Ethnic Studies

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.

Critiquing a Nation: Dickens' Quarrel with America
06 October 2016

America has been the focus of global news over the last few months due to the almost continuous coverage of the upcoming US Election. The election, while obviously a very hot topic in America, is also of interest to people around the world and, in time honoured fashion, ‘outsiders’ are also sharing their opinions and viewpoints. In 1842, it was my [cue shameless name drop] great-great-great Grandfather, English novelist Charles Dickens, who wrote a commentary on America during his first visit to the country.

Jesus Christ, this will be fun! Alexander Hamilton on stage
08 June 2016

How could you not love a musical which borrows equally from The Pirates of Penzance and Notorious B.I.G? Hamilton, if you haven’t heard yet, is a musical blending rap, jazz, blues and classic Broadway melodies to tell the story of an obscure Founding Father (‘Yo, who the eff is this?!’) and his attempts to get a radical debt plan passed by America’s fledgling government. Yeah, that old chestnut. I jest; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s occasionally swear-y, Pulitzer Prize-winning show has torn up the rulebook, and this weekend, stands to make history at the Tony Awards where it has earned a record-breaking haul of sixteen nominations.

Another scene in the life of Harriet Tubman
28 April 2016

Recently, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, announced that some changes were being made to America’s paper currency. Chief among them was the replacement of Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, to make way for the inclusion of Harriet Tubman, the former slave turned abolitionist who was dubbed “Moses” due to her work in guiding slave families away from their owners using the infamous Underground Railroad. Tubman will be joined on the bill by a slew of activists and reformers who will soon grace the $5 and $10 notes, including Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Examining America: Dickens Reviews the New World
27 January 2016

Celebrations are in order this week at Adam Matthew, as Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration has been made freely available to all UK higher and further education institutions, in an exciting collaboration with JISC.

New Online this Fall: ‘African American Communities’
20 August 2015

One of my personal highlights from the forthcoming African American Communities resource has been working with the oral history collections that will be featured within the project. The oral histories (sourced from the Atlanta History Center, Washington University in St. Louis and the Weeksville Heritage Center) contain personal accounts of the Atlanta Civil Rights Movement, African American art and culture and the African American community of Weeksville, Brooklyn.

The Freed Slaves of the South
19 June 2015

While indexing the documents in our American History, 1493-1945 collection I found a curious printed book from 1915, entitled ‘Aunt Phebe, Uncle Tom and others’ by Mrs Essie Collins Matthews. This is a collection of character studies and photographs of freed slaves living in the South fifty years after abolition came into effect.

10 June 2015

It was on the 11th of this month in 1963 that John F. Kennedy gave his civil rights speech in which he asked for legislation which would give ‘greater protection for the right to vote’. In November, the bill was referred to the Rules Committee where it was quickly dismissed.

Paying Tribute to the Past at Historic Stagville, NC
18 May 2015

Shortly after joining Adam Matthew this year I set off to North Carolina for an archive research trip. Whilst there I had the opportunity to visit Historic Stagville, the site of one of the largest plantations in North Carolina and the pre-Civil War South at its peak during the 1850s and early 1860s. The site and buildings seemed peaceful on a beautiful April morning in the leafy, green North Carolina countryside, but there were stark reminders as we toured the buildings, of the injustices that took place and the difference in quality of life for the plantation owners and the slave community who lived here.

Robert E. Lee Caught Between Nation and State
15 May 2015

Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, remains a person who inspires great interest and debate to this day, not least due to the complexity of his character and loyalties. This is demonstrated by a letter in which Lee reports for military duty in Washington and says he awaits his orders from Union command. Twenty three days later, he had resigned his post and taken a commission from newly seceded Virginia.

Sweet Home Weeksville
13 March 2015

I think the majority of us will agree that our most treasured possession is the home in which we live. It is filled with objects that define us and, in some cases, legacies that outlive us. It is within these walls that we create a sense of belonging, an identity.

Nelson Mandela the ‘Champion of African Nationalism’ and a Changed South Africa
02 October 2014

As many of us have been gripped in recent months by the ongoing trial of Oscar Pistorius, a little over fifty years ago the eyes of the world were again trained on a high profile South African court case. At the height of the Apartheid era, in 1964, ten leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) stood accused of a number of charges, including acts of sabotage, which was, in extreme cases, punishable by death. In what was known as the Rivonia Trial, one of the accused was a man called Nelson Mandela.

Hate Mail for Old Abe Lincoln
14 August 2014

This letter from a man called Pete Muggins to Abraham Lincoln, responding to Lincoln’s recent election to the office of US President in 1860, reveals to us that hate mail and trolling are far from a modern phenomenon.

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