Gender and Sexuality

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…

Women’s Suffrage: Getting creative
10 July 2018

Recently, I attended an event at the National Archives celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage. Whilst there, I listened to a talk about Edith Garrud, the woman who taught ‘Suffragette jiu-jitsu’.

Shoes burnt off my feet: Anna Airy on painting the ferocious heat of WWI shell furnaces
14 June 2018

A newspaper clipping begins with the following account: ‘A lady engaged in painting, for the Imperial War Museum, in a large munitions factory was watched by two workmen. Said one, “She’s sketchin’ for the papers, ain’t she?” His mate, better informed, replied, “Naow, she’s from the Ministry, she is” and added as an afterthought, “but she seems to know ‘er job"'. The workmen were discussing Anna Airy who, whilst considered one of the leading British women artists of her generation, was also one of the first women to be officially commissioned as a war artist, one hundred years ago.

Pea Pickers, Fisher Girls and Market Women
08 June 2018

The Munby collection was bequeathed to Trinity College on the understanding that the deed boxes in which it was held were not to be opened until 1950. Shrouded in secrecy until that date researchers and scholars must have been elated to find the remarkable diaries of Arthur Joseph Munby contained inside. Those opening the boxes also found photograph albums, poetry and an additional set of diaries written by Munby’s wife Hannah Cullwick. This extraordinary collection featured in Gender: Identity and Social Change, is enhanced with Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology to enable full-text searching of the manuscript material.

Observing the Masses - Nella Last's Diaries
06 April 2018

One of the first projects I worked on for Adam Matthew was the Mass Observation Archive collection – reading through the monthly diaries of the Mass Observers in the 1960s and wondering at the differences in all their lives. Anybody who has done any work on Mass Observation will be well aware of the most famous Mass Observer (though anonymous at the time) and may have in fact followed her life from the Second World War until her death in the late 60s. This woman was Nella Last, and she was one of the most prolific writers of the Mass Observation project. 

“Passive Women”: Uncovering the story of Josina Machel and the Mozambique Liberation Front
29 March 2018

Whilst working on the Gender: Identity and Social Change resource, I was drawn to Revolutionary Women.

Comrade Woman
08 March 2018

Today marks the annual celebration of International Women’s Day, a holiday first celebrated in 1909. Digitised in our Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda resource, Comrade Woman captures the stirring spirit of 1975, the year named International Women’s Year by the United Nations. Produced by the Central Documentary Studios, Moscow, and directed by Zinaida Tusova, Comrade Woman presents an overview of the diverse and vital roles of women within Soviet society.

“The way of progress was neither swift nor easy”: Taking a closer look at the legacy left by Marie Curie.
31 January 2018

Marie Curie is a name with which most of us are familiar today, as the cancer hospices founded in her memory since 1930 continue to support and care for people living with cancer, and their families. However, while her scientific breakthroughs are now widely recognised and celebrated, Curie faced relentless gender discrimination throughout her life as documents in the forthcoming Gender: Identity and Social Change resource document.

Pish-Posh, Or The Most Important Book Of Our Century
04 January 2018

Perhaps no book of the mid-twentieth century would prove as divisive as Betty Friedan’s seminal 1963 tome, The Feminine Mystique. Invited to conduct a survey on the satisfaction of fellow female graduates at a college reunion, journalist Friedan began an intent investigation into ‘the problem that has no name’, that is, a growing malaise amongst women who were seemingly living the American Dream. Credited with sparking the “second wave” of American feminism, the book proved a publishing phenomenon and became a flash point in the war over gender politics.

The Men's Movement
15 November 2017

The 1960s and 1970s saw Second Wave Feminism sweep through the Western World, engaging women with issues such as sexuality, the workforce, domestic abuse, the family and reproductive rights. And whilst feminists were debating with themselves and the world, there were small collectives of men who wondered what this new definition of femininity meant for their understanding of masculinity.

No Sex Please, We’re British: Stemming The Tide Of STDs During WWI
10 November 2017

Global conflict naturally incurs all manner of hardships and challenges, but one that rarely permeates modern discussions of the First World War is the exponential spread of sexually transmitted diseases, or the effort made to curb them. However, preventing venereal disease wasn’t just a matter of good medicine. In fact, medicine was sometimes the last thing on people’s mind when trying to avoid these debilitating infections.

“Ever Yours”: The Florence Nightingale Papers and Handwritten Text Recognition Technology
13 October 2017

Medical Services and Warfare: 1850-1927 is a major new resource that examines the history of injury, disease, treatment and medical development within and around conflicts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Collecting more than 4,000 documents from archives and libraries from the UK and North America, this resource includes the outstanding Florence Nightingale Papers from the British Library, comprising correspondence, notes and reports written between 1847-1889.

Pictures of Some Things You Want
04 October 2017

Trade Catalogues and the American Home is a fascinating resource which published in early 2017 that allows you to see the changes in American consumerism over the twentieth century. The collection highlights many aspects of American daily life from around 1850-1950. One such aspect: our (and I’m lumping us Brits in with the Americans, here) great love of Stuff.

16,306 Convicts
21 September 2017

Between 1788 and 1868, the British government transported more than 160,000 convicts to Australia. A popular punishment since the early seventeenth century, transportation was second in severity only to execution. Following the War of Independence, however, the defeated Crown could no longer banish undesirable elements of society to their American colonies. Conditions in overcrowded gaols and prison hulks began to deteriorate following the outbreak of war, and continued to slide until some bright spark suggested the establishment of a penal colony far, far removed from English shores.

Love in the time of the USSR
07 July 2017

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ classic single All You Need Is Love. This blog, however, isn’t about the Beatles, but it is about love with a little socialist industrialism thrown in. I’ve recently been working on Module II Newsreels & Cinemagazines of Adam Matthew’s Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda resource, and thought I’d share one of my favourite clips (so far)!

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