Dissecting the Value of Photographic Histories with the Picture Post Historical Archive

Montage created from sources in the Picture Post archive

│By Phoebe Sleeman, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

Photographs are something we all now regularly take for granted. I have already taken a multitude of pictures today – some carefully crafted, others on the spur of the moment. What does this seemingly mundane and ordinary act of photographing bring to a study of history, and why should photographs be included within archives?

Photographs are not normative written sources which leads some to be sceptical of their historical value. Others assert that photographs contain less historical bias as they show the reality of what occurred in the past. Neither of these attitudes are helpful. Instead, using Gale’s Picture Post Historical Archive, an example of the intersection of photography, writing and the beginning of photojournalism, I will dissect the value of ‘Photographic Histories’ as an area of study and assess the usefulness of such an archive.

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Investigating the Evolution of Twenty-First Century Pop Culture Using Digital Humanities Techniques

Wall of Fame neon light

| By James Carney, Senior Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

Since the new millennium’s infancy, popular culture and famous lifestyles have captivated the public to an ever greater extent. From the emergence of social media, to the escapism provided from global crises or even the marketability of celebrities in late stage capitalism, the facets of stardom’s grip are numerous. Pop culture has always been a platform for performance – be that of one’s talent, beauty, wealth or quirkiness – but in the twenty-first century, fan reaction and engagement have assumed a far more prominent role in these public theatrics. The political, social and artistic zeitgeist has become rooted not only in celebrity action, but in the increasingly deterministic public reaction too. Gale resources can be used to present the emergence of such a dichotomy through records of both output and interpretation, illuminating the dynamics of the twenty-first century’s evolved popular culture for both academic enquiry and entertainment.

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A Reflection on the Reign of Queen Elizabeth II: The Modernisation of the Monarchy

│By Ava Nichols, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Aberdeen│

Following the passing of the longest reigning monarch in British history, the nation mourns the tragic loss of Queen Elizabeth II. I thought it was an apt time to reflect on some of the monumental accomplishments achieved during her reign. When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952, Her Majesty’s youthful ambition offered a sense of hope for change and progress for the British public. Reigning during the twentieth and twenty first centuries, the Queen made historical changes within the establishment, such as embracing technology. Through Gale Primary Sources, I researched The Times Digital Archive and the Daily Mail Historical Archive in order to gain a greater understanding of the modernisation of the monarchy. These digital collections offer a vast range of newspaper articles and publications from the twentieth century, increasing access to history and the potential for research within these collections around the globe.

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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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Free Speech in a “Post-Truth” Era – The Value of Digital Archives

| By James Carney, Gale Ambassador at King’s College London |

As a literature student, I have studied the power of language for myriad and varying purposes in a range of historical contexts. My studies have exposed me to the fact that language is inherently political – the way in which we construct verbal expression can reflect and compound the powerful forces that command us like hierarchies, social structures, identities or even biases. An example that comes to mind is the profound racism in the name given to South America’s most notable sea – the Caribbean. Popularised by the cartographer Thomas Jeffreys, the word finds roots in the Spanish word for cannibal (carib), and is a name which conquistadors enforced on the natives of this region. The political nature of language is clear from this example – in line with the constructed ‘civilising’ mission of imperialism, language came to reflect prevailing perceptions of the Spanish conquerors in relation to their (problematically) ‘savage’ subjects.

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From Yellow Journalism to Internet Echo Chambers – Exploring the History of “Fake News”

Editorial cartoon by Leon Barritt, 1898. Newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst dressed as the Yellow Kid (a popular cartoon character of the day), each pushing against opposite sides of a pillar of wooden blocks that spells WAR

│By Juha Hemanus, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

We’ve all heard references to “fake news” and “alternative truths,” particularly in recent years. There have also been more in-depth analyses of the “post-truth time” and the “end of truth”. Examining the motives of those who generate “fake news” stories – and the motives of those who claim that a story is fake – is fascinating. This intriguing phenomenon also has an interesting past, with countless examples of “fake news” throughout history. Indeed, a previous ambassador at the University of Helsinki, Pauli, explained that fake news has had alternative names in history, such as “erroneous reporting”. In this blog post, I will look a little further into history to consider questions such as: Where did the fake news phenomenon come from? Under what circumstances was it born? What is it intended for and what has been accomplished by false claims about actual events?

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Platform or Publisher? The debate is older than you might think.

Photo of laptop showing YouTube
The articles linked to in this post may contain images and language that some may find distressing. Any opinions stated in the articles are those of the authors. All articles are from The Daily Mail Historical Archive add-on module (2005-2016).

│By Kyle Sheldrake, Strategic Marketing Manager – Insights and Development│

Social media and other platforms have greatly increased the ability to spread misinformation and promote division. To many people, demands for platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to take such responsibility may seem relatively new. Many would link it to the rise (or should we say wider public awareness) of “fake news,” hate speech, deliberate misinformation and political bias in the wake of Brexit and questions around Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.

But is this a recent phenomenon, or has it been an ongoing part of YouTube’s history?

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The Homophobic Response to the AIDS Crisis in the 1980s

Montage of images of primary sources about AIDS crisis

|By Rory Herbert, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth|

During the early 1980s, AIDS became an ever-growing concern in the minds of Americans, and brought to the fore the deep-seated tensions and homophobic tendencies that plagued the nation’s media and political institutes. Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender provides access to a wealth of sources that help us to understand the issues and struggles experienced by these long-oppressed and ignored members of society during a particularly trying period.

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