How To Handle Primary Source Archives – University Lecturer’s Top Tips

Hands gesturing to explain. Table and Laptop.

│By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham│

Through the medium of a Zoom interview, Dr Daniel Whittingham, History Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, talked me through how he found Gale Primary Sources integral to writing his book, Charles E. Callwell and the British Way in Warfare (Cambridge University Press, 2019), and then kindly offered his professional advice for students about finding, using and citing online archives, including the best ways to incorporate primary sources into an essay or dissertation.

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Looking for Help Tackling Tough Academic Works? Try These Study Tips.

"You've got this" sign next to laptop

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

We all do more online today than ever before. With libraries and physical archives shut, eBooks and PDFs now reign supreme in academia. Luckily, it’s not just books which have been digitised, but entire archives – and they are by no means just for historians. I’m a theologian, and below are some ways I have been using Gale Primary Sources in my own academic work. These study tips could help students of numerous subjects puzzle out tough academic arguments!

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The Phantom of Popularity

"Tills ringing Phantom keeps audiences enthralled." Financial Times, 30 Apr. 2007, p. 20. Financial Times Historical Archive

│By Evelyn Moran, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway│

Most of us grow up watching musicals on TV, our childhood a medley of singing animals and cartoon princesses. Sometimes we even sing the songs in the shower. As a society we’ve created academic courses on the subject and vigorously debated the merits of live shows versus DVDs. One musical that has without a doubt entered the collective consciousness is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, itself an adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel. Phantom has left its imprint on pop culture and on the theatre. In this blog post I use Gale Primary Sources to learn more about the musical, which movies may have influenced it, and perhaps shed some light on how it has so enchanted us.

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History Lecturer uses Gale Primary Sources to Research Spanish National Pride

Lady with pig and joints of ham

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

As I have previously emphasised here on The Gale Review, students have much to gain from using primary source archives. And not just for minor assignments – in this post Lily Deans from the University of Birmingham explained how she used Gale Primary Sources in her final-year dissertation. Developing on this, I now want to spotlight how Gale Primary Sources is extensively used by our lecturers as well – it really is bona fide research material! In this post, I interview Alejandro Gómez del Moral, Ph.D., a University Lecturer of Economic and Social History at the University of Helsinki.  He is using Gale Primary Sources in his current research project and was willing to share his thoughts with me. Due to the pandemic, we had our discussion on a video call, and Gómez del Moral was quick to mention how glad he was that these digital sources are still available for his research while many physical locations are closed.

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A Media and Journalism Student is Thrilled to Discover Gale!

Sticky notes and laptop on table

│By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

In this post, Emily interviews an undergraduate student before and after running a one-to-one training workshop on Gale Primary Sources, revealing how the platform tools and extensive content can help alleviate some of the difficulties the student faced in their studies.

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The Data Visualisation Revolution – From Plotting Distance to Digital Humanities

Data visualistion example - graphs on laptop

│By Emily Priest, Digital Marketing Masters student at the University of Portsmouth│

At first glance, data visualisation and Digital Humanities can seem complex and technical, but both offer significant possibilities to students, researchers and business professionals (the latter is also significant to students, as many are interested in increasing their future employability!) Whilst you may not feel particularly familiar with these terms, the data revolution is already here! So, buckle up and join me as we take a ride through the history and current applications of data visualisation and Digital Humanities!

Simplistically, data visualisation is the use of graphics and images to present data sets. Common examples include pie charts, word clouds and line graphs. Over the years, these visualisation techniques have become increasingly common – and increasingly complex. Whilst they have contributed to the emerging discipline of Digital Humanities, the term Digital Humanities refers to more than simply visualising data. Keeping Humanities at its heart, Digital Humanities leverages data visualisation to expand and deepen the traditional analysis that takes place within these disciplines.

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“Whoever Expected Prophets to Agree?” – Predicting the Future One Hundred Years Ago

: New aeroplane designs shown off at the 1920 International Aircraft Exhibition in Paris

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

In my last blog, I chose to focus on one Gale archive, Nineteenth Century Collections Online, but this time I wanted to demonstrate the full power of the Gale Primary Sources platform by looking at one topic across many archives simultaneously. The topic I have chosen is “the future” and what people a century ago believed it would look like. “The future” is an idea that is still endlessly debated, from dire warnings to wonderful promises; there is always something to discuss and the same was true a century ago. So, let’s jump into the archives and take a look at what the prophets of 1920 were saying!

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A Peep into Finnish War History with Gale Primary Sources

Montage of newspaper articles about Finland War History

│by Lotta Vuorio, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

The current circumstances caused by the global pandemic have highlighted the importance of digital primary sources. In Helsinki, the university library has (in large part) physically shut its doors, but luckily there is a great deal of primary source material available in, for example, the digital collections of the National Library of Finland, and the Helsinki University Library also offers students and staff numerous digital collections which include several Gale Primary Sources archives. Gale Primary Sources is a treasure trove where one can find sources for various types of research.

One might initially think Gale Primary Sources is most suitable for research focusing on Great Britain or America, since the collections seem mostly focused on those areas. However, I wanted to find out if the platform could also be helpful when studying Finnish history! What I found, in short, was a highly interesting peephole into Finnish War History before the Second World War. I have not specialised in Finnish nor War History in my own research, but I was curious to examine coverage of Finland, and Helsinki especially. So, let’s see the results of my brief exploration!

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The Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic – Who Was Bruce Ismay?

Titanic (photo of drawing)

│by Chloe Villalon, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland Galway│

Often students such as myself have a broad idea of the topic they’re interested in, but they’re not sure which angle to take. In these cases it might be helpful to talk to a friend, professor or peer who may provide interesting insight or suggestions. Gale Primary Sources is also a great platform to find both ideas and articles – you can turn to it when you’re still looking for a topic or when you have a defined notion of what you’re looking for and want to dig deeper. In this blog post I will show you how you can use different tools to go from having a vague topic, to developing an angle, to writing a narrative or argument.

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The Wrath of Mountains: Explaining Volcanic Eruptions from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Modern Day

“The Straits of Sunda: Terrible Volcanic Eruption.” Illustrated London News, 8 Sept. 1883, p. 229. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

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.

Read moreThe Wrath of Mountains: Explaining Volcanic Eruptions from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Modern Day