Digital history: Yay! Boo!

The other day I was looking for P. J. Norrey’s 1988 Bristol Uni thesis on the relationship between central and local government in Restoration Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. Imagine my joy when I found that the BL’s new digital thesis service, Ethos, had a PDF copy that I could download for free. Within minutes, I had the whole thesis on my laptop. No more going blind in dusty microfilm rooms, no more hours spent by the photocopier, now I could read the thesis on the train, in bed, while I ate my dinner even!

And now the downside. I was looking at Norrey’s thesis for some discussion of the dispute that followed the tendering of a loyal address from Lyme Regis giving thanks to Charles II for his declaration in the wake of the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament. Prior to looking at Norrey’s thesis, I had thought about doing a research trip/busman’s holiday to Lyme to look at the quarter sessions records which discuss the case.

But not only does Norrey talk about John Wildman‘s attempted revival of the principle of popular election at the June 1679 election in Marlborough, an incident relatively little commented on by the ex-Leveller’s biographers, he also gives chapter and verse on the dispute over the Lyme address. So no ice-creams for me after a hard day in archives.

Ah well, swings and roundabouts eh?


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. It’s a horrible feeling, that, isn’t it?

    “I’ve got a wonderful idea for an essay/article/research proposal”.

    [goes to Google Scholar and JSTOR to find out more, finds definitive account of it by another historian]


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