The VICTORIA HISTORY OF THE COUNTIES OF ENGLAND, commonly known as
the VICTORIA COUNTY HISTORY or the VCH, is an English history project
which began in 1899 and was dedicated to Queen Victoria with the aim
of creating an encyclopaedic history of each of the historic counties
of England . In 2012 the project was rededicated to HM Queen Elizabeth
II in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee year. :7 Since 1933 the
project has been coordinated by the Institute of Historical Research
University of London
* 1 History * 2 Progress * 3 Structure and content of the county histories * 4 Completed county histories * 5 Counties in progress * 6 Dormant counties * 7 Counties with no published volumes * 8 General editors * 9 Notable county editors * 10 Genealogical editor * 11 See also * 12 References * 13 Further reading * 14 External links
The history of the VCH falls into three main phases, defined by different funding regimes: an early phase, 1899–1914, when the project was conceived as a commercial enterprise, and progress was rapid; a second more desultory phase, 1914–1947, when relatively little progress was made; and the third phase beginning in 1947, when, under the auspices of the Institute of Historical Research, a high academic standard was set, and progress has been slow but reasonably steady. :54–6 These phases have also been characterised by changing attitudes towards the proper scope of English local history . The early volumes were planned on the model of traditional English county histories , with a strong emphasis on manorial descents, the advowsons of parish churches, and the local landed gentry : a prospectus of c. 1904 stated that "there is _no Englishman_ to whom does not in some one or other of its features make a direct appeal". :55 More recent volumes – especially those published since the 1950s – have been more wide-ranging in their approach, and have included systematic coverage of social and economic history , industrial history , population history , educational history , landscape history , religious nonconformity , and so on: individual parish histories have consequently grown considerably in length and complexity.
From 1902 the joint general editors were A. Henry Doubleday and William Page . Doubleday resigned (in acrimonious circumstances) in 1904, :148–52 leaving Page as sole general editor until his death in 1934. In 1932 Page bought the rights to the ailing project for a nominal sum, donating it to the Institute of Historical Research the following year. Page was succeeded as general editor by L.F. Salzman , who remained in post until 1949. The early volumes depended heavily on the efforts of a large number of young research workers, mostly female, fresh from degree courses at Oxford , Cambridge , London or the Scottish universities , for whom other employment opportunities were limited: the VCH of this period has been described as "a history for gentlemen largely researched by ladies". :54
From 1909 until 1931 Frederick Smith , later 2nd Viscount Hambleden , was the VCH's major sponsor. In February 2005 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the VCH £3,374,000 to fund the England\'s Past for Everyone project, which ran from September that year until February 2010.
The first VCH volume was published in 1901, and publication continued
slowly throughout the 20th century, although in some counties it has
come to a halt, especially during the
First World War
There are now more than 230 VCH volumes, with around three new volumes published per year. Each is published with a red cover, and they are therefore sometimes known as "the big red books". When the Institute of Historical Research published a short history of the project to mark the 75th anniversary of taking it over, it was titled _The Little Big Red Book_. A special edition Jubilee book was published in 2012, _A Diamond Jubilee Celebration 1899-2012._
A map showing the publication status appears on the VCH website.
STRUCTURE AND CONTENT OF THE COUNTY HISTORIES
From its inception, responsibility for writing the volumes was delegated to local editors for each individual county. The county editors traditionally worked under the direction of a general editor, following a uniform format and style.
In general, the histories begin with one or more volumes of general
studies of the county as a whole, including major themes, such as
religious history, agriculture, industries, population (with summary
tables of decennial census totals 1801–1901), and an introduction to
and translation of the relevant section of
Under the original plan, each county, in addition to its general and topographical volumes, was to have a genealogical volume containing the pedigrees of county families . Genealogical volumes were published in a large folio format for Northamptonshire (1906) and Hertfordshire (1907), but the research costs were found to be excessive, and this side of the project was discontinued. :156–57
COMPLETED COUNTY HISTORIES
Some of the county histories have been completed. For each of these, the number of volumes published and the date of completion is as follows:
Bedfordshire (3 volumes) 1972
COUNTIES IN PROGRESS
For each uncompleted county history on which work is continuing
(i.e.: "active" in VCH terminology), the number of volumes published
and the dates of the most recent are as follows: The title-page
_ Logo of VCH publisher, Constable & Co. Ltd_
* ^ _A_ _B_ Beckett, John; Bristow, Matthew; Williamson, Elizabeth
Victoria County History
* Beckett, J.V. (2008). "Local history, family history and the
Victoria County History: new directions for the twenty-first century".
_Historical Research_. 81: 350–65. doi
* Beckett, J.V. (2009). "The Thoroton Society and the Victoria
County History". _Transactions of the Thoroton Society of
Nottinghamshire _. 113: 119–36.
* Beckett, J.V. (2009). "Libraries and the Victoria County History".
_Library & Information History_. 25: 217–26. doi
* Beckett, J.V. (2011). "Writing Hampshire's History: the Victoria
County History, 1899–1914". _Proceedings of the
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