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.

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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.”

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Valentine’s Day for the Broken Hearted

By Maya Thomas, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I’m a second-year History student at Oxford University and proud owner of 56 types of loose-leaf tea. My obsession with all things pre-WW2 has leaked from my studies into my free time, which I like to spend researching everything from the intricacies of costume history to the scandalous court life of Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian. Besides nerding out over history, I spend a lot of time debating, and am currently in the fun, (yet headache-inducing) process of setting up an Oxford free discourse society to combat campus censorship.

The weather is cold and grey, but the shops are ablaze with red hearts, sparkly roses and giant teddy bears holding signs reading “I love you”: Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. Whether you love or hate this centuries-old festival, it cannot be denied that the love it celebrates certainly deserves a day of its own. After all, from Helen of Troy to Tinder, the literary-minded (read: soppy) historian might argue that love, with all its greatness and tragedy, has inspired the culture, art and even politics that have propelled our human story onward.

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Nationalism Vs the true meaning of National Independence Day in Poland

By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway*
Anna Sikora was recently a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English at the National University of Galway, Ireland. She examined the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951)and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). For her full bio, please see previous posts by Anna Sikora on The Gale Review.

In 2017, thousands took part in far-right marches on National Independence Day in Poland. My Irish friend asked me how worried we should be about the rise of far-right nationalism in Poland, my home country. He had seen newspaper headlines describing millions of Polish people, including school children and families, celebrating November 11 as “unsavoury.” I was shocked and disappointed; disappointed by hooligans disrupting the Independence Day marches, and shocked by the foreign media using images of these hooligans to represent the whole nation. This year has also seen heightened tensions, with attempts to ban far-right rallies and pleas from President Andrzej Duda for marchers to “come only with red-and-white flags,” rather than the nationalist banners and flags of far-right parties seen previously.

Read moreNationalism Vs the true meaning of National Independence Day in Poland

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