The Data Visualisation Revolution – From Plotting Distance to Digital Humanities

Data visualistion example - graphs on laptop

│By Emily Priest, Digital Marketing Masters student at the University of Portsmouth│

At first glance, data visualisation and Digital Humanities can seem complex and technical, but both offer significant possibilities to students, researchers and business professionals (the latter is also significant to students, as many are interested in increasing their future employability!) Whilst you may not feel particularly familiar with these terms, the data revolution is already here! So, buckle up and join me as we take a ride through the history and current applications of data visualisation and Digital Humanities!

Simplistically, data visualisation is the use of graphics and images to present data sets. Common examples include pie charts, word clouds and line graphs. Over the years, these visualisation techniques have become increasingly common – and increasingly complex. Whilst they have contributed to the emerging discipline of Digital Humanities, the term Digital Humanities refers to more than simply visualising data. Keeping Humanities at its heart, Digital Humanities leverages data visualisation to expand and deepen the traditional analysis that takes place within these disciplines.

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Canaries in the Coal Mine

Photo of Canary

│By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Most of us see bright-feathered, warbling canaries as pets, yet these tiny birds were not always just household companions. In the nineteenth century they were used as exceptional risk predictors in mines. This was because they were particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide, a substance which led to numerous mining accidents in the aftermath of industrialisation. Thus, oddly, an increasing reliance on fossil fuels induced a new rapport with nature and animals. The canary’s role in mines became so engrained in the English language that “a canary in the coalmine” is now a well-known phrase, used to refer to early indicators of potential hazards. Gale’s Historical Newspapers allow us to better understand how the canary came to be emblematic of shifting attitudes towards risk during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the English-speaking world.

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Decolonising the Curriculum with Archives Unbound

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

This post explores how Gale’s Archives Unbound series can be used to help with the urgent and vital task of decolonising the curriculum. Archives Unbound includes twenty-one unique collections focused on African American history, as well as numerous other collections which document the lives and experiences of other ethnic and social minorities around the world. (All Archives Unbound collections are available at the University of Liverpool, as we have access to Gale Reference Complete.) In light of the Black Lives Matter protests and growing discourses around ethnicity, colonialism and education, I was particularly drawn to exploring a collection focused on the federal surveillance of African Americans, including of Malcolm X and of the group he set up, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This group argued that education was a vital element in the fight for civil rights.

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The Lesbian Avengers and the Importance of Intersectionality in LGBTQ+ Activism

Advert for the Lesbian Avengers

By Ellen Grace Lesser, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter

I was so excited to be given the opportunity to be one of the first people to undertake research in the latest module of Archives of Sexuality and Gender. The fourth module in the series, International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture focuses on the history of LGBTQ+ activism across the world. After exploring the archive, I want to share the story of the Lesbian Avengers and how their performative attempts at intersectionality ultimately led to their downfall.

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(Somewhat) Saving Summer 2020 – A Virtual Tour of Marseille

View of Marseille Old port

│by Megan Ison, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

After a busy exam season, students up and down the country look forward to long summer vacations, hopefully with a trip or two! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of us don’t want to catch a flight this summer. But all is not lost! Gale Primary Sources, an online database of digitised primary sources, allows you to explore your cancelled holiday destination in a virtual way – from the safety of your own home!

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Gale Primary Sources: The Making of Modern Law Product Enhancements Launching on July 31

| By Megan Sullivan | We’re excited to announce our acclaimed The Making of Modern Law series will benefit from an enhanced user experience on Friday, July 31, 2020. Gale will release the update for the following six products: The Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative, and International Law, 1600‒1926 The Making of Modern Law: … Read moreGale Primary Sources: The Making of Modern Law Product Enhancements Launching on July 31

Building Bridges Toward Equality

A Statement from Gale Leadership  Earlier this month, Cengage CEO, Michael E. Hansen, issued the following statement about racial injustice in the United States, reflecting the views of all Cengage companies, including Gale.  “The unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor (and countless others), are painful reminders of the systemic oppression faced by the Black community for far too long in the United … Read moreBuilding Bridges Toward Equality

“Whoever Expected Prophets to Agree?” – Predicting the Future One Hundred Years Ago

: New aeroplane designs shown off at the 1920 International Aircraft Exhibition in Paris

│by Matthew Trenholm, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

In my last blog, I chose to focus on one Gale archive, Nineteenth Century Collections Online, but this time I wanted to demonstrate the full power of the Gale Primary Sources platform by looking at one topic across many archives simultaneously. The topic I have chosen is “the future” and what people a century ago believed it would look like. “The future” is an idea that is still endlessly debated, from dire warnings to wonderful promises; there is always something to discuss and the same was true a century ago. So, let’s jump into the archives and take a look at what the prophets of 1920 were saying!

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A Peep into Finnish War History with Gale Primary Sources

Montage of newspaper articles about Finland War History

│by Lotta Vuorio, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

The current circumstances caused by the global pandemic have highlighted the importance of digital primary sources. In Helsinki, the university library has (in large part) physically shut its doors, but luckily there is a great deal of primary source material available in, for example, the digital collections of the National Library of Finland, and the Helsinki University Library also offers students and staff numerous digital collections which include several Gale Primary Sources archives. Gale Primary Sources is a treasure trove where one can find sources for various types of research.

One might initially think Gale Primary Sources is most suitable for research focusing on Great Britain or America, since the collections seem mostly focused on those areas. However, I wanted to find out if the platform could also be helpful when studying Finnish history! What I found, in short, was a highly interesting peephole into Finnish War History before the Second World War. I have not specialised in Finnish nor War History in my own research, but I was curious to examine coverage of Finland, and Helsinki especially. So, let’s see the results of my brief exploration!

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The Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic – Who Was Bruce Ismay?

Titanic (photo of drawing)

│by Chloe Villalon, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway│

Often students such as myself have a broad idea of the topic they’re interested in, but they’re not sure which angle to take. In these cases it might be helpful to talk to a friend, professor or peer who may provide interesting insight or suggestions. Gale Primary Sources is also a great platform to find both ideas and articles – you can turn to it when you’re still looking for a topic or when you have a defined notion of what you’re looking for and want to dig deeper. In this blog post I will show you how you can use different tools to go from having a vague topic, to developing an angle, to writing a narrative or argument.

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