Liberating, Stultifying or Provocative: Mary Quant’s Miniskirt

Mary Quant

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

Mary Quant’s miniskirt of 1966 not only transformed the look of London’s youth but, according to Jonathan Aitken in a 1967 article in The Sunday Telegraph, inspired the “swinging revolution, the sexual revolution, the restaurant and night-club revolution”. The newspaper archives in Gale Primary Sources are particularly valuable for assessing the effect of Quant’s designs on the fashion industry and British culture, revealing the range of contemporary responses and reactions to this iconic item of clothing.

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Paradise Found: Exploring Historical Maps and Travel Writing

Harris, T. "A South Prospect of the Flourishing City of New York in the Province of New York in America 1746

│By Matthew Trenholm, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Of all the Gale archives I’ve explored so far, my favourite is Maps and Travel Literature. Part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online, it has already been a great help to my undergraduate History dissertation on English ports. Maps have been an essential part of human development and Maps and Travel Literature allows you to examine maps from all over the world, produced for different reasons by different people and organisations. There is also a huge range of travel writing to sink your teeth into, giving insight into the human experience behind the maps and other geographical documents.

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Remembering Rosa: When One Word Sparked a Civil Rights Movement

Rosa Parks on the bus, Reid, Tim. "America pays its respects to the mother of civil rights movement." Times, 26 Oct. 2005

| By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth |

On December 1st, 64 years ago, one simple word sparked a civil rights movement we will never forget: “No”. So began one woman’s fight against oppression in America, and her name was Rosa Parks. A tired seamstress on her way home from work, Rosa unknowingly became “the mother of the civil rights movement” by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Using Gale’s Historic Newspapers, and other digital archives, it is possible to travel back to this moment and, through the lens of primary sources, fully appreciate the bravery of her protest and the impact of the waves it sent out across America. On this important anniversary in human history, let’s take a moment to remember Rosa, celebrate her achievements and reflect on our past, in hope of a better future.

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An American Summer’s Dream

Megan at the summer camp

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

America – a country of tradition, devout patriotism, sport fanatics and Chick-fil-a. Like Thanksgiving, 4th July, the Superbowl or Maryland’s infamous Turkey Trot, summer camps are arguably an integral part of American culture. This summer, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, I hopped on a plane and travelled a little under four thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean to YMCA Camp Letts to enjoy my own summer camp experience. Interested in exploring the history of this cultural phenomenon, and the way in which it has been conceived by others, I used Gale’s primary source archives and found personal narratives printed in twentieth-century newspapers in which the authors reminisce about summer camps. Camp counselling is a truly rewarding role; one that has been fulfilled and enjoyed by many likeminded young adults for decades. With these documents, I have been able to plot trends and identify similarities between my recent summer experience and the memories of those who were camp counsellors over fifty years before me, tracing the continuities and shared experiences of this uniquely-American tradition – one of which I now feel a part.

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Vive La Baker

Vive La Baker

The International Herald Tribune, the latest periodical to be digitised for Gale Primary Sources, was the quintessential American newspaper – published in Paris. It was founded in 1887 by James Gordon Bennett Jr., who had left America for Paris under a cloud after he socially disgraced himself. (The story goes he ruined a party at his then-fiancée’s house in New York by relieving himself in the fireplace.) He consoled himself for the loss of his fiancée with both his wealth and Paris, where he established the European edition of the New York Herald. It was the paper for jet-setters and wealthy American visitors to Europe, catering to the transatlantic elite of Gilded Age Paris – it was the paper of the most romantic city in the world. From its inception, it focused on entertainment, sport, celebrity and international news. It helped shape the identities of American expats, catered to GIs who stayed on after WWII, and cultivated an image of glamour and luxury: it provided an all-American edit of French chic.

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The Homophobic AIDS Crisis of the 1980s

Written by Rory Herbert, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth

I am a second 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.

Homophobia surrounding the 1980s AIDS crisis

During the early 1980s, AIDS became an ever-growing concern in the minds of Americans, and brought to the fore the deep-seated tensions and homophobic tendencies that plagued the nation’s media and political institutes. Gale’s Archives of Sexuality & Gender  provides access to a wealth of sources that help us to understand the issues and struggles experienced by these long-oppressed and ignored members of society during a particularly trying period.

Mass, Lawrence. “About Your Health ….” Bay Windows: Boston’s Gay and Lesbian Newspaper, June 1983.

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The American Civil Liberties Union – foundation, campaigns and contemporary relevance

After the First World War, many Americans feared that the Communist Revolution in Russia would spread to the United States. Fear outweighed rational debate, leading to a clamp down on civil liberties, with thousands arrested without warrants. In response, a small group of individuals set up the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the years since then, the ACLU has evolved from a small organization to the nation’s principal defender of civil rights, playing a role in some of the most famous events in twentieth-century American history.

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Remembering Elvis: the man behind the legend

Elvis Presley was just 41 when he died in August 1977. So much had been achieved in just over twenty years; a young country boy had risen exponentially to become one of the biggest – perhaps even the biggest – icons of twentieth-century popular culture. Looking back over his career with Gale’s digital archives reveals a more personal, introverted side to the man who became known as ‘the King’.

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False predictions, chaotic systems: Revisiting US elections

In a few months’ time, the day millions of people have been waiting for will finally be upon us: Election Day in the United States. For the first time in eight years, a new President will be elected to the White House. Pitching effervescent Republican Donald Trump against the more sedate Democrat Hillary Clinton, long months of campaigning will come to an end in what is potentially the most globally scrutinised election ever known. The successor to Barrack Obama will finally be revealed.

While the level of fanfare surrounding the 2016 election may appear unprecedented, there have been a few notable elections in the US over the years which have come close to matching this year’s furore:

  • 1948: Harry S. Truman (Democrat) vs. Thomas E. Dewey (Republican)
  • 1960: John F. Kennedy (Democrat) vs. Richard M. Nixon (Republican)
  • 2000: Al Gore (Democrat) vs. George W. Bush (Republican)

Using Chatham House Online Archive’s expert analysis, some striking continuities emerge across all three elections.

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Race & Gender in the Carceral State

By Jen Manion
Jen Manion, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History and Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at Connecticut College. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) and co-editor of Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (Routledge, 2004). Jen has also published essays in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Journal of the Early Republic, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Radical History Review. 

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920 is a trove of material for scholars and students interested in the history of gender, gender expression, and sexuality. Criminal accounts provide an illustrative window into the culture of the time by highlighting the lives, actions, and motives of those who crossed the line of so-called acceptable behavior. Women’s participation in illicit activities such as theft, robbery, assault, or murder were generally sensationalized in both trial and newspaper records, giving such accounts a sexual tinge no matter how seemingly mundane. The range of source material—from newspaper accounts to trial manuscripts to organizational records to sensational dime novels—allows readers to approach a singular topic from different perspectives. Historians can examine the treatment of people along lines of race, class, and gender, or chart changes in such regulations over time.

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