion volumes to The Diary of Mary Hardy (2013). This is a magnificent achievement which brings to a wider audience Mary Hardy’s Diaries. Hardy, of Letheringsett Hall, Norfolk, kept a diary throughout her adult life, from 1773 to within a couple of days of her death in 1809. Her husband, William, was a farmer, maltster and brewer. The diary is surely the longest-lasting and fullest eye witness account of Norfolk life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century: here it is thematically explored in 39 chapters and 3,300 pages. At £130 for the four-volume set, it sounds like a bargain. The second volume, Barley, beer and the working year (available separately) concentrates on agriculture and rural society, but this by no means contains all that will be of interest to Society members. 

A second, and more modest, possibility is Rebecca Earle, Feeding the people. The politics of the potato (Cambridge UP, 2020, £17.99). And of course there is the winner of the Thirsk Prize for 2020: Rosamond Faith, The moral economy of the countryside. Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman England (CUP, 2019, £19.99).


The Online LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature now comprises nearly 850 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 LIBRAL presents for your approval the usual eclectic mix of agricultural and rural literature. We have added the four volumes of Hanley (ed.), Progressive Farming (1949). This is the third (and last) of the post-World War II encyclopaedias we intend to place on the site. Together they offer an unrivalled view of post-war agricultural practice.

We have also added two volumes from 1945-49 of the Agricultural Engineering Record. Many of the machines evaluated were evolutionary dead ends, but the Record shows just how much interest there was in farm mechanisation in these years. One might add that the Review also carried articles on practice abroad: there is much here for non-British agricultural historians.

Other additions include more on milk, including a Fabian tract and two government reports, a rare and little known American thesis on smallholding (of 1946), a book of advice on how to make money out of rabbits and reports on hill farming. We have finally given into temptation and added a book entirely devoted to Rhubarb. Our determination to resist has, so to speak, crumbled.


The General View of the month is Argyll.

As the nights get longer and darker, the scanner gets worked harder. We don’t expect to make another circulation before Christmas, but will be back in the New Year with a bumper offering.

Some of the books we have scanned are available for purchase. Other than raising some money, we need to make room for more books. We make no great claims for the quality of the books – they are strictly working copies – but if there is anything you would like to have for a modest price, do get in touch.

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.

Margaret Bird, Mary Hardy and her World (2020) the companion volumes to The Diary of Mary Hardy (2013) is published by Burnham Press.

Latest news about Laxton

The Boydell & Brewer Series

Cows and curates: The story of the land and livings of Christ Church, Oxford, by Judith Curthoys, is published by Profile Books.

Rebecca Earle, Feeding the people. The politics of the potato is published by Cambridge UP, 2020, £17.99.

The winner of the Thirsk Prize for 2020: Rosamond Faith, The moral economy of the countryside. Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman England is published by Cambridge UP, 2019, £19.99.