│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.
│By Chloe Villalon, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway│
In the last decade, television series such as Dexter, Mindhunter and Bates Motel have encountered overwhelming success. Based on true events or completely fictional, the narratives are told from the investigators’ or killer’s perspective. The public is not only interested in the gory, bloody aspect of serial killing cases but the science behind understanding and catching serial killers. Many such programmes try to answer the key question: Why do serial killers kill? Using Gale Primary Sources and its many research tools, I will use this blog post to explore the topic of serial killers, considering questions such as: where does the term “serial killer” come from and what does it mean? And what is the role of the media in serial killing cases?
│By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│
One of the best aspects of Gale Primary Sources is the ability to search all the text in the archives. This is made possible by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). With this technology, any text visible in the scans (effectively photos of the primary sources) is transformed into script which can be read by a search engine, allowing the user to find relevant content much more easily. Until recently OCR has only been an option with printed texts, which has left handwritten records far less accessible in text-based searches. This can be a serious hindrance in trying to find relevant sources, as I will showcase. In addition, deciphering handwriting which dates back over a hundred years is often a significant hurdle for anyone without much experience in palaeography; even if you find the documents relevant to your project, comprehending them is another matter.
In other words, the experience of many students deciphering historical handwritten documents today feels like playing a video game in “hard mode”, something that you cannot do unless you are prepared for a lot of frustration! Fortunately, as OCR technology has developed, Gale now provides an “easy mode” for handwritten primary sources! Like a supportive character in a video game, the Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) will help you on your quest to discover the secrets of fascinating old documents.
│By Rachel Holt, Gale Primary Sources Acquisitions Editor│
│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.
│By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│
Have you recently enjoyed a special, vintage bottle of wine to celebrate the New Year with your family or friends? You might be surprised to learn that such celebrations might have been quite dangerous during the nineteenth century. Expecting the crimson-coloured beverage to enrapture their senses and coat their tongue in luscious flavours of dried blackberry, leather and tobacco, wine aficionados were often far from suspecting that this elixir could easily turn out to be a cheap, dyed, falsified drink, or worse – deadly poison. In an age where strict regulations exist to control food and beverage adulteration, such hazardous dyes are no longer used, but delving into Gale’s Historic Newspapers allows us to better understand how such dangerous adulteration was allowed to occur during the nineteenth century.
│By Ellen Grace Lesser, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│
We have all heard the maxim, “Power corrupts”. This has been altered in recent years, and now you may hear an alternative: “Power brings out people’s true colours”. It is not that power necessarily makes anyone “bad”, but that if a person is already “bad”, this is highlighted when they gain power. Yet is it the power itself that does this to people, or is it the desire for power? In this post, I will investigate the coverage of political bribery scandals from sources in The Sunday Times Digital Archive and The Times Digital Archive to see where the corrupting power of power truly lies.
│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.
│By Clem Delany, Associate Acquisitions Editor│
Two hundred years ago, on 16th August 1819, at least seventeen people died at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, during a peaceful protest calling for the reform of parliamentary representation.
This year, the two hundred-year anniversary, has been marked in the UK by a wealth of newspaper articles covering ‘a tragic event of minor historical significance that happens to accord with a Marxist version of Britain’s past’ 1 (The Times) or ‘the bloodiest event on English soil in the nineteenth century’ 2 (The Daily Mail). The BBC, from its new headquarters in Manchester, produced ten radio programmes and performances to mark the anniversary. You can buy a Peterloo mug or a Peterloo tea towel, and around Manchester live music, poetry readings, open-air karaoke and other family-friendly events took place over the weekend.
I dug through the Gale archives to see how the event was represented at the time, and at its centennial in 1919.