Etiquette and Advice, 1631-1969 – Good Manners as Prescribed by “Polite Society”

Etiquette and Advice from Archives Unbound

|By Phil Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Gale’s Archives Unbound collection Etiquette and Advice, 1631-1969 is a fascinating digital archive of material from Winterthur Museum and Library in Delaware. A collection of 429 British and American etiquette books and rare print ephemera, it allows us to explore the question, “who gets to decide what behaviours are ‘good’ or ‘polite’?” The materials span from the seventeenth to twentieth century, offering tidbits on everything from table manners to travelling, conversation to courtship, home furnishing to hospitality. Author Dena Attar observes, in the face of fears about the “decay of modern manners and the instability of society, [etiquette] writers often described their books as necessary correctives for wider social problems.”1 This collection will therefore interest not only book historians, but also social historians, literary critics, cultural studies scholars, feminists, and other lifelong students of transatlantic history.

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How Important Was the Role of Women During WWII to the Victory of the Allied Powers?

Female Russian fighters
Symbat Omasheva, blog post authorIn Spring 2022, Gale ran a competition with Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, Kazakhstan, which gave students at schools within the group the chance to research and write about a topic of interest – with the two top entries published on The Gale Review! Below is the runner up entry, a superb piece by Year 11 student Symbat Omasheva.

Nazarbayex Intellectual Schools logoThe schools within the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools group have access to the Gale Reference Complete: Schools Edition – Ultimate package.

|By Symbat Omasheva, Year 11 student at Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Nur-Sultan|

The Second World War, which took place from September 1, 1939, to September 2, 1945, showed that women are capable of doing what was previously considered “men’s work” and making a significant contribution to the war effort. However, ideas about the gender distribution of responsibilities and the use of physical force differed greatly between the opposing sides in the war; the Allies actively promoted women’s contribution to the outcome of the war, while the Axis powers discouraged women from working on the military front.

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Tracing the Young Women’s Christian Association through ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Female Forerunners Worldwide’

YWCA in Gale's Womens's Studies Archive

|By Rachel Holt, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Rachel is the Acquisitions Editor managing Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive series.

This month Gale is proud to announce the launch of the fourth module in its multi-award-winning Women’s Studies Archive series, Female Forerunners Worldwide. Publishing in March 2022 this latest edition to Gale’s Gender Studies programme coincides not only with International Women’s Day but with Women’s History Month, hopefully giving scholars of women’s history, social history, and gender studies much to celebrate.

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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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Lesser-Known Narratives and Everyday Histories in Archives Unbound

Archives Unbound screenshot

│By Ellie Brosnan, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

Studying archival material has been one of the most fascinating aspects of my History degree so far. Local libraries often host regional collections which provide a fascinating avenue into engaging with local histories, and being a student at Durham University in the north-east of England has allowed me to engage with primary sources from this area. During my time at university, for example, I have been lucky enough to see letters from servants at Durham castle from centuries past. Archives hold all manner of sources and uncovering new information is always rewarding, both physically and digitally. Delving into Gale’s online resources has also illustrated how digital archives can offer as much, if not more, compared to their traditional physical counterparts.

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Free from Male Influence: The Second Wave Feminist Press

Three images from blog post - montage of three women's periodical front covers

│By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

During the 1960s and 1970s, the second wave feminist movement took off. Catalysed in the United States by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), it quickly spread to other Western countries, focusing on issues of equality and discrimination, including rape, reproductive rights, domestic violence and workplace harassment. Central to this fight were feminist periodicals – an opportunity for women to communicate their narratives in their own voices, free of the influence of men. Many of these periodicals are now preserved in archives.

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“When is a Woman…?” Exploring Cultural Expectations of Women Advocated in Historical Newspapers

Montage of snippets from newspapers considering "when is a woman...?"

by Lotta Vuorio, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki

When I was preparing to deliver my first presentation as a Gale Ambassador, I ran into an interesting article called “When Woman is Not Graceful” in Gale’s Nineteenth Century Collections Online. The article was published in a newspaper called The Christian Recorder in 1895, and it portrays some of the “conditions under which she (a woman) manages to look absurd” – at least in the opinion of the anonymous writer. The article appears as an opinion piece by Graphic London and it expresses outspokenly all the descriptions connected to the stereotype of women who move clumsily. It says, “Few women can enter a carriage, mount the steps of a coach or hurry into a hansom gracefully, while the spectacle of a woman getting into a boat is far from pleasing”.  The vast petticoats common in the nineteenth century and their effects on the ability of women to move are mentioned and criticised, and the writer finishes his piece by indicating the true form of grace: “A woman is only really graceful when she is at rest, lolling in a carriage or sitting in a drawing room or else dancing, when she has the genius for it.” I wanted to find this article again and began searching the Gale Primary Sources database. In doing so I came across many more newspaper articles with a heading that begins “When is a Woman…”. As I browsed through them I became intrigued, curious about the way articles in different newspapers described what was acceptable and admired in the appearance and behaviour of women. Below are some of the most fascinating examples I found.

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A Woman’s Role? Why Feminism Is Still Very Much Necessary

Graphs showing gender differences in rates of employment

│ By Chloe Villalon, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway │

With a new decade just around the corner, can we say feminism is a thing of the past? Between the continuing gender pay gap, difficulty accessing senior positions and the continued abuse of women’s rights in many other areas, it seems that women still have things to fight for. Whilst it is obvious that women are treated differently from men, the questions I want to ask are: why is that? And what can be done about it? In this blog post I’m going to examine why feminism is still very much necessary, even as we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century.

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Humour, playfulness and a light-hearted attitude – How primary sources have shown me a different side to the women’s suffrage movement

│by Pollie Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool │

At the University of Liverpool, students are lucky enough to have a vast wealth of primary sources easily accessible to us – and that shouldn’t go unnoticed! Coming to Gale Primary Sources via the Liverpool University library page, I was able to access some excellent sources about the women’s suffrage movement in Iowa from 1894 through to 1937.

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A Male Contraceptive Pill – could this bring greater gender equality?

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student currently completing my joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare. In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as an Ambassador for Gale.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday 8th March this year, and, as always, it provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the ongoing female fight for universal suffrage, freedom and equality. Several defining moments stand out in women’s history, having shaped our ability to lead the lives we do today, including: gaining the right to vote in 1918, the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and, of course, the legalisation of the oral contraceptive pill in 1961, enabling women to finally have a say over their reproductive rights.

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