United Farm Workers and Chicano Literature: Primary Sources as a Tool for Language and Cultural Studies

│By Ray Linn, Gale Ambassador at Maynooth University│

I started studying Spanish nearly 8 years ago now, but it never interested me so much as last year, in the final year of my undergrad degree, when I enrolled in a Chicano/a Literature module. I hadn’t studied literature much previously, but in that class, I learned how essential it is to living. It allows us to connect with people whose experiences are different from our own, and to see the world through lenses that were previously unknown. But reading requires context. Using primary sources allows me to contextualize what I read when it comes from cultures and histories I’m unfamiliar with, allowing my view to expand and my understanding to grow.

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Studying Colonialism in Complementary Archives: Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Decolonization

│By Louis Venter, Gale Ambassador at the University of the Free State│

If you ask any seasoned historian what makes historical research unique, they will emphasise the crucial role of primary sources, which define and distinguish history from other forms of academic writing. In an ever-digitising world, historians can now access digital scans of genuine archival material from anywhere, eliminating the need to travel to distant archives, and making research more efficient.

Bringing together primary sources from multiple archives can enhance one’s research, and Gale Primary Sources offers two key complementary digital archives that can be used in tandem to study colonialism – Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Europe and Africa, Colonialism and Culture and Decolonization: Politics and Independence in Former Colonial and Commonwealth Territories.

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Celebrating South Africa’s Independence “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”

│By Carolyn Beckford, Gale Product Trainer│

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent South African anti-apartheid activist and Nobel laureate, coined the phrase “Rainbow Nation” to describe his country.  South Africa is home to a wide range of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups, including indigenous African tribes, Afrikaans and English-speaking communities, and people of Indian and Asian descent. This post will explore the country’s complicated history and its journey to independence.

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Finding Meaning in K-Means: Clustering Analysis in Gale Digital Scholar Lab

│By Sarah L. Ketchley, Senior Digital Humanities Specialist│

Of the six tools in Gale Digital Scholar Lab, clustering is often considered the most challenging methodology to interpret effectively. This blog post will explore the nature of this analysis tool and offer some tips for running an analysis.

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Honouring Madam C.J. Walker: Using Gale Primary Sources to Represent Black Women’s Resistance to Racist American Beauty Standards

│By Tabetha Wood, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

As I approach the final term of my history degree, I feel particularly passionate about the empowerment of minority groups through a representation of their past experiences. I saw my dissertation as an opportunity to fuel this passion and by investigating the ‘whiteness’ of American beauty standards between 1945-60, I represented the adversity African American women encountered in this realm, an obstacle that women of colour continue to face today.

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Refugees, Relief and Resettlement: The Early Cold War and Decolonization – The Building Blocks of a Digital Archive

│By Lindsay Whitaker-Guest, Associate Editor, Gale Primary Sources

This year, the global population of forcibly displaced and stateless people has grown to 130.8 million according to figures released by UNHCR. Existing global conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza conflict, as well as environmental and climate disasters, are all contributing to the increasing numbers of people without homes to call their own.

Sadly, these journeys of displacement are not new. Population displacement is a fact of human history, and scholars and researchers can explore episodes in the twentieth century of refugee crises through primary sources in the latest module of Refugees, Relief and Resettlement. This post explores the primary source collections included in this new module and how editors at Gale Primary Sources approach turning poorly catalogued collections into fully searchable digital archive products.

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Plans, Charts, Images and Drawings: Eighteenth Century Collections Online as a Source of Visual Information Transmission

│By Sirkku Ruokkeinen, University of Turku, Finland│

In 1786, the Scottish economist William Playfair (1759–1823) published the Commercial and Political Atlas, reporting on the trade balance between England and continental Europe, West Indies, and North America. The work included something never before seen in print: line and bar charts. These statistical tools, although familiar to many of us now, are in fact quite complex devices and necessitate some understanding of their structure for a successful reading. So how were Playfair’s eighteenth century readers able to understand them?

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New Environmental History Archive: Colonial Policy and Global Development, 1896-1993

│By Clem Delany, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources│

What does Environmental History mean to you?

On sitting down to write a brief explanation of what environmental history is, I have spent the last twenty minutes staring into space thinking about Pando. Pando is, as I’m sure the sophisticated and well-travelled audience of this blog will know, the largest and heaviest living organism on earth. Pando covers 100 acres and is around 10,000 years old. That means that when Pando first began its long, slow life, there were woolly mammoth and sabre-toothed cats still living, although increasingly finding their parties a little light on company.

Pando is a tree. It is a quaking aspen in Utah; in appearance it is over 45,000 individual quaking aspens, but below ground it has a single root system. Each ‘tree’ is a clone of its neighbours, a stem of one single organism. And it is on my mind because I am trying to think of a pithy way to describe environmental history, an area of study where many different disciplines and topics meet, connected at their roots as different expressions of one phenomenon: human interaction with the natural world.

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Delivering Impact – Launching Gale Research Showcase and Gale Digital Scholar Lab: Projects

│By Becca Gillott and Chris Houghton, Gale Digital Scholar Lab team│

From newspaper columns to academic reports, “The Humanities in Crisis” is a common refrain. It is a widely held fear that, in societies increasingly focused on the risks and benefits of technology in the fourth industrial revolution, studying what it means to be human is seen as increasingly irrelevant.

Irrespective of these fears, the evidence indicates that the teaching of humanities is increasingly under strain in higher education. Where we are in the UK, every summer sees the closure of yet another set of humanities departments. Higher Education assessment criteria like the UK’s Research Excellence Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework have a growing focus on measuring not just the quality, but the impact of disciplines.

This focus on impact has led to interesting developments in higher education institutions as humanities departments find new ways of working and collaborating within and without the institution.

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Exploring Community and Identity in Sexuality and Gender History – Archives of Sexuality and Gender: Community and Identity in North America

│By Phil Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor│

Queer history is full of groups and individuals that took a stand against injustices, fought to change discriminatory laws, advocated for acceptance, and spoke out for those who might otherwise remain marginalized.  Studying this history can inspire and educate us as we face ongoing challenges in society such as homophobia, transphobia, attacks on women’s rights, and a willingness to eliminate any mention of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Archives of Sexuality and Gender: Community and Identity in North America (ASG VI) offers interesting perspectives on society, sexual identity, community building, and gender issues.  It presents a history of North American society with materials that cover activism, social justice issues, disabilities, women’s rights, alternative sexualities, sexuality and religion, and ethnic communities.  The collections detail how identities developed in different social conditions, and how communities grew around dedicated, sometimes courageous, individuals and organized groups.

In this venture Gale Primary Sources has partnered with the ArQuives, Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives; the GLBT Historical Society; the Elihu Burritt Library (Central Connecticut State University); and Colegio de México, which represents Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  This archive comprises 28 collections that provide a personal historical perspective, helping researchers get to know the individuals and groups involved. 

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