The Wrath of Mountains: Explaining Volcanic Eruptions from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Modern Day

“The Straits of Sunda: Terrible Volcanic Eruption.” Illustrated London News, 8 Sept. 1883, p. 229. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford

On December 9, 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Whakaari in New Zealand sparked new discussions over risk assessment in volcanic regions. While sudden volcanic eruptions make it difficult for scientists to assess risks in such areas, the belief that eruptions can be predicted thanks to science also leads to increasingly hazardous activities such as tourism in dangerous volcanic regions. How and why have humans become so intrepid when it comes to volcanoes?

The Gale Primary Sources archives provide not only newspaper articles but also a range of valuable monographs and visual sources, ranging from drawings to photographs, which allow us to investigate how our understanding and perception of volcanic eruptions has changed over the last few centuries. The sources demonstrate that the scientific community’s investigations led to the emergence of new understandings of dangerous volcanic eruptions from the late eighteenth century onwards. Paradoxically, scientific explanations of volcanic eruptions created a heightened sense of danger but also led to an increase in risk-taking behaviour.

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How Gale Primary Sources Helped Me with My Dissertation – and Can Help You Too!

Women on laptop

│By Lily Deans, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham│

Writing a dissertation is undoubtedly daunting, no matter how competent or confident you may feel by the time you proudly hand in the 12,000-word masterpiece! Just like writing a good essay, it is not just your own opinion that gets you the marks, but the opinions of others – and the way you use these opinions to either substantiate or contradict what you have said. So, naturally, the wider, more varied and unique the sources are that you use, the better awareness you will show of the existing discourse, and thus the more convincing your argument will be. “Ah yes,” I hear you say, “but where can I find these unique sources?” Well, with Gale Primary Sources, of course! This blog will show briefly the quantity and variety of sources I have found in Gale’s archives as I have been researching and writing my dissertation.

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Collection Highlights – State Papers Online Eighteenth Century, Part IV: Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Turkey

State Papers Online Eighteenth Century, Part IV: Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Turkey is now available. The final part in the State Papers Online Eighteenth Century programme, Part IV rounds out the State Papers collection of 1714-1782 with series from Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Saxony, Prussia, Russia, Turkey and the Barbary States, as well as volumes of Treaties, papers sent to the British Secretaries of State from foreign ministers in England, and ‘confidential’ and intercepted letters between key figures in international politics. Joining the domestic, military, naval and registers of the Privy Council of Part I to the full scope of the State Papers Foreign offered in Parts II, III and IV, the State Papers Eighteenth Century collection represents the government of Britain at home and abroad in unequalled depth.

Including primary source material spanning decades from some of the most powerful courts in Europe, there is much to be discovered. With such a wealth of material available, where to begin? In this blog post I providea starting point, exploring just some of the highs and lows of Part IV for researchers, scholars and the perennially curious to explore.

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Fashion and the Eighteenth-Century Public Sphere: from Tatler to Twitter

By Daniel Mercieca, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
Daniel Mercieca is an English Literature finalist and President of both the English Literature Society and Bede Film Society at Durham University. His main research interests are imagined spaces in film and screen adaptation, with further interests in memory and motion in twentieth-century and Romantic poetry. Dan enjoys the independence of thought, interdisciplinary and experimental aspects of studying English and aims to achieve an MA in Film and/or Literature. Dan enjoys lyricism and landscapes in the works of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith and Sylvia Plath. His favourite directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Darren Aranofsky, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan for their suspense, soundtracks and cinematography. If he is not reading books or watching films then he is probably writing, running or trying something new.

‘Since t’is the intent and business of the stage,
To copy out the follies of the age
To hold to every man a glass,
And show him of what species he’s an ass’.[1]
– John Vanbrugh

The sharp, epigrammatic wit of John Vanbrugh’s preface to The Provoked Wife (1697), reflects the theatricality of eighteenth-century audiences and exposes the wider hypocrisy of the ‘Public Sphere’[2]. After the Restoration of Charles II, the New Printing Act (1662) led to a watershed of publishing and print culture in Britain[3]; a society in which political sentiments and private identities bled into each other. The torrent of periodicals, pamphlets and magazines circulated gossip and popular opinion, cultivating a highly self-conscious and extravagant nation.

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The Cook, a Journey, the Queen, and her Husband – a snippet from exiled Jacobite Court history

By Julia de Mowbray
Julia de Mowbray is Publisher at Gale. She finds her job, working with academics, librarians and colleagues in house to research and define new online archives of primary sources, endlessly interesting. When not at work, she can be found in her garden in the country, weeding, digging, or simply sitting in the sun and reading.

While reviewing the content recently loaded into the online archive The Stuart and Cumberland Papers from the Royal Archives Windsor Castle, one document caught my eye: a plan of a journey with daily stops for meals or a night’s rest. Descriptions of journeys and itineraries, plotting out where someone travelled at a particular time, especially from earlier centuries, can transport me back to that time – placing my feet on that road or piazza, in that carriage or train – to experience the same journey in my imagination.

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50 years ago today: celebrating the anniversary of ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

“Garner, Richard, Education Editor. “‘Sgt Pepper’ guaranteed to raise a smile on GCSE syllabus.” Independent, 14 May 2015, p. 15. The Independent Digital Archive, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4rQeL0. © Independent Print Limited”

It was 50 years ago this week that The Beatles issued their ground-breaking album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The third biggest-selling album in the UK (and the top-selling when compilation albums are removed) [1] it remains one of the most influential and recognised albums 50 years after its release (although personally, I prefer Revolver). I took a look back through the collections in Gale Primary Sources to see what I could find out about this iconic album.

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Politics and Personalities in the State Papers of Western Europe, 1714-1782

State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century, 1714-1782, Part III: Western Europe is the newest addition to the extensive State Papers Online archive. Part III provides primary source material from the Catholic courts of Spain, Portugal and France, as well as from smaller states of Italy and the Mediterranean, bringing together a huge variety of people, places and events. Great powers and small Republics, border skirmishes and arguably – in the Seven Years’ War – the first global conflict, monarchs, spies and merchants; all are part of the network of information and politics centring on the British Secretaries of State in Whitehall, and through them, the King.

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18th-Century Brexit? A sneak preview of State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century: Part III

When reading through some documents contained within the State Papers’ SP94 (Spain) series recently, I was struck by some parallels between early-eighteenth century diplomatic relations and those of our current post-‘Brexit’ times. There is palpable tension in Anglo-Spanish relations from the letters exchanged between British Ambassador to Spain Paul Methuen and James Stanhope, Secretary of State for the Southern Department.

More broadly, this was a time of flux for European relations, with 1713 marking the end of what has been termed the first ‘global’ war: the War of Spanish Succession. Lasting for thirteen years, the war placed greater strain on European ties. Developing from a dispute over the succession of the Spanish throne when King Carlos II died childless in 1700 (leaving the Bourbon, Philippe Duc d’Anjou as his heir), England, Austria, and the Dutch Republic could not countenance a Franco-Spanish alliance dominating Europe. They therefore rejected the proposed succession by declaring war. After a thirteen-year campaign, the 1713 treaty concluding the war confirmed the succession of Philippe as Felipe V of Spain. As those letters show though, this succession prompted a re-evaluation of Anglo-Spanish trade arrangement.

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