Gale’s New Power to the People Archive Reveals the Historical Roots of Today’s Counterculture & Social Justice Movements

Explores Social and Political Movements That Have Shaped Modern Western History

Gale, part of Cengage Group, is helping faculty and researchers better understand how counterculture and social movements of the past have impacted and shaped today’s society. The company has launched Power to the People: Counterculture, Social Movements, and the Alternative Press, Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century, a new digital archive that brings together materials that document the movements, events, individuals and grassroots organizations that worked to effect change in cultures and societies around the world.  This unique collection offers a comprehensive view of the struggles and triumphs of activism over time, enabling users to make key connections and comparisons between past movements and the challenges humanity faces today.

“Much of this archive constitutes a tangible record of a historic time before websites and hashtags, with materials created by the last generations that depended primarily on print communication,” said Seth Cayley, vice president of global academic product at Gale. “As a whole, these pieces offer a unique reflection and authentic voice of the time before the growth of the internet and the birth of social media.”

With Power to the People, researchers have access to a wide range of rare primary sources on social movements that have shaped modern Western history. Scholars can explore pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, leaflets, broadsides, manuscripts, posters and other printed pieces covering a diversity of ideas and initiatives that span critical periods such as the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, LGBTQ+ rights, anti-war movements, environmental activism and many others. The archive paints a multifaceted picture of social history that highlights equity, diversity and inclusion.

Key collections in the archive include:

  • The Pacific Coast Counterculture Collection: documents political dissent and personal rebellion during the counterculture movement of the 1960s and the anti-war and social change movements of the later twentieth century in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationally. Curated by Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr., this collection includes leaflets, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, comic books and posters spanning several decades and covering topics like animal rights, sexuality, anti-war movements, disarmament, women’s liberation, the Black Panthers, environmental activism, the Weather Underground, the Diggers and more. 
  • The University of Bradford’s Special Collections on Peace, Politics, and Social Change: highlights social movements around the world. The collection comprises more than 4,200 pamphlets and 2,600 ephemeral items gathered by Commonweal Library from their rich network of connections to participant in social change campaigns. The materials also offer a fascinating visual record, with many well-known artists contributing designs. 
  • Pamphlets on Left-Wing Politics and Radical Political Movements: Selections from the Ron Heisler Collection: contains more than 2,300 pamphlets selected from historian Ron Heisler’s vast collection. This collection focuses on left-wing politics, radical political movements and the influence of these ideas on all spheres of human endeavor, including art, literature and drama. The collection provides a diversity of material from across the globe from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • The Liberal Students of 1960s University of Michigan Collection: provides a unique snapshot of student activism on the University of Michigan campus in 1968–1969. The collection highlights a turbulent time in U.S. history when individuals from all walks of life were promoting civil rights and engaging in peaceful protest. Materials include flyers, pamphlets, newsletters and newspapers cover the New Politics Party, the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, conscientious objectors, anti-Vietnam War peace movements and the underground press.
  • Fortean Times, 1973–2020: is magazine that digs into conspiracy theories and highlights news, reviews, and research on strange phenomena and experiences, curiosities, prodigies and portents. 
  • Viz, 1979–2020: is a British adult comic magazine packed with banter, dirty jokes, classic comic strips and bipartisan political commentary. It picks apart society and culture through satire, with artists and contributors addressing social inequalities through humor.
  • Bizarre, 1997–2015: focuses on alternative lifestyles, unusual news events from around the world, and the development and impact of legislation concerning censorship, civil liberties, sex offenses and incidents of human rights abuses. It covered alternative cultures through interviews with countercultural figures and articles about a range of topics, including the occult, LGBTQ+ culture and drug and fetish subcultures.

Power to the People is available on the Gale Primary Sources platform, enabling cross-archival searching to help users make new connections across topics. For those looking to explore even deeper insights, the archive is also available through Gale Digital Scholar Lab (the 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. With the Lab, 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.

Power to the People is complementary to other Gale collections such as Women’s Studies Archive, Archives of Sexuality and Gender, Environmental History and Political Extremism and Radicalism.

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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