Early Modern Medicine: Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Obstetrics: midwife assisting in a birth, Original woodcut image from E. Roeslin, Rosengarten, 1513,Wellcome Collection

│By Georgia Winrow, Gale Ambassador at Lancaster University│

Whilst we may think of how diseases such as the bubonic plague, typhoid or tuberculosis were discussed when studying medicine in early modern Europe, we often do not consider how significantly understandings of sexual and reproductive health developed during this period. The specialism of women’s health in particular was firmly established in these years, with the publication of manuals and treaties to direct physicians and midwives in their practice. Indeed, whilst the early modern period saw practitioners drawing upon the work of ancient authorities, it was also a period of innovation, particularly within science and medicine.

Gale’s Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century collection is truly interdisciplinary and includes materials that would support academic fields as varied as Sociology, Law and Theology. For scholars investigating the History of Medicine, the most significant materials within this collection which can be used to explore the emergence of a comprehensive, gendered understanding of early modern medicine are arguably the medical enquiries, manuals and pamphlets.

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Using Primary Sources to Explore How Courts Punished Interracial Sex in Apartheid South Africa

Picture of Black male hand holding the hand of a white female
This article deals with sensitive issues related to diversity, ethnicity, racism and sex, both referring and linking out to historic sources which use language now deemed inappropriate. The decision to read the post is at your own discretion. 

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Tackling a research assignment can prove to be extremely challenging to many student scholars at first. However, there are a few strategies that I have up my sleeves on how one can approach a research project. Firstly, it’s important to break the question down to ensure that you understand what you are being asked to do and what is required of you. Secondly, it is paramount to find a database that will provide you with materials relevant and valuable to your project. In this post I will demonstrate how I used primary sources in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive in a recent research assignment at my university to explore how courts investigated and punished interracial sex in South Africa under the apartheid regime. This will hopefully help other scholars who are interested in the history of South African politics see how they too can use Gale’s primary sources in their own research projects.

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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 Potential and Importance of Interdisciplinarity in Academia

Interdisciplinarity

│By Meg Ison, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

During my undergraduate studies, I read History and French. When I began looking for research funding for a PhD, I realised that so much research in the academy at the moment is interdisciplinary. Indeed, it has become somewhat of a ‘buzzword’. I combined research methods from the Humanities and Social Sciences in my research proposal to win a place with the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership, funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council. I completed their MSc in Social Research methods at the University of Southampton, and now I am on the interdisciplinary pathway for my PhD. I did not fully appreciate the potential and importance of interdisciplinarity until I started studying for my PhD with a cross-departmental supervisory team. As a result, I have a strong interest and belief in the power of interdisciplinary study. In this blog post I share some of my insights about this approach to research. 

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L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France – A Student’s Perspective

|By Rob Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

Gale’s rich and exciting archive collection L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, which is part of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender series, holds an impressive assortment of approximately 2400 printed works, published mostly in French. Enfer quite literally translates into English as “hell”. The name is remarkable and has certainly contributed to the collection’s historical infamy. When it was opened, the collection was classified and unavailable to the wider public due to its obscene and outlandish nature, and the perceived vulgarity of the content – but perhaps unsurprisingly this only roused interest and curiosity in the collection! Students of today will undoubtedly be equally curious to explore this historically “out of bounds” collection.

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Moving from Undergraduate to Postgraduate Study: Using Digital Archives More Proficiently

From Undergraduate to postgraduate

│By Mo Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Moving from undergraduate to postgraduate study can be challenging. Students are expected to undertake more original research at postgraduate level, contributing to ideas within their field rather than simply explaining them. For history students like myself, engaging with primary sources is particularly important.

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How Gale’s Archives Supported My Thesis on the Politics of Contraception in South Africa, 1970s–80s

Contraception plus archive article images

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Having to complete my Honours research paper in the era of Covid-19 left myself and many other students feeling stranded so far as to how to obtain valuable and relevant academic resources. Access to digitised resources quickly became vital to one’s success in academia and I am happy that I came across Gale Primary Sources when I did because they contributed greatly to the completion of my thesis. This blog will show how I utilised Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender, and Women’s Studies Archive collections to explore my thesis topic – the Media and Technologies of Contraception in South Africa between the 1970s and 1980s.

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Free Speech in a “Post-Truth” Era – The Value of Digital Archives

| By James Carney, Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

As a literature student, I have studied the power of language for myriad and varying purposes in a range of historical contexts. My studies have exposed me to the fact that language is inherently political – the way in which we construct verbal expression can reflect and compound the powerful forces that command us like hierarchies, social structures, identities or even biases. An example that comes to mind is the profound racism in the name given to South America’s most notable sea – the Caribbean. Popularised by the cartographer Thomas Jeffreys, the word finds roots in the Spanish word for cannibal (carib), and is a name which conquistadors enforced on the natives of this region. The political nature of language is clear from this example – in line with the constructed ‘civilising’ mission of imperialism, language came to reflect prevailing perceptions of the Spanish conquerors in relation to their (problematically) ‘savage’ subjects.

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Pride and Protest: LGBT+ Disability Activism in the US, 1985-1995

Disabled activists

│By Mo Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Disabled. A word many find uncomfortable. Indeed, it seems much of society still assumes that to be disabled is to be broken, but while it is true that many people with disabilities experience ableism and insufficient support, resources and facilities, activists have long fought against the presumption that to be disabled is inherently bad. Rather than a curse or insult, their disability is a part of their identity and a source of pride. Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender reveal that disability rights have also been a focus for another minority group in the United States: the LGBT+ community. In the 1980s and 1990s LGBT+ activists made great strides towards improving the lives of disabled people.

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Franco Stevens and the History of Curve Magazine

Covers of Curve Magazine

|By Jen Rainin, Co-Founder of The Curve Foundation| Franco Stevens arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, in the late-1980s, looking to immerse herself in the lesbian community she knew existed there. Certain that the Castro’s A Different Light bookstore would carry a magazine that would connect her to San Francisco’s vibrant lesbian scene, … Read more