Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth-Century British Intelligence, An Intelligence Empire

Scan of a Telegraph. Security Liaison Officer, Trinidad: security reviews of Eastern Caribbean and British Guiana. (January 1, 1955-December 31, 1956). CO 1035/16. The National Archives (Kew, United Kingdom).

│By Clem Delany, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

The twentieth century was an era of global conflict and careful diplomacy, of the rise and fall of political extremes, of great strides in technology and vast change in the everyday lives of people around the world. Britain began the century with an empire that straddled the globe, and ended it with just a handful of small overseas territories. Warfare moved from trenches and bayonets, to weapons of mass destruction and long-distance drones. The global population skyrocketed. The internet came to be.

The scope and geographical spread of the interests of the British government over this century was vast. It reached beyond the UK and the mandates, protectorates and colonies of the British Empire, to the affairs of the self-governing Dominions and the later Commonwealth, as well as those of allies and enemies. British interests and British intelligence reached every corner of the globe from Aden to Zanzibar.

Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth-Century British Intelligence, An Intelligence Empire makes available online over half a million pages of British government papers relating to security and intelligence work in the twentieth century. It brings together files from the Security Service (MI5), the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Ministry of Economic Warfare, the Intelligence and Security Departments of the Colonial Office in the twilight of Empire, communications and intelligence records of the Ministry of Defence, and material from the Cabinet Office, including Joint Intelligence Committee reports, documents from the Special Secret Information Centre of WWII, and papers of the Cabinet Secretary relating to intelligence and espionage matters.

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Rediscovering China and the World in the Nineteenth Century

Anson Burlingame and relevant handwritten letters

│By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia│

US–China relations have been somewhat strained in recent years – a situation that may not be easily resolved by Joe Biden’s administration. This difficult period in the history of American and Chinese relations started when the US raised tariffs on Chinese imports, triggering China to impose retaliatory tariffs on US products. This trade conflict later escalated into a confrontation on many fronts, including technology. Many people have been racking their brains about how to ease the tensions. We can draw inspiration from the past by examining interesting historical records which show positive diplomatic relations between the two nations. Many such records are included in Gale’s digital archive collection China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part 1, 1815-1881.

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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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Stories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

Jacques Rigaud, Vue du Vieux Chateau de St Germain en Laye, engraving, 1725, and letter from Marie Ramsay to James Edgar

│By Edward Corp, retired Professor of British History at the Université de Toulouse│

A couple of years ago I published a biography of Sir David Nairne.1 He worked in the political secretariat of the Stuart court in exile for thirty years (1689-1728), and the Stuart Papers contain a great many letters written by him or to him during that period. I read and used those letters, and also consulted a private diary that he kept during the first half of that period. Unfortunately the diary comes to an end in 1708, and there was one thing that I was never able to discover. It might seem unimportant in itself, but it is significant in the context of a biography.

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Can Digital Humanities teach us more about Political Extremism?

Graphs generated by Gale Primary Sources Term Frequency tool

│By Chris Houghton, Head of Digital Scholarship, Gale International

Studying extremist groups has, sadly, never been more relevant or more important. Can text mining and data analysis be used to enhance this study, and potentially make discoveries that could help with the ongoing fight against political extremism? In this blog, I provide some suggestions of how scholars might benefit from utilising these research methods, by showing what can be uncovered by combining Gale’s Political Extremism and Radicalism archive with the Gale Digital Scholar Lab.

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Platform or Publisher? The debate is older than you might think.

Photo of laptop showing YouTube
The articles linked to in this post may contain images and language that some may find distressing. Any opinions stated in the articles are those of the authors. All articles are from The Daily Mail Historical Archive add-on module (2005-2016).

│By Kyle Sheldrake, Strategic Marketing Manager – Insights and Development│

Social media and other platforms have greatly increased the ability to spread misinformation and promote division. To many people, demands for platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to take such responsibility may seem relatively new. Many would link it to the rise (or should we say wider public awareness) of “fake news,” hate speech, deliberate misinformation and political bias in the wake of Brexit and questions around Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.

But is this a recent phenomenon, or has it been an ongoing part of YouTube’s history?

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Building a Digital Archive: The Role of Privacy and Content Breadth in ‘Refugees, Relief and Resettlement’

Refugee Children from Occupied Countries

By Bennett Graff, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

Released in 2020, Refugees, Relief, and Resettlement: Forced Migration and World War II is a digital collection of primary sources that documents the largest displacement of people in human history to occur within the near decade-long window that comprised the period just before, during, and shortly after the Second World War.

When Gale creates any of its archives, a good deal of thought goes into its conception and execution. In my role as an editor advocating for an archive devoted to the history of modern refugeeism and forced migration, I had several goals in mind. First and foremost was to shine a historical spotlight on an issue that is very much with us today and will remain with us for decades to come. I discussed the topical nature of the archive in this post. Second was to illustrate the sheer breadth of the topic at hand. The displacement and resettlement of nearly 60 million people extended from South America through Europe, Africa, and Asia to the far reaches of the Pacific Rim. The content included in Refugees, Relief, and Resettlement: Forced Migration and World War II had to represent this reach as broadly as possible. And finally, in laying bear the special historical circumstances of refugees and displaced persons, it was necessary to consider the delicate situation of these often “state-less” individuals by respecting within reasonable means the private information that the publication of any collection of primary sources inevitably brings to the surface.

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Building a Digital Archive: The Role of Relevance and Research Trends in ‘Refugees, Relief and Resettlement’

Migration Maps, primary sources

By Bennett Graff, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

Released in early 2020, Refugees, Relief, and Resettlement: Forced Migration and World War II lets students and scholars explore the largest displacement of people in human history, which occurred in the near decade-long window just before, during, and shortly after the Second World War. When Gale creates any of its archives, a great deal of planning – which can range from two to five or more years – will have gone into its conception and execution. During that period, Gale’s editors weigh a series of factors before the decision to proceed with the project. In this post, we’ll consider two of these factors in relation to Gale’s Refugees archive: contemporary relevance and academic research trends.

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Celebrating VE Day in 1945 and 2020

│By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool│

With Remembrance Day events looking a little different in the UK this year, you may recall that we also celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day under lockdown. Due to coronavirus restrictions, many of the big celebrations that were planned were postponed. While we wait for large public gatherings and events to become possible once more, I took the opportunity to use archival sources to look back to the first VE Day celebrations, and, using recent news stories from Gale OneFile: News, compare the events of 2020 with those of 1945. Providing access to articles written up to the present day from over 2,300 major world newspapers, Gale OneFile: News will be extremely useful for a study of this kind, whilst Gale Primary Sources offers perspectives from both national and regional newspaper archives.

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‘Little Sure Shot of the Wild West’ – The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley takes a shot in front of a crowd.

│By Eloise Sinclair, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

In July 1889, Mr. Russell Harrison, the son of US President Benjamin Harrison, visited Buffalo Bill’s Wild West encampment. He was welcomed with a spectacular breakfast of “clam chowder, baked beans with a flavor of savory pork, corn bread, custard pie and ice cream”. After which, he was taken for “a ride in the famous Deadwood Coach,” and gifted with a 5-cent piece. This was no ordinary 5-cent coin – a hole had been pierced through its centre by one of Annie Oakley’s bullets. I first learned about the celebrated sharpshooter Annie Oakley and the role she played in providing the West with an identity during a trip to the National Cowgirl Museum in Texas, a visit which left me eager to learn more. By using Gale Reference Complete, a package of digital resources available at Durham, I was able to explore a range of documents detailing her life and legacy.

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