History

Adam Matthew presents!: Conference papers and panels
21 July 2017

Scarcely a week goes by at the Adam Matthew office without a report landing in my inbox from colleagues returning from conferences in far-flung locations such as Utrecht, Florida and Budapest. One or other of us is forever off to an academic gathering somewhere in the world, often as an exhibitor with a booth of leaflets and goodies, and other times as an inquisitive delegate attending papers and workshops.

The Red Star Line in Antwerp, 1873-1934
13 July 2017

In search of a better life, almost two million people emigrated to the United States and Canada on Red Star Line vessels between 1873 and 1934. They came mainly from Germany and Eastern Europe, of which an estimated 25% were Jewish. Only 10% of the emigrants travelling via Antwerp were Belgian. In the 1870s and 1880s good rail connections ensured that many emigrants from Switzerland and western and southern Germany booked their passage from Antwerp, rather than from Bremen or Hamburg.

Love in the time of the USSR
07 July 2017

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ classic single All You Need Is Love. This blog, however, isn’t about the Beatles, but it is about love with a little socialist industrialism thrown in. I’ve recently been working on Module II Newsreels & Cinemagazines of Adam Matthew’s Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda resource, and thought I’d share one of my favourite clips (so far)!

Historical Memory and the Race Relations Institute
04 July 2017

Recently the issue of race and public memory has ignited long-simmering passions in American cities and states over how to properly record and represent the past. On May 18, 2017, the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu, finally achieved his goal – the removal of the 80-foot statue of General Robert E. Lee from a downtown site; the last of four towering monuments to the Confederacy that had stabbed the skyline for over 130 years.

The Kinsmans: Love and Loss in Nineteenth-Century Macau
03 July 2017

The words that Nathaniel Kinsman hastily penned to his “dearly beloved Wife” aboard a fast boat that carried him against the current of the Pei-ho River, from Macao (Macau) to Canton (Guangzhou) in China, reveal how Americans experienced China in the nineteenth century. They are emblematic of stories that reveal the human side of the Old China Trade, and lie beneath the conventional narrative that regales in opium sales and opium wars, pirates and typhoons, and, of course, tea, porcelain and silk.

‘Fastest, highest, longest and safest’: The Coney Island Cyclone
30 June 2017

Ninety years ago this week, a rollercoaster called the Cyclone opened in Coney Island, on the Atlantic coast of the New York borough of Brooklyn. I am no particular rollercoaster fan – though not a tall man I’m always convinced I’ll be decapitated in the tunnels; in the merry photos taken at the end I’m the pale one hunched over – but when I found myself in Coney Island a few years ago I felt obliged, since the Cyclone is still there, to toddle along (fortified by a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog) and have a go.

Wonder Women
22 June 2017

Wonder Woman has kicked down doors for female superheroes everywhere this summer with her Lasso of Truth, steely commitment to peace and wholly impractical wardrobe – raking in $600 million in the process. ... While working on Adam Matthew’s upcoming resource Medical Services and Warfare, I stumbled across a biographical collection charting the real-life women who dedicated their lives to the war effort.

Male Model, Nureyev Type: from Soviet Defector to Pop Culture Icon
15 June 2017

My dazzling career prospects as a ballet dancer were brought to an abrupt end at the age of five, when my family moved house and my lessons in the village hall were discontinued. Who knows what I could have achieved, had I stayed? Unfortunately, my insistence on doing the exact opposite of the teacher’s instructions would probably not have gone down well in the strict world of ballet. In my mildly non-conformist way, perhaps I was really empathising with the bad boy of Russian ballet in the 1960s – Rudolph Nureyev who, on this day in 1961, defected from the Soviet Union and caused an international sensation.

Rumour, Religion and Revolt: Fears of Indian and Catholic conspiracy during Maryland’s Glorious Revolution (1689-1690)
12 June 2017

Maryland’s Glorious Revolution (1689-1690) removed the Catholic Lords Baltimore from government in perpetuity. The family would only return in 1715 as Anglican converts. Maryland’s revolution coincided with the Glorious Revolution in England (1688), which replaced the Catholic King James II with the Protestant William III, and the Nine Years War (1689-1697) with France, known in the American colonial context as King William’s War. In 1684 rumour of a Catholic-American Indian conspiracy circulated amongst colonists. The rumours implicated Colonels Henry Darnall and William Pye, and Major William Boreman Sr., a former mariner and Indian trader, each of whom was a wealthy and distinguished planter in Maryland.

How to commit marriage (and get away with it)
22 May 2017

The object I’ve chosen to highlight this week has been inspired by the fact that no less than five of the staff here at Adam Matthew towers are tying the knot this summer. And it’s clear from discussions during coffee breaks that whether it’s wishing we had our own J-Lo with her slick headset, or wondering what Wilson Phillips might actually charge, representations of weddings form a big part of our understanding of and expectations for the big day.Browsing through the entertainment memorabilia collection in our resource Popular Culture in Britain and America, I came across a press kit for the 1969 film How to Commit a Marriage. A fascinating primary source contemporary to a dynamic time in American cultural life, this item offers insight into Hollywood’s approach to marriage.

Love Letters from the Front
17 May 2017

This time next week, I’ll be spending my bank holiday at The Hay Festival, the annual celebration of literature, art, politics, history (and more) held in the beautiful ‘town of books’, Hay-on-Wye. There’s a huge amount to do at the festival but when the programme came out there was one event I knew I had to see for a second time: Letters Live.

Global inspiration: How World’s Fairs gave us Shakespeare’s Globe
12 May 2017

As a development editor at Adam Matthew, I have had the pleasure of working on some fascinating resources from their earliest days. One such project was our World’s Fairs: A Global History of Expositions resource, which is a veritable treasure trove of documents, objects and oral histories that trace the fascinating phenomenon of world’s fairs; another is our exciting partnership with Shakespeare’s Globe archive.

‘Fame, puts you there where things are hollow…’
09 May 2017

The images above are of the eighteenth-century actresses, Mrs Anne Cargill and Mrs Mary Wells; they have been taken from scanned copies of, Dramatic Annals: Critiques on Plays and Performance and an anthology of performers' letters. They are represented here in their famous stage personas of ‘Clara’ and ‘Cowslip’, characters from The Duenna, and The Agreeable Surprise respectively, performed consistently during the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

28 April 2017

The famed Soviet city of Magnitogorsk was founded in 1929 and built upon an expanse of iron rich land towards the southern edge of the Urals. The city, which was modelled after its American counterpart in Gary, Indiana, became the largest steel plant in the world. Magnitogorsk came to embody the guiding principles of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary experiment in Russia; namely through ideas pinched from the European Enlightenment and subsequent French Revolution of both a rational social order and the power of political mobilisation. The result of which was the realisation that science and politics could be used to landscape and engineer the perfect society, a socialist utopia.

“Is it possible to build up one’s own discotheque?” Disco hits East Germany in 1972 with some love tagged on.
21 April 2017

In the imagination, the iron curtain between East and West during the Cold War era seems to be something impermeable. Especially in terms of cultural exchange and particularly in terms of popular culture. The mind may conjure up a picture of drab, dour and joyless scenes in the East versus a liberated and fun West. Not fair at all it seems - the documentaries and cinemagazines from Socialism on Film give a quick put down to this assumption. In this case the cultural export in question is disco music and the place is East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). It turns out we weren't so different after all.

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