How Gale Primary Sources Helped Me with My Dissertation – and Can Help You Too!

Women on laptop

│By Lily Deans, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham│

Writing a dissertation is undoubtedly daunting, no matter how competent or confident you may feel by the time you proudly hand in the 12,000-word masterpiece! Just like writing a good essay, it is not just your own opinion that gets you the marks, but the opinions of others – and the way you use these opinions to either substantiate or contradict what you have said. So, naturally, the wider, more varied and unique the sources are that you use, the better awareness you will show of the existing discourse, and thus the more convincing your argument will be. “Ah yes,” I hear you say, “but where can I find these unique sources?” Well, with Gale Primary Sources, of course! This blog will show briefly the quantity and variety of sources I have found in Gale’s archives as I have been researching and writing my dissertation.

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‘Sporadic riots’ and ‘false reports’ – British Reporting of the 1929 Igbo Women’s War

Rioting in Nigeria - headline

By Tom Henderson, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second-year Durham historian, research scholar and Treasurer of Durham University History Society. I use Gale’s archives to enhance my work and interrogate historiography, as well as browsing for fun in newspapers and advertisements (yes, really). My main interests include intellectual history, religion, feminism and music. In the world outside the library I enjoy choral singing, football, and excessive quantities of tea.

In December 1929, British newspapers reported on ‘sporadic riots’ taking place in the British colony of Nigeria, targeting Warrant Chiefs and Native Courts across several districts. This was the Ogu Umunwaanyi or ‘Women’s War’: a coordinated insurrection of Igbo women against British colonial rule, ignited by a fear of taxation.

Read more‘Sporadic riots’ and ‘false reports’ – British Reporting of the 1929 Igbo Women’s War

The ‘Real’ Peaky Blinders of Small Heath, Birmingham

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

The hit BBC drama series Peaky Blinders – which is set in Birmingham and follows the lives of the Shelby brothers and their criminal gang the ‘Peaky Blinders’ – has captivated the minds and imagination (and – thanks to lead star Cillian Murphy – the hearts) of the British public. Given the recent fascination with Birmingham’s criminal underworld that the series has generated, I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to investigate the ‘real’ Peaky Blinders of late nineteenth-century Birmingham.

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James Greenwood – Social Reformer or Opportunist?

by Rory Herbert
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

James Greenwood was an author of relative obscurity who came to fame abruptly following the publication of his serial A Night in the Workhouse in the 1860s by the Pall Mall Gazette. He soon found himself rising through the ranks of the Victorian social ladder and became one of the leading social commentators of his age. This revolutionary piece saw Greenwood experience the conditions of a workhouse firsthand in one of the first examples of investigative journalism. Yet, while his work was quickly adopted by social reformers and critics alike, it seems the author himself was somewhat less interested in the people he claimed to support and, instead, focused on appealing to a wider audience.

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Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service

Richard Horowitz is a Professor of History at California State University. Trained as a historian of modern China, he subsequently developed a second specialization in the emerging field of World History. His research explores the intersection of China and processes of global integration from the 1820s to the 1920s. He teaches courses on China, Japan, World History, and historical methods.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Professor Richard S. Horowitz entitled “The Chinese Maritime Customs Service, 1854–1949: An Introduction”.

For almost a century, the Chinese Maritime Customs Service played a central role in the relationship between China and the global economy. The Customs Service was part of the Chinese Government, but it was led by foreigners. Technically, its role was limited to ensuring the accurate assessment of Customs duties (taxes on imports and exports). However, over time, it became involved in many activities including the maintenance of harbors and lighthouses, the payment of foreign loans, the preparation of a very wide range of published reports, and the provision of technical assistance to the Chinese Government. Customs officials were often involved in diplomatic discussions and served as informal intermediaries between Chinese officials and foreign representatives.

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The World’s Fair Set to Return to the US!

By Kevin Kohls, Associate Marketing Manager – Academic, Gale USA

Earlier this month, US President Trump signed the “U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act” into law, setting the stage for Minnesota to make its case to host the Fair in 2023. If Minnesota is successful in securing the honor of hosting the World’s Fair it would be the first World’s Fair in the United States in almost 40 years. The last World’s Fair on US soil took place in New Orleans in 1984 and proved to be financially ruinous for the organizers. There was an attempt to bring the fair to Chicago in 1992 but the plan was cancelled before it ever came to fruition.

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The Paris International Exposition of 1867

In the December 21, 1867 issue of the Illustrated London News there appears a striking full-length portrait of a samurai. He is neatly dressed in formal kimono, his left hand holding a sword and his right hand resting on a stool, calmly gazing towards the viewer. Something is odd about this picture, however: the sword looks too large for his body, his forehead too high, and his entire stature seems rather diminutive, even for a Japanese.

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‘A Genteel Murderess’ – Christiana Edmunds and the Chocolate Box Poisoning

One of the delights of a collection like Gale NewsVault is the opportunity to follow the progress of a story through the reports of a range of writers and newspapers, and to draw new conclusions on social and political themes. Coverage of stock markets collapsing or governments changing hands can help illustrate such topics, and offer researchers insight into public opinion, debate and interests. So too can smaller stories, such as a seaside town witnessing a string of unexpected and unusual murders, straight out of the Golden Age of Crime.

Read more‘A Genteel Murderess’ – Christiana Edmunds and the Chocolate Box Poisoning

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the man who led China from Empire to Republic

Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙aka. 孫中山 or 孫文; 1866–1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and leader of a series of armed uprisings that led to the downfall of China’s last imperial dynasty (the Qing) in 1911 and the founding of the Republic of China in 1912.   November 12 this year marked his 150th birthday.

Searching for his name (“Sun Yat-sen” or “Sun Wen”) in Gale’s China from Empire to Republic: Missionary, Sinology and Literary Periodicals – a unique collection of 17 English-language periodicals published in and about China – offers the researcher a significant quantity of material about this individual. Over two-thirds of the 300-plus search results are from The China Critic and Tienhsia Monthly – periodicals run by Chinese intellectuals. His activities and ideas also attracted the attention of Westerner- or missionary-established periodicals such as The Chinese Recorder, West China Missionary News, and The China Yearbook.

"Dr. Sun Yat Sen." Chinese Recorder Mar. 1925: 214. China from Empire to Republic.
“Dr. Sun Yat Sen.” Chinese Recorder Mar. 1925: 214. China from Empire to Republic.

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Ernest Satow’s First Audience with the King of Siam

Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843–1929) was a legendary British diplomat. He played a key role in Anglo-Japanese and -Chinese relations, particularly in Bakumatsu and Meiji Era Japan, and in China after the Boxer Rebellion. He also served in Siam (present-day Thailand), Uruguay, and Morocco, and represented Britain at the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. Satow passed away eighty-seven years ago on August 26, 1929.

Young Satow
Young Satow

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