Trials, Tribunals and Tribulation: Witch-Hunts Through the Ages

│ by Eloise Sinclair, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham │

For many of us, the term ‘witch-hunt’ conjures up images of spell books, familiars and haggard old women being hauled from their homes by angry mobs. Although scenes such as these took place in numerous witch-hunts, they are not their defining feature. Using the Term Frequency tool in Gale Primary Sources reveals that the number of documents containing the term ‘witch’ peaked at the end of the nineteenth century and rose rapidly again in the second half of the twentieth century. ‘Witch-hunt’ similarly came to be used more frequently in the last sixty years. This demonstrates that these two terms are not solely linked to the persecution of magical witches; instead they have, over the centuries, taken on a different meaning. This article uses Gale Primary Sources to explore what constituted a witch and how witches were dealt with in different eras and political climates.

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Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki
I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the university, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the History of Civil Society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.

One hundred and forty years ago, the world was speculating about the survival of a significant arctic exploration party. One can read, for example this article in The Western Daily Press, one of the periodicals included in Gale’s British Library Newspapers. With Professor Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld leading the expedition, the steamer Vega had departed on August 27th, 1878 for the Northeast Passage, the shipping route to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic Ocean coasts of Norway and Russia. As radio technology had not yet been developed, there were no means for the press to get in touch with Nordenskiöld and his crew. In the reporter’s words, “More than seven and a-half months have…now elapsed and nothing more has been heard of him.” Nevertheless, the newspaper firmly believed that the expedition would be safe, possibly having stopped to spend the winter at “the sheltered bay of Kulynchinska.” Without faster means to confirm this, organisations that had invested in Nordenskiöld’s expedition, or were otherwise interested in the Northeast Passage, were planning to send out search parties to look for the Vega.

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Exploring Arabic Periodicals in Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library

By Becky Wright, Gale Content Researcher
I joined Gale in 2015 as Content Researcher. I completed my MA in Historical Research at the Institute of Historical Research and am delighted to work in a role where I can indulge my love of all things history. I’m based in London and, when I’m not surrounded by books and manuscripts in various libraries and archives, I love exploring all that my home city has to offer.

Gale’s digital collections include a wealth of newspapers, journals and periodicals. From The Times Digital Archive to the newspapers in the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, and from the International Herald Tribune to Missionary, Sinology and Literary Periodicals published in China, researchers have access to a vast array of English-language journalism, spanning centuries and continents. With the inclusion of early newspapers and periodicals in the resource Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, this archive offers researchers the opportunity to trace the development of Arabic print journalism as well. While the digital collection was being created, I was lucky enough to see some of the originals at the British Library. I was struck by the diversity of the journals, both in subject matter and appearance, but such variety is not so surprising considering the titles span more than thirty years (1861 to 1899) and were produced in several different countries.

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