Tag Archives: NCCO

‘The Very Latest Craze’ Slumming Parties in the Late-Nineteenth Century

By Megan Murphy, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I’m a third year History student at the University of Liverpool, a Gale Student Ambassador, and a self-proclaimed Jane Austen fanatic. As a modern historian, my main research interests revolve around the development of Victorian cities – particularly the crime and deviance that took place within them. Outside of my studies, in the rare time I spend without my head in a nineteenth-century newspaper, I specialise in binge-watching Louis Theroux documentaries.

During the mid-nineteenth century, slums in the world’s largest metropolises (namely London and New York) became a site of continuous fascination. From Henry Mayhew’s famous ‘Labour and the Poor’ series in The Morning Chronicle, to Jacob Riis’ book length study ‘How the Other Half Live’, social commentators in both Britain and the US were captivating the minds of middle class society with their investigations into the living conditions of the urban poor. Yet what is perhaps most interesting about this fascination is the social phenomenon of ‘slumming parties’ which resulted. This phenomenon was readily reported on within the pages of both the British and US press, which I have been able to investigate through the British Library Newspapers and Nineteenth Century US Newspapers archives inside of Gale Primary Sources.

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Elbows off the table

By Alice Clarke
3rd year student of English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia,
Summer Intern, Cengage MarComms, Andover, 2016.

“Elbows off the table” is a phrase familiar to most ears, an order we were told as a child and to which the only response was obedience and, for me, an internal eye-roll of frustration.

For this is an etiquette that transcends generations, centuries and traditions, and yet is something that no one appears to explain why it exists. The only answer I could ever muster from my parents and grandparents is the ever-evasive “it’s rude to have your elbows on the table”, and that was meant to be enough to pacify us.

But why is it rude? Elbows aren’t unhygienic, unsafe or indeed disrespectful in any other setting than touching the wood of the dinner table.

And yet, to this day, I still sit with my elbows off the table – seemingly engrained into my very subconscious, this rule still governs the comfort of my eating despite the fact I moved away from home to university over two years ago.

To gain some sort of understanding of what this rule originally meant, a quick search of Gale Primary Sources allowed me to trace the notion of “elbows off the table” through history across multiple primary sources, allowing me to form my own theory of this particular western etiquette. Continue reading

Total solar eclipse and the birth of an element

March 8th/9th will see a total solar eclipse over Indonesia and the Pacific. Since astronomers have been able to predict when and where eclipses would be visible people have travelled near and far to witness these events. A total solar eclipse is both a magnificent celestial spectacle and an extraordinary scientific opportunity.

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The Women who Lived Through Verdun: 100 Years On

It is widely regarded as the battle of the First World War; an enormous clash of attrition which epitomised the bloody stalemate of the war. The ten-month Battle of Verdun began 100 years ago, with German Chief of Staff General von Falkenhayn seeking to ‘bleed France white’ by launching an all-out attack on the narrow stretch of land at Verdun. Over a thousand German artillery guns fired upon the vastly inferior number of French troops – they had just 30,000 men, against 140,000 Germans – along a six-mile stretch of the French front. The battle which followed was to last for over 300 days. By looking at personal sources from Nineteenth Century Collections Online, the sheer scale of this part of the conflict is clear to see. Continue reading