Part of the Historical Geography Research Group (HGRG) series of teaching and learning resources.
Historical account books are a valuable record which reflect the activities of individuals and families and provide evidence the way they lived. In this audio clip, Briony McDonagh explains the value of account books to her research. Briony answers further questions about the context of her research below.
My particular interests revolve around histories of landscape, particularly alternative histories of landscape, so I’m looking for evidence about how we can think about landscape, particularly the British landscape, in different ways, incorporating other, different views about who was involved in making the landscape and landscape change, particularly women and ordinary or poorer people.
I work with standing buildings and with the [physical] landscape, and also in county record offices looking at maps, property records, account books and more personal items like diaries, memoirs and correspondence.
Using these sources helps us to establish the scale and contribution of women’s landownership in different historical periods, especially the contribution of elite women to making the landscape in the long eighteenth century, between 1680 and the middle of the nineteenth century. We know a lot about the contribution of men to making the landscape (country houses, gardens and agricultural landscapes), but less about what their wives, daughters, widows and mothers were doing.
These questions also contribute to wider cultural debates about women’s role in society, and their place in the environmental, social and economic history of the English countryside.
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