Studying Colonialism in Complementary Archives: Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Decolonization

│By Louis Venter, Gale Ambassador at the University of the Free State│

If you ask any seasoned historian what makes historical research unique, they will emphasise the crucial role of primary sources, which define and distinguish history from other forms of academic writing. In an ever-digitising world, historians can now access digital scans of genuine archival material from anywhere, eliminating the need to travel to distant archives, and making research more efficient.

Bringing together primary sources from multiple archives can enhance one’s research, and Gale Primary Sources offers two key complementary digital archives that can be used in tandem to study colonialism – Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Europe and Africa, Colonialism and Culture and Decolonization: Politics and Independence in Former Colonial and Commonwealth Territories.

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Honouring Madam C.J. Walker: Using Gale Primary Sources to Represent Black Women’s Resistance to Racist American Beauty Standards

│By Tabetha Wood, Gale Ambassador at Durham University│

As I approach the final term of my history degree, I feel particularly passionate about the empowerment of minority groups through a representation of their past experiences. I saw my dissertation as an opportunity to fuel this passion and by investigating the ‘whiteness’ of American beauty standards between 1945-60, I represented the adversity African American women encountered in this realm, an obstacle that women of colour continue to face today.

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Refugees, Relief and Resettlement: The Early Cold War and Decolonization – The Building Blocks of a Digital Archive

│By Lindsay Whitaker-Guest, Associate Editor, Gale Primary Sources

This year, the global population of forcibly displaced and stateless people has grown to 130.8 million according to figures released by UNHCR. Existing global conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza conflict, as well as environmental and climate disasters, are all contributing to the increasing numbers of people without homes to call their own.

Sadly, these journeys of displacement are not new. Population displacement is a fact of human history, and scholars and researchers can explore episodes in the twentieth century of refugee crises through primary sources in the latest module of Refugees, Relief and Resettlement. This post explores the primary source collections included in this new module and how editors at Gale Primary Sources approach turning poorly catalogued collections into fully searchable digital archive products.

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Exploring Community and Identity in Sexuality and Gender History – Archives of Sexuality and Gender: Community and Identity in North America

│By Phil Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor│

Queer history is full of groups and individuals that took a stand against injustices, fought to change discriminatory laws, advocated for acceptance, and spoke out for those who might otherwise remain marginalized.  Studying this history can inspire and educate us as we face ongoing challenges in society such as homophobia, transphobia, attacks on women’s rights, and a willingness to eliminate any mention of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Archives of Sexuality and Gender: Community and Identity in North America (ASG VI) offers interesting perspectives on society, sexual identity, community building, and gender issues.  It presents a history of North American society with materials that cover activism, social justice issues, disabilities, women’s rights, alternative sexualities, sexuality and religion, and ethnic communities.  The collections detail how identities developed in different social conditions, and how communities grew around dedicated, sometimes courageous, individuals and organized groups.

In this venture Gale Primary Sources has partnered with the ArQuives, Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives; the GLBT Historical Society; the Elihu Burritt Library (Central Connecticut State University); and Colegio de México, which represents Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  This archive comprises 28 collections that provide a personal historical perspective, helping researchers get to know the individuals and groups involved. 

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Going off Script: How Gale Primary Sources Can Be Used in Theatre Studies

│By Olivia McDermott, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool│

For a subject such as drama, primary sources are continuously overlooked. Much academic study preceding degree level tends to focus on the practical realm of theatre. Though it is an important aspect, this sometimes leads to contextual ideas being ignored.

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Uncovering a History of Disabilities: Disabilities in Society, Seventeenth to Twentieth Century

│By Philip Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor

Disability studies is a growing field in academia that examines disability as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon.  Seeing how far we have come as a society in terms of equal rights for people with disabilities is heartening, yet how has disability been viewed both historically and contemporarily?

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Concepts of ‘the Nation’ in Britain and Beyond

│By Jess Briony Hodgson, Gale Ambassador at the University of Sheffield│

Britain has always had a complex identity historically speaking – from Alfred the Great and the nature of medieval kingdoms, through to the fallout from Brexit, the way in which Britons conceptualise their nation and nationality has always been changing – and this makes primary source work all the more interesting.

When using primary sources such as those found in Gale’s digital archives, one main challenge is removing our own understandings of ‘the nation’ from the equation, so we can properly analyse the information and make accurate interpretations and comparisons. One space in which we can see a microcosm of all these changes is print media, particularly newspapers, which will have (for the most part) aimed to capture readers’ opinions and concerns, highlighting the changes in concepts such as the nation.

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The Sinking of the Titanic and its Cultural and Economic Impact

│By Yasmin Metto, Gale Ambassador at the University of Queen Mary│

The Titanic is one of the most famous and prolific ships in the world, inspiring adventures to the depths of where it sunk as well as creating a legacy that has lasted generations. Unfortunately, this can shroud the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, which was almost as devastating as the event itself. The sinking of the Titanic marked a multitude of impacts, especially culturally and economically. By using Gale Primary Sources to explore the cultural and economic effects of the Titanic sinking, it becomes evident that all of society was affected by the event.

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Making Peace Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Primary Sources

│By Tom Taborn, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

Primary sources can be, let’s face it, intimidating. In the first few weeks of university the idea that we should use them was constantly drummed into me. I, like most other students I know, immediately ignored this advice, and ploughed into the swelling lists of secondary sources. Primary sources seemed like a distraction from the stress of churning out an essay, and the few students who did use them seemed like god-like beings who’d mastered pomodoro timers and bullet journaling in the pram.

Over the course of my first year, however, I realised that they were exactly the opposite. Primary sources are the stressed student’s best friend. Reading what real people thought, how they talked, and what they felt, can make the trickiest topics easier. And more than that, they can be fun. The archives in Gale Primary Sources made using primary sources so much less terrifying as a student for me. This is the story of how my worst essay was saved by a primary source, and how yours can be too.

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An Interdisciplinary Treasure Chest: The Pacific Coast Counterculture Collection

│By Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr., Graphic Designer, Editor and Writer responsible for the Pacific Coast Counterculture Collection│

More than fifty years have passed since the rebellion of American youth during the 1960s that became known as the Counterculture. Now, this exciting and colourful movement is the subject of Gale Primary Sources’ Pacific Coast Counterculture Collection, which is part of their new digital archive Power to the People: Counterculture, Social Movements and the Alternative Press, Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century. The digital collection contains a unique mix of printed material – pamphlets, publications, periodicals and more – that captures the diversity, creativity and impact of individuals and small groups that emerged during this intense time.

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