The British Newspapers, 1600-1950 series, the most comprehensive digital collection of regional newspapers from across the UK, is a key resource for studying local history. Part V, releasing in March 2016, will soon take the total number of pages covered by the series to over 5.5 million, with an impressive 161 newspaper titles. Academic Advisor to Parts I and II of the series, Dr Martin Conboy, described the series as an ‘enormously rich’ resource, which has already proved of great value to a range of scholars. But why invest in regional and local papers? What makes regional papers valuable to students and researchers?
Working for a US-based company like Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, it is hard to escape the fanfare of nationwide ‘federal holidays’. Far more interesting – and, seemingly, more commonplace – than the various ‘bank holidays’ we have here in the UK, the US recognises eight official federal holidays. Yet when I noticed that Columbus Day was pencilled in on my email calendar for 10th October 2016, I was surprised to learn that it was not, in fact, considered one of those eight holidays. In 2013, just 24 states observed the holiday. A mark of the re-evaluation of Columbus’s influence upon America and, for many, the effects upon indigenous ways of life, Columbus Day is today a far more contested occasion than it once might have been. With January marking 524 years since Columbus was granted the funds to finally embark upon his first voyage, I was spurred to delve into Gale’s digital archival collections to see if I could detect a change in mood towards Columbus Day observance.