The Wrath of Mountains: Explaining Volcanic Eruptions from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Modern Day

“The Straits of Sunda: Terrible Volcanic Eruption.” Illustrated London News, 8 Sept. 1883, p. 229. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford

On December 9, 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Whakaari in New Zealand sparked new discussions over risk assessment in volcanic regions. While sudden volcanic eruptions make it difficult for scientists to assess risks in such areas, the belief that eruptions can be predicted thanks to science also leads to increasingly hazardous activities such as tourism in dangerous volcanic regions. How and why have humans become so intrepid when it comes to volcanoes?

The Gale Primary Sources archives provide not only newspaper articles but also a range of valuable monographs and visual sources, ranging from drawings to photographs, which allow us to investigate how our understanding and perception of volcanic eruptions has changed over the last few centuries. The sources demonstrate that the scientific community’s investigations led to the emergence of new understandings of dangerous volcanic eruptions from the late eighteenth century onwards. Paradoxically, scientific explanations of volcanic eruptions created a heightened sense of danger but also led to an increase in risk-taking behaviour.

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Are We Obsessed with Serial Killers?

Newspaper advert for a book: What makes a serial killer?

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

In the last decade, television series such as Dexter, Mindhunter and Bates Motel have encountered overwhelming success. Based on true events or completely fictional, the narratives are told from the investigators’ or killer’s perspective. The public is not only interested in the gory, bloody aspect of serial killing cases but the science behind understanding and catching serial killers. Many such programmes try to answer the key question: Why do serial killers kill? Using Gale Primary Sources and its many research tools, I will use this blog post to explore the topic of serial killers, considering questions such as: where does the term “serial killer” come from and what does it mean? And what is the role of the media in serial killing cases?

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How Gale Primary Sources Helped Me with My Dissertation – and Can Help You Too!

Women on laptop

│By Lily Deans, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham│

Writing a dissertation is undoubtedly daunting, no matter how competent or confident you may feel by the time you proudly hand in the 12,000-word masterpiece! Just like writing a good essay, it is not just your own opinion that gets you the marks, but the opinions of others – and the way you use these opinions to either substantiate or contradict what you have said. So, naturally, the wider, more varied and unique the sources are that you use, the better awareness you will show of the existing discourse, and thus the more convincing your argument will be. “Ah yes,” I hear you say, “but where can I find these unique sources?” Well, with Gale Primary Sources, of course! This blog will show briefly the quantity and variety of sources I have found in Gale’s archives as I have been researching and writing my dissertation.

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“When is a Woman…?” Exploring Cultural Expectations of Women Advocated in Historical Newspapers

Montage of snippets from newspapers considering "when is a woman...?"

by Lotta Vuorio, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki

When I was preparing to deliver my first presentation as a Gale Ambassador, I ran into an interesting article called “When Woman is Not Graceful” in Gale’s Nineteenth Century Collections Online. The article was published in a newspaper called The Christian Recorder in 1895, and it portrays some of the “conditions under which she (a woman) manages to look absurd” – at least in the opinion of the anonymous writer. The article appears as an opinion piece by Graphic London and it expresses outspokenly all the descriptions connected to the stereotype of women who move clumsily. It says, “Few women can enter a carriage, mount the steps of a coach or hurry into a hansom gracefully, while the spectacle of a woman getting into a boat is far from pleasing”.  The vast petticoats common in the nineteenth century and their effects on the ability of women to move are mentioned and criticised, and the writer finishes his piece by indicating the true form of grace: “A woman is only really graceful when she is at rest, lolling in a carriage or sitting in a drawing room or else dancing, when she has the genius for it.” I wanted to find this article again and began searching the Gale Primary Sources database. In doing so I came across many more newspaper articles with a heading that begins “When is a Woman…”. As I browsed through them I became intrigued, curious about the way articles in different newspapers described what was acceptable and admired in the appearance and behaviour of women. Below are some of the most fascinating examples I found.

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From Political Violence to Political Power – Examining Newspaper Reports on Political Violence Around the World

Adolf Hitler, German dictator, ascending the steps at Buckeberg flanked by banner-carrying storm troopers who display the Nazi swastika.

│By Pollie Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool |

Students at the University of Liverpool are able to efficiently and easily research and evaluate primary source documents using Gale Primary Sources. I am studying International Politics and am currently studying a module on political violence. Reaching Gale Primary Sources via the Liverpool University library page, I was able to examine a vast wealth of information on political violence. In this blog post I’m going to explore some instances of political violence around the world, and how the individuals involved sometimes ended up in politically powerful positions. Any student can use the Gale resources available at their institution to undertake research; the use of original, primary source documents is often the key to reaching the highest grades.

Read moreFrom Political Violence to Political Power – Examining Newspaper Reports on Political Violence Around the World

Introducing ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision’

"The Latest Paris Fashions." Myra's Journal, 1 Apr. 1889. Women's Studies Archive

│By Rachel Holt, Gale Primary Sources Acquisitions Editor

​ Rachel Holt is an Acquisitions Editor at Gale, working on the Gale Primary Sources portfolio. Managing the Women’s Studies Archive series, Rachel works closely with source libraries and other archival institutions around the world and tracks academic trends in Women’s and Gender Studies to ascertain which primary sources are required. In this blog post she answers the following questions about the new module, Voice and Vision:


  • What is in this new archive?

  • Why did Gale digitise these particular collections?

  • Why have we called the new instalment Voice and Vision?

  • Read moreIntroducing ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision’

    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.

    Read moreParadise Found: Exploring Historical Maps and Travel Writing

    “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.

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

    The Power of Voice: Oral Histories in Gale’s Political and Extremism and Radicalism archive

    │By Vicky Fielding, Senior Marketing Manager │

    There are currently 61 oral histories in Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century Far-Right and Left Political Groups in the US, Europe and Australia. These interviews, which are available as audio recordings and transcripts, were recorded in 2015 by researchers from the University of Northampton in collaboration with Gerry Gable and the Searchlight network with anti-fascist activists active from the 1940s–1990s. They are exclusive recordings with anti-fascists about their experiences, discussing the post-war history of anti-fascism and what caused them to become engaged in the movement.

    Read moreThe Power of Voice: Oral Histories in Gale’s Political and Extremism and Radicalism archive