In the UK today, we associate fireworks with the fifth of November and (as the well-known nursery rhyme goes…) gunpowder, treason and plot. For many of us, fireworks are inextricably bound up with the smell of bonfire smoke, and standing in a park or sports ground, ankle deep in mud, waiting for the audio system to work. This is often combined with the unfettered glee of riding a fairground ride that appears never to have been safety tested! And of course, we all know and love the various fireworks themselves: the rockets, Roman Candles, Catherine Wheels, Golden Rain and sparklers. Perhaps your personal favourites are those that burst in gold, and then fizz silver? Maybe those that screech and scream? Or those that launch in a splendid spray of red and blue and then ‘phut’ into nothingness? Or the slow burner… refusing to go off until someone has cautiously poked it with a stick, whilst the others watch terrified that it should explode in the face of the poker… Firework night: a time of education and entertainment for all!
By Becky Wright
I joined Gale in 2015 as Content Researcher. I completed my MA in Historical Research at the Institute of Historical Research and am delighted to work in a role where I can indulge my love of all things history. I’m based in London and, when I’m not surrounded by books and manuscripts in various libraries and archives, I love exploring all that my home city has to offer.
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Dutch raid on the Medway in June 1667. Commemorative events have been taking place at the historic dockyards in Chatham throughout the summer.
In New Orleans, Jazz began its history around 1895 with the cornetist Buddy Bolden, whom Adrian Troy called Jazz’s first great exponent. Bolden was depicted by Michael Ondaatje in his 1976 novella Coming through Slaughter as a jazz pioneer, struggling with alcoholic psychosis. Writing in The Times in 1992, Clive Davis also named Bolden the first legendary New Orleans jazz figure – legendary in that unlikely tales surround his mythical status, such as that ‘on certain nights, his playing could be heard miles away.’ Unfortunately, no recordings of Bolden are known to exist and despite the allure of rumored cylinder recordings dating to 1894 we only have the likes of Ondaatje’s novella to evoke the sound of one of the world’s first Jazz icons.
Sixty-five years ago this week, on the 2nd September 1952, surgeons at the University of Minnesota, Floyd John Lewis (1916-1993) and Walton Lillehei (1918-1999), made medical history by performing the first successful open heart surgery. It was a milestone in cardiac surgery – as little as 25 years earlier, such an operation would have been seen as practically impossible. What developments in medical practice led to this landmark?
On August 26th 1883, Krakatoa erupted. Not, of course, out of a clear blue sky; ash columns and steam plumes had been filling the sky over the island and its archipelago for days, the area had been experiencing tremors and earthquakes for years, and smaller explosions had been throwing up ash, changing the tides and, presumably, worrying the locals for months.
If you have ever met an English football fan, you will understand why the year 1966 is inscribed into the cultural memory. World Cup tournaments are generally remembered for three things: the winning team, the star players, and the surprise package that the neutral fans get behind. While England’s victory and Eusebio’s brilliance provide the first two, the third – the North Korean team – has been lost to history.
It was 50 years ago this week that The Beatles issued their ground-breaking album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The third biggest-selling album in the UK (and the top-selling when compilation albums are removed)  it remains one of the most influential and recognised albums 50 years after its release (although personally, I prefer Revolver). I took a look back through the collections in Gale Primary Sources to see what I could find out about this iconic album.
In the December 21, 1867 issue of the Illustrated London News there appears a striking full-length portrait of a samurai. He is neatly dressed in formal kimono, his left hand holding a sword and his right hand resting on a stool, calmly gazing towards the viewer. Something is odd about this picture, however: the sword looks too large for his body, his forehead too high, and his entire stature seems rather diminutive, even for a Japanese.
By Liza Fisher, Sales Representative for Gale New Zealand
The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document. Signed in Waitangi, New Zealand on 6 February 1840 by Maori chiefs and Lieutenant-Governor Hobson (on behalf of the British government), its purpose was to create unity between the Maori and British Crown. The Treaty has thus been likened to New Zealand’s version of the Magna Carta.
Television advertisements in the lead up to Australia Day on 26 January 2017 have been telling the Australian people to celebrate the day “how you want to”. It is an interesting message from the Australian government. A typical Australian reaction to it might be to ask, if now we are to celebrate it how we want to, what was the prescribed method beforehand? Another broad section of the community might wonder whether the day has ever been celebrated at all – isn’t it just another public holiday? But, taking it in good faith, clearly this message is intended as an open and friendly acknowledgement of the fact that, for many of the people of Australia in 2017, Australia Day is not what it once was. Although the Queen of England remains our constitutional head of state, in today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith community the observance of Australia Day as a celebration of its anniversary is becoming more marginalised every year. The fact is that, quite apart from the ancient claim of the aboriginal people, many countries and cultures can say they have had a part in the creation of modern Australia. Some have done so during the 20th and 21st centuries with contributions to culture, cuisine or the arts. Others have done so by virtue of a particular historical incident.