The new issue of the History in the Making Journal is live!


History in the Making Vol.3, No.1 is now live on our website!

This issue contains seven outstanding essays from undergraduate, honours, and postgraduate history students from across Australia.

The essays demonstrate the rich variety of research being undertaken by students of history, with essays examining subject matter as diverse as the United States Bill of Rights, homosexuality in the Third Reich, Cold War science fiction television, and the role of Australian feminist studies in contemporary academic scholarship.

I don’t have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out?

So we are a bite late for Valentines day, but this is pretty cool! “The Heart Book” is the oldest Danish ballard manuscript, featuring 83 love ballards composed in the time of King Christian III.

Leah Henrickson (NO LONGER UPDATED)

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! I know it’s not a Thursday, but I reeeeeally wanted to share this with you.

The Heart Book. Denmark, 1550’s.Thott 1510 4º. The Heart Book is regarded as the oldest Danish ballad manuscript. It is a collection of 83 love ballads compiled in the beginning of the 1550’s in the circle of the Court of King Christian III. Shown above is the beginning of ballad no. 43, Store længsel, du går mig nær (Great Yearning, thou touches me). A later reader – the otherwise unknown Christen Masse – has added some notes, i.a. this pious hope: “gvd ende oc vinde alle mit er lende til en god oc gledelig ende amen” (may god end and turn my misery into a good and happy ending amen). 
We do not know who compiled the ballads and instigated the writing of the Heart Book. All ballads except one – no. 66 –…

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Kid in Africa



Shirley Temple Black passed away this week, and the media has commemorated the former child-star and US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

The Vault (Slate’s History Blog) has been one of the only voices to remind us that Shirley Temple’s early performances in the short-film series Baby Burlesks are “Really hard to watch“. The 1933 episode Kid in Africa depicts a 4 year old Shirley in a sexy outfit (challenging the idea that the sexualisation of children is a 21st century phenomenon), playing the role of a white overseer commanding black workers doing heavy labor in a jungle setting. It was supposed to be cute.

The Baby Burlesks were shorts, played before the main attraction. They satirized popular movies: What Price Glory?,The Front PageThe Covered Wagon. The joke was that the actors were all under the age of 5. Historian John Kasson writes of the Burlesks: “The intended humor of these shorts, which seems exceedingly strained to modern viewers, rests on the difference between adult knowledge, desires, motives, and pleasures, and childhood innocence.”


This short film and the Baby Burlesks series is an interesting window into US depression-era culture.

Ethnic Modernities in 1959 British Borneo

A rich gallery of advertising campaigns from British Borneo circa 1959, including an ad for Quaker Oats that tried to persuade employers that workers who consumed this product for breakfast would be more productive.

Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog (+ More)

I was looking at a newspaper called the Borneo Bulletin. It started to be published in 1953 in Brunei, but it was directed at readers in Sawarak and Sabah as well, that is, in all of what was then “British Borneo.”


In looking at some issues from 1959, I found the advertisements to be very interesting. They were all depicting aspects of a modern lifestyle, but modernity was presented differently to the members of different ethnic groups.

To the British, modernity meant sending your children back to the UK on the planes of the British Overseas Air Corporation and Malayan Airways so that they could go to school.


For the Chinese it meant eating Quaker Oats so that they could work better. . .

quaker oats

. . . and drinking Ovaltine so that they could play better. . .


. . . and eating Chivers Jam so that they could…

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Spirit Photography

The UK’s National Media Museum has digitized a collection of the Spirit Photographs of William Hope, one of the most well-known spiritualists and practitioners of spirit photography in early 20th century England. The classic spirit photograph captured the likeness of a living person or people, and the eerie spirits who accompanied them. These ‘spirits’ were created by multiple exposure techniques. All of Hopes’s photographs uploaded to Flickr Commons are dated 1920.

The image below is a very typical example of a Hope spirit photograph; a sitter and a spirit are posed in front of a dark background. The curator’s notes say that the reverse of the photograph reads “Why is the child always pushing to the front?’ and ‘Do we get messages from the higher spirits?” – possibly questions that the sitter had for her ghost.


The image below is the only example of a mourning photograph in the online Hope collection; it depicts a woman and her son standing by their deceased husband and father, whose ‘ghost’ is also visible.


This unique spirit photograph a couple pose by their car, which is occupied by the ghost of the dead son.


We invite you to explore Flickr Commons and share the good stuff you discover.

January 1914…


Vanity Fair cover, January 1914 

2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The History in the Making collective is committed to sharing with our readers the most interesting and most relevant centenary-related content.

This week we liked the Guardian‘s article about the cultural and political climate in Britain in January 1914. The author, journalist Elizabeth Day, asks “did those people waking up on this day in January 100 years ago actually believe Britain was teetering on the brink of war? And what kind of world greeted them when they bade farewell to the old year?”.

Day recognises that

“it was a time of considerable social change. In 1913, the Trade Union Act was passed and union membership was growing rapidly. A wave of strike action had led to “the great unrest” and, by January 1914, Britain was witnessing the rise of a mass labour movement. In America, on this day 100 years ago, the Ford Motor Company announced the introduction of a daily minimum wage of $5 for an eight-hour workday.”

The Women suffrage movement was also in force.

“The suffragette Emily Davison had been killed throwing herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby in June 1913. By December, Sylvia Pankhurst was claiming in a speech that “we will make the cabinet ministers shake in their shoes until they are afraid for their very lives”.

However, Day argues that despite the rise of a more radical politics, for most people living in Britain, war certainly did not seem inevitable in the first weeks of the new year. As the Vanity Fair cover for the first issue of 1914 reminds us, for many everyday life went on as normal.   

Advertisement for the Pacific Coast Trunk Store

Advertisement for the Pacific Coast Trunk Store

This beautiful colour illustration was created as an advertisement for the Pacific Coast Trunk Store in San Francisco circa 1880, and was recently uploaded to the California Historical Society’s Flickr Photostream.

Surely this ad campaign attempted to show just how much stuff a late nineteenth-century traveller could cream into a Pacific Coast suitcase; a bottle of whiskey and a hip-flask, cigars as well as a pipe and tobacco, breath mints, soap, a tooth brush and toothpaste, a comb and a shaving brush, photographs, an Émile Zola novel and an 1883 almanac. Maybe tha’s a set of pajamas in the bottom left hand corner?

You can check out more of the good stuff that the CHS has digitized here

The Demon Maguire

Late last year the British Library uploaded onto Flickr over one million high-quality scanned images images from its rich collections. As The Appendix explained, the images are in the public domain, free for people around the world to peruse and reproduce to their hearts content.

You can spend hours and hours looking through this treasure chest of historical illustrations and prints (we have!). The fantastic illustrations from Francis Grundy’s Australian children’s book “The Demon McGuire” published in Sydney in 1885 is one of the most exciting set of images that HiTM has discovered so far.

The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describes the book as ‘a verse story… about an enormous demon who roams around Sydney causing havoc in his wake”. The Demon is a metaphor for a great wind or a storm. This villain “is finally exiled to the Moon by Father Christmas and Father Time” (The Oxford Companion to Australian Children’s Literature, 196).

Why do we like these illustrations so much? Well, first off it is one of the oldest examples of illustrated Australian children’s literature. In addition, the giant, ugly protagonist is very amusing, and you can catch glimpses of real Sydney architecture and landscapes in some scenes. For example, Government House and Sydney Harbour are visible in the title page below;


(compare the illustrated turrets above to this contemporary photograph of government house)


It’s not surprising that a book written in a port-city had strong maritime themes: several of the drawings (like the one above) depict the  demon destroying ships in port. Image


Other illustrations show the demon threatening children, or at least terrifying them by his proximity (including a group hanging out on the roofs of their homes), which is befitting of a book that targeted a young audience.



Unfortunately the British Library Flickr project only scans images, so you cannot read the full story online. The good news is that there are four copies in Australia between the National Library, and the State Libraries of NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The Pointy Shoe: An Illustrated History

We are liking this article about the history of pointy shoes – especially the images.


"Porträt der Heinrike Dannecker"

H.Dannecker, G. Schick, 1802, Staatliche museum, Berlin, Germany


leather and gold decoration, shoes, 1790s

How do we choose our shoes? what makes us long for a pair of very pointed flats rather than round toed ballerinas?…

Fashionarchaeology has been musing over this question very much lately. Pointy flats are, after all,  THE  party shoe this 2013-14 festive season…

Looking back in history, points have come and gone several times over the centuries. Waves of “fads” or “fashions” which lasted centuries or just decades. Today they last barely one season and are always offered alongside a distinct alternative. Freedom of choice? maybe. So how do we decide which shape of shoe to go for? It would be great to say we follow our instinct, but of course our choice is always culturally determined. We can hardly desire what we do not know or can not yet imagine.

kore,ultimo quarto VI sec aC,mrt NY

Etruscan, metal statuette, kore

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