History

20 March 2020

While we all face uncertainty about what to expect from the coming weeks and months, I wanted to use this blog to end this week on a lighter note and highlight some of the fantastic content I was able to find sitting on my sofa.

“The workhouse looms before us”: Administering the New Poor Law
12 March 2020

In 1834, the system of relief for the poor in England and Wales was overhauled by the Poor Law Amendment Act. This aimed to re-organise and centralise the administration of poor relief across the country, establishing deterrent workhouses and strict regulation of outdoor relief to reduce escalating relief costs. Within Adam Matthew’s newly released Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions in Victorian Britain, it’s possible to explore the complex details of this new legislation’s implementation, as well as its accompanying social, political and economic repercussions.

Alexander Hamilton and the Reynolds Pamphlet
06 March 2020

If, like me, you love nothing more than a smash-hit stage musical to ignite a keen interest in revolutionary history then I’d encourage you to look no further than American History, 1493-1945 where you can find a trove of documents from the Gilder Lehrman Institute on the rise and fall of Alexander Hamilton.

Defending the Enemy: John Adams and the Boston Massacre of 1770
28 February 2020

Next week marks the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, one of the key milestones on the road to the American Revolution.On the evening of 5th March 1770, in a snowy Boston, eight British soldiers led by Captain Thomas Preston confronted a crowd of Bostonians, who had gathered to protest outside the Custom House.

Rivals on the Rocks: a scientific saga of the eighteenth-century stage
21 February 2020

Based on the 13th-century Icelandic saga Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, Sir George Mackenzie's The Rival Minstrels featured two poets competing for the hand of the most beautiful woman in Iceland, otherwise known as Helga the Fair. This drama, however, was about to be overshadowed by the eruption of a scientific debate which would play itself out on the eighteenth-century stage.

Changing Nations: The formation of Malaysia, 1963
06 February 2020

On 16th September 1963, Prime Minister of Malaya Tunku Abdul Rahman declared the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, joining Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Indonesian leader Sukarno strongly opposed this union, resulting in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, or ‘Konfrontasi’.

From Vegetarianism to Veganuary: January’s not so recent trend
24 January 2020

Mid-January is often regarded as the most miserable time of the year. The indulgences of Christmas have passed, everyone is skint and Dry January is in full swing. In recent years, the UK has witnessed a growing trend towards ‘Veganuary’ for both ethical and environmental reasons.

A Taste of Chocolate's History
23 January 2020

Guest author Dr Beth Forrest explores the primary sources digitised in Adam Matthew’s Food and Drink in History resource, looking at how cultural attitudes towards chocolate have evolved over time.

Astrology and stickers as weapons of war
17 January 2020

When looking through files concerning the Special Operations Executive's activities in western Europe, digitally re-published this week as part of our Research Source resource World War Two Studies, I was struck by the sheer variety of work in which it engaged. Along with the expected documents concerning sabotage missions, arms shipments to resistance movements, armistice terms, and relations with other intelligence agencies (and also missions named after a surprising array of vegetables) are files on the distribution of a wide range of propaganda materials.

The Transformative Nature of Vampirism: Two Centuries of Gothic Characterisation
10 January 2020

The legacy of the vampire character is a revealing case study, tracing the ways in which tropes and genres are influenced by societal changes and cultural trends throughout history. Adam Matthew’s Victorian Popular Culture resource provides an insight into how the characterisation of vampires has evolved over the last two centuries.

Meet Me at the Fair: A Christmas Controversy
20 December 2019

At Adam Matthew headquarters, the annual debate over what constitutes a Christmas film has been raging. Does it have to be Christmas throughout the narrative? Does Christmas have to be integral to the plot? Does Die Hard count? Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 musical Meet Me in St Louis is a personal favourite, but one that I have struggled to convince my Editorial colleagues is a bone fide Christmas classic, taking place as it does throughout a whole year, but featuring Judy Garland’s iconic and undeniable rendition of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.

Human Rights and the Rights of Women
06 December 2019

December 10 is Human Rights Day; it celebrates the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. Certain to find a grand celebration of the Declaration I delved into our resources but was instead side-tracked by a page from "Union Jack" in Service Newspapers of World War Two.

Publishing the Archive: a launch celebration at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive
02 December 2019

As Development Editor for Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings, I was fortunate to attend recent events celebrating the launch of our online resource at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Hope and Empire Building: Prester John and the Mongols
29 November 2019

Prester John, the fictional Asian Christian ruler, dwelt within the western medieval psyche for centuries and features heavily in Medieval Travel Writing. He is the subject of numerous letters and as an artistic subject of the period. How, when there was so little physical evidence for his existence, did his legend persist?

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