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‘Victorian Popular Culture’ to receive 21st century upgrade

May 27, 2015

Adam Matthew Digital Re-launches Remarkable Collection of 19th and early 20th Century Materials 

(Marlborough, UK) Bringing the darkened halls, spectacular shows, bawdy burlesque and spiritualist séances of the Victorian era to life is now even easier for students, researchers and teachers with the re-launch of the Victorian Popular Culture portal.

Victorian Popular Culture offers invaluable access to highly-visual, rare and unique primary source materials relating to popular entertainment in America, Britain and Europe from 1779 to 1930, sourced from multiple British and American archives. Highlights include –

  • Materials from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, one of the world’s great collections on magic, magicians, mediums and psychic researchers.
  • Harry Houdini’s fascinating scrapbooks exploring spiritual phenomena and fraudsters, packed with details concerning the stagecraft of many key performers.
  • Handbills, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera and memorabilia from circuses (including Barnum and Bailey), fairgrounds and ‘freak shows’.
  • The May Moore Duprez archive, a fabulous collection of photographs and printed ephemera, allowing the British and American music hall to be studied from the perspective of one of its stars.
  • Remarkable original early film footage from the British Film Institute National Archive.
  • Optical delights, magic lantern shows, dioramas, posters, rare books, film periodicals, objects (many of which can be experienced in a 360-degree object viewer, allowing close-up ‘handling’ of historical artefacts) and much more, from the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema.

Now re-launched on a new platform, with updated layout to ease navigation, the newly released platform offers:

  •  Revised metadata and increased searching capabilities for effortless browsing
  • New interactive chronology with direct links into the resource and individual documents
  • Transcribed recordings of songs from the music hall that are fully text searchable
  • Optical toys in action; video demonstrations of optical entertainment artefacts
  • Thematically grouped images for easy comparison.

"Victorian Popular Culture Portal offers an assorted tapestry of examples that encourage the discovery and examination of the rich connections that exist between past and present forms of popular media" - Professor Angela Ndalianis, University of Melbourne

The collection is available in four self-contained yet cross-searchable modules, arranged thematically:

  • Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic
  • Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks
  • Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment
  • Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments and the Advent of Cinema

Purchasers of any of these modules will gain immediate access to the updated portal at no additional cost to their institution.


Adam Matthew, an imprint of SAGE, is an award winning publisher of digital primary source collections for the humanities and social sciences. Sourced from leading libraries and archives around the world, their unique research and teaching collections cover a wide range of subject areas from medieval family life to 20th century history, literature and culture.

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