The Importance of Archives – Preserving the Past and Contextualising the Present

Finnish National Archives

│By Torsti Grönberg, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki│

Historian Jo Tollebeek once wrote that increasing “scientification” of history at the end of the nineteenth century produced a new kind of archival-fantasy: a belief that all relevant documents from the past could be gathered. Nowadays it is vital to comprehend and take into account the diversity of an archive. Every archive is bound not only to its history and context but also the demands of the current era. At the end of the day, an archive is in of itself an intellectual problem and a cultural artefact to be studied. Historian Natalie Zemon Davis has also made the important point that, even though the world of archives has encountered many changes, the most important aspect is still the same: when you read documents in an archive you have a physical link to the past in front of you that connects you to people long dead and strengthens the researchers attempt to tell about the past as honestly as possible.1

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Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth Century British Intelligence, Monitoring the World

Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth Century British Intelligence, Monitoring the World

|By Clem Delany, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

It is now common knowledge that the German Enigma codes were broken during the Second World War in huts at Bletchley Park, and that this feat helped sway the tide of war in the Allies favour. Most people are also aware that Alan Turing was there, that early computers were being developed, and that after the war these codebreakers and the hundreds of people employed at Bletchley Park vanished into obscurity until the 1970s. These details have become part of popular culture: the shabby huts in the middle of a quiet countryside where great and secret things were happening providing the setting for the book Enigma by Robert Harris, or The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch in tweed, and even a BBC Radio sitcom, Hut 33.

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Tracing the Young Women’s Christian Association through ‘Women’s Studies Archive: Female Forerunners Worldwide’

YWCA in Gale's Womens's Studies Archive

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

Rachel is the Acquisitions Editor managing Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive series.

This month Gale is proud to announce the launch of the fourth module in its multi-award-winning Women’s Studies Archive series, Female Forerunners Worldwide. Publishing in March 2022 this latest edition to Gale’s Gender Studies programme coincides not only with International Women’s Day but with Women’s History Month, hopefully giving scholars of women’s history, social history, and gender studies much to celebrate.

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How Gale’s Archives Supported My Thesis on the Politics of Contraception in South Africa, 1970s–80s

Contraception plus archive article images

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

Having to complete my Honours research paper in the era of Covid-19 left myself and many other students feeling stranded so far as to how to obtain valuable and relevant academic resources. Access to digitised resources quickly became vital to one’s success in academia and I am happy that I came across Gale Primary Sources when I did because they contributed greatly to the completion of my thesis. This blog will show how I utilised Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender, and Women’s Studies Archive collections to explore my thesis topic – the Media and Technologies of Contraception in South Africa between the 1970s and 1980s.

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Pride and Protest: LGBT+ Disability Activism in the US, 1985-1995

Disabled activists

│By Mo Clarke, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter│

Disabled. A word many find uncomfortable. Indeed, it seems much of society still assumes that to be disabled is to be broken, but while it is true that many people with disabilities experience ableism and insufficient support, resources and facilities, activists have long fought against the presumption that to be disabled is inherently bad. Rather than a curse or insult, their disability is a part of their identity and a source of pride. Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender reveal that disability rights have also been a focus for another minority group in the United States: the LGBT+ community. In the 1980s and 1990s LGBT+ activists made great strides towards improving the lives of disabled people.

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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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Beyond Notting Hill Carnival: Re-visiting the life of Claudia Jones

│By Dr Lucy Dow, Gale Content Researcher│

Once again this year, the Notting Hill Carnival was sadly cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In this blog post I will explore the life of Claudia Jones, often credited with starting the Notting Hill Carnival. Using Gale Primary Sources, I will look at what was written by and about Jones during her lifetime, and how she is remembered.

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Simla, McMahon, and the Origins of Sino-Indian Border Disputes

McMahon Line

|By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia|

From May 2020 to February 2021, Chinese and Indian border troops engaged in melee, face-offs, and skirmishes along the Sino-Indian border near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region. This series of disputes has resulted in numerous casualties, attracting worldwide attention in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such border disputes are nothing new. Three years prior to this in June 2017, the troops of the two countries had a border standoff in Doklam, a strategic location near a trijunction border area involving China, India, and Bhutan. Actually, China and India even went to war between October–November 1962 over their disputed Himalayan border.

Many of these border disputes and clashes can be attributed to the controversial McMahon Line. What is this line? And how did it come about? We can find some illuminating historical records on this in China and the Modern World: Diplomacy and Political Secrets, 1868-1950, a collection of rare historical materials selected from the India Office Records now held at the British Library.

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Sun Yat-sen and the Kwangtung–Kwangsi Conflicts in the 1920s

A historic map of southern China, plus four images of individuals whose images are found throughout this blog post

│By Emery Pan, Gale Editor in Beijing│

A land plagued with poverty and political instability, China in the early twentieth century experienced the most drastic changes that had ever taken place in the country. This blog post explores this turbulent period in the history of China using primary sources from numerous Gale archives, including the China and the Modern World series.

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Building a Digital Archive: The Role of Privacy and Content Breadth in ‘Refugees, Relief and Resettlement’

Refugee Children from Occupied Countries

By Bennett Graff, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

Released in 2020, Refugees, Relief, and Resettlement: Forced Migration and World War II is a digital collection of primary sources that documents the largest displacement of people in human history to occur within the near decade-long window that comprised the period just before, during, and shortly after the Second World War.

When Gale creates any of its archives, a good deal of thought goes into its conception and execution. In my role as an editor advocating for an archive devoted to the history of modern refugeeism and forced migration, I had several goals in mind. First and foremost was to shine a historical spotlight on an issue that is very much with us today and will remain with us for decades to come. I discussed the topical nature of the archive in this post. Second was to illustrate the sheer breadth of the topic at hand. The displacement and resettlement of nearly 60 million people extended from South America through Europe, Africa, and Asia to the far reaches of the Pacific Rim. The content included in Refugees, Relief, and Resettlement: Forced Migration and World War II had to represent this reach as broadly as possible. And finally, in laying bear the special historical circumstances of refugees and displaced persons, it was necessary to consider the delicate situation of these often “state-less” individuals by respecting within reasonable means the private information that the publication of any collection of primary sources inevitably brings to the surface.

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