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.

What is Happiness?
17 February 2017

A pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves', and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. February 2017 marks 10 years since the first module of Mass Observation Online was published, and I decided to celebrate the resource’s tenth birthday by having a look back through the vast collection of documents.

37 days after 37 years: Shapour Bakhtiar’s Iranian revolution
07 February 2017

The revolution which brought the Islamic republic to power in Iran 38 years ago this week was a singular event in the twentieth century, and is still considered something of an enigma by many scholars. Our resource 'Foreign Offices Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981' contains British diplomats’ detailed reports and opinions on the upheavals, among them despatches from early 1979 when, as in Russia in 1917, a short-lived, half-forgotten government tried and failed to establish power before being swept away by the regime that eventually, and famously, consolidated its hold.

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Prejudice or Hope?
07 February 2017

Whilst the census data and Institute speeches available in Race Relations in America offer the opportunity to study the top-level experiences of non-white Americans, the true significance of segregation can be felt in records such as the studies carried out by the Race Relations Department fieldworkers. Parent and pupil interviews, that formed part of the Chattanooga desegregation survey, have the ability to inform, shock and inspire in equal measures.

War and Politicks: the Belligerent Career of Colonel James Stuart
03 February 2017
When I started working on the newly revamped India, Raj and Empire resource, I expected to find within the material most if not all of the classic elements of colonialism and empire. But what I found most interesting, when digging deeper into the documents, was the vast amount of in-fighting, conflict and corruption going on in the boardrooms and dining salons of the East India Company officials.
The Water-Cure Journal and Herald of Reform: Understanding Hydropathy in Antebellum America: A special guest blog by Rachel Williams
30 January 2017

The Water-Cure Journal and Herald of Reform, included in the Adam Matthew resource Popular Medicine in America, 1800-1900, was the foremost publication of the hydropathy movement in the antebellum United States. Hydropathy, which advocated the internal and external application of water to the body as a means to promote health, happiness, and longevity, was one of several alternative medical practises which gained popularity in America before the Civil War. These “nature cures” appealed to those wary of the increasingly liberal use by mainstream physicians of vigorous and invasive techniques such as bloodletting and purging.

The Power of Protest
27 January 2017

Last week millions of people across the world joined peaceful demonstrations protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump and marching in support of causes widely feared to be under threat in his new administration.

How the East India Company shaped London
24 January 2017
Two hundred years ago the massive warehouses and imposing façade of East India House were a constant reminder to onlookers of the power and influence of the East India Company in London. Most of the physical evidence of the East India Company's presence in London has disappeared, so few Londoners today are aware of the Company’s importance in their city's history. Yet a large body of written evidence does survive in the India Office Records held at the British Library. Through these documents we can begin to understand just how influential the Company was in shaping London.
‘The captain-general of iniquity’: The impeachment of Warren Hastings
20 January 2017

One of the many good things about living in a place like Britain, where lots of documented stuff has been going on in a small space for a long time, is that wherever you go there’ll be some historical notable who’s been there before you. Last summer I was wandering around the Cotswolds and passed through Daylesford, for many years owned, I discovered using the power of the guidebook, by Warren Hastings, perhaps the most notorious figure in the East India Company at the height of its power and the penultimate man to be impeached before the British Parliament.

Creating Model Americans: The Mississippi Choctaw Billie Family and Relocation: A special guest blog by Reetta Humalajoki
10 January 2017

This 1956 photograph captures a smiling couple with their four children, all dressed in their Sunday best – crisp white shirts for father and son, frilly dresses for the two little girls. The family poses around an armchair in front of their television set, displaying their homely apartment. This is not your average white middle-class family, however. Paul Billie and his wife were members of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe, who relocated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1953.

Keeping the lid on: the British role in the Canadian Caper
05 January 2017

Published this week, Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 covers an extraordinary number of topics and events, addressing the policies, economies, political relationships and significant events of major Middle East powers. One event that has captured the world’s imagination for almost four decades is also extensively analysed – the Iranian hostage crisis.

Human stories from the East India Company
03 January 2017
You might expect the minutes of the meetings of the Court of Directors to be rather dull administrative records. But they are in fact the source of many fascinating human stories. The Directors were responsible for a mighty organisation, but they always made time to consider the requests of individuals who approached them for help, no matter where they fitted into the social hierarchy.
‘Oh Matron’: A right old Carry On aboard the Cardigan Castle, Christmas, 1876.
19 December 2016
What do you get if you mix a drunk Matron, a dummy sailor, and a foghorn? No this isn’t another awful Christmas cracker joke, but it is the wonderful combination of elements that make up Sarah Stephens’ very humorous account of Christmas Day aboard the Cardigan Castle emigrant ship. Found within the Migration To New Worlds Collection, Stephens’ account of her voyage to New Zealand in 1876 not only highlights the dangers and difficulties endured by emigrants aboard ship, but gives a unique account of Christmas Day that is both compelling and full of festive fun.
Christmas on the Front Line
16 December 2016

It’s difficult to imagine what Christmas day was like in 1914 for soldiers on the front lines in France, Belgium and Germany. We know that the horrors of war didn’t stop, that fighting continued in many parts and that the unofficial truces were opportunities to bury the dead. But we’ve also heard stories of carols sung across the trenches and football games, and we know that during that Christmas – and Christmases for years afterward – soldiers received a small but very special gift.

A date which will live in infamy
07 December 2016

President Roosevelt famously declared December 7th 1941 ‘a date which will live in infamy’. As war raged across Europe, and America - the ‘giant’ - slept on, imperialist forces in Japan plotted a devastating strike on Pearl Harbor. Today marks the 77th anniversary of the deadly attack on that sleepy Hawaiian naval base, an event that would ultimately turn the tide of the Second World War.

Leisler’s Rebellion: New York’s (not so) Glorious Revolution: A special guest blog by Sophie H Jones
05 December 2016

1688: The Glorious Revolution. For many of us, these words bring to mind the overthrow of the tyrannical Catholic King James II and the happy arrival of William of Orange and his Queen, Mary. What few of us immediately consider is the impact of this change in regime upon far-flung colonies across the Atlantic.

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