History

Unfamiliar Letters: Annotations in an Early Modern ‘Epistolary Novel’
20 May 2020

As an enthusiast of all things medieval and early modern, working on Adam Matthew’s newly-published resource, Early Modern England: Society, Culture and Everyday Life, 1500-1700, has been a wonderful experience. Among many personal highlights was the opportunity to visit the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and assess their collection of early modern printed books, thirty of which have been digitised for the resource. Many of these books are annotated, revealing much about how their readers engaged and interacted with their books.

James I and note-based passive aggression in early modern England
07 May 2020

It's surely a known thing that leaving a post-it note for someone taking them to task for an aspect of their behaviour - for instance a flatmate who uses up the milk without replacing it, doesn't wash up or who consistently leaves the loo seat up, and so forth - is a classic form of passive aggression. I believe with this 1604 incident discovered in Early Modern England: Society, Culture & Everyday Life we may have one of the earliest instances of note-based passive aggression on the historic record.

Postcards from Paris: From lockdown to liberation under Nazi occupation
01 May 2020

Having recently stumbled across a news story about two Parisian streets left frozen in time after a World War Two era film set had to be abandoned as the city went into lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak, I decided to delve into the America in World War Two resource to learn more about the city of light that ‘went dark’ during the years of German occupation from June 1940 to August 1944.

A Moment on the Lips: The Dark History of America’s “Radium Girls” from American Indian Newspapers
23 April 2020

In 1984, a periodical from the Navajo Times announced plans for a major cleanup effort at the site of a former paint factory located just 84 miles west of Chicago. In addition to neutralizing the potential dangers of a long abandoned industrial compound, the principle reason for this initiative was to mitigate the alarming levels of ionizing radiation emanating from the property. Looming larger than the factory itself, this periodical also provides a glimpse into the tragic story of the “Radium Girls,” laborers for the company who fell victim to gross industrial negligence and later became the faces of a movement for change.

Those magnificent men in their soaring machines? Early aviation in The Mechanical Engineer
17 April 2020

Published by the Scientific Publishing Company, Manchester, between 1897 and 1917, The Mechanical Engineer is a remarkable publication. Digitised for Business, Economic and Labour History, the latest of Adam Matthew’s Research Source resources, this weekly paper provided its readers with news on the latest developments in a wide range of industries, often accompanied by detailed technical drawings. One of the great developments of this era was the advent of powered flight, and the paper's coverage of pioneer aviators is truly fascinating.

Publishing history, or On the Origin of Pigeons
09 April 2020

Every day we live history, yet only very occasionally does it become apparent we are living through times that will one day be written into the history books. 

When hard-drinking former marine John McMurray invested his wife's fortune in a bookselling business in 1768, he could hardly have known he would be kickstarting a publishing dynasty that would span more than 200 years, countless bestsellers and seven generations - all named John. How could he possibly comprehend, then, the mark his fledgling business would leave on literary history?

“Please Sir, I Want Some More...”: The Reality of Workhouse Dietaries
01 April 2020

This is a special guest blog by Peter Higginbotham, a freelance author and historian who is also a member of the Editorial Board for Adam Matthew’s new resource, Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions in Victorian Britain.

Oliver Twist’s words in the dining hall of the Mudfog workhouse are one of the best-known literary quotations in the English language. As a result, we all know exactly what workhouse inmates had to eat. Gruel. But how accurate was Dickens’ portrayal?

27 March 2020

This month we are celebrating both Women’s History Month and Mothering Sunday here in the UK. In honour of these celebrations, I have decided to write this week’s Editor’s Choice Blog about Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and brave and devoted mother, who defied the odds to become reunited with her son.

20 March 2020

While we all face uncertainty about what to expect from the coming weeks and months, I wanted to use this blog to end this week on a lighter note and highlight some of the fantastic content I was able to find sitting on my sofa.

“The workhouse looms before us”: Administering the New Poor Law
12 March 2020

In 1834, the system of relief for the poor in England and Wales was overhauled by the Poor Law Amendment Act. This aimed to re-organise and centralise the administration of poor relief across the country, establishing deterrent workhouses and strict regulation of outdoor relief to reduce escalating relief costs. Within Adam Matthew’s newly released Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions in Victorian Britain, it’s possible to explore the complex details of this new legislation’s implementation, as well as its accompanying social, political and economic repercussions.

Alexander Hamilton and the Reynolds Pamphlet
06 March 2020

If, like me, you love nothing more than a smash-hit stage musical to ignite a keen interest in revolutionary history then I’d encourage you to look no further than American History, 1493-1945 where you can find a trove of documents from the Gilder Lehrman Institute on the rise and fall of Alexander Hamilton.

Defending the Enemy: John Adams and the Boston Massacre of 1770
28 February 2020

Next week marks the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, one of the key milestones on the road to the American Revolution.On the evening of 5th March 1770, in a snowy Boston, eight British soldiers led by Captain Thomas Preston confronted a crowd of Bostonians, who had gathered to protest outside the Custom House.

Rivals on the Rocks: a scientific saga of the eighteenth-century stage
21 February 2020

Based on the 13th-century Icelandic saga Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, Sir George Mackenzie's The Rival Minstrels featured two poets competing for the hand of the most beautiful woman in Iceland, otherwise known as Helga the Fair. This drama, however, was about to be overshadowed by the eruption of a scientific debate which would play itself out on the eighteenth-century stage.

Changing Nations: The formation of Malaysia, 1963
06 February 2020

On 16th September 1963, Prime Minister of Malaya Tunku Abdul Rahman declared the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, joining Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Indonesian leader Sukarno strongly opposed this union, resulting in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, or ‘Konfrontasi’.

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