History

World's Fairs: An International Obsession
23 June 2015

As my interest in World’s Fairs creeps ever closer to obsession, my expectations were sky high when, last month, I was lucky enough to attend EXPO 2015 in Milan, the current incarnation of the centuries-old tradition of World’s Fairs. In light of our forth-coming resource, World’s Fairs: A Global History of Expositions, I was fascinated to see how modern expos compared to the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851, or the futuristic fair of New York in 1964, and experience something comparable to these phenomenally influential historical events.

23 June 2015

If you’re like me and were lucky enough to get a ticket for this year’s Glastonbury festival, you’re probably in a field right now up to your welly clad knees in mud and wondering why you thought you could survive five days eating just pot noodles and Lidl’s own breakfast bars.

The Freed Slaves of the South
19 June 2015

While indexing the documents in our American History, 1493-1945 collection I found a curious printed book from 1915, entitled ‘Aunt Phebe, Uncle Tom and others’ by Mrs Essie Collins Matthews. This is a collection of character studies and photographs of freed slaves living in the South fifty years after abolition came into effect.

The Ride of a Lifetime
16 June 2015

Having several ancestors on both sides of my family who survived Waterloo, I thought it only fitting that Adam Matthew should mark the 200th anniversary with a tribute to heroism and the British stiff upper lip. In July 1815, the English court painter Sir Thomas Lawrence wrote enthusiastically to Mrs Isabella Wolff about the courage and heroism of Lord Wellington and, in particular, of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Alexander Gordon; the Duke’s Aide de Camp.

11 June 2015

While working with the documents of American History, 1493-1945: From the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History my eye was drawn to some of the American Civil War-era military manuals due to some interesting appendices. As a part-time trumpet player I took an interest in some music charts entitled “General Calls” for the army buglers. There were two different sets that I came across, one for Confederate Infantry (Rifle and Infantry Tactics, Revised and Improved GLC03071) and one for Union Cavalry (Cavalry Tactics in Three Parts GLC07566.01).

10 June 2015

It was on the 11th of this month in 1963 that John F. Kennedy gave his civil rights speech in which he asked for legislation which would give ‘greater protection for the right to vote’. In November, the bill was referred to the Rules Committee where it was quickly dismissed.

Eleanor Roosevelt's Universal Rights
04 June 2015

In the year that we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, and the UK government questions Britain’s part in the European Convention on Human Rights, it is a poignant time to reflect on the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Central to this was Eleanor Roosevelt who was already heavily involved in social justice and human rights by the time she became First Lady in the White House in 1933.

African American Philanthropy in the Twin Cities: The Saint Paul Urban League
02 June 2015

In April 2015, I and another member of the Adam Matthew team embarked on a three-week trip to the Midwest of the United States. Our first stop was the ‘Flour Milling Capital of the World’ – Minneapolis and its twin city, Saint Paul.

A Right Royal Welcome: Liverpool Celebrates with Cunard's Three Queens
26 May 2015

Liverpool has a lot to be proud of. A vibrant city with a rich heritage, Liverpool has brought us The Beatles, world class football, and striking architecture such as the Liver Building and Metropolitan Cathedral. Liverpool’s docks also carry the city’s legacy as a world famous port. With over 50 ports built along 7 miles over the last 300 years, Liverpool became a hub for commercial shipping and a key location for those wishing to migrate to and from the UK.

Paying Tribute to the Past at Historic Stagville, NC
18 May 2015

Shortly after joining Adam Matthew this year I set off to North Carolina for an archive research trip. Whilst there I had the opportunity to visit Historic Stagville, the site of one of the largest plantations in North Carolina and the pre-Civil War South at its peak during the 1850s and early 1860s. The site and buildings seemed peaceful on a beautiful April morning in the leafy, green North Carolina countryside, but there were stark reminders as we toured the buildings, of the injustices that took place and the difference in quality of life for the plantation owners and the slave community who lived here.

Robert E. Lee Caught Between Nation and State
15 May 2015

Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, remains a person who inspires great interest and debate to this day, not least due to the complexity of his character and loyalties. This is demonstrated by a letter in which Lee reports for military duty in Washington and says he awaits his orders from Union command. Twenty three days later, he had resigned his post and taken a commission from newly seceded Virginia.

“An invention without a future”? The re-opening of the Regent Street Cinema
07 May 2015

Regent Street Cinema, the venue for the first public screening of Louis and Auguste Lumière’s Cinématographe in Britain on the 20th February 1896, has re-opened this week after being restored to its former glory. The small, single-screen cinema, originally part of the Royal Polytechnic Institution at what is now the Regent Street campus of the University of Westminster, was closed to the public in 1980 and has since served as a lecture theatre for the university.

Dreams in Treasure Island
24 April 2015

At the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925 the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, aiming to promote their railway to a British audience, showcased their wildly popular ‘Treasure Island’ installation. The island was a magical world created for children and big children alike where they could clamber aboard miniature trains Peter Pan and Alice to explore the Canadian Rockies.

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