The Bowring Treaty and the Opening up of Thailand

Map of Siam

│Liping Yang, Senior Manager, Academic Publishing, Gale Asia│

Siam (now known as Thailand) had long been a tribute nation of China’s Qing empire. However, the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Great Britain and Siam in 1855 opened a new chapter in the history of this Southeast Asian nation and its relationship with China and Western powers represented by Britain. This blog post retells the interesting stories behind the signing of this historic treaty through some invaluable primary source materials discovered in China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part 1, 1815-1881

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The Murder of Empress Myeongseong of Korea

Kind and Queen of Corea

│By Emery Pan, Associate Development Editor│

In 2001, the Korean television series Empress Myeongseong became a massive hit in many Asian countries. Empress Myeongseong, also known as Queen Min [闵妃], was the wife of Gojong [高宗], the ruler of Korea from 1864 to 1907. Her real life, explored below using primary sources from the Gale archive China and the Modern World, was actually far more complicated and bloody than it appeared in the historical drama.

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Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth Century British Intelligence, Monitoring the World

Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth Century British Intelligence, Monitoring the World

|By Clem Delany, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

It is now common knowledge that the German Enigma codes were broken during the Second World War in huts at Bletchley Park, and that this feat helped sway the tide of war in the Allies favour. Most people are also aware that Alan Turing was there, that early computers were being developed, and that after the war these codebreakers and the hundreds of people employed at Bletchley Park vanished into obscurity until the 1970s. These details have become part of popular culture: the shabby huts in the middle of a quiet countryside where great and secret things were happening providing the setting for the book Enigma by Robert Harris, or The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch in tweed, and even a BBC Radio sitcom, Hut 33.

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Early Twentieth-Century Explorers in Inland Asia

Left: Kozui Otani, October 1913, Right: Sven Hedin, 31 May 1889

|By Tetsuhiko Mizoguchi, Senior Marketing Executive, Gale Japan|

If you have been to Kyoto in Japan, you might have dropped in at the temple of Nishi Honganji. As the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect, it attracts many tourists and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. Even if you stopped by at the temple, however, you might not know that it plays a fascinating part in the history of archaeological expeditions of Central Asia. Kozui Otani was the twenty-second abbot of Nishi Honganji temple. He also led exploratory expeditions, and came to exchange letters with Sven Hedin, a famous Swedish explorer, who even visited the Nishi Honganji temple during his trip to Japan.

Digging through Gale’s digital archive China and the Modern World: Diplomacy and Political Secrets, I found that the India Office Records covered not only diplomats and soldiers, but also explorers like Otani, Hedin and many others. Why? Central Asia, where these explorers were operating, was also the stage on which Western countries played an intelligence war called the “Great Game”. This blog post attempts to shed light on the involvement – or entanglement – of explorers in the Great Game, through the example of Otani and Hedin.

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Paradise Found: Exploring Historical Maps and Travel Writing

Harris, T. "A South Prospect of the Flourishing City of New York in the Province of New York in America 1746

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

Of all the Gale archives I’ve explored so far, my favourite is Maps and Travel Literature. Part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online, it has already been a great help to my undergraduate History dissertation on English ports. Maps have been an essential part of human development and Maps and Travel Literature allows you to examine maps from all over the world, produced for different reasons by different people and organisations. There is also a huge range of travel writing to sink your teeth into, giving insight into the human experience behind the maps and other geographical documents.

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