Gale Digital Humanities Day at the British Library

| By Chris Houghton, Head of Digital Scholarship, International Gale Primary Sources |

Thursday 2nd May was a landmark day for Gale which served to illustrate how our relationship with the international academic community has changed over the last decade. After months of hard work, we were delighted to present the inaugural Gale Digital Humanities Day, held at the wonderful British Library. The day featured a packed schedule of talks delivered by academics and librarians from Japan, the US, Australia, the Netherlands and the UK. The audience of around a hundred academics, librarians and students – many of whom had also travelled from outside the UK – enjoyed talks discussing the latest research and teaching innovations in Digital Humanities.

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Sports Day: A Day for Everyone

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I’m 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.

I attended Dover Grammar School for Boys, and although not every student enjoyed PE, Sports Day was always a day that everyone seemed to enjoy. There were no lessons, or deadlines; everyone was buzzing, standing around the playing fields, participating or watching the various track and field events. Delving into Gale’s primary source archives, I found not only the photograph above, showing my predecessors in the now-vintage sports gear of the 1930s, but a results sheet from the Dover Grammar School Sports Day of 1948. It is interesting that back then the four houses of the school were named Maxton, Buckland, Country and Town after four different areas of Dover. The current school houses also use this theme, and are named Channel, Castle, Port and Priory.

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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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Valentine’s Day for the Broken Hearted

By Maya Thomas, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I’m a second-year History student at Oxford University and proud owner of 56 types of loose-leaf tea. My obsession with all things pre-WW2 has leaked from my studies into my free time, which I like to spend researching everything from the intricacies of costume history to the scandalous court life of Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian. Besides nerding out over history, I spend a lot of time debating, and am currently in the fun, (yet headache-inducing) process of setting up an Oxford free discourse society to combat campus censorship.

The weather is cold and grey, but the shops are ablaze with red hearts, sparkly roses and giant teddy bears holding signs reading “I love you”: Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. Whether you love or hate this centuries-old festival, it cannot be denied that the love it celebrates certainly deserves a day of its own. After all, from Helen of Troy to Tinder, the literary-minded (read: soppy) historian might argue that love, with all its greatness and tragedy, has inspired the culture, art and even politics that have propelled our human story onward.

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Power, Protest & Presidential Profanity: The ‘Race’ for Civil Rights

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?”

On 16th October 1968, two black-gloved fists were raised in solidarity on the podium of the Olympic Games in Mexico City as a silent, yet powerfully emotive protest against racial injustice. The American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, immediately caught the attention of the world’s media as agitators, acting in defiance to the starred and striped flag and all that it appeared to represent. This transpired just six months after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

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Leading Ladies: The actresses who fought for women’s suffrage

By Karen Harker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham
Karen is a Gale Student Ambassador and PhD student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. Her work focuses on digitally reconstructing and reconsidering the role of incidental music used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions, a project which is rooted in archival research and utilises many of Gale’s digital resources. Other research interests include operatic adaptations of Shakespeare, digital humanities, tableaux vivant, and Shakespeare performances during times of war. Karen also enjoys hiking, yoga, singing, and spending time with her cat, Monkey.

“There was a young Lady called Vera
As a Speaker all crowded to hear her
She caused a sensation
Throughout the whole Nation
Such as never was seen in our ERA.”

So begins an anonymous limerick written about Vera “Jack” Holme – Edwardian actress, political activist, and militant suffragette. Found in the Archives of Sexuality & Gender, a collection within Gale Primary Sources, this poem is one of thousands of papers, manuscripts, photos and news articles related to the eccentric, multifaceted life of one of Britain’s most devoted advocates for women’s voting rights. Also a part of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve during WWI and Britain’s first female chauffeur, Holme broke the patriarchal boundaries that had surrounded women for centuries through her constant vigilance and dedication to the causes of women’s suffrage and equality.

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The Ultimate Showman: Freddie Mercury’s untold relationship with the UK press

By James Garbett, Gale Ambassador at the University of Exeter
I’m a third year English student at the University of Exeter.  I’m a huge fan of all things film, theatre and journalism, whilst also continuing to examine the changing forms of masculinity within Gender Studies. When not attempting to play drums, you can find me interviewing various individuals of the music and film world and working for the student newspaper, radio and television station.

When Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, passed away tragically in November 1991, many newspapers mourned the passing of one of the greatest musical legends of all time. Much has already been written of the lavish and decadent parties that Mr Mercury had in his too-short lifetime, however utilising the vast wealth of archives in Gale Primary Sources, such as The Times, Archive of Sexuality & Gender and others, a new perspective can be found regarding the incredible showman and his relationship with the press.

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Western Books on Southeast Asia Collection

By Gregory Green, Curator of the John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, Cornell University Library

The Gale Archives Unbound collection titled Western Books on Southeast Asia brings together nearly three hundred years of writings by travellers from Europe to Southeast Asia.  These publications range from official reports of government sponsored expeditions to personal journals of people travelling through the region on business or pleasure.  With that variety, one can expect to find a wide range of observations in the collection.  Much of the information is quite accurate, while a large amount is based on misunderstandings of what people were seeing, or in other ways, simply incorrect.  Whether accurate or not, the collection provides a clear view of how Southeast Asia was seen during this period of time by Western eyes.

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Miscegenation, or ‘Fake News’ of the Civil War

(Warning: the below article contains excerpts from historical material that are explicitly racist and offensive to today’s readers. The author does not share the views of the material presented.)

Sometimes a random search can take you to unexpected places. For me it began a few months ago when I was asked to conduct a post-sale training session with a group of students at a university in Japan. I was told beforehand that the students were studying American History, including African Americans and other minorities, and I was asked to prepare an example that would match their interests.

Read moreMiscegenation, or ‘Fake News’ of the Civil War

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