Welsh Patagonia: 150 years of 'Y Wladfa Gymreig'
08 October 2015

Having grown up in a Welsh-speaking community in Cardiff, I have long been familiar and fascinated with the history and concept of 'Y Wladfa Gymreig', a Welsh-speaking settlement in Patagonia, Argentina. Founded in 1865, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Y Wladfa with celebrations taking place throughout the year in both Wales and Argentina.

01 October 2015

When most African American migrants connected freedom with the North, ‚Äúthe mecca was Chicago.‚ÄĚ In 1910, Chicago‚Äôs 40,000 black residents were scattered throughout a city of two million. But by the 1960s, African Americans made up one third of the city‚Äôs three million and were largely segregated within ghettoes on the South and West sides of town.

A Royal Affair
18 September 2015

Whilst browsing through a collection of material from our up-coming World’s Fairs resource, a familiar face appeared to me amidst a stream of photographs of jubilant crowds, exotic pavilions and iconic industrial feats. It was none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attending Expo 67, Montreal’s international exposition.

Service Not Servitude
07 September 2015

Today marks the US federal holiday Labor Day; a day dedicated to honouring the American labour movement and recognizing the contributions and social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a day to celebrate strength and prosperity and to have one last hurrah for summer.

Fun, Sun and Summer Flings
07 September 2015

Summer in the northern hemisphere is drawing to a close and with it comes the end of peak holiday season. ‚ÄėBack to School‚Äô advertisements and darker evenings remind us that the summer holiday is over, but it won‚Äôt be long until travel agents are persuading us to book next year‚Äôs dream getaway. To cheer myself up in the meantime I‚Äôve been browsing holiday and tourism paraphernalia from the 1960s and dreaming of vacationing in a more glamourous age.

The Utter Ruin of Mary Musgrove Bosomworth
02 September 2015

Documents included in Colonial America cover daring feats of piracy, bloody wars, rugged expeditions through frontiers infested with ‚Äėvigorous rattlesnakes‚Äô and reams of legislation that ultimately shaped a nation. However, after hours spent tilting my head this way and that in an attempt to decipher the handwriting of various clerks, it has become clear that the lives of women within the Thirteen Colonies were of less interest to record keepers than politics and trade. A queen may have sat on the throne when English explorers first landed on the coast of Virginia, but the age of empire was, primarily, an age of withered, wigged, white men.

Rough dust gold in a purple bagg: Pirate treasure in colonial America
28 August 2015

Over the past couple of months I‚Äôve been spending most of my time indexing documents for our forthcoming Colonial America resource, which consists of British Colonial Office files from The National Archives, Kew. This material covers all aspects of life in the Thirteen Colonies and beyond, from the everyday administrative grind of council meetings and petitions about land rights to the more evocative subjects (from the comfortable vantage point of twenty-first-century Britain) of battles with the French, parlays with Indians, and pirates ‚Äď or ‚Äėpyrates‚Äô, as most writers of the time rather pleasingly spelled it.

Escape from Spandau Prison
21 August 2015

Migration to New Worlds: A Century of Immigration reminds me of a photo-mosaic. The resource sweeps across several cultures, tens of decades and thousands of miles to explore the mass migration of peoples in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but this rich narrative is actually comprised of a multitude of stories of the individuals, families and communities that decided to up sticks and ship themselves off to a whole new life.

New Online this Fall: ‚ÄėAfrican American Communities‚Äô
20 August 2015

One of my personal highlights from the forthcoming African American Communities resource has been working with the oral history collections that will be featured within the project. The oral histories (sourced from the Atlanta History Center, Washington University in St. Louis and the Weeksville Heritage Center) contain personal accounts of the Atlanta Civil Rights Movement, African American art and culture and the African American community of Weeksville, Brooklyn.

Graham crackers: the original health food (or, bourbon marshmallow s'mores with bacon!)
06 August 2015

It may surprise you to learn that fad diets are not a recent phenomenon; the 1830s saw a health food craze, founded by Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), sweep across the US. Graham’s philosophy resonates with current trends; championing fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains while cutting out fat, meat and sugar.

The Marquis de Lafayette, a 'Citizen of Two Worlds'
31 July 2015

Earlier in the year I stumbled upon an article about a successful effort to build and sail a replica of the French frigate l‚ÄôHermione. Further reading revealed that one of the key reasons this ship is sailing again is the voyage it made in 1780 from Rochefort, France, to Boston, USA. On this particular trip across the Atlantic was the man known as the Marquis de Lafayette (full name Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier ‚Äď try saying that fast three times!) on his return the North American continent.

The inhumanity of brutality is colourless: African Americans and police relations
24 July 2015

One of the most interesting things about working with so many varied primary source documents on a daily basis is how often the material makes me think of current issues. Items that appear in the news, questions that are still being considered, and consequences from past events still being felt always bring home the importance of history. I’ve had the privilege of working on African American Communities which covers various themes and issues of importance, and notably that of police and community relations.

Brawls, Duels and Marsupials. A Voyage to Tasmania
14 July 2015

On 12 March 1838, a young surgeon by the name of Dr John Hanchett joined the ship Henry at St Katherine Dock, bound for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). His journal survives in the archives of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania and paints a vivid account of the trials and tribulations encountered during four months at sea, the relations between crew and passengers and the leisure activities on board an early Victorian emigrant ship. What follows is a potted account of his trip.

Battle of Brandywine Creek: A British victory or a tactical American retreat?
10 July 2015

On a recent trip to Delaware we decided to explore the countryside around Wilmington and came across the Brandywine Battlefield, now a visitor’s site. Having worked on the American History, 1493-1945 project this intrigued me and so we decided to investigate. It turned out that we had come to the site of one of the largest land battles of the American Revolution.

From Sea to Shining Sea
03 July 2015

On the eve of the Fourth of July and as the smell of fireworks and hot-dogs creeps across the United States, those of us lucky enough to have worked on American History 1493-1945 are swept along with the Independence Day spirit. The federal holiday is one of the most significant in the US calendar, competing only with Thanksgiving for the top-spot of cultural significance. Traditionally celebrated with parades, fireworks and parties the essence has not changed since the first anniversary celebration in 1777.

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