Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan

Using primary sources from ‘Meiji Japan' - an Adam Matthew collection

From 1633 until 1853, the military governments of Japan enforced a policy of sakoku or ‘closed country’ which prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death, and prohibited Japanese citizens from leaving. This isolationist period was brought to an abrupt end in July 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into Tokyo bay and threatened to open fire unless the Japanese agreed to enter into trade negotiations. Continue reading

Review: ‘A More Perfect Union’: IAAS PG Symposium

Trinity College Dublin

Closing in on a year of turbulence and violence, the symposium’s question of American unity was extremely pertinent. The relationship between past and present, language and truth, healing and communities, and narrative, trauma, and identity emerged throughout the day. Continue reading

Charles J.C. Hutson and Confederate Flag Culture

Using primary sources from ‘American History 1493-1945' - an Adam Matthew collection

The letters of Charles J.C. Hutson, a former student of South Carolina College and a soldier in the First South Carolina Volunteers, provide insight on various topics pertaining to the American Civil War era. Held at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and accessible via Adam Matthew Digital’s ‘American History 1493-1945’ collection, the bulk of the materials pertain to the war period (1861-1865). Continue reading

The Importance of Sherry Receptions; or, Where Are All The Women In This Archive? First Impressions as the Cadbury Library BAAS Archive Intern

Internship at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham

n spring 2017, BAAS and the Cadbury Research Library became partners in a project to develop and promote use of the BAAS archive, held in Special Collections at the University of Birmingham. They sponsored an internship open to PGRs and ECRS to conduct a piece of research exploring gender, race and class in BAAS and British academic life. The internship also offered the opportunity for researchers to receive training in archive skills and gain experience in disseminating research to a wider public. The award was made to Sabina Peck, PhD student in U.S. history at the University of Leeds. Continue reading

‘Still being sent to Nam to protect America’s myths’: Anti-war Soldiering and the Challenge to Cold War Patriotism

Part I: Anti-war Activism within the Military

A 1971 Army study suggests that over 50% of active duty soldiers engaged in some form of dissent during their service. Rejecting popular Cold War patriotic mythology, these activist soldiers deemed the military an authoritarian institution and a tool of oppression wrought by an imperialistic America. In doing so, they challenged the official Cold War depiction of the United States as the protector of global democratic ideals against an evil, totalitarian communist ideology. Continue reading

‘Can the Subaltern Play?’ Jazz as Voice in Boston, Massachusetts circa 1910 – 1949

One of the most interesting developments in contemporary subaltern studies has been its growing engagement with culture, particularly music. In 1988, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in the context of postcolonial research, asked, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ which, through its focus on agency, inspired greater inclusiveness and self-critical research on the other, life on the margins, and unheard peoples. Since then, many scholars have engaged with the political consequences of Spivak’s question and used her essay as inspiration. Continue reading

‘See America First’: International Expositions, Nationalism, and Local Competition

Using primary sources from ‘World's Fairs’ - an Adam Matthew collection

Enumerating the reasons why San Francisco rather than New Orleans should receive federal sanctioning for the 1915 exposition celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, this illustrated pamphlet urged readers to acquaint themselves with the wonders of the Pacific Coast and to “See America First”. As the first global gatherings of mass audiences, expositions – or world’s fairs – assembled the world in a single site. Continue reading

Latinos and the Language Question: Arizona, 1967-70

On September 15 1969 Mexican American parents and students held a protest march finishing at the Phoenix Municipal Building. The demonstration was organised in response to violent incidents between Mexican American and African American students. Those involved had initially hoped to highlight the need for more stringent security on the school campus. But the protests soon became a proxy for broader dissatisfaction with the education of Mexican Americans at Phoenix Union High School. Continue reading

“[L]ittle difficulties will get to be great difficulties”: Joel Palmer and the Office of Indian Affairs in the Oregon Territory, 1853-56

Using primary sources from ‘Frontier Life’ - an Adam Matthew collection

The collection focuses on the letters and correspondence of Palmer (1810 – 1881), the superintendent of Indian affairs in the Oregon Territory, from 1853-57. He believed that, since white settlers had occupied the valley lands, the only means of saving the Indians was for the government to provide reservations and assistance for them, in order that they could become settled people[1]. Palmer was responsible establishing many reservations, negotiating nine secession treaties from tribes in the surrounding areas. ‘Frontier Life’ has a cross-section of correspondence and other texts relating to Palmer’s career. Continue reading

‘Strangers’ Revisited: Reading Donald Trump through John Higham

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

Foreshadowing the expressed foreign policy by the incumbent President of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers confessed in 1920 that immigration might endanger the nation and exclaimed that policy must rest on “the needs and interests of America first”. We learn this from reading John Higham’s seminal work, Strangers in the Land, which quietly celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. The book’s subject is American nativism, defined by its author as “intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign (i.e. un-American) connections”. Continue reading