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.

Rivers of Blood 50 years on
19 April 2018

50 years ago today, on 20th April 1968, Enoch Powell delivered a speech at a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham criticising the then-Labour government’s proposed Race Relations Bill. With charged rhetoric and a strong anti-immigration stance, it became better known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

The resource Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 includes a fascinating collection from the Prime Minister’s Office which contains a document collating a full transcript of the speech, press releases and correspondence with Prime Minister Harold Wilson regarding both the public and legislative reaction in the year following its delivery.

Advertising: manipulation, persuasion, information or experience enhancer?
12 April 2018

The J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America archive provides an exceptional record of consumer culture over the past 100 years and among the many fascinating and mind-bending concepts that the documents of this advertising agency explore is one illustrated by a company-produced pamphlet entitled Advertising: Manipulation or Persuasion?. This is one of the central questions relating to advertising and consumer culture: how powerful is advertising in shaping our behaviours, practices and even identity?

Observing the Masses - Nella Last's Diaries
06 April 2018

One of the first projects I worked on for Adam Matthew was the Mass Observation Archive collection – reading through the monthly diaries of the Mass Observers in the 1960s and wondering at the differences in all their lives. Anybody who has done any work on Mass Observation will be well aware of the most famous Mass Observer (though anonymous at the time) and may have in fact followed her life from the Second World War until her death in the late 60s. This woman was Nella Last, and she was one of the most prolific writers of the Mass Observation project. 

Miracles and fairy tales: The “Great Leap Forward” in Chinese newsreels
03 April 2018

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of China’s Great Leap Forward in 1958. Under the auspices of Chairman Mao, the Chinese Communist Party laid out a programme which aimed to rapidly transform their agrarian economy into an industrial, collectivised, socialist state. Produced by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio of the People’s Republic of China, newsreel series China Today provides a unique, state-sponsored narrative of bumper crop yields, cultural exploits and factory construction in this period. However, if 1958 was an 'unusual and glorious fairy-tale', 1959 would signal the beginning of a nightmare.

“Passive Women”: Uncovering the story of Josina Machel and the Mozambique Liberation Front
29 March 2018

Whilst working on the Gender: Identity and Social Change resource, I was drawn to Revolutionary Women.

A Movable Feast
28 March 2018

Occurring on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox, Easter is symbolic of seasonal change.

It's a Long Way to Tipperary... from Prague
23 March 2018

This week has seen the launch of Adam Matthew's much-anticipated Service Newspapers of World War Two, our first newspaper collection. Featuring over 200 publications produced by and for military personnel serving around the world– searchable at article-level thanks to METS/ALTO technology – the resource offers a fascinating global perspective into the wartime experience.

The (Sex) Bomb that Won the War
20 March 2018

During World War Two and its aftermath, journalism played a vital role in keeping servicemen informed and connected, wherever they happened to be stationed across the world. Service Newspapers of World War Two, which publishes this week, features around 200 different titles that give a wonderful glimpse into a part of wartime life that is rarely explored.

Preventing disorder at the East India Company factories
13 March 2018

More than 1500 volumes of East India Company Factory Records are being digitised through a partnership between the British Library and Adam Matthew Digital. The factories were the Company’s overseas trading posts from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Factory Records are copies of documents sent back to London to be added to the archive at East India House.

Comrade Woman
08 March 2018

Today marks the annual celebration of International Women’s Day, a holiday first celebrated in 1909. Digitised in our Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda resource, Comrade Woman captures the stirring spirit of 1975, the year named International Women’s Year by the United Nations. Produced by the Central Documentary Studios, Moscow, and directed by Zinaida Tusova, Comrade Woman presents an overview of the diverse and vital roles of women within Soviet society.

Ballooning in the Arctic? Two overtures to Elisha Kent Kane, 1852-53
02 March 2018

Polar explorers throughout history have attempted to harness new technologies. Among the more famous examples are Sir John Franklin’s expedition of 1845, which utilised ships propelled by repurposed locomotive engines, and Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-12 expedition to the South Pole, which utilised motorised sledges and even installed a telephone line. Perhaps even more unusual was S. A. AndrĂ©e's 1897 doomed attempt to pass over the North Pole in a hot air balloon. However, AndrĂ©e was not the first to suggest that balloons might be used in the Arctic.

A Global Conflict; Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Revolt
23 February 2018

The popular narratives of the First World War told today (and particularly those used by supermarkets to sell chocolates at Christmas) usually play out against a familiar backdrop of a frosty northern France, complete with mud-sodden khaki, rat infested trenches, and a quaint football match dashed out between the barbed wire fences. Our collective memory latches on to the parts of the First World War that we deem to be significant to us, and consequentially allow other theatres of the conflict to fall by the wayside of our remembrance. 

 

Guildford Courthouse and an Eighteenth-Century Adonis of War
21 February 2018

1775 and the American colonies were in turmoil. A young, newly-volunteered cavalry Cornet by the name of Banastre Tarleton set sail for America with Lord General Cornwallis, hoping to play a part in the rising conflict. Like many young men with modest fortunes, a debauched London lifestyle had left its mark and the army offered excellent prospects to make a name for himself.

Two Island Nations
07 February 2018

As small islands playing on the international stage, historically Japan and Great Britain have been two nations with many shared qualities, but a turbulent relationship. The files in Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1946-1952: Occupation of Japan, released this week, give a fascinating insight into Anglo-Japanese relations in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, a war that saw their alliance descend into a bitter and bloody conflict.

A Batavian prison break: sodomy, execution and an East India Company ship
06 February 2018

On the 1st April 1762, an employee of the English East India Company who was stationed in Batavia received a report that a prisoner named John Smith had escaped house confinement. Smith had been detained for nearly two months after being accused of sodomy by an apprentice stationed on an English East India Company ship; the Earl Temple.

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