I meant to post this earlier, but there are still several days left: Gale is allowing free access to their reference databases this week (April 18-24). Here‘s the “portal” from which you can enter the four categories: History, Biography and Literature, Business and Law, General Knowledge, and Student/Homework Help. The most exciting database for me is the Times Digital Archive 1785-1985. I did a search on “kangaroo” between 1785 and 1800 and got 36 hits, the first of which was a classified ad from the front page of the Wednesday, Nov 16, 1791 edition:

A Most beautiful and healthy Animal, in a state of perfect tameness, and entirely free from every kind of blemish, is now exhibiting at No. 31, the Top of the Haymarket. Admittance One Shilling each.
   It is not easy to describe that peculiarity of attitudes, and uncommon proportion of parts which so strikingly distinguish the Kangaroo from all other Quadrupedes; and it may be presumed, that few who possess a taste for science, or a laudable curiosity of inspecting the Wonders of Nature, will omit embracing the only opportunity hitherto offered in Europe of viewing this singular Native of the Southern Hemisphere, in its natural state of vigour and activity.

To the left, in the (doubtless most expensive) upper left-hand corner, is a Drury-Lane Company ad for the evening’s performance of “The Inconstant” (“To which will be added the Historical Romance of RICHARD COEUR DE LION”); to the right a publication notice for “THE FEMALE GENIAD; a POEM, in THREE CANTOS. By ELIZABETH OGILVY BENGER, Of Portsmouth.” I don’t know how I lived without this until now, or how I’ll do without it after Saturday, but for now I’m happy as can be.


  1. Is a kangaroo properly described as a Quadrupede? I understood the term to encompass animals which walk on four legs, where the roo is more of a two-legged hopper.

  2. I don’t think they were exactly au courant with the details of kangarooical locomotion in 1791 London. (Nowadays, of course, we write “quadruped.”)

  3. Charles Johnson says

    What about the: “Please enter your library ID, barcode, or other ID:”, or do you sign-up as a librarian?

  4. Charles: you can jump straight in via the main portal. Here are the historical databases.

  5. Sorry, I meant to mention that — the first time I tried it, I got the “Please enter…” box and was mightily pissed, but when I tried again I went right to the database, and then I forgot the momentary hassle while splashing around.

  6. Charles, I had the same problem. I think it has to do with firewalls. I turned mine off and now I can access the database. Not that I want to turn it off for long.

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