Conspiracy Theories in the Archives

Hudson, Christopher. "Murder in the Vatican." Daily Mail, 27 Aug. 1998, p. 11. Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2016

|By Rebecca Bowden, Gale Digital Scholar Lab Product Manager|

Everybody has heard one conspiracy theory or another. Some buy into them wholeheartedly, others mock them and call out their absurdity. Whichever camp you fall into, there is undoubtedly something fascinating about conspiracy theories! They’re akin to the myths and legends that ancient civilisations used to explain the world around them – tales of manipulative gods and hidden cities. Yet one could argue that those civilisations had an “excuse” – they did not have the years of advanced scientific discovery that we now enjoy! Even with this scientific knowledge, however, conspiracy theories still emerge and take hold, often growing ever more elaborate and determined, even whilst they’re being actively discredited.

There are the famous ones: Area 51, accusations that Princess Diana was murdered, that 9/11 was planned by the US Government, that there was a second gunman at the assassination of JFK, or that Kennedy was killed using an umbrella. Or a government plot. The CIA! The Mafia! Fidel Castro! Everyone’s heard of those. Then there are the more unusual conspiracy theories which may be entirely new to you, many of which still have the ability to baffle us with their absurdity. All of them appear within Gale Primary Sources. In this blog post, we delve deeper into the world of conspiracy theories.

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Using Primary Sources to Study Gun Control

Studying gun control

|By Rachel Holt, Gale Primary Sources Acquisitions Editor|

This week (July 2022), US President Joe Biden was heckled by the father of a mass shooting victim during a White House event celebrating the passage of a federal gun safety law. This comes in the wake of the mass shooting that killed nineteen children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. But how did we get here?

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Etiquette and Advice, 1631-1969 – Good Manners as Prescribed by “Polite Society”

Etiquette and Advice from Archives Unbound

|By Phil Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Gale’s Archives Unbound collection Etiquette and Advice, 1631-1969 is a fascinating digital archive of material from Winterthur Museum and Library in Delaware. A collection of 429 British and American etiquette books and rare print ephemera, it allows us to explore the question, “who gets to decide what behaviours are ‘good’ or ‘polite’?” The materials span from the seventeenth to twentieth century, offering tidbits on everything from table manners to travelling, conversation to courtship, home furnishing to hospitality. Author Dena Attar observes, in the face of fears about the “decay of modern manners and the instability of society, [etiquette] writers often described their books as necessary correctives for wider social problems.”1 This collection will therefore interest not only book historians, but also social historians, literary critics, cultural studies scholars, feminists, and other lifelong students of transatlantic history.

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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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New State Papers Online Experience Available to Preview

State Papers Online search bar and source design

|By Megan Sullivan, Senior Product Manager, Gale Primary Sources|

I am delighted to share that after several years of research and technical preparation, an updated experience for State Papers Online (SPO) will be ready to preview on Monday, August 1, 2022. This will be a “soft launch”, meaning that on this date, users can access the beta version of the new State Papers Online from a link that will be available from the current SPO homepage. We encourage users to try the new experience and send us their feedback. We are also recruiting for paid user interviews and usability testing. We plan to retire the current version of State Papers Online in December 2022 and from that date forward, SPO will be exclusively available in the updated experience.

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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 Importance of Archives – Preserving the Past and Contextualising the Present

Finnish National Archives

│By Torsti Grönberg, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

Historian Jo Tollebeek once wrote that increasing “scientification” of history at the end of the nineteenth century produced a new kind of archival-fantasy: a belief that all relevant documents from the past could be gathered. Nowadays it is vital to comprehend and take into account the diversity of an archive. Every archive is bound not only to its history and context but also the demands of the current era. At the end of the day, an archive is in of itself an intellectual problem and a cultural artefact to be studied. Historian Natalie Zemon Davis has also made the important point that, even though the world of archives has encountered many changes, the most important aspect is still the same: when you read documents in an archive you have a physical link to the past in front of you that connects you to people long dead and strengthens the researchers attempt to tell about the past as honestly as possible.1

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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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