Bread Rationing: a surprising and timely subject

Today’s post, highlighting the wide range of newspaper archive databases the Library has and how these can be used to research a particular topic or event, is written by Louise Peterkin, Helpdesk Assistant, University of Edinburgh Libraries. During lockdown Louise also worked part-time with the Library Academic Support team.

I was delighted to be asked to write a blog showcasing the University’s wide range of databases and primary sources. These have been bolstered considerably in the last few months with the exciting addition of 365 new databases through our new ProQuest 350 Access subscription.

Looking for inspiration as to what to write about I searched Google for important events in history that fell between July and August. 22 July 1946 – Bread rationed for the first time in the UK leapt out at me. I always thought bread had been rationed during World War 2? I was keen to find out more.

Screenshot of “Bread Rationing Begins; and Other News Events of the Week.” Illustrated London News, July 27, 1946, 101. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003.

I researched the topic through the University’s databases, starting with our newspaper archives. We have access to ProQuest Historical Newspapers, which includes access to The Guardian (1821-2003), The Observer (1791-2003) and The Scotsman (1817 -1950) and Gale Primary Sources and Gale News Vault which contain access to many historical newspapers including to the Daily Mail Historical Archive (1896-2004) and Times Digital Archive (1785 to 2011). Continue reading

Spotlight on ProQuest History Vault

Interested in American history? Then ProQuest History Vault may be exactly what you are looking for.

History Vault gives you access to millions of pages of cross-searchable, full-text/full-image documents including articles, correspondence, government records, photographs, scrapbooks, financial records, diaries and more, documenting the most widely studied topics in 18th- through 20th-century American history. It’s a fantastic resource for those teaching, learning or researching in the areas of history, African American studies, women’s studies, political science, social sciences, sociology, and international studies.

You can access ProQuest History Vault via the Databases A-Z list or Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide. Continue reading

Spotlight on: Archives of Sexuality and Gender

It’s LGBT+ History Month in the UK and there are a number of events being run around the University by the Staff Pride Network and the Students’ Association. However, if you’re interested in delving into the archives to find out more about LGBT+ history in the UK then the Archives of Sexuality and Gender may be just the place to start.

Archives of Sexuality and Gender spans the 16th to the 20th century and is the largest digital collection of primary source materials relating to the history and study of sex, sexuality and gender. Documentation covering social, political, health and legal issues impacting LGBT+ communities around the world is included, as well as rare and unique books on sex and sexuality from the sciences to the humanities.

This extensive resource is made up of 3 databases, LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 Part I, LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 Part II and Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century, which between them cover 54 collections that are international in their scope and coverage. But I want to highlight those collections that specifically look at LGBT+ history in the United Kingdom.

Gay Activism in Britain from 1958: The Hall-Carpenter Archives

Spanning the period from 1958 to 1990, this collection chronicles the activities of the Albany Trust, an organisation that was initially focused on decriminalising homosexuality and increasing social acceptance of gay people. The Albany Trust centered its work on counseling services, research, and public education, helping to steer society and the law away from older, traditional ideas regarding homosexuality. Continue reading

Spotlight on: FBI Files

This is part of an occasional series highlighting some of the digital resources available at the Library that will be of interest to students and staff in History, Classics and Archaeology.

Federal Bureau of Investigation [Public domain]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was formed in 1908 by then Attorney General, Charles Bonaparte, under President Theodore Roosevelt. Initially known as the Bureau of Investigation (it added “Federal” in 1935) over the next 110 years the FBI’s remit and influence grew considerably and they are synonymous with American cultural, social and political history in the 20th century and beyond.

The FBI have been involved in a large number of famous, not so famous and infamous cases dealing with organised crime, terrorism, civil rights, white collar crime, espionage, violent crime and more. And did you know that through the Library you have access to a range of digitised files from the FBI?

FBI Files in Archives Unbound

Through the Library’s subscription to Archives Unbound (an enormous digital primary source database) you have access to over 20 collections of digitised material direct from the FBI, covering over 70 years of American history. You’ll spot some famous cases and names within these but possibly also some less known. However, between them they provide a fascinating insight into the political, cultural and social climate of the United States in the 20th century.

FBI File: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were a nondescript couple accused in 1950 by the U.S. government of operating a Soviet spy network and giving the Soviet Union plans for the atomic bomb. The trial of the Rosenbergs, which began in March 6, 1951, became a political event of greater importance than any damage they may have done to the United States. It was one of the most controversial trials of the 20th century. Their guilt and the harshness of their sentences continue to be vigorously debated to this day. Continue reading

Spotlight on our Centre for Research Collections

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library.

The University of Edinburgh holds world class collections, including rare books, archives and manuscripts, art, historical musical instruments and museum objects ranging from geological specimens to anatomical models. These unique collections are and can be used for teaching and research within the University and by the wider community.

The main entry and access point for these collections is the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) which is based on the 6th floor of the Main Library. The CRC is open to all researchers, including students, staff, visiting academics and members of the public. Continue reading

Spotlight on ProQuest digital primary sources

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library. ProQuest are one of the publishers who will be attending and this blog post highlights the fantastic collections the Library has access to through them.

The Library has access to a large and broad range of primary source collections that can be accessed via the Primary Source database list or the separate Newspapers & Magazines list and Images & Moving Images list.

Through ProQuest the Library has access to around 45 of these fantastic databases. ProQuest has built its expertise in preserving and widening access to significant research collections over 75 years, partnering with large and small libraries and archives, to bring you collections encompassing government, humanities, and historical documents that formerly may have been difficult to retrieve. Alexander Street Press and Chadwyck-Healey databases are also part of the ProQuest suite of resources.

Below are the databases you have access to via ProQuest. As there are so many I have split them into broad categories. Continue reading

Spotlight on Gale Cengage digital primary sources

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library. Gale Cengage are one of the publishers who will be attending and this blog post highlights the fantastic collections the Library has access to through them.

The Library has access to a large and broad range of primary source collections that can be accessed via the Primary Source database list or the separate Newspapers & Magazines list and Images & Moving Images list.

The Library is very lucky to have access to 12 of these types of databases from Gale Cengage, a leader in education, learning, and research resources online. This actually gives you access to around 300 collections of primary source material. Gale’s digital collections span 500 years of history and a wide breadth of topics, including politics, society, business and leisure. Continue reading

Spotlight on Adam Matthew digital primary sources

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library. Adam Matthew are one of the publishers who will be attending and this blog post highlights the fantastic collections the Library has access to through them.

The Library has access to a large and broad range of digital primary source collections that can be accessed via the Primary Source database list (see also the separate lists for Newspapers & Magazines and Images & Moving Images).

Adam Matthew are a publisher who specialise in producing high-quality, digitised primary source collections online. They put together thematic collections sourced from libraries, archives, museums, etc., around the world and they have databases that cover the Medieval period onwards.

The Library is very lucky to have access to 11 of these collections (or databases) from Adam Matthew and all can be accessed via the Primary Source database list.

China: Culture and Society

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Spotlight on film and moving images

This is part of an occasional series highlighting some of the online resources available at the Library that will be of interest to students and staff in History, Classics and Archaeology.

While previous posts in this series have looked at groups of online primary source collections, in this post I wanted to highlight resources that give you access to film and moving images, including films, documentaries, TV programmes, public information films, archival film footage, cinema newsreels, advertising, home movies, etc.

Film provides a fascinating insight into the past through documentary, archival and amateur film footage and a deliberately constructed historical world through feature films. However, using film as ‘historical evidence’ is far from straightforward; specific skills are required to understand the complexities of the visual medium, its relationship to the society from which it emerges, the industry which created it and those who consumed it. Despite these obstacles, film is a crucial means for understanding the recent past.1

Academic Video Online

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Spotlight on Archives Unbound

This is the second in a (very) occasional series highlighting some of the online resources available at the Library that will be of interest to students and staff in History, Classics and Archaeology.

Archives Unbound from Gale Cengage provides access to topically-focused digital collections of historical documents. This is a vast array of valuable primary source material covering a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages onwards and the material supports the research and study needs of students and scholars. Most of collections are chosen for Archives Unbound based on requests from scholars, archivists, and students.

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At present the Library has access to 9 collections from Archives Unbound, primarily covering topics and events from the twentieth century with one exception. Descriptions of these collections comes from the Archives Unbound site. Continue reading