Romantic Writing: The History of Valentine’s Cards

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Valentine’s Day, occurring this coming weekend in many countries, is an increasingly popular phenomenon worldwide. The date, style and manner of recognising the event can differ greatly by location, but aspects of the tradition can now be found on all continents, and in many places it is associated with the exchange of cards. An article in Gale’s Academic OneFile suggests that, according to the Greeting Card Association, one billion cards are now sent each year, making Valentine’s Day ‘the second-largest card-sending holiday of the year, surpassed only by Christmas.’[1] 

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Chinese New Year has arrived!

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Reading Time: 4 minutes
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“… the blessed Chinese New Year has come round, the Post Office has ceased to function, the office boy has burned his fingers lighting fire crackers and the door between my office and the Depot is locked; the doorkeeper has gone home with the key ….” The Chinese Recorder, March 1933

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The Assad regime in Syria: Exploring Topics in the News with U.S. Declassified Documents Online

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

As the conflict in Syria continues, so does interest in the history of the political situation that led us here. To better understand the context, I’ve traced a small portion of the history of the conflict using historical sources found in primary source collections from Gale. A quick search in Gale Artemis: Primary Sources unearths documents that contribute to the discussion.

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Cracking the Enigma Code: The Daily Telegraph’s Crossword Challenge

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Daily Telegraph newspaper is known for its ‘high tone’ and has acquired a reputation for being ‘serious, popular and pioneering’ over the years. A sign of its status can be traced back to the Second World War, where its editor’s willingness to depart from convention ensured the newspaper’s critical involvement in the War’s outcome. For the newspaper did not simply stand back and report on events, although the work of first female war correspondent Clare Hollingworth should not be downplayed, but unwittingly engaged itself in the Allied cause.

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Victorian Secrets: Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Dr Lucy Jane Sussex
Honorary Associate, La Trobe University and Honorary Associate, Federation University

The term ‘Victorian values’ reappears every now and then in twenty-first century media. Usually, it is politically charged, signifying a nostalgia for better days, to be found in the long nineteenth century (1790-1914). Here be, like dragons, the virtues of hard work, morality, piety, and none of this new-fangled debauchery.

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Marking Columbus’s First Journey

Columbus Day celebration
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Working for a US-based company like Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, it is hard to escape the fanfare of nationwide ‘federal holidays’. Far more interesting – and, seemingly, more commonplace – than the various ‘bank holidays’ we have here in the UK, the US recognises eight official federal holidays. Yet when I noticed that Columbus Day was pencilled in on my email calendar for 10th October 2016, I was surprised to learn that it was not, in fact, considered one of those eight holidays. In 2013, just 24 states observed the holiday. A mark of the re-evaluation of Columbus’s influence upon America and, for many, the effects upon indigenous ways of life, Columbus Day is today a far more contested occasion than it once might have been. With January marking 524 years since Columbus was granted the funds to finally embark upon his first voyage, I was spurred to delve into Gale’s digital archival collections to see if I could detect a change in mood towards Columbus Day observance.

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From coupons to cocktail dresses: tracking changes to women’s wartime fashion using the Picture Post

Clothes for a coupon summer
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The New Year often brings a sense of “out with the old, in with the new”. For the fashion-conscious, it’s a good excuse to revamp ones wardrobe and go shopping. These days it’s easy to buy new clothes every season, but it was very different during the Second World War. Then, clothing was rationed and had to be reused as much as possible. Once the war was over, the “out with the old” attitude finally prevailed over rationing, culminating in Christian Dior’s ground-breaking ‘New Look’. I used Picture Post and other newspaper archives in Gale Artemis: Primary Sources to track changing attitudes to fashion in the newspapers and magazines of the time.

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The Commercialisation of Christmas

Christmas, Daily Mail, 1900
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Undoubtedly, many still appreciate and celebrate the deeply religious roots of Christmas, yet it has also become a commercialised event in many countries today. From mid-November, high-streets are packed with snowflake window stickers, festive deals and cheery Christmas music to entice shoppers into an economically indulgent mood. Yet, despite the general consensus and participation in commercialising Christmas, this is often assumed to be a new phenomenon, part of today’s world. ‘Born to Buy’, an article in Gale’s Academic OneFile, offers an example of such sentiments;

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Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library: Editor’s highlights

Reading Time: 3 minutes

One of the best things about being Product Editor on the Early Arabic Printed Books archive is being exposed to works that I have never encountered before. Having worked on rare book digitisation projects many times in the past, it’s a real treat to work on something so different, so challenging, and so beautiful. Below are some of the works that are particular highlights to me.

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

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.

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