History

Holding the Manuscript, Pining the Actress: A Special Guest Blog by Robert W Jones
20 July 2016

In 2009, supported by an Andrew W Mellon Foundation Fellowship, I spent a month at the Huntington Library. My intention was to research how eighteenth-century plays were translated from manuscript into performance and later print. My focus was the Larpent manuscripts, the play scripts submitted to the examiner of plays prior to their production.

The Moon Always Shines on TV
12 July 2016

On this day, 47 years ago, the words “that’s one small step..." were broadcast live, and the world knew that man had landed on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission had finally given the US the upper hand in the Space Race, more than a decade after the Soviet Union declared its intention to launch a satellite.

New lands on a plate: British vs French in eighteenth-century North America
08 July 2016

In the popular imagination, colonial-era America is equated with the thirteen colonies of Britain, and indeed our Colonial America resource, module 2 of which has just been released, is made up exclusively of British and British-American archive material. But the reality is that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America was contested between rival European powers, each vying for land, resources, trade, military superiority and advantageous relations with indigenous groups.

Smiles from the Somme
29 June 2016

On 1st July 1916 the first day of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War, began. Over 141 days, 1.2 million soldiers on both sides of the conflict were injured or killed, in what Captain Blackadder famously referred to as ‘another gargantuan effort to move [Field Marshal Haig’s] drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.’ 1st July 1916 has gone down on record as the single worst day in the history of the British army; in just one day, the army suffered 60,000 casualties. Desperate to keep the true horrors of the war from civilian eyes, the propaganda machine swung into overdrive.

“My” American Declaration of Independence: A special guest blog by Joseph J. Felcone
21 June 2016

In October 2008 I was spending a week at The National Archives, Kew, recording their holdings of New Jersey imprints for a then forthcoming descriptive bibliography of printing in New Jersey before 1800. The CO 5 records from the British Colonial Office records are an extraordinary source for early American printing, but they have been largely neglected by printing historians because there is no item-level cataloguing.

An Eighteenth Century Hiddleswift
17 June 2016

Celebrity gossip: a sustainable source of cheap entertainment since time immemorial, and the proof is in our primary sources. Pandemonium ensued in the Adam Matthew office yesterday morning, all because Taylor Swift is now dating Tom Hiddleston. We’re not proud of it, but nevertheless we indulged in gossiping heatedly about this new development in Taylor Swift’s eventful love life.

Italian Migrants in The United States: A Special Guest Blog by Dr Matteo Pretelli
14 June 2016

In the 1880s, Italians started to migrate en mass abroad. In particular, during the period spanning from the beginning of the twentieth century to the outbreak of World War I. To begin with, it was mostly Southern peasants who contributed to the number of those departing and the United States became the main magnet of Italians, while Sicily and Campania (the region of Naples) were the location of the most numerous regional groups to emigrate.

30 Days of '37: From Coast to Coast (Almost)
08 June 2016

On a perfect day in June 1937, Mrs F. W. Stone and her family left Ashtabula, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie and set out by air conditioned Pullman coach for California. Originally the trip was designed to visit a sister, who had long been neglected, but it was also a chance to really ‘see’ the West. As she put it, “For some reason American people do not take trips to see their own country in the same way they take European trips. They will go to the West to visit a friend or relative, spend two or three weeks with them, come back and apparently have not seen much of the country.”

Jesus Christ, this will be fun! Alexander Hamilton on stage
08 June 2016

How could you not love a musical which borrows equally from The Pirates of Penzance and Notorious B.I.G? Hamilton, if you haven’t heard yet, is a musical blending rap, jazz, blues and classic Broadway melodies to tell the story of an obscure Founding Father (‘Yo, who the eff is this?!’) and his attempts to get a radical debt plan passed by America’s fledgling government. Yeah, that old chestnut. I jest; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s occasionally swear-y, Pulitzer Prize-winning show has torn up the rulebook, and this weekend, stands to make history at the Tony Awards where it has earned a record-breaking haul of sixteen nominations.

‘Separate but equal’ is inherently unequal: The NAACP’s struggle against segregation
01 June 2016

Before June springs into action I thought it important to honour the past month as the 62nd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education verdict which overturned the Jim Crow Laws and marked a milestone in civil rights history. In May 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools violated the 14th Amendment

Censoring the Stage
27 May 2016

Adam Matthew Digital’s newest resource Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and the Stage makes available the Larpent plays from the Huntington Library, California – as well as material from several other archives. The Licensing Act of 1737 was introduced by Walpole as a retaliation against the politically satirical nature of theatrical performances in the 1730s. This meant that new works of ‘serious drama’ performed at the patent theatres – designated by the crown – were required to apply for a licence in order to be performed. John Larpent was responsible for this practice, as the Examiner of plays 1778-1824.

Thomas Cook and Touring the Middle East
20 May 2016

This week sees the anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement. A secret agreement between the Triple Entente signed on the 16th May 1916, it would divide the Middle East and the surrounding areas that were currently controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The plan was exposed by the new Bolshevik government of Russia in 1917 and printed in the UK newspaper the Guardian the same year.

Sowing the Seeds of a Settlement on the American Frontier
13 May 2016

I’m going to be honest: there are no bear attacks or Leonardo DiCaprios in this frontier- related blog post. There is, however, the story of a modest Quaker husband and wife, Thomas and Hannah Symons, who, following their marriage in 1811, decided to migrate from their homes in North Carolina to settle in Indiana which at the time was still a largely unsettled territory. Initially, this doesn’t sound like a particularly exceptional story in keeping with the notion of American exceptionalism, but all ideologies aside, Hannah Symons’ recollections provide a fascinating and personal insight into the hardship, bravery and perseverance involved in sowing the seeds of a settlement on the American frontier.

Town Topics: The Journal of Society
06 May 2016

Everyday Life & Women in America c.1800-1920 features a full run of the rare periodical Town Topics: The Journal of Society (1887-1923) from the New York Public Library. Town Topics was a weekly periodical offering literature reviews, short fictional stories, sporting news and financial advice. The periodical actually began as The American Queen but the name was changed to Town Topics when Colonel E.D. Mann assumed the editorship in 1891. As well as the name the success and the tone of the magazine were also set to change.

Another scene in the life of Harriet Tubman
28 April 2016

Recently, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, announced that some changes were being made to America’s paper currency. Chief among them was the replacement of Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, to make way for the inclusion of Harriet Tubman, the former slave turned abolitionist who was dubbed “Moses” due to her work in guiding slave families away from their owners using the infamous Underground Railroad. Tubman will be joined on the bill by a slew of activists and reformers who will soon grace the $5 and $10 notes, including Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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