Coffee with the Georgian Papers Programme

by Jaclyn Shankel, Early Modern MA student, King’s College London

Introduction by Angel-Luke O’Donnell, Liberal Arts Early Career Development Fellow in History, King’s College London

As part of the GPP, we regularly host coffee mornings for incoming fellows and other researchers intending to work in the Windsor archives. Coffee mornings are informal events that bring together colleagues from King’s College London, the Royal Archives, King’s Friends, and the numerous fellowship schemes. Over tea, coffee, and biscuits, incoming fellows present short ten-minute overviews of their GPP projects as a prompt to a broader conversation. Our intention is to hear more about the ongoing research associated with the programme; stay up-to-date with the progress on cataloguing and digitisation; share scholarship from different fields and disciplines; and suggest potentially interesting material, either in the Royal Archives themselves or else to be found further afield in other archives, published collections, and digital repositories.

As a member of the team, the coffee mornings are fantastic opportunities to learn more about the new knowledge emerging out of the GPP. I hear about pioneering new methods and techniques. I meet with colleagues from across the world, who bring diverse perspectives on the Georgian period, yet all still united in the purpose of understanding more about the material in the Royal Archive.

Ultimately though, we hope the coffee mornings will help researchers make the most of their time at Windsor. Jaclyn Shankel, an MA student here at King’s College London enrolled on the Early Modern MA programme, has generously shared her experience of attending a GPP coffee morning on 7 June 2018.

When I was first asked to present at a GPP Coffee Morning, my initial reaction was one of both pleasure and anxiety. As an MA student, it appeared quite daunting to present unformed research to a roomful of experts on the Georgian period. However, the experience had several surprises in store for me.

The first surprise came before the coffee morning ever arrived. My dissertation will look at ideas of providence in England, as understood through the lens of three earthquakes in the 1750s. While I was not sure what connections would exist between my research and the Georgian papers, I was quickly astonished by the breadth and depth of materials in the collection. There were few direct references to the earthquakes themselves; instead, I found essays, letters, account books, and more indicating beliefs in providence, benevolence, natural philosophy, and ideas of statecraft. Such material expanded the context of my subject and created a new lens through which to approach it.

The coffee morning itself proved my nerves groundless – it was a friendly, collegial environment with fascinating discussion, in which the participants sought to understand and aid new research being conducted. The morning consisted of two presentations, GPP Fellow Dr. Carolyn Day and myself, followed by presentations on a number of projects on the cataloguing and digitization of the papers. The cumulative effect of these presentations created an environment of curiosity.

The presentation itself further provided new insights and approaches to eighteenth century providence, through the feedback and questions I received from our group. I left the room with pages of notes and book suggestions I am continuing to read. Such questions I was left to consider and pursue ranged from the relationship clergy have with the monarchy, to the ways in which people try to control the risk inherent in natural disaster (and providence). I was challenged to consider the implications of providence across the Atlantic in the American colonies, and in other, more personal, forms of disaster. While these topics may or may not make an appearance in my final project, the exercise in thought was worth the effort. Ultimately, it highlighted the advantage of conversing with fellow academics throughout the research process.

I would like to thank Samantha Callaghan for introducing me to the GPP, and Dr. Angel-Luke O’Donnell for inviting me to present at the coffee morning. I also extend a thank you to all present for your encouragement and advice. Such an event was a perfect setting for expanding research and building community.

[Editor’s note: The coffee mornings are open to all researchers interested in the Georgian Papers – to be notified of the next coffee morning or other GPP events please join the King’s Friends Network.]

The 2018 Sons of the American Revolution Georgian Papers Programme annual lecture 2018

Professor Gabriel Paquette

(The Johns Hopkins University)

Spain and the American Revolution

Monday 26 March 2018, 6.30 pm

Venue: The Great Hall, Strand Campus, King’s College London

John Trumbell, ‘The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar’ (1788, oil on canvas). Cincinatti Art Museum.

Professor Paquette lectured on Spain’s role in the American Revolution. He is especially interested in the Anglo-Spanish relationship, and the outbreak of war between these two countries in 1779. George III strenuously sought to prevent long-standing rivalry with Spain from leading to war and he sought in vain to end hostilities at various points. Using the Georgian Papers and other manuscript sources, Paquette traced the evolution of Spain’s relations with Britain during the American Revolution, when the two Powers clashed from Honduras to Gibraltar. What emerged is a portrait of George III’s ‘personal diplomacy’ and British strategic priorities in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Atlantic World more generally.

You can listen to Professor Paquette’s lecture here

(The lecture itself begins at c. 11.25, following an introduction to the Programme and Professor Paquette. We apologise for the poor sound quality especially for the questions from the Q&A session at the end).

Gabriel Paquette is Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, and was the 2017 Sons of the American Revolution Georgian Papers Programme visiting professor at King’s College London. His research explores aspects of European, Latin American and international History. His first book, Enlightenment, Governance, and Reform in Spain and its Empire, 1759-1808 (Palgrave, 2008) analyzed the intellectual origins of the later eighteenth-century reforms undertaken by the Spanish Crown in the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish America; in 2013 he published Imperial Portugal in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions: The Luso-Brazilian World, c. 1770-1850 (CUP). He is now working on a synoptic history of  Western European ‘seaborne’ empires in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to his principal areas of research, Paquette has written on the history of Anglo-Iberian relations, Spanish American Independence, Marx and Hegel, Romanticism, and early nineteenth-century Liberalism.


The Sons of the American Revolution

The Sons of the American Revolution is an historical, educational and patriotic non-profit corporation whose members are direct descendants of the men and women who supported the cause of American Independence during the years 1774-1783. The National Society of the Sons of the Revolution is collaborating with King’s College London to sponsor visiting professorships at the College and hosted by various departments. The visiting professors work on their own research and disseminate their findings relevant to the GPP to academics, archivists and the wider public. The Georgian Papers Programme is very grateful to the Sons of the American Revolution for sponsoring this research opportunity and its ongoing support of the Programme more generally.

Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at King’s

The Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (SPLAS) at King’s, which has hosted Professor Paquette, has historic roots in the early development of the academic study of the Hispanic and Lusophone worlds. This long tradition allows it to build in innovative ways on profound expertise in research and teaching across these languages, literatures and cultures. Modern Languages research at King’s achieved a ‘power’ ranking of 9th in the UK according the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which assesses the quality and quantity of research across the UK’s universities. This research underpins teaching in SPLAS, which is developing new collaborations across the department that reflect and develop this fundamental relationship. Its courses reflect the diversity of interests within the Department, covering four continents and ranging from modern Brazilian music to Medieval Spanish literature. The Modern Languages departments at King’s ranked 7th in the UK in the 2016 QS World University Rankings by Subject and 8th in the Guardian University guide 2018. The Department has an extremely successful and vibrant graduate student culture, embracing both a PhD programme and an MA in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies.  Its  alumni contribute to the field of Hispanic and Lusophone studies in the UK and beyond.

Georgian Papers Programme

On April 1, 2015 the Georgian Papers Programme was launched at Windsor Castle in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. A collaboration between King’s College London, founded by George IV, and the Royal Collection Trust, the Programme is digitizing, disseminating, and interpreting an extraordinarily rich collection of materials, including correspondence, maps, and royal household ledgers. The Programme involves a number of international partnerships: notably with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and The College of William and Mary, the primary American partners, and also the Library of Congress and the Washington Library at Mount Vernon.

The project involves the digitisation of all the historic manuscripts from the Georgian period, totalling more than 350,000 pages, of which only about 15% have previously been published. While the vast majority of the collection comprises papers from George III, papers from Kings George I, George II, George IV and William IV are also being made available.

It is hoped that the work will transform the understanding of Georgian Britain and its monarchy, at a time of profound cultural, political, economic and social change which created the modern nation.