Daughters Who Make the First Ladies Proud

| By Debra Kirby |

Mother’s Day is less than a month away.  Talking with a colleague and fellow mother recently, we both made the observation that the occasion has become less about honoring our own mothers (who are no longer with us), but about our daughters. Neither of us can recall when that focus changed for us, but we both agreed that we are happy to be mothers of beautiful, accomplished, caring daughters and that we survived the often challenging and sometimes turbulent teen years.

This conversation was fresh in my mind when I volunteered to review and update the overview article for Chelsea Clinton in Gale’s Biography In Context, which naturally led to thoughts of how much more challenging it would be to raise a daughter amidst the often unrelenting coverage of the presidential family. Former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama all successfully raised daughters under these conditions. Here are just a few examples that would make any mother proud:

  • In 2009, outgoing twin first daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush wrote a charming letter to the incoming Obama girls, Sasha and Malia, with heartfelt advice about living in the White House fishbowl.  Eight years later, they wrote a second letter about adjusting to a post-White House life. [Read the article]
  • Chelsea Clinton’s touching speech introducing her mother as the Democratic Presidential candidate at the DNC last summer is high on my list of favorite first daughter examples, but there are many more such moments and accomplishments from which to choose, including her advocacy work on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and other organizations and causes, and of course becoming a parent herself! [View all of the Chelsea Clinton resources available through Biography In Context]

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Running Like a Girl

| By Debra Kirby |

Anyone remember when phrases like “You run like a girl!” were considered insults? Not anymore! I love when power is claimed by turning what is meant to be a negative into a positive. Two recent events are inspiring me right now:

  • My 9-year-old granddaughter has joined her school’s Girls on the Run program, which will culminate in a 5K Run (“Not a race, Nana” says Grace) in June.
  • Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon 50 years ago, ran it again this year – at the age of 70!

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Digging in to Earth Day

| By Debra Kirby |

On April 22, Earth Day will be observed by more than a billion people in nearly 200 countries, making it the world’s largest civic observance. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, a year I remember well. I had recently moved to a smaller high school where the student body was less diverse and more conservative. When I found out that my new school had no plans to mark the important occasion, I gathered a few like-minded friends and, with a sense of righteous indignation, we marched out to the parking lot to pick up trash! Not the most impactful way to celebrate the first ever Earth Day, but the effort apparently helped cement my reputation as a “rebel egg head,” as I learned years later when I was introduced as such to more than one former classmate’s spouse at our 20th high school reunion.

Many years later I can’t recall much about that day or even, now I think of it, the history behind Earth Day. But having access to Gale’s rich database content, I recently set out to educate myself. Here’s what I found:

  • The concept for Earth Day began with United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, who in 1969 proposed a series of environmental teach-ins on college campuses across the nation. Hoping to satisfy a course requirement at Harvard by organizing a teach-in there, law student Denis Hayes flew to Washington, DC, to interview Nelson, who persuaded Hayes to drop out of Harvard and organize the nationwide series of events. (Science In Context)

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New Curriculum Correlations in Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History

Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History now connects literary concepts to primary sources located in the product. Detailed curriculum correlations align the primary source to national social science and literary standards for easy-to-see application across subjects. Primary source materials greatly enrich learning for high school students by helping them develop critical thinking skills, pursue independent … Read more

You Empower Us! What Empowers You? Let Us Know During National Library Week and You Could…

Win a free T-shirt! Be featured on our social media pages! Most importantly, let everyone know what empowers you. All of this and more happens when Gale kicks off National Library Week 2017! To celebrate, we want to spark a conversation where librarians from coast to coast share what they’re empowered by. As a librarian, you … Read more

A Remarkable Review for Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History

History is not just a list of dates and events. But history taught well is vibrant, relevant, and engaging. And nothing brings history to life like primary sources that give students a close-up look at history as it unfolded.

Gale and Smithsonian have partnered to deliver an online resource that includes unique and seminal primary sources, including documents, maps, historical objects, and other materials from the museums and archives from the collections of the Smithsonian and from Gale’s leading digital collections: Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History.

Designed for use by both teachers and librarians, this resource from Gale supports core and Advanced Placement U.S. history programs. Primary source images are hand-curated by scholars at the Smithsonian – experts who have a unique knowledge of U.S. history as seen through the Smithsonian’s valuable collections and shaped for the school curriculum by an advisory board of teachers.

See how a reviewer feels about the collection of Primary Sources:

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Lafayette Parish Schools Expand eBook Access

Originally Posted on The Daily Advertiser, March 13, 2017 |

Lafayette Parish students now have access to nonfiction eBooks in all major disciplines. Titles also are available to help high school students with college and career readiness.

The eBooks are available through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, or GVRL, a platform from Gale, one of the main providers of library resources and a part of Cengage Learning.

The titles cover a wide range of topics, including science, geography, history, language arts and other subjects. Elementary-level titles will be available for younger students, as well as more challenging texts for middle school students.

“As the Lafayette Parish School System continues to embrace and expand Vision 2020 in regards to academics and technology, electronic resources are an essential component,” Chief Academic Officer Annette Samec said. “Gale’s eBooks are the perfect complement for schools with 1:1 devices.”

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The Greatest Resistance Stories

| By Debra Kirby |

In honor of Holocaust Month, which is observed in the United States in April, I’m sharing a few of my current reads and older favorites related to World War II resistance groups and individuals. With a background like mine—a lifelong interest in World War II history, French and Polish grandparents, and a tendency toward activism—stories about WWII resistance in Europe have long attracted my interest. Below are a few of my current and longtime favorites, as well as recommendations on which Gale databases you can visit to learn more about WWII resistance.

 Recent Nonfiction Favorites:

The Resistance, 1940: An Anthology of Writings from the French Underground translated and annotated by Charles B. Potter (2016). This fascinating first person accounting of four French Resistance fighters, including national heroes Jean Moulin and Germaine Tillion, would make an excellent primary source student resource.

The Zoo Keeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman (2007) chronicles the experiences of Polish citizens Antonina and Jan Zabinski and their sheltering of Jews on the grounds of the Warsaw Zoo. A movie based on the book and starring Jessica Chastain premiered in Warsaw in early March.

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WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

| By Traci Cothran |

How wonderful is it that following the release of the movie “Hidden Figures,” the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson are now known by millions?  Their collective story is an impressive and important one, yet it’s a part of our history that’s been concealed for decades.

What other significant contributions by women are also shielded from view?  It’s a joy to uncover these gems, and allow them to inspire other women and girls today.  To me, that’s what Women’s History Month is all about—shining a light on the often overlooked contributions made by women throughout history.

Here are just a few, randomly chosen women from today and yesterday whose work and lives are notable.  You’ll find them all in Biography In Context, among other Gale resources.  As you read about them, you’re bound to discover other interesting women, too!

Maria Tallchief – (1925-2013) Tallchief was the first American-born woman to achieve prima ballerina status at a major dance company; she was also a member of the Osage Nation.  She’s featured this month in Research In Context.

Zora Neale Hurston – (1891-1960) A writer and major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston is a favorite of mine, for both her wonderful writing and her ability to live an unconventional life for women of her era.

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One Shining Moment in Space and Time

| By Debra Kirby |

While a history major in college, one of my classes was a one-on-one tutorial on the history of science.  During one session my patient professor was able to explain Einstein’s special relativity theory so that I was truly able to understand it—for one bright shining moment. I could almost feel my brain working! It was beautiful! Sorry to say, I was never again able to recapture that moment in quite the same way, despite later taking a “Physics for Poets” class and going through quite the hero worship phase, which included reading every book on Einstein I was able to purchase or borrow. I even hung a poster of him in my bedroom. Because my history focus was on World War II, I found Einstein biographies especially fascinating, since much of his life was intertwined with and influenced by that war.  In honor of Einstein’s birthday today, March 14, I recently visited Gale’s Science In Context to reacquaint myself with the great physicist. Here are just a few of the interesting facts I found:

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