Spotlight on Adam Matthew digital primary sources

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library. Adam Matthew are one of the publishers who will be attending and this blog post highlights the fantastic collections the Library has access to through them.

The Library has access to a large and broad range of digital primary source collections that can be accessed via the Primary Source database list (see also the separate lists for Newspapers & Magazines and Images & Moving Images).

Adam Matthew are a publisher who specialise in producing high-quality, digitised primary source collections online. They put together thematic collections sourced from libraries, archives, museums, etc., around the world and they have databases that cover the Medieval period onwards.

The Library is very lucky to have access to 11 of these collections (or databases) from Adam Matthew and all can be accessed via the Primary Source database list.

China: Culture and Society

[Screenshot of] page from Convention between the United Kingdom and China respecting an extension of Hong Kong territory, signed at Peking, June 9, 1898.

If your interest is in China from the late 18th century to the early 20th century then this could be an incredibly useful resource for you. Most of the collection is made up of pamphlets from the  Charles W. Wason Collection on East Asia housed at Cornell University Library. These rare pamphlets are  mostly in English and often illustrated with fantastic cover art and amount to around 1,200 items in 220 bound volumes. In this resource you will find material such as addresses and speeches, annual reports, catalogues, guides and manuals, journals, lecture notes, letters, magazine articles, minutes of meetings and more.

Church Missionary Society Periodicals Module 1: Global Missions and Contemporary Encounters, 1804-2009

Now the Church Mission Society (and incorporating what were formerly the South American Missionary Society, the Mid-Africa Ministry and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society), CMS was founded in 1799 with aims including social reform in England and world evangelisation. The first overseas mission was in Sierra Leone in 1804, but soon the societies were working in other African countries, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Church Missionary Society Periodicals encompasses publications from the CMS, the CEZMS and the South American Missionary Society. Documenting missionary work from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, the periodicals include news, journals and reports offering a unique perspective on global history and cultural encounters. Forming a prominent feature of British religious philanthropy from the late eighteenth century onwards, missionary societies served as employer and community to missionaries far from home. Service came with considerable sacrifice and sometimes high risk, so society publications became crucial for keeping those at home in touch with the activities of the society and its individuals, as well as promoting and funding its work.

Eighteenth Century Journals

[Screenshot of] page from The Lady’s Magazine; or entertaining companion for the fair sex, appropriated solely to their use and amusement, volume 1 (1770-1771).

Eighteenth Century Journals is a fantastic resource for any students, researchers or academics focussing on the 18th century. Eighteenth Century Journals makes available digitally for the first time unique or extremely rare 18th century periodicals with the aim of promoting a truly broad representation of the culture of print journalism in the eighteenth century. While many of the titles were published in the UK there are some titles published in Europe, Canada, India and the Caribbean. The resource illuminates all aspects of eighteenth-century social, political and literary life. Topics covered are wide-ranging and include colonial life, provincial and rural affairs, the French and American revolutions, reviews of literature and fashion throughout Europe, political debates, and London coffee house gossip and discussion.

The database is made up of 5 collections (or modules) and we have access to all 5. There are a huge number of titles available through Eighteenth Century Journals, too many to list individually, but a few examples are Cato’s Letters, The Female Tatler, Edinburgh Gazette, Dublin Chronicle, Bombay Courier, The Jamaica Mercury, The Nova Scotia Gazette; and the Weekly Chronicle, Manchester Herald, British Critic and the full run of The Lady’s Magazine.

Empire Online

Interested in the study of Empire, colonial history or global history? Empire Online spans 5 centuries worth of material including exploration journals and logs, correspondence, official government papers, missionary papers, travel writing, slave papers, memoirs, children’s adventure stories, marketing posters and much more. Empire Online charts the story of the rise and fall of empires; from the explorations of Columbus, Captain Cook, and others, right through to de-colonisation in the second half of the twentieth century and debates over American Imperialism. The focus is not solely on the British Empire it also includes resources which relate the story of the Empire from the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German points of view, as well as that of indigenous peoples from Africa, India and North America.

Foreign Office Files for China 1938-1980

Foreign Office Files for China is available to us through Adam Matthew’s Archives Direct platform. You can currently access 4 of the collections from Foreign Office Files for China which cover the period 1938-1980. The collections are cross-searchable but individually cover:

  • 1938-1948: Open Door, Japanese war and the seeds of communist victory
  • 1949-1956: The Communist revolution
  • 1957-1966: The Great Leap Forward
  • 1967-1980: The Cultural Revolution

The collections consist of formerly restricted British government documents including domestic dispatches, correspondence, newspaper cuttings, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities, summaries of events and more.

Mass Observation Online

Mass Observation Online is a fantastic resource if you are studying social history in the modern era. Particularly strong on the Second World War period the whole collection contains material from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s (with some material from the 1960s as well).

Mass Observation Online is the archive of the Mass Observation group which was formed in 1937 and were arguably quite ground-breaking in their research on ordinary people in their every day lives. As well as having a team of paid observers who went into a variety of public situations and recorded people’s behaviour and conversation in as much detail as possible, they also had a national panel of volunteer writers who were recruited to reply to regular questionnaires and tasks, including writing diaries. The database gives you access to these original manuscript and typescript papers, as well as printed publications, photographs and interactive features.

Medieval Family Life

Medieval Family Life contains the Paston, Stonor, Cely, Plumpton and Armburgh family papers, available digitally for the first time. These are the only major letter collections that exist from fifteenth century England and take you into the world of medieval family, business, relationships, trade, politics and community.

The Pastons were a gentry family and are probably the most well known, their collections of letters and associated manuscripts being the largest and most studied. The Celys were a merchant family, the Stonors were a well-established gentry family in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and the Plumptons were a dominant northern family. The Armburgh papers are the smallest collection but are a fascinating insight into a quarrel over a family inheritance.

A huge range of topics are covered in these letters from arranging advantageous marriages and inheritance, to estate management and financial dealings to women and their role within the family. As well as digital images of the original manuscripts you are also able to view transcriptions drawn from already published sources.

Migration to New Worlds, Module 1: The Century of Immigration

Migration to New Worlds explores the movement of peoples from Great Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and Asia to the New World and Australasia. The Century of Immigration concentrates on the period 1800 to 1924, though there is material from pre-1800 available as well, and covers all aspects of the migration experience, from motives and departures to arrival and permanent settlement.

The collection presents a unique insight into the personal stories of migrants during this period. Letter collections, travel journals, diaries and oral histories provide a wealth of first-hand accounts for research into emigration experiences and the hardship of settlement. These are supplemented by scrapbooks, government papers, hand-drawn maps, watercolours, objects, emigration pamphlets, shipping papers and rare printed material which provide significant context to government legislation, commercial interests and living conditions for migrants during this period. The database now also includes the Convict Database that allows you to search and browse a transcribed list of convicts and former convicts sent to New South Wales between 1780-1819.

The Nixon Years, 1969-1974

The Nixon Years is available to us through Adam Matthew’s Archives Direct platform. This database provides complete FCO 7 and FCO 82 files from The National Archives, Kew, for the entire period of Richard Nixon’s presidency. It offers a different perspective and context from across the Atlantic allowing you to assess, from a British, European and Commonwealth perspective, Nixon’s handling of numerous Cold War crises, his administration’s notable achievements, and his increasingly controversial activities and unorthodox use of executive powers, which culminated in Watergate and resignation.

Perdita Manuscripts

The manuscripts available in this resource were written or compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and they have been sourced from archives and libraries across the United Kingdom and the USA. Produced in association with the Perdita Project, “Perdita” means “lost women” and the quest of the Perdita Project was to find early modern women authors who were “lost” because their writing exists only in manuscript form. Adam Matthew selected over 230 of the entries from the Perdita Project to digitise for this resource.

Victorian Popular Culture

Victorian Popular Culture invites you into the darkened halls, small backrooms, big tops and travelling venues that hosted everything from spectacular shows and bawdy burlesque, to the world of magic, spiritualist séances, optical entertainments and the first moving pictures. Split into 4 modules, we have access to all 4, it covers Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic, Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks, Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment and Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments (the Optical Toys in Action videos are fascinating) and the Advent of Cinema.

You can access all of these databases via the Primary Sources database list.
Access is only available to current students and members of staff at the University.

The other 2 publishers taking part in our Discovery Day on 30th January are Gale Cengage and ProQuest. Find out more about them at Spotlight on Gale digital primary sources and Spotlight on ProQuest digital primary sources. Look out in the future for similar post on our Centre for Research Collections.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for School of History, Classics and Archaeology