The Editor's Choice

Welcome to the blog of the editorial team at Adam Matthew Digital. Here we will bring you snippets from the fascinating collections we have the privilege of handling on a daily basis, as well as posts about our travels to various archives and conferences across the world.

Also featured are special guest blogs by leading academics on their personal collection highlights. Please subscribe to recieve new blog posts direct to your inbox.

‘Fame, puts you there where things are hollow…’
09 May 2017

The images above are of the eighteenth-century actresses, Mrs Anne Cargill and Mrs Mary Wells; they have been taken from scanned copies of, Dramatic Annals: Critiques on Plays and Performance and an anthology of performers' letters. They are represented here in their famous stage personas of ‘Clara’ and ‘Cowslip’, characters from The Duenna, and The Agreeable Surprise respectively, performed consistently during the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

Building Bionic Men; Replacing Limbs Lost in WWI
05 May 2017

After the guns fell silent on 11/11/1918 and the global conflict now known as the First World War drew to a close, millions of servicemen could look forward to returning to their countries of origin, being reunited with their families and resuming the lives they had held before enlistment. For many however, this return to pre-war normality seemed a physical impossibility. According to contemporary data from the French and British governments, around 1 in every 7 soldiers was discharged after receiving lifechanging and debilitating injuries during the war. Rapid developments in innovative technologies of destruction such as the machine gun, explosives and chemical weapons had left tens of thousands of soldiers permanently maimed and disfigured.

28 April 2017

The famed Soviet city of Magnitogorsk was founded in 1929 and built upon an expanse of iron rich land towards the southern edge of the Urals. The city, which was modelled after its American counterpart in Gary, Indiana, became the largest steel plant in the world. Magnitogorsk came to embody the guiding principles of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary experiment in Russia; namely through ideas pinched from the European Enlightenment and subsequent French Revolution of both a rational social order and the power of political mobilisation. The result of which was the realisation that science and politics could be used to landscape and engineer the perfect society, a socialist utopia.

“Is it possible to build up one’s own discotheque?” Disco hits East Germany in 1972 with some love tagged on.
21 April 2017

In the imagination, the iron curtain between East and West during the Cold War era seems to be something impermeable. Especially in terms of cultural exchange and particularly in terms of popular culture. The mind may conjure up a picture of drab, dour and joyless scenes in the East versus a liberated and fun West. Not fair at all it seems - the documentaries and cinemagazines from Socialism on Film give a quick put down to this assumption. In this case the cultural export in question is disco music and the place is East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). It turns out we weren't so different after all.

21 April 2017

In 2010, I was introduced to the Lawrence B. Romaine Trade Catalog Collection (RTCC) as an undergraduate student working on rehousing, sorting and listing hundreds of individual trade catalogs at UCSB Library, Special Research Collections (SRC). The bulk of RTCC was purchased in 1966 and since then, it has grown to include well over the 40,000 items reported in our online finding aid. Decades of additional purchases were made to supplement the various subject areas in this collection. But by 2010, the collection consisted of items that were both catalogued and uncatalogued, some falling apart, others misplaced and all very dusty.

‘See America First’: International Expositions, Nationalism, and Local Competition
18 April 2017

Enumerating the reasons why San Francisco rather than New Orleans should receive federal sanctioning for the 1915 exposition celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, this illustrated pamphlet urged readers to acquaint themselves with the wonders of the Pacific Coast and to “See America First”. As the first global gatherings of mass audiences, expositions – or world’s fairs – assembled the world in a single site. Designed to showcase the host nation’s progress and achievements, world’s fairs also played an important nationalising function; a task of particular significance for a nation of relative youth like the United States.

Curiosities and Remedies
12 April 2017

Adam Matthew's collection 'Trade Catalogues and the American Home' contains hundreds of catalogues and leaflets related to home remedies, ‘quack’ cures, and items for at-home personal care. These documents provide a fascinating insight into domestic remedies before the days where most people had access to a certified doctor.

Towering Spectacles. Thomas Cook’s Guide to the Paris Exhibition, 1889
12 April 2017

By 1889 the name of ‘Thomas Cook & Son’ was no stranger abroad. From its humble beginnings in 1841 through to railway journeys to the Great Exhibition in 1851 and the first European excursion in 1855, the company had grown into a trusted household name, refining the idea of the organised, inclusive holiday. It is therefore no surprise that in 1889, Thomas Cook & Son organised excursions from both Britain and the US to the next great spectacle in the European cultural calendar; the opening of the Eiffel Tower and the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

A Declaration of Independence, or a Declaration of Love?
07 April 2017

Centuries before America could lay claim to saving France in the Second World War, the French nation entered the American Revolutionary War and potentially changed the trajectory of the bitter conflict with its mother country. But how was this facilitated? Was the Declaration of Independence more of a declaration of love, a wooing of a nation with a common enemy in the form of Britain?

Trade, Governance and Empire 1600-1947: From the East India Company to the Indian Independence Act.
31 March 2017

Just 3 months into 2017 Adam Matthew have already published a wealth of exciting new collections, one of which I particularly had my eye on: East India Company Module 1: Trade, Governance and Empire, 1600-1947.

A Reluctant Declaration
24 March 2017
Here at Adam Matthew HQ we spend our days jumping from one patch of history to another. This week I travelled to Tokyo, 1941, via the Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952 collection. It was the 8th December 1941 and like a ghostly time traveller I found myself in the offices of the British ambassador to Japan.
Film, Socialism, Espionage and The Secret State: A Special Guest Blog By Alan Burton
20 March 2017

Socialism on Film, the new archive resource recently launched by Adam Matthew Digital, offers many fascinating insights into the practice of cultural propaganda during the Cold War period. It also tantalizingly poses intriguing questions about censorship and repression as the authorities would evidently have mobilized against what would have been seen as subversion in its midst.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh! (Happy St Patrick’s Day!)
15 March 2017

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh! Or for those not fluent in Gaelic (myself included), Happy St Patrick’s Day! Today is the day to honour Ireland’s patron saint; celebrated for converting the pagan Irish to Christianity in the 5th century. Traditionally, festivities include parades, special church services, wearing green clothing or a shamrock and celebrations of Irish music and culture. But, for some, the Irish national holiday has become too commercialised, associated more with drinking Guinness and generally having a good time.

Operation Teutonic Sword
09 March 2017

In the Cold War battle for hearts and minds there was documentary film making. In this struggle a small British distributor of left-wing films tried to play its part by showing documentaries made in socialist countries as a counterpoint to Western interpretations of those places behind the iron curtain as menacing and dangerous. Its motto was ‘See the other side of the world’. These were films that often shone a light back on the West and its own misdemeanours. Many of the films it distributed came from East Germany – home of some skilled documentary makers – and one these films in particular led to a legal and political kerfuffle that raised questions of libel, censorship and diplomatic niceties in Cold War Britain.

The Tragedy of the 'Ocean Monarch'
03 March 2017

On Thursday 24 August 1848, the Ocean Monarch entered the open seas, leaving Liverpool for Boston, Massachusetts with almost 400 souls aboard. Six miles from the Welsh coast, perhaps 25 miles out of Liverpool, the wooden steam-powered barque caught fire. Attempts to control the conflagration quickly failed, and passengers panicked - some throwing themselves overboard clutching their children.

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