On Wednesday we released ‘Asia through a lens’, the latest batch of Colonial Office photographs in the CO 1069 collection.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, over the past couple of years we have been releasing parts of our CO 1069 photographic collection on Flickr. The photos are from the colonial period and feature images taken by government staff from all over the world. They range from around 1860, to when many colonies gained independence in the 1960s. You can read more about the project on my previous blog and our news story.
So far we have released images of Africa, the Americas and island territories (including the Caribbean) and the latest set released online on Wednesday are of Asia.
This set of photographs hasn’t disappointed – it is a beautifully diverse collection, with plenty of panoramic scenes, everyday life and events alongside the more unusual examples of typhoon damage, theatre performances and celebratory ‘bun mountains’! We also see a number of beautifully coloured prints that have inspired staff to order copies for themselves!
For all those still suffering with Olympics withdrawal symptoms, never fear – the Paralympics are here!!
In their honour, my blog today is dedicated to the story behind the London 2012 Paralympic mascot – Mandeville.
Mandeville mascot image from UK Government Web Archive
This cute little drop of steel from the Olympic Stadium (that’s what he is, apparently – you can learn more about Mandeville’s creation), is named after the original home of the Paralympics – Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, on which we hold a number of files.
Sir Ludwig Guttmann was a pioneering doctor at the hospital in the 1940s who recognised the importance of physical activity in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers during and after the Second World War.
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WorldPride 2012 was celebrated in London last week and so I thought I’d use my blog today to draw attention to an exciting area of research that is truly uncovering some of the hidden areas within the records.
Rainbow flag (CC source: Ludovic Bertron www.flickr.com/photos/70313016@N08/6381004581/lightbox/)
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) history is a steadily growing research area. At The National Archives, largely due to the nature of the records we hold, research in to this area has been challenging. As true ‘hidden histories’ in the records, it can take a lot of thought and digging to uncover examples of LGBT histories in government files. In the case of gay history, it is often particularly difficult to uncover records free of negative connotations, such as criminal prosecution. This is often a question of the language used to describe homosexuality during different periods, when it was considered a crime or illness (for example ‘gross indecency’ or ‘unnatural practice’), and the interpretation of documents themselves which may or may not refer to gay or lesbian issues explicitly.
As many of you may know, last year The National Archives undertook a project, ‘Africa through a lens’, to digitise thousands of Colonial Office photographs of ‘life’ in the British colonies, spanning much of the colonial period.
Photograph from the Tanganyika collection (CO 1069/157/79)
Comments on CO 1069/157/79
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I’ve previously blogged about a 20th century poetic find in our collection – here’s another I came across recently from the late 18th century, coincidentally ‘echoing’ quite a similar theme…
An interesting email was passed to me a few weeks ago enquiring about searching for evidence of oral culture of those enslaved during the transatlantic trade. I expected to find very little using a simple search, as the preservation of such culture would be rare, at least without in-depth research, particularly amongst the records of the companies and governments involved in the trade for profit. However, a chance try of “slave AND song” in Discovery returned a result which sparked my interest to take a closer look.
The box that arrived is typical of uncatalogued material, bundles of papers housed together with little further information available.
With some very careful handling and the help of a colleague who passed further than “Je suis…” at school, we leafed through the papers. They belonged to one ‘Francois Lavignolle’, listed on Discovery as an administrator on a Haitian plantation, whose papers were intercepted and filed with the High Court of Admiralty paperwork.
There, amongst the accounts papers, was a little folded booklet of songs and rhymes. Continue reading »
Happy St. George’s Day!
St. George is an elusive figure in our records, but he does pop up in a place calling for national pride and strength – the National War Savings Committee posters.
He appears with the slogan ‘Lend to defend the right to be free’, encouraging households to invest in national savings certificates during the Second World War:
"Lend to defend the right to be free": St. George and the Dragon. 1940
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March is Women’s History Month. Just in time, I’d like to share a file I was introduced to last year by our Education department.
The suffrage movement is a common theme when talking about achievements of women in the past, and we certainly hold a wealth of information here, from the force feeding of women on hunger strike, to 1911 census forms when women refused to provide their details to a government they had no say in electing. Although there are so many achievements of women to choose from, this wealth means there is always something more to talk about!
This file, MEPO 3/203, came to my attention while carrying out some research with colleagues on the last Maharajah of the Punjab, Duleep Singh and his family in preparation for last year’s Diversity Week.
However, it wasn’t a member of the Duleep Singh family that caught my eye during our research.
Princess Sophia selling 'The Suffragette' (Image source: http://historysheroes.e2bn.org/)
We looked at a file relating to the Maharajah’s daughter, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and her involvement with the Suffragettes. This particular file contains police reports on ‘Black Friday’, 18 November 1910, when Suffragettes clashed violently with police in response to the apparent stalling of the Bill in Parliament which would have granted suffrage to women of the upper classes. One particular statement, given by disabled protestor Miss May Billinghust, describes the brutality and humiliation the protestors reported:
Today marks 55 years since Ghanaian independencewas declared, so it is an excellent day to highlight a cataloguing project of Gold Coast records (the former British colonial name for Ghana) I am currently working on with the help of some of our volunteers.
Welcome to day 2 of the blog! I have landed myself this illustrious spot thanks to Valentine’s Day and having stumbled upon something suitably soppy in the records. This unusual find is the perfect beginning to my blog, as the sheer variety of amazing things that are brought to the surface every day here could keep me talking forever!