It’s Time to Share the Spotlight: Exploration of Trans Visibility Over the Years

By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
Emily, otherwise known as Emily the Writer, is a Creative and Media Writing (BA Hons) student at Portsmouth University with interests in travel writing and creative marketing. She is also a freelance writer and performance poet. After her degree, she plans to take a Digital Marketing MA and pursue a career in marketing or journalism.

Today, 31st March, is Trans Visibility Day and, although it is a day to celebrate, it is also a day to reflect on the past to appreciate how far we’ve come. Looking back on trans history and how much visibility the community used to have can be hard swallow at times but it is easy to research using the archives Gale’s Primary Sources. To put things into perspective I used Archives of Gender and Sexuality to compare how society has previously treated trans people with how they’re treated now.

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Francis Barber: Samuel Johnson’s Jamaican friend

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second-year English student at University College, Oxford – and one of the Gale Ambassadors 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.

The figure of Dr Samuel Johnson has come to be seen as the canonised cliché of a certain type of stuffy Englishness. His very name evokes scenes from a Blackadder episode where an august but temperamental enlightenment gentleman, draped with a flamboyant powdered wig, raves to his friends in a coffee house about the sorry state of ‘demotic Anglo-Saxon’ as it stands in the modern age. Not to mention the lexicographical feat that is Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, often touted as the grandsire of modern English dictionaries from the OED to Merriam-Webster – and bane to the lives of English Literature students ever since its publication! What is, however, less well-known is his remarkable friendship with Francis Barber, a Jamaican freedman who first arrived in rural Yorkshire as a child. Barber became a close companion to Johnson during a period of deep depression after the death of his wife and was named the executor and ‘residuary legatee’ (as James Boswell puts it in his 1791 Life of Samuel Johnson) of Johnson’s estate after his death (Gale platform p.226).

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Challenging the Stereotype: The Greenham Common protests

By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am a full-time History student studying at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador and a life-long Netflix devotee. With particular research interests in nuclear culture and the movement of people, groups and civil organisations, I find Gale’s primary source archives immensely valuable to my studies. In my spare time, my main hobbies include spending time with my friends and avoiding the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

“Greenham Common is changing more women’s lives faster than any movement in the United Kingdom since the Suffragettes.”

TheresaThormhill, Ours, 31 March 1983

In an ardent and empowered, non-violent and non-alignment protest, more than 70,000 women demonstrated for nearly twenty years between 1981-2000 against the implementation of 96 American Cruise Missiles on the RAF Greenham Common base, Berkshire. Throughout the entirety of the women’s campaign, a conflict between feminist and anti-nuclear sentiment prevailed within highly derogatory and grossly gendered national and international news reports. As a result, the rhetorical nature of the protest came to be mispresented as an entirely feminist, rather than a predominately nuclear, issue.

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Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld – A Great Arctic Explorer of the Nineteenth Century

By Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki
I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the University, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the History of Civil Society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.

One hundred and forty years ago, the world was speculating about the survival of a significant arctic exploration party. One can read, for example this article in The Western Daily Press, one of the periodicals included in Gale’s British Library Newspapers. With Professor Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld leading the expedition, the steamer Vega had departed on August 27th, 1878 for the Northeast Passage, the shipping route to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic Ocean coasts of Norway and Russia. As radio technology had not yet been developed, there were no means for the press to get in touch with Nordenskiöld and his crew. In the reporter’s words, “More than seven and a-half months have…now elapsed and nothing more has been heard of him.” Nevertheless, the newspaper firmly believed that the expedition would be safe, possibly having stopped to spend the winter at “the sheltered bay of Kulynchinska.” Without faster means to confirm this, organisations that had invested in Nordenskiöld’s expedition, or were otherwise interested in the Northeast Passage, were planning to send out search parties to look for the Vega.

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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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A Male Contraceptive Pill – could this bring greater gender equality?

By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
I am a second-year student currently completing my joint honours degree in English Literature and American and Canadian Studies. This multidisciplinary course allows me to study varying aspects of modern American literature, history and culture as well as old English writing, including poetry by Wyatt and plays by Shakespeare. In term-time I love to keep myself busy by volunteering for a society that helps local, disadvantaged children, preparing for a year abroad in North America, visiting the attractions that England’s second city has to offer with friends, and, of course, working as an Ambassador for Gale.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on Friday 8th March this year, and, as always, it provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the ongoing female fight for universal suffrage, freedom and equality. Several defining moments stand out in women’s history, having shaped our ability to lead the lives we do today, including: gaining the right to vote in 1918, the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and, of course, the legalisation of the oral contraceptive pill in 1961, enabling women to finally have a say over their reproductive rights.

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The History of International Women’s Day and the Origins of Women’s History Month

By Rachel Holt, Acquisitions Editor for Gale International
Rachel has worked in a variety roles across the publishing industry and joined Gale Primary Sources in 2017 where she became responsible for the Women’s Studies Archive programme.  Although women’s history is a personal passion her other area of focus is fringe-politics and Rachel is also in charge of Gale’s Political Extremism & Radicalism series.  

Happy International Women’s Day (#BalanceforBetter) and may your Women’s History Month 2019 be an enlightening one!

Every year March marks the month where several countries around the world celebrate female contributions to society by recognising their achievements throughout history. However, the origins of how both these events came into being are themselves fascinating episodes in feminist history. If “history is written by the victors” then who decides which people and events from the past deserves our attention?[1]

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Exploring news coverage and media discussion of sexual violence

By Grace Mitchell-Kilpatrick, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I am a fourth-year student at the University of Exeter. I studied BSc Politics and International Relations with proficiency in data analysis at undergraduate level. As a Masters student studying Conflict, Development and Security, my interests lie in conflict zones but I am also an advocate of sustainability and feminism. Besides studying, when I’m not snowed under with work, I like to run and binge watch Netflix.

What constitutes ‘feminism’ and to class oneself as a feminist is highly contentious and politicised. It is, however, a concept which does not fall solely in the private or public sphere, and for that reason it is necessary to consider what the cause defends. I thought it would be interesting to use Gale Primary Sources to aid an investigation into the issue of rape and sexual violence, an issue which feminist sentiment advocates to eliminate.

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Double, double, toil and trouble Witchcraft methodology in nineteenth-century Britain and the U.S.

By André Buller, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth
I’m a third year English Literature and History student at the University of Portsmouth and Super Rep for the History subject area. If I must be forced to decide on a period, I adore Tudor history especially and have an incredibly soft spot for Romantic poetry, which is why I’ve taken on the monumental task of writing my thesis project on William Blake. After graduation this year I hope to work in the fields of narrative writing and journalism whilst continuing my academic endeavours. On the off chance that I’m not incapacitated by studies I enjoy devouring any and all literature, as well as playing the concert ukulele – much to the chagrin of my housemates.

Ideas of sorcery, witchcraft and incantations have persisted in intriguing me throughout my years of study. The ways in which the supernatural arose and manifested alongside historical events has always fascinated me, and consequently I’ve found myself studying subjects that considered the mystical in both the literary and historical units of my degree. The topics I’ve studied in these classes have ranged as widely as manifestations of the supernatural have in the past. One week I’d study the seventeenth century, witch-hunts of Salem and the pursuits of Matthew Hopkins, but by the next week be focusing on the rise of Occultism.

Read moreDouble, double, toil and trouble Witchcraft methodology in nineteenth-century Britain and the U.S.

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