Area Studies

Looking to the future in 1975: JWTrends
26 October 2018

Produced weekly by the Information Center of J. Walter Thompson’s Chicago office, JWTrends offered advertisers insights into the latest technological, social and economic news and research. Initially presented as a newsletter for JWT’s Chicago office alone upon its launch in 1974, by early 1975 this weekly, single-page newsletter could boast that it was a ‘digest of news… of interest to those in the advertising and marketing community’, suggesting a wider circulation than just the staff of one Thompson office.

Robert Robert Robert
27 September 2018

It’s baby season at Adam Matthew at the moment, with our staff producing almost as many babies this year as we have collections. With each bundle of joy comes the discussion of baby names, a discussion I remember having myself when I had my own bundle of joy (now a toddler terror) a few years ago. Whilst lists of boys and girls names are made and debated in our offices and staff room, I’m starting to wonder if it would all be a bit simpler if we just took a leaf from the Livingstons of New York’s book and just call all upcoming babies the same name.

Unicorns: 'fierce and extremely wild?'
14 September 2018

Recently digitised for Adam Matthew’s Age of Exploration, the papers of Sir Joseph Banks offer fascinating insights into European maritime exploration, scientific developments and the intellectual life of his day. As well as accompanying Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific, Banks patronised numerous expeditions, and played a leading role in European academia. The range of individuals who corresponded with Banks is astounding; his correspondents include the naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, the astronomer William Herschel, the polymath explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and even revolutionaries (Benjamin Franklin and Jean-Paul Marat.)

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps): The Japanese Yokai
02 August 2018

Being something of a fan of the stories of M. R James, whose heroes often come across intriguing manuscripts telling of ghosts and demons, I couldn’t help but be reminded of his work when I happened across today’s featured item, the ‘Book of Monstrosities’ (or, Nihon itai jinbutsu zu).

 

 

 

Marko Marulić and the 'Kirishitan ban': The Jesuits in Japan
09 July 2018

When we’re indexing historical documents at Adam Matthew we’ll sometimes come across one in a language we can’t read. Occasionally we’ll not only be unable to read it but also be unable to identify what the language is, even after consulting multilingual colleagues.

Miracles and fairy tales: The “Great Leap Forward” in Chinese newsreels
03 April 2018

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of China’s Great Leap Forward in 1958. Under the auspices of Chairman Mao, the Chinese Communist Party laid out a programme which aimed to rapidly transform their agrarian economy into an industrial, collectivised, socialist state. Produced by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio of the People’s Republic of China, newsreel series China Today provides a unique, state-sponsored narrative of bumper crop yields, cultural exploits and factory construction in this period. However, if 1958 was an 'unusual and glorious fairy-tale', 1959 would signal the beginning of a nightmare.

Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Co-operation (Eurabia)
02 October 2017

When reviewing an historical event, I often enjoy researching the minutiae of the moment. What, I will wonder, was the weather like? What did the participants eat for breakfast? It is for this reason that I wanted to put Adam Matthew’s facsimile of the summary booklet for the 1977 ‘Peace and Palestinians’ conference into a more detailed historical and cultural context – drawn in by the little details, and encouraged by the fact that the fortieth anniversary of this significant event is rapidly approaching.

Adam Matthew presents!: Conference papers and panels
21 July 2017

Scarcely a week goes by at the Adam Matthew office without a report landing in my inbox from colleagues returning from conferences in far-flung locations such as Utrecht, Florida and Budapest. One or other of us is forever off to an academic gathering somewhere in the world, often as an exhibitor with a booth of leaflets and goodies, and other times as an inquisitive delegate attending papers and workshops.

“Is it possible to build up one’s own discotheque?” Disco hits East Germany in 1972 with some love tagged on.
21 April 2017

In the imagination, the iron curtain between East and West during the Cold War era seems to be something impermeable. Especially in terms of cultural exchange and particularly in terms of popular culture. The mind may conjure up a picture of drab, dour and joyless scenes in the East versus a liberated and fun West. Not fair at all it seems - the documentaries and cinemagazines from Socialism on Film give a quick put down to this assumption. In this case the cultural export in question is disco music and the place is East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). It turns out we weren't so different after all.

Operation Teutonic Sword
09 March 2017

In the Cold War battle for hearts and minds there was documentary film making. In this struggle a small British distributor of left-wing films tried to play its part by showing documentaries made in socialist countries as a counterpoint to Western interpretations of those places behind the iron curtain as menacing and dangerous. Its motto was ‘See the other side of the world’. These were films that often shone a light back on the West and its own misdemeanours. Many of the films it distributed came from East Germany – home of some skilled documentary makers – and one these films in particular led to a legal and political kerfuffle that raised questions of libel, censorship and diplomatic niceties in Cold War Britain.

37 days after 37 years: Shapour Bakhtiar’s Iranian revolution
07 February 2017

The revolution which brought the Islamic republic to power in Iran 38 years ago this week was a singular event in the twentieth century, and is still considered something of an enigma by many scholars. Our resource 'Foreign Offices Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981' contains British diplomats’ detailed reports and opinions on the upheavals, among them despatches from early 1979 when, as in Russia in 1917, a short-lived, half-forgotten government tried and failed to establish power before being swept away by the regime that eventually, and famously, consolidated its hold.

The Power of Protest
27 January 2017

Last week millions of people across the world joined peaceful demonstrations protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump and marching in support of causes widely feared to be under threat in his new administration.

‘The captain-general of iniquity’: The impeachment of Warren Hastings
20 January 2017

One of the many good things about living in a place like Britain, where lots of documented stuff has been going on in a small space for a long time, is that wherever you go there’ll be some historical notable who’s been there before you. Last summer I was wandering around the Cotswolds and passed through Daylesford, for many years owned, I discovered using the power of the guidebook, by Warren Hastings, perhaps the most notorious figure in the East India Company at the height of its power and the penultimate man to be impeached before the British Parliament.

02 December 2016

With last week’s news of the death of Fidel Castro and Cuba’s nine days of mourning underway, I thought it would be fitting to explore Adam Matthew’s upcoming Socialism on Film resource to discover how the divisive leader and his legacy have been captured on film. I soon found my answer in the 1961 documentary Island Ablaze, a powerful propaganda film which tells the story of the Cuban revolution and explores its implications for Cuba’s future generations.

Gaston d’Orléans: Prince, Refugee and General
18 November 2016

The Paraguayan War generated significant interest in Europe, and the Foreign Office in London compiled much of the traffic it received into a printed file, for easy future reference. This volume, digitized as part of Adam Matthew Digital’s Confidential Print: Latin America 1833-1969, contains some fascinating insights into the Comte d’Eu’s role in the conflict – and indeed, British estimations of the Prince.

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