Why Use Primary Sources?

archive shelves

│by Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

Is the picture above what comes to mind when you think of an archive? Do you believe that, to find any useful information, you must spend weeks between the shelves without seeing daylight?! If so, I have good news for you – Gale Primary Sources has updated archival research to the twenty first century! You no longer have to plough through library catalogues or rummage in endless boxes to find material relevant to your research – you can do so in seconds by running a text search, just like when googling.

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Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki
I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the university, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the History of Civil Society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.

One hundred and forty years ago, the world was speculating about the survival of a significant arctic exploration party. One can read, for example this article in The Western Daily Press, one of the periodicals included in Gale’s British Library Newspapers. With Professor Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld leading the expedition, the steamer Vega had departed on August 27th, 1878 for the Northeast Passage, the shipping route to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic Ocean coasts of Norway and Russia. As radio technology had not yet been developed, there were no means for the press to get in touch with Nordenskiöld and his crew. In the reporter’s words, “More than seven and a-half months have…now elapsed and nothing more has been heard of him.” Nevertheless, the newspaper firmly believed that the expedition would be safe, possibly having stopped to spend the winter at “the sheltered bay of Kulynchinska.” Without faster means to confirm this, organisations that had invested in Nordenskiöld’s expedition, or were otherwise interested in the Northeast Passage, were planning to send out search parties to look for the Vega.

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A Male Contraceptive Pill – could this bring greater gender equality?

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student currently completing my joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare. In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as an Ambassador for Gale.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday 8th March this year, and, as always, it provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the ongoing female fight for universal suffrage, freedom and equality. Several defining moments stand out in women’s history, having shaped our ability to lead the lives we do today, including: gaining the right to vote in 1918, the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and, of course, the legalisation of the oral contraceptive pill in 1961, enabling women to finally have a say over their reproductive rights.

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The Myth of the Rhinoceros

By Lyndsey England, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
I am a second-year student at Durham University, studying a joint degree in English Literature and History. My main areas of interest are African history and post-colonial literature, but when I’m not tucked away behind a stack of books in a corner of the library or promoting Gale, I’m busy with Durham Student Theatre, working backstage and on the production team for a number of performances each year. In amongst all this, I also try to find the time to write, because I am currently juggling a shamefully large amount of works in progress.

In 1769, writing his ‘Description of Three Hundred Animals’, a document included in Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Thomas Boreman presented the rhinoceros as follows:

“He has two girdles upon his body, like the wings of a dragon, from his back down to his belly … his skin is so hard, that no dart is able to pierce it, and covered over with scales, like the shell of a tortoise.”

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“There is no other remedy”: The Argument for Free Trade in the First Issue of The Economist

1843 saw some significant events in world history: Hong Kong was proclaimed a British Crown colony, the amusement park at the Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen (currently the second oldest in the world!), and The Economist published its first issue. This August is the 175th anniversary of The Economist, so it seemed a good opportunity to look back at that first issue.

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Damiselas en apuros: voces femeninas del siglo XX

Por Paula Maher Martin, Gale Ambassador en la Universidad NUI Galway
Paula Maher Martín estudia su último año de Literatura Inglesa y Clásicas en la National University of Ireland, en Galway. Interesada en el lenguaje como un medio para reflejar y transcender de manera simultánea la experiencia humana, planea realizar investigación de posgrado en Literatura Inglesa, centrada en la construcción metafísica de la realidad en la literatura modernista. Disfruta leer a Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh o Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, del viento, de la música del mundo, de vagar inmersa en abstracciones filosóficas, de escribir poesía en clase y de enamorarse de los personajes de los cuadros.

“Lo que las mujeres son para las mujeres”, una sinfonía de pensamientos e impresiones, un lenguaje pulido delicadamente para reflejar el “cuerpo”, resonando con una “percepción” femenina de la realidad… En una crítica de A Room of One’s Own, de Virginia Woolf en el Times Literary Supplement (1929), Arthur Mc Dowall sintetiza en estos términos la experiencia femenina en la literatura, según sugiere Woolf.

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“Damsels in distress”: lost female voices of the twentieth century

By Paula Maher Martin, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway
Paula Maher Martín is a third-year student of English and Classics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Interested in language as a means of simultaneously reflecting and transcending human experience, she plans to do postgraduate research in English, with a focus on the metaphysical construction of reality in Modernist literature. She enjoys reading Nancy Mitford, Leo Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh or Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, the wind, the music of the world, wandering immersed in philosophical abstractions, writing poetry in lectures and falling in love with characters in paintings. Paula is blogging for Gale in both English and Spanish.

“What women are to women”, a symphony of thoughts and impressions, language polished delicately to reflect the “body,” resounding with a feminine “grasp” of reality… In a 1929 Times Literary Supplement review of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Arthur Mc Dowall synthesises in these terms the female experience in literature, as intimated by Woolf.

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Twenty-Five Years Later: The Murder of Stephen Lawrence

By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor
Having joined Gale in December 2017 with a background in business to business publishing, I am enjoying learning more about the world of digital archives. I love the diversity of Gale’s archives, and discovering the unique stories hidden within them. In my spare time I like doing a variety of unusual sports, a lot of baking, and curling up with a good book.

‘The community was already in mourning… they were really frightened when their young ones go out, because they don’t know when the police be knocking the door.’

Interview with an anonymous source by Dr Gavin Bailey, Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Ben Lee, Lancaster University, 2015, which will be featured in Gale’s new archive Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century archive, releasing in June 2018.

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“Judge my work not me” Searching for misogyny in literary reviews

By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway
Anna Sikora is a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English, National University of Galway, Ireland. She is examining the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Anna is interested to see when and why science fiction authors began to show an awareness of environmental issues, and how this was demonstrated in their work. She is adopting some of the concepts of environmental criticism (ecocriticism) to ask how environmental concerns are articulated in fiction, and whether literature can, and should, influence our daily environmental choices or the ways in which we interact with the environment.

In the recent movie To Walk Invisible (2016), a biopic depicting the lives of the famous Brontë sisters, Charlotte tells her sisters to publish their work under male pseudonyms. This, the oldest Brontë supposedly reasoned, was to prevent the publishers from judging the authors, and to invite them to judge the story instead. A certain degree of moral indignation prompted some of my students to take Charlotte’s statement as a cue to sweepingly proclaim that none of the Brontë sisters would have been published had they submitted as Anne, Emily and Charlotte. If this were true, said I (a woman), there would have been no literature by women in print until Ms Wolf entered the literary scene. Generalisations and hasty conclusions kill critical thinking, so let’s take a step back and read what was actually written about the early women writers publishing under their real names and literary aliases at the time their works hit the bookshop and library shelves.

Read more“Judge my work not me” Searching for misogyny in literary reviews

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