Golf has a long and rich history, with countless books having been written on the origins and development of the game. But if a new history was to be written today with the help of Gale Primary Sources, how much would our knowledge be improved? My suspicion is that it would be improved a good deal, for even a relatively short period of research using Gale Primary Sources unearths thousands of interesting references to golf from the fifteenth century forward, many of which may never have been seen before. Here follows a select sample of the references to golf in the Gale historical collections that could potentially give us a better appreciation of the history of the game and the role it has played in society.
This is the true story of a compositor working at The Times in 1882 who deliberately and maliciously inserted a ribald comment when setting the type for the newspaper. Who would have thought such a scandal could happen at such a newspaper? The Times of London, which began in 1785 and the archive of which was the first digitised primary source collection produced by Gale, has always been an establishment newspaper and still today is known as Britain’s ‘newspaper of record’. Scholars and researchers use the digital archive for purposes of studying contemporaneous reports of historical events, being reports that are written from the newspaper’s traditionally conservative perspective ─ which is something that would only add to the shock when these scholars stumble across this incident from 1882.
Television advertisements in the lead up to Australia Day on 26 January 2017 have been telling the Australian people to celebrate the day “how you want to”. It is an interesting message from the Australian government. A typical Australian reaction to it might be to ask, if now we are to celebrate it how we want to, what was the prescribed method beforehand? Another broad section of the community might wonder whether the day has ever been celebrated at all – isn’t it just another public holiday? But, taking it in good faith, clearly this message is intended as an open and friendly acknowledgement of the fact that, for many of the people of Australia in 2017, Australia Day is not what it once was. Although the Queen of England remains our constitutional head of state, in today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith community the observance of Australia Day as a celebration of its anniversary is becoming more marginalised every year. The fact is that, quite apart from the ancient claim of the aboriginal people, many countries and cultures can say they have had a part in the creation of modern Australia. Some have done so during the 20th and 21st centuries with contributions to culture, cuisine or the arts. Others have done so by virtue of a particular historical incident.
Here is a story of the latter kind. It is a little-known historical incident that gives one particular country – Holland – a small but meaningful stake in Australian history. Most Australians know that the first British settlement arrived on 26 January 1788. Many Australians are also familiar with the fact that there were previous European landings, such as by Willem Janszoon in 1606 and William Dampier in 1688. But few Australians know that the first Europeans to actually live permanently in Australia were the two Dutchmen, Wouter Looes and Jans Pelgrom, from 1629.
With Australian Heritage Week nearly upon us (16 – 24 April), the following is a post concerning a particular perspective of Australian colonial history, being a perspective that can be researched in detail with Gale’s Primary Source Collections. It concerns Australia’s paradoxical relationship with England since 1788, as reflected within the pages of London’s Punch magazine and its Australian editions – most of which can be seen in Gale’s Primary Source Collections, Punch Historical Archive, 1841 – 1992 and 19th Century UK Periodicals.