This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

The imagery and text of this British First World War poster indicate a parent-child relationship between Britain and its dominions. Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand are the 'Young Lions’ helping Britain the 'Old Lion' (even though India sent more men than all the other dominions combined).  Te Papa.
From Te Papa collection.

Marc-William Palen
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From new digital archives to China’s last Tiananmen prisoner, here is this week’s roundup in imperial and global history.

Free, downloadable images from Te Papa’s collections

Te Papa

A few weeks ago we released an updated version of Collections Online, making images bigger, search results clearer, and easier to use regardless of what device you are using. Today we are extremely happy to let you know about our latest development; over 30,000 images downloadable, for free, in the highest resolution we have them. You can search for and download them at Collections Online. Over 14,000 images are available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND. If you aren’t familiar with Creative Commons it can look a little complicated, but what it means is you can use those images if attribute the image (we help you do that at each download page).

“Cleopatra” in Domain Cricket Ground, 1914, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018196). Available for download with No Known Copyright Restrictions.
“Cleopatra” in Domain Cricket Ground, 1914, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018196).

You can’t make money from using the image, and you can’t change the image. Might sound a little restrictive but there is plenty you can still do, like use it in your homework, on your blog, print it and hang it on your wall…[continue reading]

American’s Shown MLK’s Lost Newcastle Speech

BBC News

Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech is known around the world, but few people are aware of another powerful speech he gave in north-east England in 1967 while accepting an honorary doctorate from Newcastle University. Hear Americans viewing the speech for the first time give their assessment. Martin Luther King had recently been released from prison when he visited Newcastle for just 24 hours to receive an honorary doctorate in civil law. He gave a speech which profoundly moved many who witnessed it yet the footage subsequently lay forgotten in the university’s archives for more than 40 years. Five months after his flying visit, he was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee.

In the speech he warned of the risk of creating ghettos in the UK and of the dangers of everyday racism and plucked phrases from a repertoire used in his previous speeches. He ended by saying: “With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation, and of all the nations in the world, into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and speed up the day when all over the world justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” BBC Newcastle reporter Murphy Cobbing collected the reactions of prominent and ordinary black Americans to the speech. [continue reading]

Second World War Sex Slavery Papers Passed to Japanese Prime Minister


Five victims of Japan‘s wartime sex slavery and their supporters have submitted hundreds of official documents to the government, demanding that the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, face up to the atrocity and formally apologise. Support groups backing the women, who are from Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea, said the documents collected from around the world included clear evidence of coercion. Japan apologised in 1993 over the “comfort women” system of forced prostitution before and during the second world war, but insists there is no proof the women were systematically coerced by the government, citing the lack of official Japanese documents stating so.

Abe recently said Japan would not change its apology, but it is re-examining the study that was the basis of the apology. Neighbouring countries have criticised Japan over its review, particularly a re-examination of interviews with former Korean victims. “We have evidence. I’m living proof,” said Estelita Dy, 84, from the Philippines, who was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers in 1943 when she was 12. “I feel outraged every time I hear people say we were not forced into this. That’s why I have to keep telling my story.” [continue reading]

Miao Deshun: China’s last Tiananmen prisoner?

BBC News

When the streets were still and the shooting had stopped following the violent showdown between protesters and soldiers in June, 1989, the Chinese government began rounding up people it deemed to be criminals. Many were detained and released, but 1,600 people received formal prison sentences. Now, it’s believed that only one person convicted during that era remains behind bars. We don’t have his photo, but we know his name: Miao Deshun. A factory worker from Beijing, he was convicted of arson for throwing a basket at a burning tank. For this seemingly minor offence, he received a suspended death sentence, which was commuted to life in prison a few years later. Miao is not scheduled for release until 15 September 2018.

“He was a quiet person. He was often very depressed,” remembers Dong Shengkun, a fellow Tiananmen convict who once shared a prison cell with Miao Deshun. Everyone interviewed by the BBC who knew Miao describes him as being painfully thin, almost emaciated. “We had both been given suspended death sentences and we were supposed to have our feet in shackles,” Mr Dong says. “I was chained but he wasn’t. He said the guards probably thought he was too thin to be able to wear foot chains. He wouldn’t be able to walk under the weight of the chains.” [continue reading]