Gangster’s Paradise: Exploring British Media Coverage of American Organised Crime

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

Everyone loves a villain. From Robin Hood to the Peaky Blinders, criminality has long captured the imagination of the British public, with the misdeeds of the real outlaws often swept under the rug. (For an engaging piece about the historical accuracy of the TV show Peaky Blinders, check out this blog post by my fellow Gale Ambassador, Emily Priest – it’s great!) American organised crime enjoyed a “golden era” in the 1920s after Prohibition was introduced in 1919. Bootlegging became a big industry in the US as the economy boomed and cultural norms changed. Contemporaries in Britain loved to hear stories of the criminals taking on the law, and this is reflected in the upsurge in coverage of such criminals in the British press.

Read moreGangster’s Paradise: Exploring British Media Coverage of American Organised Crime

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.

Read moreRemembering Rosa: When One Word Sparked a Civil Rights Movement

Cultural Appropriation or Swiftian Satire? Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado

“The Mikado.” Illustrated London News, 4 Apr. 1885

| by Masaki Morisawa, Senior Product Manager, Library Reference, Tokyo |

Last year, an American high school student’s twitter account flamed up when she posted prom pictures of herself wearing a cheongsam, or Chinese dress. Some Asian Americans accused her, who is not of Chinese descent, of cultural appropriation. “My culture is NOT your [expletive] prom dress,” wrote one particularly upset commenter. Others, including many Asians living in Asia, defended her actions and dismissed such criticism as irrelevant.

While “cultural appropriation” is a fairly recent term, similar debates have arisen in the past where the borrowing of “exotic” elements from foreign cultures have been criticised as offensive or disrespectful. One such example is Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado, a work that is often hailed as the duo’s masterpiece, yet at times has stirred controversy due to its use of Japanese costume and settings. In this post I would like to take a look at the history of Mikado performances and the controversies surrounding them.

Read moreCultural Appropriation or Swiftian Satire? Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado

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.

Read moreTrials, Tribunals and Tribulation: Witch-Hunts Through the Ages

Atmospheric but Not Accurate – Five Ways ‘Peaky Blinders’ Stretched the Truth

Peaky Blinders newspaper images

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

Since 2013, Peaky Blinders stormed the UK television charts. Five seasons and a well-deserved BAFTA later, the series continues to intrigue, outrage and fascinate viewers with its gritty, unflinching depiction of Birmingham gangs – the once very real “Peaky Blinders” gang in particular.

Read moreAtmospheric but Not Accurate – Five Ways ‘Peaky Blinders’ Stretched the Truth

Discovering FDR through Gale Primary Sources

FDR

│By Tom English, Gale Field Sales Executive – North UK │

I recently enjoyed reading three excellent books on Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), 32nd President of the United States: Jean Edward Smith’s single-volume biography, FDR, which provides an excellent overview of his life and presidency; David B. Woolner’s The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace, which gives an incisive and detailed account of the final days of his life, including negotiations with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta and his fight to the end to build international institutions to prevent future wars; and Susan Dunn’s A Blueprint for War: FDR and the Hundred Days that Mobilized America, which tells the story of how FDR outmanoeuvred those who opposed America’s support for Britain and Russia in WWII. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed the secondary sources on FDR, I thought that I’d delve into Gale Primary Sources to see what’s there…

Read moreDiscovering FDR through Gale Primary Sources

The Evolution of Women’s Football

Rowbottom, Mike. “When Ladies of Preston ruled the world.” Independent, 27 Feb. 1997, p. 26. The Independent Digital Archive

│By Rachel Holt, Acquisitions Editor │

As the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup drew to a close and tens of thousands of fans lined the streets of New York to greet the United States’ World Cup-winning team, we decided to look at the history of women’s football. Using Gale Primary Sources we tracked the evolution of women’s involvement in the beautiful game up to this year’s Women’s World Cup which, capturing the public’s imagination, saw an all-time high in viewing figures.

Read moreThe Evolution of Women’s Football

Was the Space Race worth it?

“The astronauts practicing in an Apollo capsule, identical to the one in which they died. From left: Chaffee, White, Grissom.” "Death . . ." Sunday Times, 29 Jan. 1967, p. 11. The Sunday Times Digital Archive

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

As we approach fifty years since man first set foot on the moon, it feels like a good time to reflect on attitudes and opinions in the lead up to one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to think that the space race was always seen positively, receiving unanimous public support and the unity of the scientific community, but this was not necessarily the case.

Read moreWas the Space Race worth it?

Noddy in Archiveland

“Pop Career for Noddy." News Review. Sunday Times, 16 Nov. 2003, p. 14[S3]. The Sunday Times Digital Archive, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/FP1803638499/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=141de559

│ By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor │

Everybody knows Noddy. Created by Enid Blyton in 1949, the Noddy books – and subsequent television show – tell the story of a wooden man who runs away from the toy store and finds himself in Toyland. There he makes his home after the town’s residents have established that he is, indeed, a toy. The adventures of this blue-hatted man and his friends (Big Ears, PC Plod, Dinah Doll, Tessie Bear et. al.) are a staple of the British childhood, enduring through years of changes and controversy. With this year marking Noddy’s 70th birthday, we take a look in Gale Primary Sources to uncover the history of the little man in the red and yellow car.

Read moreNoddy in Archiveland

In Praise of Folly: A catalogue of April Fool’s hoaxes with Gale Primary Sources

Spaghetti growing on trees documentary

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second-year English student at University College, Oxford – and one of the Gale Ambassadors for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day.

‘April is the cruellest month’, so went the ominous opening line of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Perhaps. But the first day of April, at the very least, has been witness to some of history’s biggest public hoaxes – many of which are hilarious and cruel in equal measures. From the Victorian “Grand Exhibition of Donkeys” in 1864 to the 1957 BBC documentary on spaghetti-bearing trees, these moments of meticulously organised journalistic foibles harken back to a now bygone age before the rise of wide-spread corporate PR-stunts and instantaneous internet trolling. The abundance of April-fool’s-related material in the Gale archives sheds light on the long history of a yearly occasion that stretches as far back as the time of Chaucer, who slyly alludes to the day as the ‘thirty-second of March’ in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale (a story of a farmer tricked into a singing contest against a fox) as early as the 1300s.

Read moreIn Praise of Folly: A catalogue of April Fool’s hoaxes with Gale Primary Sources