Area Studies

The Explorations of William Watts McNair
04 August 2021

Central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan, 1834-1922: From Silk Road to Soviet Rule - the latest addition to Adam Matthew Digital’s Archives Direct platform - showcases a wealth of documents from the National Archives, UK relating to the “Great Game”, a struggle between the British and Russian Empires for political influence, territory, and trade in the region. Filed in one of the volumes digitised for this collection is a report concerning William Watts McNair's ‘Explorations in part of Eastern Afghanistan and Kafiristan', an exhaustive record of travels undertaken in 1883.

Isabella Bird: Explorer or Exploiter
14 July 2021

This guest blog was written by Edward Armston-Sheret, a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway’s Department of Geography. As part of the collaboration between the Royal Historical Society and Adam Matthew Digital, Ed, and a number of other early career researchers, were awarded a twelve-month subscription to Adam Matthew Digital’s collections of digital primary sources. Ed used Nineteenth Century Literary Society to access the material on Isabella Bird, such as the letters mentioned in the blog below:

Isabella Bird is remembered as a pioneering woman traveller. She went to and through every continent except Antarctica and wrote best-selling books on her journeys. Bird was also one of the first women admitted to the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in 1892. Studying her life and travels can draw attention to the often ignored role of women within Victorian geography. But there is a danger of ignoring the people who made her journeys possible.

Horses, mules, a buffalo and a King
10 November 2020

The fourth module of East India Company, Correspondence: Early Voyages, Formation and Conflict, released this week, showcases a vast quantity of archival material from Series E of the India Office Records held at the British Library. Documents relating developments in not only South Asia, but also Venice, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Madagascar, Singapore and modern-day Indonesia (among other places) all feature. And alongside great developments in global history, we can also trace the stories of individuals whose paths crossed with those of the Company – mariners, traders, diplomats, soldiers, clerks and political operators.

16 October 2020

“Pink Pills for Pale People!” is the excited announcement from a leaflet that can be found in Popular Medicine in America 1800-1900. If, like me, you’re wondering whether the pink pills make people pale, or pale people pink, or perhaps that this much alliterative pinkness is beyond the pale...well, you might be right.

Way out West but still in frame
11 November 2019

With the focus of a new semester, it’s always an exciting time to hit the road and talk to academics across the country about all things humanities and social sciences. The fact that it’s also conference season again means I have the privilege of exposure to fascinating lectures, great conversations with the academic community, and the opportunity to share the latest news from Adam Matthew Digital.

Melodies floating on the wind: musical recordings from across the globe
10 September 2019

Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings which published last month is Adam Matthew’s first predominantly audio collection; produced in collaboration with the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive and featuring materials from University of Washington’s Ethnomusicology Archive.

The resource includes hundreds of field recordings from all over the world; from Brooklyn hip hop, to European religious music, to Javanese gamelan. It’s been an exciting 18 months working on this project and getting to listen to music from around the globe.

“All the world’s a stage”: diplomatic entertainment in inter-war Japan
08 February 2019

In 1929, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester travelled to Japan to invest Emperor Hirohito with the Order of the Garter and in honour of the visit, the prince was treated to a presentation of a Kabuki drama by the famous Kabuki-za theatre in Tokyo. Browsing through Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1930: Japan and Great Power Status, the newly released third section of Adam Matthew’s Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952 collection, I came across a programme prepared specifically for the drama’s performance for Prince Henry.

Part 2: The Columbia River Maps and Meteorological Calculations of David Douglas: An Archival Discovery
29 January 2019

This is the second in a two-part blog in which David G. Lewis, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Native Studies at Oregon State University, tells the story of discovering some previously unknown documents from Pacific Northwest explorer David Douglas within Adam Matthew Digital's collection Age of Exploration.

The Columbia River Maps and Meteorological Calculations of David Douglas: An Archival Discovery
21 January 2019

This is the first in a two-part blog in which David G. Lewis, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Native Studies at Oregon State University, tells the story of discovering some previously unknown documents from Pacific Northwest explorer David Douglas within Adam Matthew Digital's collection Age of Exploration.

David Lewis wil be presenting more about his findings at ALA Midwinter 2019 on Saturday 26th January. If you are in attendance at the conference then come along to the Adam Matthew booth (#1012) at 11am and 2pm to hear more. 

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.

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