History

Creating Model Americans: The Mississippi Choctaw Billie Family and Relocation: A special guest blog by Reetta Humalajoki
10 January 2017

This 1956 photograph captures a smiling couple with their four children, all dressed in their Sunday best – crisp white shirts for father and son, frilly dresses for the two little girls. The family poses around an armchair in front of their television set, displaying their homely apartment. This is not your average white middle-class family, however. Paul Billie and his wife were members of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe, who relocated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1953.

Keeping the lid on: the British role in the Canadian Caper
05 January 2017

Published this week, Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 covers an extraordinary number of topics and events, addressing the policies, economies, political relationships and significant events of major Middle East powers. One event that has captured the world’s imagination for almost four decades is also extensively analysed – the Iranian hostage crisis.

Christmas on the Front Line
16 December 2016

It’s difficult to imagine what Christmas day was like in 1914 for soldiers on the front lines in France, Belgium and Germany. We know that the horrors of war didn’t stop, that fighting continued in many parts and that the unofficial truces were opportunities to bury the dead. But we’ve also heard stories of carols sung across the trenches and football games, and we know that during that Christmas – and Christmases for years afterward – soldiers received a small but very special gift.

A date which will live in infamy
07 December 2016

President Roosevelt famously declared December 7th 1941 ‘a date which will live in infamy’. As war raged across Europe, and America - the ‘giant’ - slept on, imperialist forces in Japan plotted a devastating strike on Pearl Harbor. Today marks the 77th anniversary of the deadly attack on that sleepy Hawaiian naval base, an event that would ultimately turn the tide of the Second World War.

Leisler’s Rebellion: New York’s (not so) Glorious Revolution: A special guest blog by Sophie H Jones
05 December 2016

1688: The Glorious Revolution. For many of us, these words bring to mind the overthrow of the tyrannical Catholic King James II and the happy arrival of William of Orange and his Queen, Mary. What few of us immediately consider is the impact of this change in regime upon far-flung colonies across the Atlantic.

02 December 2016

With last week’s news of the death of Fidel Castro and Cuba’s nine days of mourning underway, I thought it would be fitting to explore Adam Matthew’s upcoming Socialism on Film resource to discover how the divisive leader and his legacy have been captured on film. I soon found my answer in the 1961 documentary Island Ablaze, a powerful propaganda film which tells the story of the Cuban revolution and explores its implications for Cuba’s future generations.

Cross-Dressing Actresses: Into the Breeches: A Special Guest Blog by Felicity Nussbaum
21 November 2016

Felicity Nussbaum, Distinguished Research Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles and Editorial Board member for Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and the Stage, discusses female cross-dressing in eighteenth-century theatre.

Gaston d’Orléans: Prince, Refugee and General
18 November 2016

The Paraguayan War generated significant interest in Europe, and the Foreign Office in London compiled much of the traffic it received into a printed file, for easy future reference. This volume, digitized as part of Adam Matthew Digital’s Confidential Print: Latin America 1833-1969, contains some fascinating insights into the Comte d’Eu’s role in the conflict – and indeed, British estimations of the Prince.

The Dodgy US Presidential Election of 1824
03 November 2016

The 2016 contest for the US presidency, fought between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, is commonly held to be one of the most bitter and acrimonious American political campaigns in their history. Though as you can imagine, bitter and acrimonious US presidential elections are not in the least bit new in American history. Here’s one.

Fighting for the Right to Love
02 November 2016

This week sees the release in US cinemas of Jeff Nichols’ film Loving, a dramatization of the story of interracial couple Mildred and Richard Loving whose marriage lead to their arrest under anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia in 1958. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, they appealed against the conviction and the case went to the US Supreme Court in 1967 where, in a ground-breaking decision, the convictions were overturned and all remaining anti-miscegenation laws in US states were rendered unconstitutional.

Programmes 1895-1920 – Reaching the Audiences of The Past: A Special Guest Blog by Dr. Phil Wickham
31 October 2016

Examining the material culture of the past can help us to understand how audiences of that time might have felt about what they saw, diminishing our assumptions that we bring from the present day. Some of the most fruitful sources for this research are programmes from popular venues. At The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter we have 4000 cinema programmes, including fascinating examples from the beginnings of cinema history between 1896 and 1920.

Cement, Chemicals, Bricks and Beer: Women in Industry During the First World War
18 October 2016

When we think of the role of women on the Home Front during the First World War, the images which spring to mind are inevitably those of fresh-faced city girls perched precariously on fence posts, wellies on and pitchfork in hand. Think harder and you might also have a vague recollection of countless rows of twenty-somethings handling and packing shell cases in London munitions factories; but what other jobs did women do during the First World War?

The Wipers Times
12 October 2016

Last week I had the opportunity of seeing Ian Hislop’s and Nick Newman’s stage play based upon the true story of The Wipers Times, currently showing at the Watermill Theatre, near Newbury, 22 September – 29 October 2016. I also attended an afternoon discussion session where the co-writers were interviewed about their work and answered questions from the audience. The Wipers Times was a trench journal published by British soldiers fighting on the Ypres Salient during the First World War. It became the most famous example of trench journalism in the English-speaking world.

Spectacle of the First World War: A special guest blog by Elizabeth Mantz
07 October 2016

One of the reasons I like the Adam Matthew resources so much is the visual richness contained within each one. The historical value and depth of the primary source content is complemented and augmented by a wealth of accompanying vivid images, many in colour.

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.

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