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Gale Debuts New Digital Archive Series on Environmental History

Industry’s First Primary Source Collection That Explores the Emergence of Conservation Movements and the Rise of Environmental Public Policy in North America

Gale, part of Cengage Group, is introducing the first installment of its new Environmental History series of digitized primary sources. Environmental History: Conservation and Public Policy in America, 1870–1980 is the research market’s first digital archive that examines the history of the environment and conservation efforts across the globe from the late 1800s onwards. The collection concentrates on the role of various government agencies, conservation organizations and individual actors who pioneered the study of the natural environment and campaigned for its protection. This new innovative series provides scholars and researchers with historical context on today’s conservation movements from a variety of viewpoints, enabling new insights and connections about environmental efforts. 

“We created the Environmental History series in response to the interest we received from librarians and scholars on the topic,” said Seth Cayley, vice president of global academic product at Gale. “Environmental history is a fast-growing area of research. With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need has never been greater to understand the long history of human–environment interaction and responses to environmental issues. So, this archive is very timely and a must-have for teaching and learning environmental history.”

With Environmental History, researchers can examine unique primary sources that trace the evolution of land rights, resource usage, trade rules and environmental protections that mark the beginning of the modern conservation movement. Scholars can explore correspondence, reports, memos, pamphlets, newsletters, circulars, legislation and much more related to the early development of conservation policies and practices from the late 19th century onwards.

Key collections in the archive series include:

  • George Bird Grinnell Papers, 1886–1939: documents Grinnell’s career from the 1890s onwards as a naturalist, conservation campaigner and prolific author. Researchers will find a wealth of material on wildlife preservation, natural history, the American West and its Indigenous populations and material relating to Grinnell’s role as a prolific author of books and articles on these subjects.
  • United States Forest Service Collection, 1870–1981: records the many work projects and types of work engaged in by employees of the Forest Service, whose duties included the management of timber sales, mining and homesteading claims and the control of tree diseases. The collection features the work diaries and letterpress books of foresters, which document the lives and work of the individuals who first worked in the national forests of the United States and their struggles to enforce the regulations to preserve these important natural resources.
  • The American Bison Society Collection, 1899–1949: compiles reports, memoranda and correspondence documenting the society’s efforts to preserve the American bison and buffalo species and increase their population by campaigning for land for bison reserves. The Society’s papers reveal their conservation methods and contain data-rich census reports on bison populations and their treatment worldwide from 1908 to 1934.   
  • United States Bureau of Reclamation Project Histories and Reports, 1905–1925: chronicles the construction of dams and irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands in the western United States. The reports also record critical information on the settlers and Indigenous peoples who inhabited the lands the Bureau sought to reshape. The collection exemplifies the impact of public policy and legislation on the landscape and the use of America’s natural resources.
  • Velma B. Johnston “Wild Horse Annie” Papers, 1955–1977: Velma Johnston, also known as “Wild Horse Annie,” was a key activist in the protection of wild horse species. This collection provides in-depth information not only on her efforts to protect wild horses and burros but also her personal life. Her correspondence, scrapbooks and notes provide a glimpse into her thoughts during the height of her interest and influence. Johnston’s clipping files and scrapbooks also provide information on those who opposed her views, including those arguing for the elimination of wild horses.
  • The United States Bureau of Land Management Records, 1944–1979: contains correspondence and reports pertaining to all issues related to land management. Reports and records in this collection touch on a wide variety of subjects including land management, game management, legislation, Indigenous rights and federal and international policies on those topics. They offer researchers insight into the effect of land use management and conservation.

Environmental History also includes Gale’s new Related Resources feature, which links documents from the archive to relevant articles in Gale eBooks. Additionally, the archive offers two new search indices – a Topic index and State/Province index – that enable users to narrow down their searches by major environmental theme or regional focus.

The second installment in the series, Environmental History: Colonial Policy and Global Development, 1896–1991, is scheduled to release in early 2024.

Environmental History is available on the Gale Primary Sources platform, enabling cross-archival searching to help users make new connections across topics. With digitization technology such as HTR, users can search the full-text of handwritten letters and manuscripts, not just the metadata, and make new discoveries. For those looking to explore even deeper insights, the archive is also available through Gale Digital Scholar Lab. This allows researchers to apply natural language processing tools to raw-text data (OCR) from Gale Primary Sources and perform textual analysis on large corpora of historical texts. Now researchers can analyze and explore historical text more interactively, generating new research insights and content sets not previously possible.

Gale Primary Sources is a digital research platform that brings the thoughts, words and actions of past centuries into the present for a comprehensive research experience. With authoritative content and powerful search technologies, the platform helps students and researchers examine literary, political and social culture of the last 500 years and develop a more meaningful understanding of how history continues to impact the world today. Its innovative technology improves discovery, analysis and workflow while setting the bar for digital primary source analysis and data visualization with tools like cross-archival searching and Topic Finder, which visually organizes search results to help users make new connections across topics.

Gale will host a lunch and learn event on Environmental History during the 2023 Charleston Conference as well as showcase the new archive series at the Gale booth #71. The conference runs November 6–10 in Charleston, SC.

For more information or to request a trial, visit the Environmental History webpage.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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Equity & Access - Issue 28

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