Why Use Primary Sources?

archive shelves

│by Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

Is the picture above what comes to mind when you think of an archive? Do you believe that, to find any useful information, you must spend weeks between the shelves without seeing daylight?! If so, I have good news for you – Gale Primary Sources has updated archival research to the twenty first century! You no longer have to plough through library catalogues or rummage in endless boxes to find material relevant to your research – you can do so in seconds by running a text search, just like when googling.

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Atmospheric but Not Accurate – Five Ways ‘Peaky Blinders’ Stretched the Truth

Peaky Blinders newspaper images

│By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

Since 2013, Peaky Blinders stormed the UK television charts. Five seasons and a well-deserved BAFTA later, the series continues to intrigue, outrage and fascinate viewers with its gritty, unflinching depiction of Birmingham gangs – the once very real “Peaky Blinders” gang in particular.

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An American Summer’s Dream

Megan at the summer camp

│ By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool │

America – a country of tradition, devout patriotism, sport fanatics and Chick-fil-a. Like Thanksgiving, 4th July, the Superbowl or Maryland’s infamous Turkey Trot, summer camps are arguably an integral part of American culture. This summer, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, I hopped on a plane and travelled a little under four thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean to YMCA Camp Letts to enjoy my own summer camp experience. Interested in exploring the history of this cultural phenomenon, and the way in which it has been conceived by others, I used Gale’s primary source archives and found personal narratives printed in twentieth-century newspapers in which the authors reminisce about summer camps. Camp counselling is a truly rewarding role; one that has been fulfilled and enjoyed by many likeminded young adults for decades. With these documents, I have been able to plot trends and identify similarities between my recent summer experience and the memories of those who were camp counsellors over fifty years before me, tracing the continuities and shared experiences of this uniquely-American tradition – one of which I now feel a part.

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Escaping from Communist East Germany

│ By Stefanie Meinken, Gale Field Sales Executive, South-West Germany & Switzerland │

This year, 2019, is a year of anniversaries in twentieth-century German history. Not only is the Federal Republic of Germany celebrating its 70th birthday, former East Germany – officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) –– was also founded 70 years ago, on 7th October 1949. The latter anniversary might spark divergent emotions; the period of the GDR’s existence is often seen as a time of suppression and uncertainty. The end of this period also has a significant anniversary this year: it is 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall on 9th November 1989.

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The Peterloo Massacre, August 1819

Reform. Libel. -- Sedition. -- Treason. -- Persecution. 1819, January - 1820, November. Radical Politics and the Working Man in England: Part One: Sets 7-11, 13-32, and 34-46 Set 40; Vol 1. British Library. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CREORT076326165/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=c5017dd3

│By Clem Delany, Associate Acquisitions Editor│

Two hundred years ago, on 16th August 1819, at least seventeen people died at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, during a peaceful protest calling for the reform of parliamentary representation.

This year, the two hundred-year anniversary, has been marked in the UK by a wealth of newspaper articles covering ‘a tragic event of minor historical significance that happens to accord with a Marxist version of Britain’s past’ 1 (The Times) or ‘the bloodiest event on English soil in the nineteenth century’ 2 (The Daily Mail). The BBC, from its new headquarters in Manchester, produced ten radio programmes and performances to mark the anniversary. You can buy a Peterloo mug or a Peterloo tea towel, and around Manchester live music, poetry readings, open-air karaoke and other family-friendly events took place over the weekend.

I dug through the Gale archives to see how the event was represented at the time, and at its centennial in 1919.

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A Whistle-Stop Tour of Famous Dachshunds

Sharp, Rob. "Faster, Higher, Stronger, Tackier." Independent, 20 May 2010, p. 20+. The Independent Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/FQ4201676705/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=0dabe2a2

│By Jasmine Weller, Inside Sales Executive for Eastern Europe │

Weenie. Wiener. Dashie. Datsun. Doxin. Doxie. Sausage dog. Hot dog. Teckel. Dackel. No matter what you like to call them, there is no denying that the Dachshund is ever growing in popularity thanks to advertising campaigns, dedicated Instagram accounts, a multitude of home interior accessories and ‘those’ sausage dog walks. Being the proud ‘fur’ mum to two of my own, I thought it was time to pay homage to these tenacious little creatures, with the help of Gale Primary Sources.

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The Japanese Jugglers Who Took the West by Storm

"The Japanese Jugglers." Illustrated London News, 23 Feb. 1867, p. 176. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

│By Masaki Morisawa, Senior Product Manager, Gale Japan│

One of the great things about Gale Primary Sources is the serendipity – the unexpected discoveries you make when you were looking for one thing, and stumble on something totally different yet fascinating. While I was searching for material to use in my blog post about the Paris International Exposition of 1867, I made a quirky discovery. That blog post was about Tokugawa Akitake, the teenage half-brother of the Shogun of Japan, who came to Paris with his retinue in 1867 in order to exhibit at the Exposition and mingle with various European sovereigns. I was typing broad keywords into Gale Primary Sources, such as “Japanese” and “Paris,” with a date limiter of 1867. Sure enough, the cross-search platform returned newspaper articles that were obviously related to my topic, such as:

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Was the Space Race worth it?

“The astronauts practicing in an Apollo capsule, identical to the one in which they died. From left: Chaffee, White, Grissom.” "Death . . ." Sunday Times, 29 Jan. 1967, p. 11. The Sunday Times Digital Archive

│ By Kyle Sheldrake, Marketing Manager – Insights and Development│

As we approach fifty years since man first set foot on the moon, it feels like a good time to reflect on attitudes and opinions in the lead up to one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to think that the space race was always seen positively, receiving unanimous public support and the unity of the scientific community, but this was not necessarily the case.

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Travels through Space and Time – The success of Doctor Who

Hewson, David. "Time traveller clocks up 20 years." Times, 14 Nov. 1983

│By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth │

Doctor Who, possibly Britain’s most famous science-fiction television show, has enjoyed success in both its original running from 1963 to 1989, and its reboot from 2005 to the present. Centering around the eponymous ‘Doctor,’ the show follows the adventures of this eccentric and benevolent shape-changing alien around the cosmos in a premise that has remained largely static throughout the 56 years of its circulation. As a child, I was both terrified and enthralled by the television show, and such interest in the fantastical has persisted into my studies (as evident in my previous supernatural post about witchcraft!)

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Jenny Lind – the Swedish Nightingale

Eduard Magnus (1862): ”Jenny Lind”,

| By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki |

Whilst it is undoubtedly quality entertainment, the 2017 Hollywood film The Greatest Showman should not be taken as an accurate history lesson… However, among all the drama, singing and dancing, it does portray some facts; P.T. Barnum did start small and end up as a household name; he did bring ‘The Swedish Nightingale’ to the United States and make her tour a success like never before. Indeed, the concert tour amassed him a sizeable fortune, and the humble Scandinavian singer donated her own share – which was by no means small – to charities of her choice.

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