Marching into History

By Debra Kirby

I have always admired the brave men and women who, throughout history, have taken a stand for their rights and the rights of others, often at significant inconvenience and sometimes risking their lives. Saturday, January 21, I had a chance to be part of history by participating in the Woman’s March on Washington. Fortunately, the inconvenience for me was not significant, nor was there any risk to my life. It was an exhilarating experience to be among so many people who took the time and traveled from sometimes great distances – including other countries – to stand up for the rights of women, minorities, and the environment. Here are a few of my observations on the experience:

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Hidden No Longer

By Debra Kirby

Sometimes it takes a critically acclaimed movie to shine a light on extraordinary achievements. This has proved to be especially true when the subjects of those achievements are women or members of minorities. The movie Hidden Figures, based on a book of the same name, has recently generated interest in three African American women who played important roles in the U.S. Apollo Space Program. As is often the case, once you start digging into the details around historic events or people, you discover many related interesting facts and stories. When your sources include Gale databases you can spend hours exploring and learning.

Here are some of the facts I found when I began my journey to learn more about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—the fascinating women whose stories are told in Hidden Figures.

  • Katherine Johnson began her career as a “human computer” at the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor. Before the age of electronic computers, NACA employed hundreds of women mathematicians as human computers. Men with similar qualifications were classified as professionals; women were sub-professionals. Black mathematicians were segregated in their own office and loaned out to various divisions as needed. (Read more about Johnson in Biography In Context.)

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Winter in Michigan—It Could Be Worse!

By Debra Kirby What do winter in Michigan, the Detroit Zoo, and the “greatest survival story of all time” have in common?  Answer: The Shackleton Endurance Exhibit that runs through the end of the year at the Detroit Zoo, one of my favorite local hang outs—with or without kids in tow. I visited the exhibit … Read more…

How Well Do You Know Your Presidents?

By Traci Cothran

Who served as both Vice President and President of the United States, without having earned a single vote in the election?

Gerald Ford, that’s who!

museum1
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Last week I traveled to Grand Rapids, MI, and visited The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. During this 2016 election season, it was a breath of fresh air to wander amidst all the exhibition reminders of Ford’s “character,” “integrity,” “teamwork,” and how he “led by example” – detailing his life from his days as a Boy Scout, to college football player, to Navy man, and into his long career in government.

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Fun, New Ways to Celebrate Book Lover’s Day

By Tara Blair

Readers rejoice—Book Lovers Day (August 9th) is here, encouraging you to kick back and relax with a great book. From shaded spots under arching trees to being tucked in a warm bed, there is no better way to celebrate the holiday than reading. To keep you from growing tired of the norm, we thought of a few ‘out-of-the-box’ ways to honor the occasion.

Read some new ways to observe the classic holiday! 

Find a Literary Haunt Near You
Did you know F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented Oak Bar in New York City’s Plaza Hotel? Or that Victor Hugo found inspiration to write Les Miserables while strolling Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens? No matter where in the world you reside, you can find a great place to get closer to your favorite author while reading.

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A Quick Quiz for Mind and Body Health

Posted on May 5, 2016

By Debra Kirby

There are only so many variations a fitness instructor can use to keep things fresh in an indoor cycling class (aka spinning class). This editorial manager by day, spinning instructor by very early morning, has found the perfect way to keep her students interested and alert — the daily quiz! Fortunately for me, through the wealth of information available in the Gale databases our team produces, I am never at a loss for material! Here are a few questions and answers I’ve used to keep my students on their toes in recent 6:00 am classes:

Q: What organization was the precursor to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)?

A: The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), established in 1942 (U.S. History In Context)

Q: What country is the native home to lemurs?

A: Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa (Science In Context)

Q: Who standardized level measurement in cooking?

A: Fannie Farmer (Biography In Context)

Q: What famous poet was known as the Belle of Amherst and what actress portrayed her in the play of the same title?

A: Emily Dickinson & Julie Harris (Artemis Literary Sources)

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Get Started Gathering Ideas for Black History Month Lesson Plans

Posted on January 8, 2015

There’s an abundance of historical riches out there, but sometimes you have to know where to look to find the pot of educational gold.  During Black History Month, get high school and undergraduate students to delve a bit deeper and uncover these influential and amazing people who changed lives and generations.  Get the facts from Gale’s In Context database products, relate them to curriculum topics, then follow up with the other multimedia suggested to engage students further.

Civil Rights Movement, US Government, Graphic Novels = John R. Lewis.  This Georgia congressman, serving for 29 years, leads a fascinating life.  Son of a sharecropper, Lewis became one of the six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, served as SNCC chairman, and was one of the original Freedom Riders — all before he was thirty years old. There’s SO much more to discover about this icon, including his publication of two student-friendly graphic novels covering the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March, entitled March: Book One and Book Two.

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The Hunger Games, Classroom Lessons

Posted on November 20, 2015

By Traci J. Cothran

Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 has finally hit the big screen, enthralling young minds with the drama, action and adventures of Katniss Everdeen. Nestled in with all the unfavorable odds and pageantry are real issues that students can explore – while flexing their critical thinking skills – under this pop culture umbrella.

Global Warming and Climate Change. In The Hunger Games, the US has collapsed following a devastating series of drought, fire and storms, resulting in a fight for the remaining limited resources. The resulting society, Panem, rose in its wake. Science In Context provides factual overviews as well as in-depth articles on global warming, air pollution, and their lasting effects.

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Content Updates for Gale’s In Context (week ending 11/13/2015)

Posted on November 16, 2015

Take a look at the new resources now available in many of your favorite In Context products:

Biography In Context
New homepage spotlights were added in the past few weeks that include:

  • Country music star Carrie Underwood who recently co-hosted the 2015 Country Music Awards with fellow artist Brad Paisley.
  • Native American leader Geronimo, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.
  • Actress Jennifer Lawrence will be appearing in the final installment of the Hunger Games series, Hunger Games Mockingjay, Part 2 opening November 20.
  • New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau
  • Journalist and author Ta-Nahisi Coates who won a MacArthur Genius grant this year and whose book Between the World and Me was shortlisted for the 2015 National book Award in Nonfiction.

New portal pages and a homepage video were posted including:

  • Notorious pirates Edward Teach (“Blackbeard”) and William Kidd (“Captain Kidd”)
  • Feminist writer and activist Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Mary Shelly who is the author of “Frankenstein”
  • Stephen Curry, player for the Golden State Warriors
  • “The Walking Dead” actor Steven Yeun
  • Video “Out There: Einstein’s Telescope”: A nod to the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

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The Future is Now in Biography in Context

By Traci J. Cothran

“Roads?  Where we’re going we don’t need roads!” – Doc Brown

It’s hard to believe the first Back to the Future movie – starring Michael J. Fox – was released thirty years ago – 30 YEARS AGO!  It may also surprise you to note that the “future” date visited via the time-traveling DeLorean in the movie is October 21, 2015 … which puts us officially in The Future.

Our editors on Biography in Context uncovered this fast fact recently, and currently feature Michael J. Fox (a.k.a. Marty McFly or Calvin) on the home page. We recently launched a new hotspotter feature in Biography in Context  allowing users to hover on the pulsing circles on the picture to explore more facts about the subject (in this case, Parkinson’s Disease).

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