Gale Primary Sources

Gale Primary Sources

Special Collections, in addition to physical rare books, has a treasure trove of digital primary source material available through Gale Primary Sources. This collection of 69 online digital databases/archives was acquired by post-secondary and public library members of The Alberta Library (TAL) on behalf of the province of Alberta on behalf for of all Albertans.

This platform spans more than 500 hundred years and combines historical archives that include monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, and photographs. The items are meticulously identified for accurate citation and retrievable through a single search portal.

Access Gale Primary Sources at then navigate to Research Resources – Electronic Resources – Specialized Online Collections or .


For a Basic Search, choose a specific database to examine or opt for an integrated search of multiple databases. Enter key words related to the research topic in the search field to begin. Click the magnifying glass to execute the search. Note the search limit features at the left side bar: Content Type, Limit Search By, Databases, Subjects, and Publication Year. Advanced Search enables the option to pre-filter for more complex queries. This includes the ability to allow word variations if the spelling of the word has changed over time. i.e. Mediaeval or Medieval

Analyze Results

This database has useful features such as Term Cluster and Term Frequency.

Term Cluster transforms the search findings into a visual representation of the results by topic and subtopic. It can aid the researcher in discovering related terminology for the subject and hone in on targeted topics.

The Term Frequency tool enables users to explore the frequency of one or more search terms in the content over time, which can suggest the changing importance of particular concepts over the years. It enables users to pose new questions of historical data then go directly to supporting sources. i.e. Did the term “climate change” exist in 1800?

Work with Documents

Once a document has been found utilize the tools to cite, save, and bookmark to ensure access and proper citation of the source. The “search within” feature is a great way to target specific details quickly in a large document.

Visit the Library website and check out our multi-disciplinary Gale Primary Sources digital archive!

Blog Post Written By: Catherine Carlyle, Library Services Specialist

Catherine joined the StMU Library team in April 2018. Prior to joining StMU she managed physical and electronic collections for libraries and cultural institutions in Canada and England. Notably, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, and Harrow Libraries, London, England. Her interests lie in living cultural heritage, preservation of collections, and art history.

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