Category: Essays

Stitches of Resistance: Reclaiming the Narratives of the Enslaved Seamstresses in Martha Washington’s Purple Silk Gown

DR CYNTHIA E. CHIN A single object was the subject of my doctoral dissertation: a heavily faded purple silk gown owned and worn by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802), the wife of ‘His Excellency’, President George Washington. One of three surviving intact dresses belonging… Continue Reading “Stitches of Resistance: Reclaiming the Narratives of the Enslaved Seamstresses in Martha Washington’s Purple Silk Gown”

Trouillot in the Digital Age: A Fifth Crucial Moment for Public Historians?

AARON SHUMAN Last semester, one of my professors assigned a chapter of anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past as a jumping off point for considering how silences can work their way into the historical narrative. During our weekly Zoom-based class, conversation homed in on the ‘four… Continue Reading “Trouillot in the Digital Age: A Fifth Crucial Moment for Public Historians?”

What It Feels Like for a Girl: Gendering the History of the Senses

SASHA RASMUSSEN When asked to describe my work, I tend to say that my research sits at the intersection of gender and sensory histories. Gender as a lens of historical analysis has by now been widely adopted, but the concept of ‘sensory history’ may… Continue Reading “What It Feels Like for a Girl: Gendering the History of the Senses”

Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, and Thomas More – answers to the mystery?

PROFESSOR TIM THORNTON The fascination evoked by Richard III and the mystery of the ‘princes in the Tower’ continues to grow. The discovery of Richard’s body under a carpark in 2012 and his reburial in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 drew international attention, and a… Continue Reading “Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, and Thomas More – answers to the mystery?”

Collecting Contexts – Why Do We Collect?

WILL BURGESS During the summer of 2019, I volunteered at the V&A’s Lansbury Micro Museum in Poplar, East London, to help run an exhibition called For the Love of Things. The exhibition put the personal collections of the museum’s visitors on display, its shelves changing… Continue Reading “Collecting Contexts – Why Do We Collect?”

Material Culture and Identities: The Case of Eighteenth Century Toby Jugs

KERRY LOVE A main principle of material culture theory (the study of objects and their relationships to people) is that they can reflect or shape the people who lived alongside them in any given time. I have always enjoyed studying objects more than any… Continue Reading “Material Culture and Identities: The Case of Eighteenth Century Toby Jugs”

HMT Dunera 80 years on: How rough justice changed the life of a child refugee to Britain

DR RACHEL PISTOL AND DR MELISSA STRAUSS 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of when 2,546 men were deported from Britain to Australia on the HMT Dunera. The convict ships of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries may have ceased their travels some 70 years before but that… Continue Reading “HMT Dunera 80 years on: How rough justice changed the life of a child refugee to Britain”

Everyday Decolonisation: the local museum in 2020

PIPPA LE GRAND A few Monday mornings ago, I stood outside Weston Park Museum, Sheffield, enjoying my job and welcoming visitors. There were few enough around that I was able to gaze at the frieze over the door and even discuss it at length… Continue Reading “Everyday Decolonisation: the local museum in 2020”

Feeling Sickness: Emotional responses to pandemic diseases

DR MONICA O’BRIEN It’s a wintery afternoon and, once again, I’m scrolling through news articles about Covid-19. Since countries entered their first lockdowns, much has been written on the pandemic’s emotional and psychological impacts.  Loss, loneliness, fear, stress, anger; these emotions figure prominently in… Continue Reading “Feeling Sickness: Emotional responses to pandemic diseases”

Remembering English Saints in 2020: A Pilgrimage in Print

Stained glass window from Canterbury Cathedral depicting the cure of woman through prayer to St Thomas a Becket

DR PAUL WEBSTER 2020 will be a year that lives long in the memory.  For historians of the medieval saints, and at cathedrals and great churches across England, and for historians of the medieval saints, it began as a major anniversary year. The Association of… Continue Reading “Remembering English Saints in 2020: A Pilgrimage in Print”