By Seth Cayley, Gale Vice President, Gale Primary Sources. Seth collaborates with our US product teams to direct Gale’s international archive programme.
In January, I had the pleasure of attending the annual British Society for 18th Century Studies (BSECS) Conference. This is one of the liveliest academic conferences that I attend, and always features a diverse array of sessions. Amongst my personal highlights from this year’s conference were a thought-provoking panel on Black Georgians, and a plenary lecture on the culture of letter-writing between women.
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. Continue reading