AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD Studentship in Historical Studies

The Experience of War Widows and Orphans in Northern England During the Mid-Seventeenth Century

The University of Leicester and The National Archives are pleased to invite applications from outstanding postgraduates for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentship, to commence October 2013.

This three year studentship will pay full-time University UK/EU tuition fees and include an annual tax free stipend at standard AHRC rates (currently £13,726 a year).

For Full Details and Guidance on how to apply see http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/funding/war-widows

Research Areas and Supervision

The collaborative doctoral project will focus on the strategies used by and on behalf of war widows and orphans in the north of England to obtain relief during the 1640s and 1650s. It would examine the language used in the petitions of high and low status women for military pensions, and their efforts at securing the arrears of pay of their deceased husbands. Further research questions would include petitions for redress represented their husbands’ service, in what ways petitions fashioned the widows as deserving, how they played upon magisterial expectations, in what ways petitions reflected feelings of entitlement, and how the information in petitions informs us on the ‘economy of makeshifts’. The PhD will be based on extensive archival research among county archives in northern England and the State Papers collection in The National Archives. Expertise in palaeography would be an advantage although the studentship will include many opportunities for professional skills development and training.

This project will be of interest to applicants with backgrounds in early modern history and gender studies. Expertise in the fields of women’s history and the British Civil Wars would be an advantage.

The research will be original in that it will examine these questions in greater depth than previously attempted, it will encompass the neglected region of Yorkshire and the north, and it will also consider the experience of elite widows as well as their non-gentry counterparts. Previous studies of civil war widows have looked at Hertfordshire, Cheshire and Essex, so there will be an opportunity to contribute to an established historiography, especially as Dr Geoffrey Hudson and Dr Eric Gruber von Arni have examined seventeenth-century pensions, medical care and welfare more generally.

Further research questions would include how petitions for redress represented their husbands’ service, in what ways petitions fashioned the widows as deserving, how they played upon magisterial expectations, in what ways petitions reflected feelings of entitlement, and how the information in petitions informs us on the ‘economy of makeshifts’. The geographical spread of petitions might also be considered along with the aims of the regime in granting relief and how partisan considerations impacted on the process. There would be considerable scope for the student to develop their own emphases within the project, including whether to focus more on elite or plebeian women, the role of women in defending property from sequestration, and a comparison with the experience of royalist widow petitioners during the 1660s and 1670s may also be possible.

The successful student will be based in the Centre for English Local History in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Leicester was founded in 1948 by W.G. Hoskins and pioneered local history as an academic discipline. Its postgraduate community currently consists of over 50 MA and PhD students. Based in the Marc Fitch Historical Institute it forms part of the wider School of Historical Studies, a total postgraduate population in access of 120. There are computing and library facilities dedicated to postgraduates, along with a student room forum, the ‘New History Lab’. There is a fortnightly seminar programme during semesters in English Local History, Urban History and Early Modern History, attracting eminent speakers from outside the university.

As the official archive of England, Wales and the government of the United Kingdom, The National Archives, based in Kew, south-west London, is dedicated to preserving key public records and making them accessible to researchers. It holds one of the world’s most significant collections of early modern material, including the records of central government during the British Civil Wars. Although many of the records in this category have been catalogued, significant series remain inaccessible and under-used, and this PhD research project is part of an attempt to increase awareness and understanding of this collection of records. To enable the student to draw the most from our collections the programme will offer extensive training in archival research skills and privileged access to the various records specialists from across the organisation. It will also offer the chance to gain experience in the working practice of a large cultural institution with the possibility of undertaking work placements. The successful candidate will be part of a growing cohort of PhD students supervised by staff from The National Archives, and will be expected to contribute to the dissemination of specialist knowledge to a wider audience.

It is also intended the studentship will produce interpretative resources for knowledge exchange and impact beyond academia through the University of Leicester’s collaboration with the National Civil War Centre at Newark Museum, scheduled to open to the public in December 2014.

The successful applicant will be supervised by Dr Andrew Hopper (Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester) and Dr Katy Mair (The National Archives).

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