Milner Library provides access to Gale Primary Sources, adding … – Illinois State University News

Milner Library recently added access to a bundle of primary sources from publisher Gale, including two collections of British Library Newspapers, 1800-1900 and 1741-1950, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), and the Times digital archive 1785-2019. Altogether, the bundle provides over 30 million pages of primary source documents available to the Illinois State University community.
As articulated in its 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Milner Library is committed to increasing support for the research and creative productivity of University scholars—whether students, faculty, or staff.
“These new databases open up a world of inquiry for ISU faculty and students,” said Assistant Professor of History Taylor Soja. “In our classes, students can now conduct primary source research on Britain and the British colonial world from the 18th century to the period of decolonization. Students in a class I teach on the history of the British empire, for example, will use historic newspapers from the Times and British Library Newspapers databases to do their own research on the lives of individuals who shaped the British empire. Having access to these databases means that our students now have new opportunities to practice the most essential skills historians use (reading and analyzing primary source documents) in classes that cover histories from around the world.”
Assistant Professor of History Nathan Kapoor is already seeing the impact of the newly available resources in his classes. “During my HIS 228 class on nineteenth-century Europe, students used the database to complete a portfolio assignment that required them to amass many primary sources related to a theme of their choosing,” Kapoor said. “Students explored newspapers to locate stories, essays, and advertisements worldwide on war, fashion, travel, industrialization, and science. These sources gave students, who are so used to simply “googling” for primary sources, a new window into the past. And although the sources are primarily British papers, they still got to see perspectives from around Europe and the world. Truly an excellent resource that I will use in most of my classes.”
Faculty are finding their own research positively impacted as well. “Since Milner adopted these databases, I have used both ECCO and the BL Newspapers for my own research and in HIS 200, our department’s introductory methods course,” said Assistant Professor of History Keith Pluymers. “For my own research, ECCO has let me have access to printed texts on the development of steam engines in the eighteenth century, one of the topics I address in my next book.”
Dr. Pluymers has also seen an improvement in his students’ level of inquiry. “My students will be drawing on both of these databases extensively in their history methods course, which focuses on crime and the courts in eighteenth-century London. In combination with the trial summaries published in the Old Bailey online database, these databases allow students to research questions that the cases alone could not answer. Students have already begun proposing richer and more sophisticated historical questions now that they know they will be able to find answers in more places. These databases are a huge asset for my teaching.”
Gale primary source databases can be accessed via our listing of over 300 databases provided by Milner Library.


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