Paradise Found: Exploring Historical Maps and Travel Writing

Harris, T. "A South Prospect of the Flourishing City of New York in the Province of New York in America 1746

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

Of all the Gale archives I’ve explored so far, my favourite is Maps and Travel Literature. Part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online, it has already been a great help to my undergraduate History dissertation on English ports. Maps have been an essential part of human development and Maps and Travel Literature allows you to examine maps from all over the world, produced for different reasons by different people and organisations. There is also a huge range of travel writing to sink your teeth into, giving insight into the human experience behind the maps and other geographical documents.

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“Even the Sacramental Cup Was Not Exempt from Adulteration” – The Hazards of Drinking an Old Bottle of Claret

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

Have you recently enjoyed a special, vintage bottle of wine to celebrate the New Year with your family or friends? You might be surprised to learn that such celebrations might have been quite dangerous during the nineteenth century. Expecting the crimson-coloured beverage to enrapture their senses and coat their tongue in luscious flavours of dried blackberry, leather and tobacco, wine aficionados were often far from suspecting that this elixir could easily turn out to be a cheap, dyed, falsified drink, or worse – deadly poison. In an age where strict regulations exist to control food and beverage adulteration, such hazardous dyes are no longer used, but delving into Gale’s Historic Newspapers allows us to better understand how such dangerous adulteration was allowed to occur during the nineteenth century.

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What Is the Meaning of Christmas? Celebrating the 25th December Around the World in History

| By Meg Ison, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth |

The longed-for Christmas break ultimately meant one thing for me as an undergraduate student reading French and History at the University of Portsmouth: January deadlines. Bah humbug! This time last year, as a student studying for an MSc in Social Research methods at the University of Southampton, the festive period was just a short break from terrifying lectures on statistical equations and mind-boggling sociological theory. Now I am a PhD student without looming French grammar tests or the self-imposed pressure to become a Master of Science. (You can read about how myself and social research methods are coming to terms with our differences here). Consequently, I am looking forward to a stress-free build up to the 25th December for the first time in years! Despite my newly found freedom, I am no less academically curious over the festive period. As such, I have enjoyed spending time this vacation delving into the Santa’s grotto that is Gale Primary Sources – overflowing with exciting archives, it is undoubtedly a treasure trove for researchers – to find out how Christmas has been celebrated around the world in history.

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More Than a Storm in a Teacup – The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in the Tearoom

Suffragette protest ends with a cup of tea

| By Constance Lam, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham |

No matter the situation, and no matter the company, it is an unspoken rule in the UK that a cup of tea (and likely several more cups) will always be poured and sipped! Despite the ubiquity of tea-drinking, I would argue the consumer base of tearooms and cafés is distinctly female-dominated. This begs the question: why is the act of drinking tea so closely associated with women when it is in reality a universal habit in the UK? I’m also curious to explore how tearooms and tea-drinking featured in one of the most significant women’s rights movements in the UK to date – the fight for women’s suffrage.

Read moreMore Than a Storm in a Teacup – The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in the Tearoom

“That’s How an RBMK Reactor Explodes…Lies” – Understanding the Climax of HBO’s Mini-Series “Chernobyl” with Gale Primary Sources

A helicopter sprays a decontamination liquid nearby the Chernobyl reactor in 1986. (Chernobyl, Ukraine, 13 June 1986), Historical collections of the Chernobyl accident from the Ukrainian Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (USFCRFC).

| By Harry Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham |

Being Harry Walker wasn’t easy in the Spring of 2019. Alongside sitting university exams, my blood pressure was raised hurling abuse at knights, dragons and zombies on a television screen. Was I playing World of War Craft? No, I was watching the final series of Game of Thrones. Whether you loved it or hated it, it cannot be denied that the medieval fantasy was all that anyone was talking about. Perhaps this is why the excellent HBO mini-series Chernobyl slipped under most people’s radar. Chernobyl is a wonderfully written, beautifully acted masterpiece which tells the story of the terrible nuclear accident which occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the USSR in 1986. Amongst other qualities, the show has been widely praised for its historical accuracy. In this blog post I will be using Gale Primary Sources to see whether the praise stands up to examination.

Read more“That’s How an RBMK Reactor Explodes…Lies” – Understanding the Climax of HBO’s Mini-Series “Chernobyl” with Gale Primary Sources

Was Oxford University Labour Club “Moving Towards Communism”? How Primary Sources Can Help You Track the History of Your Student Society

Banner reading 'Oxford University Labour Club, Forward to Socialism'

| By Grace Davis, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford |

The term “primary sources” gives me slightly traumatic flashbacks to my History GCSE when, as a baby academic, I had to explain how a picture can present a biased interpretation of the world. Now, a more grown-up (though not fully fledged) academic, the idea of “primary sources” is not as scary, but I often still find myself shying away from using them in my academic work. I’m happy to announce, however, that primary sources can be used for more than your university essays! Gale Primary Sources includes millions of pages of primary sources on almost every topic imaginable, including your hobbies and topics of interest beyond the lecture theatre. Once you start unearthing primary sources about things that fascinate you outside your degree, you may just develop greater confidence and familiarity with them and start feeling more comfortable incorporating them into university work too!

Read moreWas Oxford University Labour Club “Moving Towards Communism”? How Primary Sources Can Help You Track the History of Your Student Society

“What we may expect”: The Corrupting Power of Power

A Bloater (fish) from Yarmouth, drawing. "The Utilisation of Bribery." Punch, October 13, 1866, 150. Punch Historical Archive, 1841-1992

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

We have all heard the maxim, “Power corrupts”. This has been altered in recent years, and now you may hear an alternative: “Power brings out people’s true colours”. It is not that power necessarily makes anyone “bad”, but that if a person is already “bad”, this is highlighted when they gain power. Yet is it the power itself that does this to people, or is it the desire for power? In this post, I will investigate the coverage of political bribery scandals from sources in The Sunday Times Digital Archive and The Times Digital Archive to see where the corrupting power of power truly lies.

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Gangster’s Paradise: Exploring British Media Coverage of American Organised Crime

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

Everyone loves a villain. From Robin Hood to the Peaky Blinders, criminality has long captured the imagination of the British public, with the misdeeds of the real outlaws often swept under the rug. (For an engaging piece about the historical accuracy of the TV show Peaky Blinders, check out this blog post by my fellow Gale Ambassador, Emily Priest – it’s great!) American organised crime enjoyed a “golden era” in the 1920s after Prohibition was introduced in 1919. Bootlegging became a big industry in the US as the economy boomed and cultural norms changed. Contemporaries in Britain loved to hear stories of the criminals taking on the law, and this is reflected in the upsurge in coverage of such criminals in the British press.

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Remembering Rosa: When One Word Sparked a Civil Rights Movement

Rosa Parks on the bus, Reid, Tim. "America pays its respects to the mother of civil rights movement." Times, 26 Oct. 2005

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

On December 1st, 64 years ago, one simple word sparked a civil rights movement we will never forget: “No”. So began one woman’s fight against oppression in America, and her name was Rosa Parks. A tired seamstress on her way home from work, Rosa unknowingly became “the mother of the civil rights movement” by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Using Gale’s Historic Newspapers, and other digital archives, it is possible to travel back to this moment and, through the lens of primary sources, fully appreciate the bravery of her protest and the impact of the waves it sent out across America. On this important anniversary in human history, let’s take a moment to remember Rosa, celebrate her achievements and reflect on our past, in hope of a better future.

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A Rott-en Reputation: Opposing Viewpoints of the Rottweiler

Wilkins, Emma. "Shunned rottweiler regains affection." Times, 18 Mar. 1995, p. 6. The Times Digital Archive

│ By Evelyn Moran, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland, Galway│

As a proud two-time Rottweiler (or Rottie) owner, I’ve always found it odd that many people seem to be frightened, or at least nervous, of this dog breed. Both of my dogs have been absolute softies, more likely to lick an intruder than scare them off! Everyone expects them to be angry and aggressive, but both mine have just wanted a piece of ham to gobble down, and maybe a nap on top of a warm human. So I decided to use Gale Primary Sources to do some digging, to learn more about how the breed has been represented in the press, and how this has impacted attitudes towards the Rottweiler which can (in my opinion) be as loveable as any other breed.

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