How State Papers Online Can Support an Undergraduate History Dissertation

Person viewing State Papers Online with a laptop
State Papers Online is migrating to a much improved platform. In light of this, Ellie Brosnan, a third-year undergraduate student at Durham University with an interest in medieval history and particularly political developments throughout Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, has taken a look at what this archive has to offer students writing a dissertation in medieval and early modern history! To do so, Ellie used the new, updated version of State Papers Online.

Users will be able to preview the beta version of State Papers Online on the new platform from August 1, 2022. For more information about the beta experience, check out this blog post by Gale Primary Sources Product Manager Megan Sullivan.

│By Ellie Brosnan, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

State Papers Online is a digitised collection containing British government papers from throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It offers access to a range of different materials, from official documentation and legislation to more informal correspondence between key political actors of this period. This resource is split into three main collections that all host different materials related to the issue of early modern British government. The focus of this blog post is exploring how State Papers Online can be utilised for an undergraduate dissertation investigating the changes to early modern politics over the course of these centuries.

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New State Papers Online Experience Available to Preview

State Papers Online search bar and source design

|By Megan Sullivan, Senior Product Manager, Gale Primary Sources|

I am delighted to share that after several years of research and technical preparation, an updated experience for State Papers Online (SPO) will be ready to preview on Monday, August 1, 2022. This will be a “soft launch”, meaning that on this date, users can access the beta version of the new State Papers Online from a link that will be available from the current SPO homepage. We encourage users to try the new experience and send us their feedback. We are also recruiting for paid user interviews and usability testing. We plan to retire the current version of State Papers Online in December 2022 and from that date forward, SPO will be exclusively available in the updated experience.

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Top 10 Tips for Teaching with Primary Sources

Portrait of the author as a young lecturer teaching eighteenth-century literary culture to students at the Tate through the work of William Hogarth.

│By Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Academics know that there is nothing more joyful or frustrating than working with primary sources. Imparting the ability to locate, appreciate, understand, and interrogate primary materials onto students is central to our roles as educators. But achieving this in the classroom isn’t always easy – especially when you’re also trying to teach through a pandemic! Drawing on my own experience of teaching in higher education, this blog post offers ten top tips on how to teach with primary sources.

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The Wacky World of Early Modern Patents

Harrison, Charles. "Farmers! Protect your Crops by Using 'Bink's Patent Futurist Scarecrow. ' Specially Designed by an Eminent Cubist. No Bird Has Ever Been Known to Go within Three Fields of It." Punch, July 17, 1918, 33. Punch Historical Archive, 1841-1992

│By Ellen Grace Lesser, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

The famous wizarding twins Fred and George Weasley first introduced patents to me, explaining them to be the legal right granted to an inventor to prevent others from copying their invention. State Papers Online taught me that patents can be more than that: they are the official and legal conferring of a right or a title of any kind to anyone for a set period of time. In practice, this means that as long as a right or a title is temporarily conferred to a named entity (whether that be an individual person or a company) the right is a patent. It was interesting to discover that patents do not necessarily have to apply to inventions. While looking into the State Papers Online archive, I discovered many other kinds of patents as well as patents for inventions. From the contents of the patents to the physicality of the documents, I will share with you three of the patents I found in the archives and why each is interesting in a different way.

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Being Creative in an Academic World

Being Creative in an Academic World

By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
Emily, otherwise known as Emily the Writer, is a Creative and Media Writing (BA Hons) student at Portsmouth University with interests in travel writing and creative marketing. She is also a freelance writer and performance poet. After her degree, she plans to take a Digital Marketing MA and pursue a career in marketing or journalism.

When I tell people that I am studying a Creative Writing degree, they always look at me with squinted eyes, furrowed brows and a twisted mouth that questions, ‘does such a thing exist?’ It is a relatively new degree, and only a few universities in the UK offer it, but surely it isn’t that strange? When I get this reaction, I think people are more confused by why it exists – and its place within the academic world.

Creative Writing seems to live on the fringe of academia. Although creative writing students read as much as any other, there is less focus on journals and articles and more on prose and poetry. Our submissions include short stories or poetry rather than long essays and our marking criteria relies on subjective opinion. It’s certainly fun but seems less serious. This poses the question – where do us writers fit within the academic world? Can we even fit in it at all?

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The road to American Independence

By Carolyn Beckford, Gale Product Trainer
Carolyn joined Gale in 2015 after working in US higher education. She likes working for Gale because it’s an opportunity to stay connected to higher education and support faculty and students with quality research content. When not visiting university libraries or delving into the Gale archives, she likes playing tennis and visiting historic English castles and estates.

Every July 4th I send holiday greetings to my friends and family in the USA and they always say, “same to you”. I remind them that July 4th isn’t a holiday in the UK. As an educator, I relish the opportunity to highlight and explain why American Independence is not celebrated with euphoria in the UK as it is in America.

We can see from the map below, found in Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, that the territory under British rule was once immense and spanned the globe, leading to the well-known quote that Britain had “the empire on which the sun never sets.” The British colonisation of the Americas began in 1607 and before long, colonies had been established throughout the Americas.

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Collection Highlights – State Papers Online Eighteenth Century, Part IV: Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Turkey

State Papers Online Eighteenth Century, Part IV: Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Turkey is now available. The final part in the State Papers Online Eighteenth Century programme, Part IV rounds out the State Papers collection of 1714-1782 with series from Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Saxony, Prussia, Russia, Turkey and the Barbary States, as well as volumes of Treaties, papers sent to the British Secretaries of State from foreign ministers in England, and ‘confidential’ and intercepted letters between key figures in international politics. Joining the domestic, military, naval and registers of the Privy Council of Part I to the full scope of the State Papers Foreign offered in Parts II, III and IV, the State Papers Eighteenth Century collection represents the government of Britain at home and abroad in unequalled depth.

Including primary source material spanning decades from some of the most powerful courts in Europe, there is much to be discovered. With such a wealth of material available, where to begin? In this blog post I providea starting point, exploring just some of the highs and lows of Part IV for researchers, scholars and the perennially curious to explore.

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On Her Majesty’s’ Secret Service – Elizabeth I in the age of spies

By Rory Herbert, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
I am a third year History student and President of the History Society at the University of Portsmouth. I enjoy trying to grapple with the vastness and complexity of this subject, and the challenges it can present. On the rare occasions that I have free time, I can be found playing hockey or researching historical facts and events.

While I’m sure we’re all familiar with the daring tales of English privateers and explorers during the Elizabethan age, there remains a forgotten and crucial element that helped Elizabeth maintain power. Under her reign, and with the significant help of her counsel, Elizabeth helped to cultivate and manage an extensive network of intelligencers, spies and informants that spanned the length and breadth of the continent. And what better way to view these official government communiques than in Gale’s State Papers Online.

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‘A Tale of Two Collections’: The Stuart Papers and Cumberland Papers at the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle

The latest instalment of the extensive State Papers Online series sees two fascinating collections from the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle brought together to make the definitive Jacobite archive. In a new collaboration between the Royal Archives and Gale – with Daniel Szechi, Emeritus Professor at the University of Manchester, as academic advisor, and contributions from other leading academics in the field – this collection allows researchers to explore the Jacobites through their own words.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same – the Jacobite Uprisings of 1715 and 1745

Setting out boldly from France to Scotland with a loyal band of followers, the Pretender raises the Stuart standard upon arrival and the Highland clans rise in support. Edinburgh is attacked, declarations are made, battles are fought against Hanoverian forces – and French support fails to materialise. There are losses, and the Pretender flees back to France. The Uprising is over.

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