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.

Skin for skin: Taking a closer look at Hugh Glass and the grim and grizzly nature of the American Frontier
21 January 2016
Earlier this week a few intrepid members of the team currently creating the up and coming Frontier Life collection made an expedition of their own to watch new film The Revenant. Exploring the thrilling tale of fur-trader Hugh Glass, The Revenant touches upon many themes covered in the Frontier Life collection, such as relations with indigenous peoples, trade and commerce, and of course expeditions and exploration.
Affair of the Spanish Ambassador’s Suitcase
11 January 2016

Published this week, Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981, is now available. Digitising full runs of Foreign Office files stored at The National Archives, this resource spans an extraordinary number of topics and events.

Remembering a Music Legend
11 January 2016

Here at Adam Matthew we are extremely sad to learn of the death of the legendary, inspirational and unforgettable David Bowie. Bowie was a creative genius who irrevocably changed the course of music in the early 1970’s with the album ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’.

Leading the Pack: The Western Scramble for Iran: a special guest blog by Laila Parsons
11 January 2016

In the spring of 1974, Anthony Derrick Parsons took up his new post as British ambassador to Iran. This posting was his first ambassadorship. Previously he had worked on the Middle East desk in the Foreign Office, had served as Political Agent in Bahrain, and as First Secretary to the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Electrifying Your Target Audience: Advertising Medicines in the Nineteenth Century
08 January 2016

Whilst I attempt to accept that “’tis no longer the season to be jolly” and I begin to tackle the pile of leftover Christmas chocolates on my desk, I’ve been looking back at some of my favourite documents from the projects I worked on in 2015. One that vividly stands out is a pamphlet titled ‘The Best Known Curative Agent: Pulvermacher's Electric Belts and Bands for Self-Application’ from our Popular Medicine in America, 1800-1900 resource.

In the Heart of the Sea: stories of the whaling ship 'Essex'
06 January 2016

Ron Howard’s new blockbuster, In the Heart of the Sea, is the latest retelling of the ill-fated final voyage of the Essex. Two years ago I wrote a blog to coincide with a BBC adaptation of the story, in which I summarised the account of Thomas Nickerson, a teenage boy who partook in that harrowing journey. Howard has used Nickerson as the narrator of his film, and this prompted me to look again at the memoir, which can be found in China, America and the Pacific.

The Rector of Stiffkey: Life as a sideshow
16 December 2015

In 1960 the anthropologist Tom Harrisson returned from Borneo to Blackpool, where 23 years earlier he had directed survey work for Mass Observation. His stay was recorded in the MO book Britain Revisited, which took a shapshot of contemporary British life and compared it to what the ‘mass observers’ had seen and heard in 1937. Much in post-war Blackpool, Harrisson found, was as it had been, but the entertainments on the seafront had changed.

Robert E. Lee’s condolence letter to his son Rooney, 1864: A Special Guest Blog by Sandra Trenholm
16 December 2015

In this beautifully written letter, Confederate general Robert E. Lee attempts to console his son William Fitzhugh “Rooney” Lee on the loss of his wife. The letter demonstrates the emotion that Lee felt for his family and offers a glimpse of the strength that carried Lee through the war. His faith in God, his empathy for others’ misfortunes, and his belief in the Confederate cause, all granted Lee the fortitude he needed to endure the war. One can see all of these attributes in this single, short missive.

‘My Dear Old Basil’: Letters from a Shell-Shocked Soldier
04 December 2015

The 4th December marks the anniversary of the publication of a paper entitled ‘The Repression of War Experience’, presented to the Royal School of Medicine in 1917 by W. H. Rivers. Rivers was a psychiatrist and neurologist, mostly known for his work with soldiers suffering from shell-shock, both during and following World War I. His paper advocated the best course of treatment for sufferers of shell-shock was for them to face their painful memories, rather than adopting an ‘ostrich-like policy of attempting to banish them from the mind.’

Mother Goose – The Evolution of a Classic Christmas Pantomime
03 December 2015
This winter season, many of us will head off to the theatre to find some festive cheer at a Christmas pantomime. Looking for some Christmas cheer myself, I was delighted to come across a copy of, ‘Harlequin and Mother Goose; or, The Golden Egg, Airs, Chorusses, &c., in’ whilst working on our upcoming project Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and the Stage. This pantomime by Thomas Dibdin and Charles Farley was first performed at Covent Garden Theatre on Boxing Day, 26th December, 1806. It was a huge success, running for ninety two nights and has long since become a quintessential Christmas classic.
The perils of ‘Christmas Cookery’
02 December 2015
With the Christmas tree arriving later this week and Secret Santa getting well under way in the Adam Matthew office it seems a fitting time to share a little a snippet of festive fun that I stumbled across recently exploring our London Low Life collection. Whilst Paul Pry’s 1838 text, Oddities of London Life may be considered in many ways archetypal of the satirical social commentaries of the 19th century lower classes that run throughout this collection, William Heath’s highly amusing account of a “Christmas Cookery” is a personal highlight that I felt both too amusing and aptly named to not share.
Mark Twain's Benevolence
26 November 2015
With the 180th anniversary of his birth approaching, it might be an apt time to present a different side to the acerbic wit we associate with one of America’s best-loved writers through a letter that can be found in American History, 1493-1945: From the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is also a letter which alludes to the United States’ post-American Civil War racial settlement and the legacy of that conflict.
An Alternative View of Thanksgiving
24 November 2015
Alongside turkey lies other Thanksgiving traditions that many Americans hold dear which are distinctly products of the “New World,” such as cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and our brand of football, each of which have impressively old historical roots in their own rights. It is a day in which we are all meant to reflect on the bountiful supplies of food and material wealth of our nation.
20 November 2015

Before the close of the Nuremberg trials in October 1946, the Mass Observation team sent out a number of directives asking the public’s opinion on the trials of the Nazi war criminals. The primary response was that they were a waste of time, a waste of tax payer’s money and the verdict a foregone conclusion. The thought process was that these men were guilty, and would be found so, and that the simplest, and cheapest option, would have been to shoot them on the spot (though some had some more brutal ideas).

Walt and the world's fair: dreaming up a Disney delight
13 November 2015

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are known the world over for exciting children and adults alike, providing a backdrop for new technology, unparalleled entertainment and constant innovation. Sounds familiar? Ever since the Great Exhibition in 1851, world’s fairs have inspired others, and in the twentieth century the marriage of Walt Disney’s mind to the splendor of the fairs was to prove a winning combination.

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