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.

Miracles and fairy tales: The “Great Leap Forward” in Chinese newsreels
14 March 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.

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.

The Twelve Digital Images Of Christmas
21 December 2017

The season of good will, gift giving, holiday, Father Christmas and copious volumes of food and drink is upon us. Like most of us, you probably think you know all you need to about the key elements of Christmas. Yet, historical images of the holiday have varied enormously in their message and impact. So, what better time to rifle through the digital archives and find out how Christmas has been depicted, celebrated, captured and advertised throughout history? From the wacky to the wondrous, the moving to the marvellous (not to mention, the just plain baffling) I present to you, the snappily named, Twelve Digital Images of Christmas: A Miscellany.

Charles J.C. Hutson And Confederate Flag Culture: A Special Guest Blog
06 December 2017

The letters of Charles J.C. Hutson, a former student of South Carolina College and a soldier in the First South Carolina Volunteers, provide insight on various topics pertaining to the American Civil War era. ... But it is Hutson’s remarks on a company flag from early in the war that this piece will focus upon. Though perhaps trivial at first glance, these remarks offer us a personal perspective on the complex ways in which southerners developed a relationship with their fledgling nation and their wider ideas about the Civil War.

The Great Game Revisited: Afghanistan In The 1970s
01 December 2017

It was in the early 1970s that Afghanistan entered into the spiral of governmental instability, insurgency, outright civil war and foreign interventions that has plagued it to the present day. Amongst the dozens of Afghan-focused files in our resource 'Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan' two which date from the regime of Mohammad Daoud Khan, president from 1973 to 1978, shed light both on the circumstances under which he came to power and, with some considerable prescience, on the potential for instability and Soviet intervention which it was feared might follow the end of his rule.

Represented In The American Hemisphere: The United Kingdom, The Rise Of Pan-Americanism And The Canadian Question
29 November 2017

A special guest blog by Alex Bryne. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Pan-Americanism became a popular topic of debate within the United States and Latin America. Although Canada was excluded from traditional interpretations of Pan-Americanism, British policy makers grew concerned about the relationship between the two, and the Adam Matthew digital collection ‘Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961’ provides valuable insights into their reasoning.

'Color Uncle Frank Playful Grey Flannel’: The J. Walter Thompson Colouring Book
24 November 2017

In the long-gone days of 2015-16, adult colouring books suddenly became nothing less than a phenomenon. The Independent even reported that the craze had led to a 'global pencil shortage'. Imagine my surprise, then, when working on Adam Matthew Digital’s forthcoming J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America, I came across a colouring book for adults, released as long ago as 1974!

In the Name of Lenin: Electrifying the Great October Revolution
08 November 2017

To celebrate the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Professor Graham Roberts introduces the 1932 film short, In the Name of Lenin. Directed by Mikhail Slutskii, this 14 minute feature was produced in the USSR to celebrate industrial progress in the years following the Revolution.

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