Cultural Studies

Christmas Greetings from the North Pole!
14 December 2018

The Adam Matthew Christmas party is imminent, with alcohol flowing, plenty of mingling and, of course, an abundance of food. Feeling festive, I decided to venture around AM Explorer, reflecting on Christmas parties and dinners over time and the difference between celebrations now and in times gone by. During this search, a rather unusual Christmas Day menu caught my eye from the Age of Exploration collection, for the crew on the Ziegler Polar Expedition, 1904.

It's Behind You!
23 November 2018

 

As November draws to a close and the countdown to Christmas begins, what better way to get into the festive spirit than a good old Christmas panto?

Light-hearted comedy, audience participation and eccentric costumes are all familiar aspects of the classic Christmas pantomime which we owe in large to the enterprising Victorians. This is illustrated in Victorian Popular Culture.

Halloween in the Archives
31 October 2018

It's a common misconception that Halloween and its sweet-fuelled, trick-or-treat festivities has its origins in America. But these traditions are also deeply rooted in Irish culture, as a 19th-century issue of The Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper illustrates.

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.

Frontier Football
15 October 2018

Everyone knows that modern football [soccer] players are soft yet crafty. The recent evidence is endless: Rivaldo in the 2002 World Cup, Neymar in 2018, Klinsmann at Italia 90, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets … and who can forget Sheffield Wednesday’s pitiful antics vs Cambridge Utd in in the 1998/9 edition of the Worthington Cup? But if you like a time when men were men in your football I refer you to this match up on Christmas Day, 1882. Mounties vs Civilians in the frontier town of Battleford in modern-day Saskatchewan, Canada.

An Autumn Abroad
12 October 2018

Get into the spirit of autumn with the sources from Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture.

Freedom's Signal for the Indians
10 October 2018

While reading through American Indian Newspapers, the latest digital collection from Adam Matthew, one particularly arresting image repeatedly caught my eye; an illustration of a man trapped beneath a fallen tree trunk carved with the title, “Indian Bureau”. This striking tableau comprised the masthead of Wassaja, “Freedom’s signal for the Indians”.

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.

The Moving Target - Marketing to Women in the 1970s
31 August 2018

Rena Bartos was named Senior Vice President at the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1977 and was an influential figure in the advertising industry. She was highly regarded for her pioneering work on marketing to women, a concept she called ‘The Moving Target’. ‘The Moving Target’ focused on changing perceptions of women in the 70s; it was designed to help advertisers recognise the shifting roles of the modern woman, encourage them to portray her more realistically in the media and sell to her more effectively as a consumer.

Were Nazi troops headed for my house?
24 August 2018

Here in the office, everyone has their favourite search terms when exploring our new collections. I often search for “Devizes” to see what historic documents I can turn up on my own stomping ground. For a small Wiltshire town, the results so far have been surprisingly varied, with letters written from the house next to my favourite Chinese turning up in Colonial America, travel guides for canal walks in Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture, and tales of war-time community spirit in First World War.

Summer holidays: Soviet style
10 August 2018

As the thermometers refuse to budge from the high 20s, supermarket freezers become devoid of any ice-based products and social media fills up with photographs of far-flung beaches and pools, thoughts inevitably drift to summer holidays of times past.

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).

 

 

 

1931 vs. 2018: How Traditional is My Wedding?
19 July 2018

Wedding season is in full swing once again and in light of my own impending nuptials, I’ve decided to take a look back at a bridal etiquette leaflet from 1931 in Adam Matthew’s resource Trade Catalogues and the American Home to explore bridal traditions after months of being asked things like…

Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan
09 May 2018

The late 19th century was a period of immense social, economic and political change in Japan, known as the Meiji Restoration. It was into this time of turmoil and opportunity that American zoologist Edward Sylvester Morse (1838 – 1925) visited Japan for the first time in 1877 to study coastal brachiopods. ... He had a keen eye for observation and was talented in making detailed sketches which accompanied his academic work.

Advertising: manipulation, persuasion, information or experience enhancer?
12 April 2018

The J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America archive provides an exceptional record of consumer culture over the past 100 years and among the many fascinating and mind-bending concepts that the documents of this advertising agency explore is one illustrated by a company-produced pamphlet entitled Advertising: Manipulation or Persuasion?. This is one of the central questions relating to advertising and consumer culture: how powerful is advertising in shaping our behaviours, practices and even identity?

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