“Even the Sacramental Cup Was Not Exempt from Adulteration” – The Hazards of Drinking an Old Bottle of Claret

│By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Have you recently enjoyed a special, vintage bottle of wine to celebrate the New Year with your family or friends? You might be surprised to learn that such celebrations might have been quite dangerous during the nineteenth century. Expecting the crimson-coloured beverage to enrapture their senses and coat their tongue in luscious flavours of dried blackberry, leather and tobacco, wine aficionados were often far from suspecting that this elixir could easily turn out to be a cheap, dyed, falsified drink, or worse – deadly poison. In an age where strict regulations exist to control food and beverage adulteration, such hazardous dyes are no longer used, but delving into Gale’s Historic Newspapers allows us to better understand how such dangerous adulteration was allowed to occur during the nineteenth century.

Read more“Even the Sacramental Cup Was Not Exempt from Adulteration” – The Hazards of Drinking an Old Bottle of Claret

The Acquisition of Gale Primary Sources at the University of Johannesburg Supports Efforts to Decolonise the Curriculum

Students studying in the library at the University of Johannesburg

| By the Gale Review team |

The global movement to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ focuses on creating a more accurate and holistic read of history – and our understanding of people and the world – by questioning the canonical primacy given to some perspectives over others. Access to primary sources can play a key role in this understanding. Librarians at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, have turned to Gale for support. “In 2018 the University of Johannesburg adopted collections focused on slavery and gender,” explains Gale Field Sales Executive Dan Solomon. “Now they have deepened their commitment by purchasing a wide array of Gale archives.”

Read moreThe Acquisition of Gale Primary Sources at the University of Johannesburg Supports Efforts to Decolonise the Curriculum

Why Use Primary Sources?

archive shelves

│by Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

Is the picture above what comes to mind when you think of an archive? Do you believe that, to find any useful information, you must spend weeks between the shelves without seeing daylight?! If so, I have good news for you – Gale Primary Sources has updated archival research to the twenty first century! You no longer have to plough through library catalogues or rummage in endless boxes to find material relevant to your research – you can do so in seconds by running a text search, just like when googling.

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‘I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!’ Ice Cream Recipes in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online

│By Dr Lucy Dow, Gale Content Researcher│

With the weather we’ve seen recently, it is unsurprising that July is national ice cream month! Just search for #nationalicecreammonth on Instagram and you will be inundated with all kinds of delicious (and not-so-delicious) looking icy confections. Whilst you may now be able to get tomato soup, grilled cheese or sushi flavour ice cream, the authors of eighteenth-century English language cookery books tended to stick to more familiar flavours such as strawberry or apricot, although they were not always averse to trying something more unusual. In 1789 Frederick Nutt wrote a recipe (pp. 125-126) for parmesan ice cream! Interestingly, whilst the more exotic chocolate, coffee and even pineapple had made it into ice cream by the late eighteenth century, the now ubiquitous vanilla was still far too exotic and expensive. By exploring eighteenth-century ice cream recipes using Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online we can not only see how ice cream was made, but discover other things these recipes reveal about eighteenth-century life.

Read more‘I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!’ Ice Cream Recipes in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online

How Gale Scholar helped with my Graduation Thesis

graduation photo

│ By Wang Ke and Professor Wang Jinghui from Tsinghua University, Beijing │

In this blog post we hear from Wang Ke, a student at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and Wang Ke’s mentor, Professor Wang Jinghui, about how the primary source archives that were made available to the university through the Gale Scholar programme helped Wang Ke achieve high marks in his thesis.

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From Jeu de Paume to Strawberries and Cream: A Brief History of Tennis and the Wimbledon Championships

"Hygienic Excess." Punch, 18 Oct. 1879, p. 174. Punch Historical Archive, 1841-1992

│By Carolyn Beckford, Gale Product Trainer in the UK and Europe│

As we come to the end of the first week of Wimbledon, with the annual buzz and excitement very much in full-flow, we decided to use Gale Primary Sources to look back at the evolving history of tennis and the Wimbledon Championships.

Read moreFrom Jeu de Paume to Strawberries and Cream: A Brief History of Tennis and the Wimbledon Championships

British Royal Babies Through the Ages

| By Rebekka Väisänen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki |

All media outlets are now brimming with news about the newest addition to the British Royal Family, HRH Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby boy. In light of this, I decided to search Gale Primary Sources to see how royal births have been documented and celebrated throughout the ages. Below I explore the media hype around five royal ancestors, ranging from poetry to the decoding of names. 

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Francis Barber: Samuel Johnson’s Jamaican friend

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.

The figure of Dr Samuel Johnson has come to be seen as the canonised cliché of a certain type of stuffy Englishness. His very name evokes scenes from a Blackadder episode where an august but temperamental enlightenment gentleman, draped with a flamboyant powdered wig, raves to his friends in a coffee house about the sorry state of ‘demotic Anglo-Saxon’ as it stands in the modern age. Not to mention the lexicographical feat that is Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, often touted as the grandsire of modern English dictionaries from the OED to Merriam-Webster – and bane to the lives of English Literature students ever since its publication! What is, however, less well-known is his remarkable friendship with Francis Barber, a Jamaican freedman who first arrived in rural Yorkshire as a child. Barber became a close companion to Johnson during a period of deep depression after the death of his wife and was named the executor and ‘residuary legatee’ (as James Boswell puts it in his 1791 Life of Samuel Johnson) of Johnson’s estate after his death (Gale platform p.226).

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The Myth of the Rhinoceros

By Lyndsey England, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second-year student at Durham University, studying a joint degree in English Literature and History. My main areas of interest are African history and post-colonial literature, but when I’m not tucked away behind a stack of books in a corner of the library or promoting Gale, I’m busy with Durham Student Theatre, working backstage and on the production team for a number of performances each year. In amongst all this, I also try to find the time to write, because I am currently juggling a shamefully large amount of works in progress.

In 1769, writing his ‘Description of Three Hundred Animals’, a document included in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Thomas Boreman presented the rhinoceros as follows:

“He has two girdles upon his body, like the wings of a dragon, from his back down to his belly … his skin is so hard, that no dart is able to pierce it, and covered over with scales, like the shell of a tortoise.”

Read moreThe Myth of the Rhinoceros