Canaries in the Coal Mine

Photo of Canary

│By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Most of us see bright-feathered, warbling canaries as pets, yet these tiny birds were not always just household companions. In the nineteenth century they were used as exceptional risk predictors in mines. This was because they were particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide, a substance which led to numerous mining accidents in the aftermath of industrialisation. Thus, oddly, an increasing reliance on fossil fuels induced a new rapport with nature and animals. The canary’s role in mines became so engrained in the English language that “a canary in the coalmine” is now a well-known phrase, used to refer to early indicators of potential hazards. Gale’s Historical Newspapers allow us to better understand how the canary came to be emblematic of shifting attitudes towards risk during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the English-speaking world.

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From Political Violence to Political Power – Examining Newspaper Reports on Political Violence Around the World

Adolf Hitler, German dictator, ascending the steps at Buckeberg flanked by banner-carrying storm troopers who display the Nazi swastika.

│By Pollie Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool |

Students at the University of Liverpool are able to efficiently and easily research and evaluate primary source documents using Gale Primary Sources. I am studying International Politics and am currently studying a module on political violence. Reaching Gale Primary Sources via the Liverpool University library page, I was able to examine a vast wealth of information on political violence. In this blog post I’m going to explore some instances of political violence around the world, and how the individuals involved sometimes ended up in politically powerful positions. Any student can use the Gale resources available at their institution to undertake research; the use of original, primary source documents is often the key to reaching the highest grades.

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Was Oxford University Labour Club “Moving Towards Communism”? How Primary Sources Can Help You Track the History of Your Student Society

Banner reading 'Oxford University Labour Club, Forward to Socialism'

| By Grace Davis, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford |

The term “primary sources” gives me slightly traumatic flashbacks to my History GCSE when, as a baby academic, I had to explain how a picture can present a biased interpretation of the world. Now, a more grown-up (though not fully fledged) academic, the idea of “primary sources” is not as scary, but I often still find myself shying away from using them in my academic work. I’m happy to announce, however, that primary sources can be used for more than your university essays! Gale Primary Sources includes millions of pages of primary sources on almost every topic imaginable, including your hobbies and topics of interest beyond the lecture theatre. Once you start unearthing primary sources about things that fascinate you outside your degree, you may just develop greater confidence and familiarity with them and start feeling more comfortable incorporating them into university work too!

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The Acquisition of Gale Primary Sources at the University of Johannesburg Supports Efforts to Decolonise the Curriculum

Students studying in the library at the University of Johannesburg

| By the Gale Review team |

The global movement to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ focuses on creating a more accurate and holistic read of history – and our understanding of people and the world – by questioning the canonical primacy given to some perspectives over others. Access to primary sources can play a key role in this understanding. Librarians at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, have turned to Gale for support. “In 2018 the University of Johannesburg adopted collections focused on slavery and gender,” explains Gale Field Sales Executive Dan Solomon. “Now they have deepened their commitment by purchasing a wide array of Gale archives.”

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Gangster’s Paradise: Exploring British Media Coverage of American Organised Crime

│by Matthew Trenholm, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Everyone loves a villain. From Robin Hood to the Peaky Blinders, criminality has long captured the imagination of the British public, with the misdeeds of the real outlaws often swept under the rug. (For an engaging piece about the historical accuracy of the TV show Peaky Blinders, check out this blog post by my fellow Gale Ambassador, Emily Priest – it’s great!) American organised crime enjoyed a “golden era” in the 1920s after Prohibition was introduced in 1919. Bootlegging became a big industry in the US as the economy boomed and cultural norms changed. Contemporaries in Britain loved to hear stories of the criminals taking on the law, and this is reflected in the upsurge in coverage of such criminals in the British press.

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Escaping from Communist East Germany

│ By Stefanie Meinken, Gale Field Sales Executive, South-West Germany & Switzerland │

This year, 2019, is a year of anniversaries in twentieth-century German history. Not only is the Federal Republic of Germany celebrating its 70th birthday, former East Germany – officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) –– was also founded 70 years ago, on 7th October 1949. The latter anniversary might spark divergent emotions; the period of the GDR’s existence is often seen as a time of suppression and uncertainty. The end of this period also has a significant anniversary this year: it is 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall on 9th November 1989.

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The Peterloo Massacre, August 1819

Reform. Libel. -- Sedition. -- Treason. -- Persecution. 1819, January - 1820, November. Radical Politics and the Working Man in England: Part One: Sets 7-11, 13-32, and 34-46 Set 40; Vol 1. British Library. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CREORT076326165/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=c5017dd3

│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.

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A Whistle-Stop Tour of Famous Dachshunds

Sharp, Rob. "Faster, Higher, Stronger, Tackier." Independent, 20 May 2010, p. 20+. The Independent Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/FQ4201676705/GDCS?u=webdemo&sid=GDCS&xid=0dabe2a2

│By Jasmine Weller, Inside Sales Executive for Eastern Europe │

Weenie. Wiener. Dashie. Datsun. Doxin. Doxie. Sausage dog. Hot dog. Teckel. Dackel. No matter what you like to call them, there is no denying that the Dachshund is ever growing in popularity thanks to advertising campaigns, dedicated Instagram accounts, a multitude of home interior accessories and ‘those’ sausage dog walks. Being the proud ‘fur’ mum to two of my own, I thought it was time to pay homage to these tenacious little creatures, with the help of Gale Primary Sources.

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The Evolution of Women’s Football

Rowbottom, Mike. “When Ladies of Preston ruled the world.” Independent, 27 Feb. 1997, p. 26. The Independent Digital Archive

│By Rachel Holt, Acquisitions Editor │

As the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup drew to a close and tens of thousands of fans lined the streets of New York to greet the United States’ World Cup-winning team, we decided to look at the history of women’s football. Using Gale Primary Sources we tracked the evolution of women’s involvement in the beautiful game up to this year’s Women’s World Cup which, capturing the public’s imagination, saw an all-time high in viewing figures.

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Sir Bertram Ramsey – Britain’s Unsung War Hero

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am in my third year studying History at the University of Liverpool. I am obsessed with golf and regrettably even more obsessed about football. But at school, History took my interest; throughout sixth form and university I have loved studying the Cold War and, for my dissertation, the nuclear arms race. I am keen to pursue a career in sports writing and journalism – I couldn’t think of anything better than being paid to watch and write about the biggest sporting events in the world! I like film and tend to binge-watch a series or two.

If you hear the phrase ‘War Hero’ names such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower would naturally come to mind, as they were the key leaders in the Second World War that were instrumental in coordinating the Allied victory. I feel there is another leader who deserves recognition for his vital work during these significant years; Sir Bertram Ramsay.

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