The Rise and Fall of Chinese Indentured Labour

Chinese Coolies and Overseers

|By Winnie Fok, Assistant Editor, Gale Asia|

Please be aware that this blog post contains language that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

“Coolies” (a historical term for indentured workers) are a relic of the past, no longer around today. This blog post captures the fascinating and tumultuous history of the coolie trade in brief, through the valuable primary source materials found in China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part 1, 1815–1881 and China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part 2, 1865–1905.

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African Hairstyles – The “Dreaded” Colonial Legacy

Black person looking at book shelf

│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa│

My primary school had very strict rules regulating how the African students’ hair should look when we were at school. Hair extensions, for instance, were prohibited. Students were only allowed to have natural hair hairstyles which were deemed neat, such as cornrows. We were particularly prohibited from having dreadlocks; disobeying this rule resulted in expulsion. I am aware that many other school authorities in the rural areas in South Africa forced students to cut their hair so short throughout their schooling career they were effectively bald.

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Unearthing and Decolonising the Rasta Voice

Rasta Voice

| By Robert Youngs do Patrocinio, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

This post will focus on raising awareness of the Rasta struggle to practise their religion, principally using Gale’s Archives Unbound collections, an extensive database of primary sources included in Gale Reference Complete that many university students such as myself can utilise when conducting all types of research. It currently comprises 382 collections (more are added each year), and includes a compelling collection titled: Rastafari Ephemeral Publications from the Written Rastafari Archives Project. The Rastafarianism movement can be traced back to its beginnings in 1930s Jamaica and its strong connections with the coronation of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (1930) who remains a principal figure in the Rastafarian religion. As the political cartoon below illustrates, the Rasta faith is rooted in an ideology which believes that Africa is paramount to black individuals obtaining freedom and escaping their physical, spiritual, emotional and historical oppression and struggle against slavery. As a religious belief system, I think that it is important to become mindful of Rastafari traditions and invest time in accessing elements of this culture, due to the significance of its relationship to the black experience and post-slavery trauma.

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Finding Black Female Authors in the Women’s Studies Archive

Black Female Authors

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

Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Octavia E. Butler and Toni Morrison are just a handful of names of influential Black female novelists whose writing has arguably changed the modern world. Historically, however, women of colour were largely excluded from publishing due to poor literacy, lack of financial means, racism and prejudice. The odds were more often than not stacked against them.  As a result, discovering such authors can be tough, so I would like to use the opportunity of Black History Month to showcase four wonderful examples of Black female authors who can be found in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive: Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922.

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Indentured Indian Workers and Anti-Colonial Resistance in the British Empire

South Asian workers preparing rice in Jamaica, 1895

│By Dr Lucy Dow, Gale Content Researcher│

Please be aware that this blog post contains language that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

On May 30, 1845 the first ship carrying indentured Indian immigrants arrived on the Caribbean island of Trinidad from Kolkata (Calcutta). This day is now commemorated in Trinidad as “Indian Arrival Day”. In this article I will use Gale Primary Sources to explore the history of Indian indenture and the South Asian community in the Caribbean, and elsewhere. In doing so, I will highlight how Gale Primary Sources can be used to better understand the role of the British Empire in moving people around the globe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the inter-connectedness of anti-colonial movements across the British Empire.

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Teaching with Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Primary Source image combined with female using laptop and writing on paper.

│By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale│

Now Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) is approaching its eighteenth birthday, and has been significantly upgraded, with a focus on enhancing ECCO’s user-friendliness as a teaching and student-learning resource, it seems an apt time to see what evidence there is for its use in teaching and student learning. Plus, with more of the students’ learning experiences moving online, to platforms such as Zoom for lectures, seminars and tutorials, and to online e-resources for primary and secondary source materials, what can be learned from past use of ECCO as a teaching tool, and how can this be applied in a remote learning environment?

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Francis Barber: Samuel Johnson’s Jamaican friend

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second-year English student at University College, Oxford – and one of the Gale Ambassadors for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day.

The figure of Dr Samuel Johnson has come to be seen as the canonised cliché of a certain type of stuffy Englishness. His very name evokes scenes from a Blackadder episode where an august but temperamental enlightenment gentleman, draped with a flamboyant powdered wig, raves to his friends in a coffee house about the sorry state of ‘demotic Anglo-Saxon’ as it stands in the modern age. Not to mention the lexicographical feat that is Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, often touted as the grandsire of modern English dictionaries from the OED to Merriam-Webster – and bane to the lives of English Literature students ever since its publication! What is, however, less well-known is his remarkable friendship with Francis Barber, a Jamaican freedman who first arrived in rural Yorkshire as a child. Barber became a close companion to Johnson during a period of deep depression after the death of his wife and was named the executor and ‘residuary legatee’ (as James Boswell puts it in his 1791 Life of Samuel Johnson) of Johnson’s estate after his death (Gale platform p.226).

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How can human trafficking be tackled in Britain?

By Tiria Barnes, Gale Student Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am currently a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, hoping to graduate with an extensive knowledge of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and good quality banter. When I’m not in the library plugging Gale’s amazing resources, I am usually in a hipster independent coffee shop sipping on a cheeky chai latte. Some of my passions include Jesus, street dance, and charity shops.

Despite slavery being outlawed in the nineteenth century, human trafficking – defined by the Tearfund as ‘the transporting or abduction of people for the purposes of exploitation, using coercion, fraud or deception’[1] – is still a prevalent problem in our world today. In 2015, it was estimated that the trafficking industry was worth 32 billion US dollars a year, which is equivalent to the GDP of Tanzania[2]. As the fastest growing business in the world, it has been suggested that every 30 seconds a child is trafficked[3]. I decided that it would be interesting to investigate human trafficking on a more local scale, and see how newspapers reported on Britain’s response to the problem. Using Gale Primary Sources, I was able to make some thought-provoking discoveries.

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Newspaper reports on the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade

By Tiria Barnes, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am currently a third-year History student at the University of Liverpool, hoping to graduate with an extensive knowledge of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and good quality banter. When I’m not in the library plugging Gale’s amazing resources, I am usually in a hipster independent coffee shop sipping on a cheeky chai latte. Some of my passions include Jesus, street dance, and charity shops.

On the 25th of March 1807, the British Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act which prohibited the carrying of slaves in British ships. While it is important to note that this did not outlaw slavery itself, which came about in 1833 as a result of the Emancipation Act, 1807 was a significant step in the right direction. Two hundred years later, the UK commemorated the bicentenary of the act, and attempted to reflect on the brutality of slavery [1]. Using Gale Primary Sources, I thought it would be interesting to study how this was reported in the media, taking note of the ways in which newspapers depicted the actions taken by the UK as part of the commemoration.

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