Nelson Mandela the ‘Champion of African Nationalism’ and a Changed South Africa
02 October 2014

As many of us have been gripped in recent months by the ongoing trial of Oscar Pistorius, a little over fifty years ago the eyes of the world were again trained on a high profile South African court case. At the height of the Apartheid era, in 1964, ten leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) stood accused of a number of charges, including acts of sabotage, which was, in extreme cases, punishable by death. In what was known as the Rivonia Trial, one of the accused was a man called Nelson Mandela.

He-Men and Homemakers: Gender in Mid-20th Century Advertising
24 September 2014

Unfortunately Emma Watson throwing down the UN HeForShe gauntlet this week came too late for the male-dominated mid-20th century advertising industry. They were well aware that 75% of the buying power in America was held by homemaking women, so actively reinforced gender inequality, in fear that their industry would crumble without it.

a-vote-for-freedom-or-better-together? Scotland’s Independence Referendum and Cultural Identity
16 September 2014

Being one of the frustrated Scots unable to vote in the forthcoming historic Scottish independence referendum I got to thinking about cultural identity and just what it means to part of the United Kingdom. Personally, I have always thought of myself as being both Scottish and British and this is something that is really being called into question as the Yes and No campaigns make their final bids for votes.

29 August 2014

Unless you have been living on another planet this week you will have at some point witnessed friends and family dousing themselves in icy water to raise money for ALS (Motor Neurone Disease in the UK) and, increasingly, some other charities. Many of you will have braved the Arctic bath yourselves.

‘All people shall continue free Denizons’: New Amsterdam becomes New York
22 August 2014

Visiting New York a few years ago, I decided I wanted to see what remained of the very beginnings of the city: New Amsterdam, the Dutch settlement which was taken over by the English and rechristened after King Charles II’s brother, the Duke of York, in 1664. Sadly for my niche historical interest, the plain truth is that there is nothing to see. New Amsterdam was no more than a large village on the site of what is now Manhattan’s financial district; fires and rebuilding and time have erased it.

Hate Mail for Old Abe Lincoln
14 August 2014

This letter from a man called Pete Muggins to Abraham Lincoln, responding to Lincoln’s recent election to the office of US President in 1860, reveals to us that hate mail and trolling are far from a modern phenomenon.

Thou Shalt Not Tell Any False Tales About Good Diggings in The Mountains
08 August 2014

Correspondence and diaries are often the first objects that spring to mind when wanting to better understand the experiences of others, but ephemeral items can also offer surprising insights into the past. Whilst working on material from the Gilder Lehrman Collection for the American History resource, I came across an interesting re-working of the Ten Commandments in an article sent home by a miner. They had been adapted for those employed by companies during the gold rush of the 1850s

'With less competition, we win more medals': The politics of hosting the Commonwealth Games
25 July 2014

Alex Salmond has offered repeated public assurances in the months leading up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which opened on Wednesday evening, that the sporting spectacle will not be turned into a political battlefield over Scotland’s continued membership of the United Kingdom, with the decisive referendum looming in just under eight weeks’ time. Correspondence from the 1970s, however, shows that British diplomats have long considered the act of hosting the Games in Britain to be inherently politicised, as organisers strive to maintain delicate balances within the Commonwealth.

The Diplomatic Fruit Salad: An International Incident
15 July 2014

This week's Object of the Week (and I feel a little like a character from Sesame Street now) was inspired by a fruit salad consumed earlier in the week and features a particularly juicy file available in the forthcoming Apartheid South Africa resource.

We Think It's All Over
04 July 2014

Summer 2014 may have already given us some glorious sunshine, but spirits have definitely been dampened by dismal sporting performances. We've all experienced the uplifting effect that a successful campaign can have on the nation and, more relevantly in recent weeks, the opposite.

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
27 June 2014

On 28th June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an incident that stunned Europe and set in motion a series of events leading to the outbreak of World War I. Adam Matthew’s First World War resource contains documents, images and video footage that help to tell the story of the shooting and its aftermath.

Felines: Friend or Foe?
20 June 2014

Cats: love them or hate them, they’re here to stay. In fact, cats in Britain seem to be more popular than ever, as a survey by one of the mobile phone networks recently revealed; apparently we post 3.8 million photos or videos a day onto the internet. Indeed, over 350,000 cat owners have even set up social network accounts on behalf of their beloved furry friends.

Henry and Lucy Knox; a couple separated by the Revolutionary War
11 June 2014

Over the past couple of weeks I have been working with the Henry Knox collection held at the Gilder Lehrman Institute; a collection that looks at one of the key military figures of the Revolutionary War.

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