History

Affair of the Spanish Ambassador’s Suitcase
11 January 2016

Published this week, Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981, is now available. Digitising full runs of Foreign Office files stored at The National Archives, this resource spans an extraordinary number of topics and events.

Leading the Pack: The Western Scramble for Iran: a special guest blog by Laila Parsons
11 January 2016

In the spring of 1974, Anthony Derrick Parsons took up his new post as British ambassador to Iran. This posting was his first ambassadorship. Previously he had worked on the Middle East desk in the Foreign Office, had served as Political Agent in Bahrain, and as First Secretary to the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Electrifying Your Target Audience: Advertising Medicines in the Nineteenth Century
08 January 2016

Whilst I attempt to accept that “’tis no longer the season to be jolly” and I begin to tackle the pile of leftover Christmas chocolates on my desk, I’ve been looking back at some of my favourite documents from the projects I worked on in 2015. One that vividly stands out is a pamphlet titled ‘The Best Known Curative Agent: Pulvermacher's Electric Belts and Bands for Self-Application’ from our Popular Medicine in America, 1800-1900 resource.

In the Heart of the Sea: stories of the whaling ship 'Essex'
06 January 2016

Ron Howard’s new blockbuster, In the Heart of the Sea, is the latest retelling of the ill-fated final voyage of the Essex. Two years ago I wrote a blog to coincide with a BBC adaptation of the story, in which I summarised the account of Thomas Nickerson, a teenage boy who partook in that harrowing journey. Howard has used Nickerson as the narrator of his film, and this prompted me to look again at the memoir, which can be found in China, America and the Pacific.

The Rector of Stiffkey: Life as a sideshow
16 December 2015

In 1960 the anthropologist Tom Harrisson returned from Borneo to Blackpool, where 23 years earlier he had directed survey work for Mass Observation. His stay was recorded in the MO book Britain Revisited, which took a shapshot of contemporary British life and compared it to what the ‘mass observers’ had seen and heard in 1937. Much in post-war Blackpool, Harrisson found, was as it had been, but the entertainments on the seafront had changed.

Robert E. Lee’s condolence letter to his son Rooney, 1864: A Special Guest Blog by Sandra Trenholm
16 December 2015

In this beautifully written letter, Confederate general Robert E. Lee attempts to console his son William Fitzhugh “Rooney” Lee on the loss of his wife. The letter demonstrates the emotion that Lee felt for his family and offers a glimpse of the strength that carried Lee through the war. His faith in God, his empathy for others’ misfortunes, and his belief in the Confederate cause, all granted Lee the fortitude he needed to endure the war. One can see all of these attributes in this single, short missive.

‘My Dear Old Basil’: Letters from a Shell-Shocked Soldier
04 December 2015

The 4th December marks the anniversary of the publication of a paper entitled ‘The Repression of War Experience’, presented to the Royal School of Medicine in 1917 by W. H. Rivers. Rivers was a psychiatrist and neurologist, mostly known for his work with soldiers suffering from shell-shock, both during and following World War I. His paper advocated the best course of treatment for sufferers of shell-shock was for them to face their painful memories, rather than adopting an ‘ostrich-like policy of attempting to banish them from the mind.’

Armistice Day 1937: a special Guest Blog by Fiona Courage
10 November 2015

I cannot buy a poppy, for I have not got a penny. Not so rich. 11 o’clock, what an unearthly silence. My thoughts are upon my little children in school, their heads will be bowed in reverence to our beloved dead. It is all very sad for the relatives of the fallen, for it seems a pity to keep on reopening an old wound, causing a heartache. I don’t think any body really wishes to remember the war and its horrors. I am thinking about my child’s wet feet, hoping that her leaking shoe will not soak her foot. Wet feet mean bronchitis for her, unless I can stop it with my favourite medicine.

AJEX: British Jewry and Wartime Commemoration
06 November 2015

At the stroke of 11am this Sunday, individuals across Britain, including present day soldiers, veterans and their families, will observe a minute silence to remember the sacrifices of members of the British armed forces and of civilians in times of war. Among them will be members of AJEX, The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, which, as its name suggests, is made up of British-Jewish men and women who once served in the British Armed Forces. With a current membership of approximately 4,000 people, AJEX has a long and interesting history spanning over ninety years.

Secrets, Spies and the Spectre of Scandal
30 October 2015

New details emerged last week of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, two civil servants who acted as Soviet spies from the 1930s up until their defection to Moscow in 1951. The reaction to their flight behind the Iron Curtain can be traced in documents from the National Archives in Adam Matthew’s Confidential Print: North America resource.

The Haunted Swing: something wicked this way rotates...
28 October 2015

With Halloween only days away it’s once again time to dust off the face paints, shine-up the vampire fangs and artistically destroy a pumpkin. To get into the “horror” of things, I began delving through some of our resources to find something suitably ghoulish from the vestiges of history. My search lead me unexpectedly to a photogravure of an amusement ride called the 'The Haunted Swing' within a souvenir album from San Francisco’s California Midwinter International Exposition in 1894.

The Kill or the Cure: how trade and science changed perceptions of medicinal drugs
26 October 2015

Before the advances in science and trade networks during the nineteenth century, our ancestors, in their isolated communities, had to make sense of the natural world through trial and error. Popular Medicine in America, 1800-1900 documents how physicians used their traditional knowledge of plants and human anatomy to treat ailments, and how they gradually incorporated new ideas and techniques into their cures as science and increased global interaction expanded their understanding.

ATALM and the Revitalisation of Indigenous Languages
22 October 2015

On a recent research trip I was lucky enough to attend the International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums held by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM). Situated in Washington DC this year and hosted by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the conference was an opportunity for library, museum and archival staff, together with individuals and groups from a number of different fields, to discuss and share experiences in an important effort to develop and refine goals for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations and communities.

What is Jazz?
21 October 2015

‘The literal translation of jazz is improvisation. But jazz is an expression of the spirit, and the soul, and musician, enables a musician to express himself from deep within himself and to be spontaneous.’

A Very Victorian Illusion: Ghoulies, Ghosties and Halloween Nasties
20 October 2015

For many, Halloween conjures memories of Vincent Price Hammer Horrors, greasy face paint and gaggles of small children with chocolate-plastered faces. As the occasion has arisen, I thought we would do something fun and attempt to summon a spirit. Now, I don’t mean the Ouija Board type of spiritual shenanigans the Victorians were so fond of attending, no. I mean a real summoning … the creation of a real spiritual image.

<<  12 13 14 15 16 [1718 19 20 21  >>