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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Discovering FDR through Gale Primary Sources

FDR

│By Tom English, Gale Field Sales Executive – North UK │

I recently enjoyed reading three excellent books on Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), 32nd President of the United States: Jean Edward Smith’s single-volume biography, FDR, which provides an excellent overview of his life and presidency; David B. Woolner’s The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace, which gives an incisive and detailed account of the final days of his life, including negotiations with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta and his fight to the end to build international institutions to prevent future wars; and Susan Dunn’s A Blueprint for War: FDR and the Hundred Days that Mobilized America, which tells the story of how FDR outmanoeuvred those who opposed America’s support for Britain and Russia in WWII. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed the secondary sources on FDR, I thought that I’d delve into Gale Primary Sources to see what’s there…

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Between the Acts: Remembering War during the Interwar Period

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second year English student at University College, Oxford – and the Gale Ambassador for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day. 

Remembrance is repetition.

As Laurence Binyon’s poem, often the highlight of memorial services, puts it: ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/ […]/ We will remember them.’ Ways of memorialising the world wars, too, seem never to grow old and are reinforced through recurrence. Remembrance is ritualised by each poppy-wearing politician, each BBC documentary, each Ian McEwan novel. The narratives have been retold so many times that they grow hazy and the details blend together – battle trenches upon Maginot Lines. It almost comes as a shock to be reminded that twenty-one years elapsed between the two world wars that we now jointly remember on one day. Twenty-one years during which the world regularly reminded itself of the last great war, before rushing into another. Gale Primary Sources provides a plethora of primary sources that poignantly illustrate how the world wars were both remembered and anticipated during the interwar period.

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The Dutch Raid on the Medway, 1667

Medway-A Pictorial History of England

By Becky Wright
I joined Gale in 2015 as Content Researcher. I completed my MA in Historical Research at the Institute of Historical Research and am delighted to work in a role where I can indulge my love of all things history. I’m based in London and, when I’m not surrounded by books and manuscripts in various libraries and archives, I love exploring all that my home city has to offer.

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Dutch raid on the Medway in June 1667. Commemorative events have been taking place at the historic dockyards in Chatham throughout the summer.

Read moreThe Dutch Raid on the Medway, 1667

Politics and Personalities in the State Papers of Western Europe, 1714-1782

State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century, 1714-1782, Part III: Western Europe is the newest addition to the extensive State Papers Online archive. Part III provides primary source material from the Catholic courts of Spain, Portugal and France, as well as from smaller states of Italy and the Mediterranean, bringing together a huge variety of people, places and events. Great powers and small Republics, border skirmishes and arguably – in the Seven Years’ War – the first global conflict, monarchs, spies and merchants; all are part of the network of information and politics centring on the British Secretaries of State in Whitehall, and through them, the King.

Read morePolitics and Personalities in the State Papers of Western Europe, 1714-1782

Tales for the ‘Every-day Reader’: Winston Churchill and the ‘War in the Indian Highlands’

When the name ‘Winston Churchill’ is mentioned, images of a heroic war leader with cigar in mouth and face set in steely determination are usually the first to come to mind. His wartime speeches became iconic in symbolising gung-ho British determination to battle on through endless bloodshed, helping steer Britain through the turmoil of a cataclysmic conflict. Yet, with perhaps less well-known flair, the former Prime Minister proved equally adept on paper. This is evident in his first published material: a series of war letters commissioned for British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Read moreTales for the ‘Every-day Reader’: Winston Churchill and the ‘War in the Indian Highlands’