How State Papers Online Can Support an Undergraduate History Dissertation

Person viewing State Papers Online with a laptop
State Papers Online is migrating to a much improved platform. In light of this, Ellie Brosnan, a third-year undergraduate student at Durham University with an interest in medieval history and particularly political developments throughout Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, has taken a look at what this archive has to offer students writing a dissertation in medieval and early modern history! To do so, Ellie used the new, updated version of State Papers Online.

Users will be able to preview the beta version of State Papers Online on the new platform from August 1, 2022. For more information about the beta experience, check out this blog post by Gale Primary Sources Product Manager Megan Sullivan.

│By Ellie Brosnan, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

State Papers Online is a digitised collection containing British government papers from throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It offers access to a range of different materials, from official documentation and legislation to more informal correspondence between key political actors of this period. This resource is split into three main collections that all host different materials related to the issue of early modern British government. The focus of this blog post is exploring how State Papers Online can be utilised for an undergraduate dissertation investigating the changes to early modern politics over the course of these centuries.

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How Important Was the Role of Women During WWII to the Victory of the Allied Powers?

Female Russian fighters
Symbat Omasheva, blog post authorIn Spring 2022, Gale ran a competition with Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, Kazakhstan, which gave students at schools within the group the chance to research and write about a topic of interest – with the two top entries published on The Gale Review! Below is the runner up entry, a superb piece by Year 11 student Symbat Omasheva.

Nazarbayex Intellectual Schools logoThe schools within the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools group have access to the Gale Reference Complete: Schools Edition – Ultimate package.

|By Symbat Omasheva, Year 11 student at Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Nur-Sultan|

The Second World War, which took place from September 1, 1939, to September 2, 1945, showed that women are capable of doing what was previously considered “men’s work” and making a significant contribution to the war effort. However, ideas about the gender distribution of responsibilities and the use of physical force differed greatly between the opposing sides in the war; the Allies actively promoted women’s contribution to the outcome of the war, while the Axis powers discouraged women from working on the military front.

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Researching the Impact of the New Silk Road on Kazakhstan

Illustration of what is believed to be the Polo family crossing the desert with a camel caravan from a 1375 atlas

|By Maryam Kurumbayeva, 11th Grade, Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Pavlodar| The Silk Road was a great trade network that once connected Eurаsia and North Аfrica. The name is a reference to Chinese silk, transported via this route, which was extremely valuable and expensive. This trading road played a vital role not only in the economic … Read more

A Conversation With Master’s Student Bokhutlo Tlhabanelo on Her Use of Gale Primary Sources

Women of Colour chatting

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

On a warm autumn afternoon in late May 2022, in the University of Johannesburg’s Library Project Room on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, I interviewed Bokhutlo Tlhabanelo, who is popularly known as Mickey. Mickey is a first year Master’s student and a tutor for the first year students enrolled on the undergraduate History course at the University of Johannesburg. In the interview, Mickey shared her holistic experience with Gale Primary Sources and the extent to which these resources have contributed to her research project.

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The Potential and Importance of Interdisciplinarity in Academia

Interdisciplinarity

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

During my undergraduate studies, I read History and French. When I began looking for research funding for a PhD, I realised that so much research in the academy at the moment is interdisciplinary. Indeed, it has become somewhat of a ‘buzzword’. I combined research methods from the Humanities and Social Sciences in my research proposal to win a place with the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership, funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council. I completed their MSc in Social Research methods at the University of Southampton, and now I am on the interdisciplinary pathway for my PhD. I did not fully appreciate the potential and importance of interdisciplinarity until I started studying for my PhD with a cross-departmental supervisory team. As a result, I have a strong interest and belief in the power of interdisciplinary study. In this blog post I share some of my insights about this approach to research. 

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How Gale Digital Scholar Lab Could Support Alternative Research Methods

Online working

|By Rob Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Academic research has evolved drastically in recent years, with new technology revolutionising research methods. One impact is the growing influence of quantitative analysis within the Humanities and Social Sciences. This has impacted research and student curriculums. I am currently a third-year student at University College London (UCL) studying History and Politics of the Americas with languages. Last year, my course included a ‘Research Methods’ module. The quantitative section of this module introduced me to the value of digital humanities (DH), particularly R-Studio which we took time to practise and utilise in our university projects. My institute’s different DH workshops were useful in that they enhanced the module and enriched my course as it presented a new approach to social scientific research. This challenged me to further question the complexities of QUAN vs QUAL/mixed-methods research, and to what extent they are mutually inclusive/exclusive in different research contexts.

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L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France – A Student’s Perspective

|By Rob Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Gale’s rich and exciting archive collection L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, which is part of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender series, holds an impressive assortment of approximately 2400 printed works, published mostly in French. Enfer quite literally translates into English as “hell”. The name is remarkable and has certainly contributed to the collection’s historical infamy. When it was opened, the collection was classified and unavailable to the wider public due to its obscene and outlandish nature, and the perceived vulgarity of the content – but perhaps unsurprisingly this only roused interest and curiosity in the collection! Students of today will undoubtedly be equally curious to explore this historically “out of bounds” collection.

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Moving from Undergraduate to Postgraduate Study: Using Digital Archives More Proficiently

From Undergraduate to postgraduate

│By Mo Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Moving from undergraduate to postgraduate study can be challenging. Students are expected to undertake more original research at postgraduate level, contributing to ideas within their field rather than simply explaining them. For history students like myself, engaging with primary sources is particularly important.

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How Gale’s Archives Supported My Thesis on the Politics of Contraception in South Africa, 1970s–80s

Contraception plus archive article images

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Having to complete my Honours research paper in the era of Covid-19 left myself and many other students feeling stranded so far as to how to obtain valuable and relevant academic resources. Access to digitised resources quickly became vital to one’s success in academia and I am happy that I came across Gale Primary Sources when I did because they contributed greatly to the completion of my thesis. This blog will show how I utilised Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender, and Women’s Studies Archive collections to explore my thesis topic – the Media and Technologies of Contraception in South Africa between the 1970s and 1980s.

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Lesser-Known Narratives and Everyday Histories in Archives Unbound

Archives Unbound screenshot

│By Ellie Brosnan, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

Studying archival material has been one of the most fascinating aspects of my History degree so far. Local libraries often host regional collections which provide a fascinating avenue into engaging with local histories, and being a student at Durham University in the north-east of England has allowed me to engage with primary sources from this area. During my time at university, for example, I have been lucky enough to see letters from servants at Durham castle from centuries past. Archives hold all manner of sources and uncovering new information is always rewarding, both physically and digitally. Delving into Gale’s online resources has also illustrated how digital archives can offer as much, if not more, compared to their traditional physical counterparts.

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