Uncovering the Betrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer with Gale Primary Sources

│By Nicolas Turner, Gale Ambassador at Leiden University│

The release this year of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer biopic has focused attention on the ‘Red Scare’ of the early 1950s in the United States, a period of history filled with all the ingredients of a thriller: double agents, secret recordings, and dramatic revelations. As Nolan’s film reminds us, however, there was also a very real human cost to the persecutions, with – in the words of the historian Ellen Schrecker – an impact on “the lives of thousands of people”.1

I have always been fascinated by this McCarthyite moment, in which the tide of history seemed to suddenly go out, leaving people stranded with beliefs that had previously been acceptable but were now framed as treasonous or worse. I was therefore thrilled to discover in Gale’s Political Extremism and Radicalism archive a treasure trove of documents that offered direct access to the experiences of those living through that dramatic moment – including, most tantalisingly of all, J. Robert Oppenheimer himself.

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The First Module in Gale’s Environmental History Series – Conservation and Public Policy in America, 1870-1980

│By Lindsay Whitaker-Guest, Associate Editor│

In the summer of 2023, four alarming global climate records were broken: the hottest day on record globally; the hottest June on record; the warmest global ocean temperatures in May, June, and July; and the lowest recorded level of Antarctic sea-ice. One could not turn on the television or look at a news website without seeing images of harrowing wildfires in Europe, Hawaii and Canada or the devastating typhoon in East Asia. As I sat sweltering on a Sardinian beach during heatwave Charon in late July, my thoughts echoed those from all over the globe, is the Earth now in a climate crisis? And how did we get here?  

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Early Modern Medicine: Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Obstetrics: midwife assisting in a birth, Original woodcut image from E. Roeslin, Rosengarten, 1513,Wellcome Collection

│By Georgia Winrow, Gale Ambassador at Lancaster University│

Whilst we may think of how diseases such as the bubonic plague, typhoid or tuberculosis were discussed when studying medicine in early modern Europe, we often do not consider how significantly understandings of sexual and reproductive health developed during this period. The specialism of women’s health in particular was firmly established in these years, with the publication of manuals and treaties to direct physicians and midwives in their practice. Indeed, whilst the early modern period saw practitioners drawing upon the work of ancient authorities, it was also a period of innovation, particularly within science and medicine.

Gale’s Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century collection is truly interdisciplinary and includes materials that would support academic fields as varied as Sociology, Law and Theology. For scholars investigating the History of Medicine, the most significant materials within this collection which can be used to explore the emergence of a comprehensive, gendered understanding of early modern medicine are arguably the medical enquiries, manuals and pamphlets.

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Refugee Nurses and the Second World War

Nursing Times cover images
In this blog post, Dr Jane Brooks discusses the value of the Historic Nursing Journals – one of the collections included in Women’s Studies Archive: Female Forerunners Worldwide. The Historic Nursing Journals collection was sourced from the Royal College of Nursing (UK). Dr Brooks also explains how she is using the fascinating primary sources in this archive in her own research.

|Dr Jane Brooks, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester (UK)|

The digitisation of Historic Nursing Journals by Gale has created a dynamic and valuable resource for historians of nursing in the UK and beyond. I have been working in the field of nursing history for over twenty years. In 2010, I began researching nursing in the Second World War. I predominantly work with personal testimony such as oral history, letters and diaries. However, as well as these source materials usually located in public archives, I have used multiple types of entries in nursing journals, most frequently Nursing Times. I live in Yorkshire, the Royal College of Nursing headquarters library is in London and the archives are in Edinburgh, so every time I wanted to conduct any research using Nursing Times I had to travel to review the hard copies. If I needed to check a reference, I again had to make a journey or request one of the very busy archive staff check for me.

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Tourism and Technology within The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive

Exposition Universelle de Paris 1889

|By Lorna Ashton, Field Sales Executive – France|

The International Herald Tribune, founded in Paris in October 1887 as the European Edition of the New York Herald, was a newspaper for American expatriates in Paris, often referred to as “The Paris Herald”. It offered vast coverage of not only Parisian or French culture and events, but of Europe more broadly. Sought out by readers seeking international news throughout Europe and beyond, it became a leading international newspaper worldwide. By 2007, it was published in as many as 33 different countries.

Covering the years 1887 to 2013, The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive traces the history of the twentieth century and evolutions in society, from luxury travel and entertainment to technological developments. Thus I decided that I would use this archive to explore the development of tourism in France and beyond, and how it was linked to innovation and technological progress.

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Andrée’s Arctic Balloon Expedition

'Andree's Balloon. Onward over the Polar Sea

|By Sara Pellijeff, Gale Field Sales Executive – Nordics and Baltics|

On July 11, 1897, the hydrogen balloon Örnen (“The Eagle”) took off from Svalbard (a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole) with three Swedish expedition members on board – Salomon August Andrée, Knut Frænkel, and Nils Strindberg. The plan was to float over what was, at the end of the nineteenth century, the world’s last mysterious destination: the North Pole.

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Researching Infectious Diseases in Colonial India

|By Jagyoseni Mandal, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford|

I am a doctoral student in the department of the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford. My PhD topic focuses on infectious disease in colonial India. A major part of it looks at the scientific responses to, and public perception of, infectious disease during this time period, looking at the situation in both Britain and India. The Gale Primary Sources database acts as a major source corpus for my thesis. In this blog post, I will give an overview of how I use these primary sources, so that other researcher in my field – and beyond! – can understand how they may use Gale’s primary sources in their own research.

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The Mystics of Environmental History and Ethnobotonical Research

Gradina Botanica, Bucharest

By Ayanda Netshisaulu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg|

Let me set the scene. Right at the beginning of my postgraduate career, starry eyed and interested in gender history, I was offered the opportunity to join a group of students from the University of Johannesburg and Western Sydney University for a two-week programme in the Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa. The programme mostly consisted of Zoology students who understood the importance of land gradients and wild animal feeding patterns. As a Humanities student I felt a bit out of place but I wasn’t particularly bothered considering I was enjoying the safari and learning about rhino’s territorial marking patterns!

It was during this trip, however, that I learned that historical narratives can be extracted from anything. We had been discussing land gradients – which to this day I don’t completely understand – when my History professor asked me: “gradients and the science aside, Ayanda what did you get from what was just said now?” What did I get? I was still trying to get my Humanities brain to catch up to the science of it all! How could I “get” anything? He then went on to explain how, for a historian, there is a story in everything. A historian would be asking themselves questions about past land use, about past peoples and about how they would have navigated this land. How did societies of the past know, for example, to burn the grass to allow for the fresh regrowth that would attract game? Whilst initially I had never felt so out of place, it was during this trip that I fell in love with the historical narratives of the environmental past.

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How can pandemic literature help us reflect on the virus and a post-Covid future?

Cinema sign: "The World is temporarily closed"

│By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham|

‘No more diving into pools of chlorinated water…no more airplanes, no more requests to put your tray table in the upright and locked position…’ 1

If someone had told me last February that in a year’s time, I would be attending 9am lectures in pyjama bottoms, wearing a mask every time I popped to the corner shop for a much-needed bottle of wine, and would be reduced to “tiers” instead of “tears” during winter exam season, then I would have thought them crazy. However, that pretty much sums up my experience of online learning in my final year of university!

In a second year Dystopian Literature module at the University of Birmingham, I studied Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven. The novel, set twenty years after a global pandemic, depicts a post-apocalyptic world, which wiped out ninety percent of the world’s population. Despite Mandel’s heavily dramatized content, her writing somewhat prepared me for the long term impacts this current pandemic might potentially cause.

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Canaries in the Coal Mine

Photo of Canary

│By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Most of us see bright-feathered, warbling canaries as pets, yet these tiny birds were not always just household companions. In the nineteenth century they were used as exceptional risk predictors in mines. This was because they were particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide, a substance which led to numerous mining accidents in the aftermath of industrialisation. Thus, oddly, an increasing reliance on fossil fuels induced a new rapport with nature and animals. The canary’s role in mines became so engrained in the English language that “a canary in the coalmine” is now a well-known phrase, used to refer to early indicators of potential hazards. Gale’s Historical Newspapers allow us to better understand how the canary came to be emblematic of shifting attitudes towards risk during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the English-speaking world.

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