It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas
28 November 2014

Intense debate has broken out among sections of the Adam Matthew staff this week following the decision to open our box of Christmas decorations. A number of employees have steadfastly refused to go near the festive items before December 1st. Others have insisted that the extra cheer they bring justifies their appearance in November, though suspicions remain that this is a ruse in order to get first call on the choicest tinsel.

Where Were You on May 12th?
12 November 2014

The final part of Mass Observation Online has been released today making the Mass Observation Archive available to researchers in its entirety. But where did it all begin?

We will remember them
07 November 2014

On 11 November the nation, and many others around the world, will observe the annual memorial day for all those who lost their lives through war. This year, and surely for the next four years, particular thought is given to those who fought in the First World War, as we mark 100 years since the conflict began.

Psychic Photography:  snaps of the spirit world
29 October 2014

Halloween is here again, and ghouls and monsters will roam our streets tonight. In honour of this spookiest day of the year, today’s blog will explore the dark art of Psychic Photography, as revealed in Adam Matthew’s Victorian Popular Culture resource.

Aliens, Conspiracy and Abduction: UFO tales from the 1950’s Underground Press
24 October 2014

After a BBC story about a UFO today, it got me thinking about how the UFO phenomenon was handled in the 1950’s and onwards.

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.

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