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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. We publish a magazine, Rural History Today, as well as a scholarly journal, Agricultural History Review, 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.

Alun Howkins, 1947 to 2018

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Professor Alun Howkins, at home in Norfolk on July 12th, after a long illness. Alun was a long-serving member of the BAHS Executive Committee and was the Society President 2010 to 2013, always signing off his Presidential speech with a rousing rendition of ‘To be a Farmer’s Boy’ (see photo, taken in 2016, when he deputised for the current President, John Broad).

Obituary on the University of Sussex Web site.
Alun Howkins singing 'To Be  a Farmer's Boy
Read an obituary by Nicola Verdon...

Alun was born in Bicester in 1947. He failed the 11-plus and left school at 15 to take up a series of jobs including farm work and copyediting. In 1968 he went to Ruskin College, at first to study Politics and Economics but soon switching to History under the direction of Raphael Samuel. He went on to take a History degree at Queens College, Oxford (1970-3), then moving to the University of Essex for his PhD (1973-6). He took up his first teaching post at University of Sussex in 1976 and stayed there for the rest of his career, retiring in 2009. Although his research interests and publications spanned a very broad range of subjects, his central focus was the history of the countryside and its people. He was the author of numerous articles and chapters and three influential books, Poor Labouring Men: Rural Radicalism in Norfolk, 1872–1923 (1985), Reshaping Rural England: A Social History, 1850–1925 (1991) and The Death of Rural England: A Social History of the Countryside since 1900 (2003). He also wrote and presented a four-part history of agriculture for BBC2, Fruitful Earth (1999).

The funeral service will be held at Burston Strike School, Diss Rd, Burston, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4HS at 12pm on Tuesday 14th August, followed by light refreshments in the village church. Family flowers only but donations to Priscilla Bacon Lodge via Rosedale Funeral Home, Diss, are welcomed.

Calls for Papers

Historical Perspectives on Rural Economies, Societies, Landscapes and Environment

For our next BAHS Spring Conference, which will be held at the University of Nottingham, 8 to 10 April 2019, we are inviting proposals for panels or papers (deadline 30 September).

Power in Agricultural History

A Call for Papers for the US Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on June 6-8, 2019 can be found on our Announcements Forum.

Rural History 2019 – Call for Panels


Rural History 2019, the fourth biennial conference of the European Rural History Organisation (EURHO), will be held in Paris from Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 September 2019. The call for panels is now open, with a deadline of 15 October 2018.

Latest BAHS publications

Cover of current issue of Rural History Today

Rural History Today issue 35 is available online. Note that the deadline for copy for the next issue is 7 December.
Agricultural History Review Volume 66 part 1 is now available.

Cover of current Agricultural History Review

Volume 62 is now ‘open access’ on this web site.

Work in Progress Spring Cleaning

If you created a Work in Progress entry before the beginning of this year, you should have received a personalised version of this letter [PDF]. Please read it, review your entry and let us know via the form that you have reviewed it.

If you don't already have an entry in the list do fill in the online form to create one. Researchers listed here have reported contacts being made with them as a result of their entry, making it a valuable resource.

Subscription renewals

Please note that, effective from 11 May 2018, new rates will apply to individual subscriptions to the Society. It is many years (the last increase was in 2009) since the BAHS last put up its individual subscription rates, and since then print, postage and publication costs have risen to the point where the subscription no longer covers our basic operating expenses. At the same time, the Society has increased the size of Agricultural History Review, continued to publish Rural History Today, and expanded the range of its activities, including, most recently, the email newsletter, online forums and LIBRAL.

The Executive Committee has therefore reluctantly taken the decision, endorsed by the 2018 AGM, to increase the individual UK subscription rate from £20 to £30. The concessionary rate rises from £5 to £15. We have also made other changes. There will now be a single subscription rate for overseas members, of £42, reflecting the difference in postage between the UK and all overseas countries. We have also introduced a joint subscription for the same price as an individual subscription, for two or more persons at the same address receiving a single copy of each publication.

If you pay by PayPal, you should have received a personalised version of this letter. You need not take any action until advised by the Society.

If you pay by standing order on 1 February, please amend your standing order, as described on the membership page.


The LIBrary of Rural and Agricultural Literature: enthusiastic testers wanted!

Version 3.0 now has over 300 digitized items uploaded to it, including 72 volumes of Farmer's Magazine and 45 issues of Dairy World. We have been working with TannerRitchie Publishing to use their MEMSOshell platform to host our online library. We need feedback on the content and the user experience, to help us improve it and ensure that it meets your needs. Please sign up here if you are interested in helping us.

Please sign up for LIBRAL 3.0 here.

The LIBRAL 2.0 site will close on or before 10 January 2019, but has been superceded by LIBRAL 3.0.

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.

BAHS Winter Conference 2018

The theme of this year's Winter Conference, to be held on 1 December at the IHR, is Material Life in Rural Britain, c.1350–1960. Read the programme and register for the conference here.

Other forthcoming conferences

Celebrating our Woodland Heritage: an international and interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Bradford 16-18 November 2018. Register here.

New Forest Pony Sale The Role of Commoning in the Maintenance of Landscape and Ecology: A New Forest, National and Global Perpective, a day conference to be held in Lyndhurst, 29 Oct. 2018. Programme | Poster (both PDF).
This conference will consider the use and significance of common-pool resources from a historical, local, national and international perspective. Speakers include researchers from HIWWT, Foundation for Common Land, Friends of the New Forest and Countryside and Community Research Institute. Register here. New Forest Foal

Fellowships at the Folger Institute

Apply now for a $10,000 semester-long fellowship with the Folger Institute in Washington, D.C.

Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, the inaugural project of the Folger Institute’s Mellon initiative in collaborative research, announces a competition for semester-long fellowships to be held in residence at the Folger Library in one of two semesters: either Spring 2019 or Fall 2019, for three to four months. Each Before ‘Farm to Table’ fellow will be awarded $10,000 for work in the Folger collections on topics relating to early modern food and foodways in the British world, broadly conceived.

The Before ‘Farm to Table’ project uses the pervasiveness of food in everyday life as a window into early modern culture. Food, then as now, is a basic human need. It also has a history and is a gateway to understanding society and culture. In the course of this project, we will investigate big questions about the way food participates in and actively shapes human knowledge, ethics, and imagination. Such issues as the unevenness of food supply, the development and spread of tastes with their darker supply sides of enslaved labor, and the socially cohesive rituals of eating together will be explored. With fresh understandings of a pre-industrial world, this project also gives us purchase on some post-industrial assumptions, aspirations, and challenges encapsulated in any idea of recovering simpler, local, and sustainable food chains.

Scholars must hold a Ph.D. in their field in order to apply for this fellowship.

For application instructions and more information, please visit Before ‘Farm to Table’ fellowships. The deadline for applications is 1 September 2018.

David Hey Memorial Meeting

The conference, held by the British Agricultural History Society, with the British Association for Local History, the British Records Society and the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society to celebrate the life and work of David Hey, at the impressive Channing Hall, Sheffield, on 23 June 2018 was a great success. Over 70 people enjoyed papers by George Redmonds, Ian Rotherham, Melvyn Jones, Gill Cookson, Henry French, John Chartres, Peter Edwards, Andrew Wareham and Richard Hoyle. John Beckett opened the proceedings with his personal memories of David and of course there was the usual networking.

There is a review of the conference in the latest edition of Local History News, which is available online on the BALH Web site.

Recent publications

In Building Anglo-Saxon England, published by Princeton University Press, John Blair presents a radical rethink of the Anglo-Saxon built environment and its inhabitants, drawing on the latest archaeological discoveries.
Through a study of horses, Horses and the Aristocratic Lifestyle in Early Modern England William Cavendish, First Earl of Devonshire (1551–1626) and his Horses, by Peter Edwards, reveals how an important and growing aristocratic estate was managed, where the aristocrat at the centre of it travelled and how he spent his time, and how horses were one of the means by which he asserted his social status. Published by Boydell and Brewer.
Based on a detailed investigation of local sources, Eric Jones's Landed Estates and Rural Inequality in English History from the Mid-Seventeenth Century to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan) shows how both newcomers and existing landowners presided over a relatively impoverished mass of rural inhabitants. Preferences for privacy and fine views led landowners to demolish or remove some whole villages. Alongside extensive landscape remodelling, rights-of-way were often privatised, imposing a cost on the economy.

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.

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.

Bursary Announcement

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

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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