History

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.

Further Adventures of the Intrepid East India Company Women: A SPECIAL GUEST BLOG BY AMRITA SEN
29 September 2016

The three intrepid women, Mariam Begum, Frances (Webbe) Steele, and Mrs Hudson who managed to travel on board East India Company ships in the early seventeenth century, flouting Company prohibition, continued to cause trouble even after the much harried English ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, no longer had to directly deal with them. Unfortunately for Roe, the journey back to England was not as tranquil as he might have hoped, for Frances and Mrs Hudson were travelling with him.

Early Women Travellers and The East India Company: A Special Guest Blog by Amrita Sen
27 September 2016

In 1617 three unlikely travelers, Mariam Begum, Frances Steele (nee Webbe), and Mrs. Hudson, arrived at the busy port of Surat onboard an East India Company ship called the Anne. What made their journey so exceptional was that during the early years of its operation the Company expressly forbade women from traveling out to the East Indies, despite numerous pleas from its factors and sailors who did not wish to leave their wives behind.

Poll taxes, intimidation and impossible tests: the experience of African American voters in the 1950s
16 September 2016

How many people are on the United States government payroll? If you don’t know the answer to this question, and particularly if you were an African American living in the 1950s, then chances are you would not have been allowed to vote. Last Friday, the 9th September, was the 59th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Act. Although there were criticisms at the time as to its efficacy and even motives, it was significant in being the first civil rights legislation to be passed in 82 years.

Send his scalp to the British Museum
08 September 2016

In his classic 1893 the frontier thesis – first delivered at the St Louis Worlds’ Fair – the historian Frederick Jackson Turner gave an analysis of how the experience of this contested space creates a particular culture and forges aptitudes, democracy, mentality, self-reliance, and so forth.

Mathews in the Archive: Assembling the Traces of Performance: A Special Guest Blog By Jane Wessel
06 September 2016

One of the biggest challenges of studying theatre history is reconstructing the non-textual elements of performance: the performers’ gestures and expressions, the costumes and set, the audience reaction. The challenge is amplified when studying illegitimate entertainments or legitimate plays that relied heavily on mimicry. How do we imagine the sounds or conjure the image of a scene in which a single actor, without leaving the stage, performs five or ten separate characters?

Attention Weightlessness! Cosmonaut Training in the USSR
02 September 2016

Visitors to my desk tend to comment on two things; firstly, the fan incessantly running regardless of the season, and secondly, the postcards propped up under the monitor. Bought from an exhibition gift shop last autumn, the cards feature Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova - respectively the first man and woman in space – against a back drop of hammers, sickles and rockets, staring nobly out into the office from under their helmets. My interest in - or perhaps idolatry of - these famed cosmonauts was sparked by our upcoming video resource, Socialism on Film, which is being produced in conjunction with the British Film Institute.

19 August 2016

It’s been a dramatic 2 weeks of triumph, teamwork and towering feats of sporting achievement during the 31st Olympic Games, and after years of planning, the eyes of the world were firmly on Rio de Janeiro.

The Olympic Games 1904
11 August 2016

The Olympic Games are a great opportunity for usually unheralded sports to take centre stage, and many of the same events were on display when the modern games first started over a century ago.

Exploring London Low Life: The Forgotten East End: A Special Guest Blog by Professor Brad Beaven
29 July 2016

When we think of the East End in the nineteenth century our minds often conjure-up images of dark back-street rookeries and communities blighted by crime and poverty. Well known polemic pamphlets by contemporaries like Andrew Mearns’ The Bitter Cry of Outcast London and the haunting images sketched by Gustave Doré have influenced both academic writing and popular culture to this day. When imagining the East End in the nineteenth century, very few of us associate it with sailors and the maritime culture that they brought ashore.

Just Little Bits of History Repeating? Muhammad Ali at the Olympic Games
29 July 2016

It has been difficult to miss the build up to this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which starts a week from today, for all of the hard-hitting headlines in the news recently. Whether it be state-sponsored drugs scandals, concerns about sanitary conditions in the Olympic Village, or the ongoing threat of the Zika virus there has been lots to read about over the last few weeks. In light of this a positive look at an Olympic Games of the past might help buck the trend and provide an opportunity to pay homage to a sporting great – Muhammad Ali.

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