Empire and Globalism

Sowing the Seeds of a Settlement on the American Frontier
13 May 2016

I’m going to be honest: there are no bear attacks or Leonardo DiCaprios in this frontier- related blog post. There is, however, the story of a modest Quaker husband and wife, Thomas and Hannah Symons, who, following their marriage in 1811, decided to migrate from their homes in North Carolina to settle in Indiana which at the time was still a largely unsettled territory. Initially, this doesn’t sound like a particularly exceptional story in keeping with the notion of American exceptionalism, but all ideologies aside, Hannah Symons’ recollections provide a fascinating and personal insight into the hardship, bravery and perseverance involved in sowing the seeds of a settlement on the American frontier.

Pomp, circumstance and a crystal palace: The Great Exhibition of 1851
25 April 2016

165 years ago this weekend, the doors of the Crystal Palace were opened to the public for the first time. This architectural wonder of glass and steel housed an array of exotic artefacts from across the globe and would welcome over six million visitors during the Great Exhibition of 1851; Queen Victoria, an unlikely fan of heavy machinery, would visit three times and had her own private boudoir installed inside. For many, the exhibition represents the pomp and circumstance of the Victorian Age.

Bathing Parades and Bicycles: The Life of a Missionary Family in Japan
07 April 2016

Whilst working on Church Missionary Society Periodicals, Module II: Medical Journals, Asian Missions and the Historical Record: 1816-1986, I have been constantly entertained and intrigued by the photographs which illustrate the periodicals. The articles surrounding an image can often offer an interesting insight into its production and its significance to the CMS mission.

Available now - World’s Fairs: a Global History of Expositions
02 March 2016

The latest online resource from Adam Matthew Digital is now available. World’s Fairs: a Global History of Expositions digitises thousands of pages of primary source material relating to the inception, planning, organisation, exhibits and experience of over 200 international exhibitions. These enormous global events brought together the leading lights in technology, architecture, design and entertainment throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and continue to this day.

The Australian ‘Colonial Experiment’
19 February 2016

A little over a year ago I was lucky enough to visit Australia for the first time and spent some time in the city of Sydney. While wandering around the Central Business District and down to Circular Quay, it was hard to think that this major cultural and economic centre had only been settled by European colonisers a little over two hundred years ago. For it was on the afternoon of 26 January 1788 when a fleet of eleven vessels under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip entered what today is known as Sydney Harbour and started what was described by Robert Hughes in his book The Fatal Shore as ‘a new colonial experiment, never tried before, not repeated since’.

A Royal Affair
18 September 2015

Whilst browsing through a collection of material from our up-coming World’s Fairs resource, a familiar face appeared to me amidst a stream of photographs of jubilant crowds, exotic pavilions and iconic industrial feats. It was none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attending Expo 67, Montreal’s international exposition.

The Utter Ruin of Mary Musgrove Bosomworth
02 September 2015

Documents included in Colonial America cover daring feats of piracy, bloody wars, rugged expeditions through frontiers infested with ‘vigorous rattlesnakes’ and reams of legislation that ultimately shaped a nation. However, after hours spent tilting my head this way and that in an attempt to decipher the handwriting of various clerks, it has become clear that the lives of women within the Thirteen Colonies were of less interest to record keepers than politics and trade. A queen may have sat on the throne when English explorers first landed on the coast of Virginia, but the age of empire was, primarily, an age of withered, wigged, white men.

Rough dust gold in a purple bagg: Pirate treasure in colonial America
28 August 2015

Over the past couple of months I’ve been spending most of my time indexing documents for our forthcoming Colonial America resource, which consists of British Colonial Office files from The National Archives, Kew. This material covers all aspects of life in the Thirteen Colonies and beyond, from the everyday administrative grind of council meetings and petitions about land rights to the more evocative subjects (from the comfortable vantage point of twenty-first-century Britain) of battles with the French, parlays with Indians, and pirates – or ‘pyrates’, as most writers of the time rather pleasingly spelled it.

The Marquis de Lafayette, a 'Citizen of Two Worlds'
31 July 2015

Earlier in the year I stumbled upon an article about a successful effort to build and sail a replica of the French frigate l’Hermione. Further reading revealed that one of the key reasons this ship is sailing again is the voyage it made in 1780 from Rochefort, France, to Boston, USA. On this particular trip across the Atlantic was the man known as the Marquis de Lafayette (full name Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier – try saying that fast three times!) on his return the North American continent.

Brawls, Duels and Marsupials. A Voyage to Tasmania
14 July 2015

On 12 March 1838, a young surgeon by the name of Dr John Hanchett joined the ship Henry at St Katherine Dock, bound for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). His journal survives in the archives of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania and paints a vivid account of the trials and tribulations encountered during four months at sea, the relations between crew and passengers and the leisure activities on board an early Victorian emigrant ship. What follows is a potted account of his trip.

Dreams in Treasure Island
24 April 2015

At the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925 the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, aiming to promote their railway to a British audience, showcased their wildly popular ‘Treasure Island’ installation. The island was a magical world created for children and big children alike where they could clamber aboard miniature trains Peter Pan and Alice to explore the Canadian Rockies.

Milan 2015 and the Legacy of World's Fairs
13 April 2015

If ever there was a way to twist my arm and persuade me to visit romantic, historic Milan this summer, the prospect of a huge, international celebration of food is a pretty convincing one. Expo Milan 2015 is just such an event, but my primary interest is not in pizza (honest), but in Expo 2015’s place in the legacy of World’s Fairs.

Britain's Banished Men
27 March 2015

BBC Two’s newest period drama Banished sheds light on the lives of the first penal colony established in Australia. The likes of Russell Tovey, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and MyAnna Buring portray the lives of convicts and soldiers trying to serve their time and get by in the wilds of New South Wales. Life seems incredibly brutal in this environment and one would imagine the real lives of the first convicts and soldiers would have been terribly difficult.

Anyone for a Guinness?
17 March 2015

A global phenomenon, few patron saints are as enthusiastically celebrated as St. Patrick. Credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland’s pagans in the fourth century, he has since become a symbol of Irish patriotism. And it doesn’t seem to matter much where you are in the world on 17 March ¬– chances are you’ll be encouraged to wear green, don your fanciest shamrock brooch and gulp down gallons of Guinness.

<<  1 2 3 [45  >>