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A collage of images from the 1980s, including Prince and Whitney Houston

Ah, the ‘80s! It feels like only yesterday that we were perming our hair, firing up the Atari, and wearing out Purple Rain cassettes in our collective Sony Walkman. For better or worse, it’s an era whose ghosts are still very much with us – and not only in the deathless mantras of business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back philosophies.

UK Libraries users can now relive the turbulence and complexity of this wildly boom-and-bust decade through a new electronic resource, 1980s Culture and Society

An eclectic online resource with materials compiled from archival collections across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, 1980s Culture and Society showcases the key social, cultural, and political concerns of the decade from an incredible diversity of sources.

The resource’s strength lies in its carefully curated thematic collections, bringing together records that document the rise of political conservatism and mainstream consumer culture alongside materials produced by grassroots organizations, under-represented groups, and countercultural movements. 

Collections of zines and ephemera from subcultures as diverse as the Alaskan punk scene and Australian science fiction fandom brush up against images from fashion catalogs and daily newspapers. Newsletters and meeting minutes from social and political activist groups stand in juxtaposition to records and speeches from the Reagan and Thatcher administrations.

More materials provide unique insights into Black resistance movements, Indigenous land rights, feminism, environmentalism and anti-nuclear activism, the AIDS crisis, disability rights, sexuality and identity, and health and social issues.

And technophiles will be pleased to find a wealth of materials covering the rise of new media and technology, including advertisements and ephemera relating to early video game pioneers; the papers of Carol Shaw, the first widely recognized professional female video game designer; and design concept sketches, game development documentation, and corporate records from Atari that chart games like Asteroids and Centipede from concept to launch.

If you find a DMC DeLorean in there, don’t touch the flux capacitor.

Thematic guides introduce users to the collection’s many subject areas and highlight unique materials, while contextual essays provide greater depth on key research themes. A searching guide and additional editor-created research tools contribute to the user-friendliness of the resource. 

1980s Culture and Society is one of several new electronic resources and archival collections available through UK Libraries from AM Explorer. Others released this year include:

Every month, UK Libraries adds new electronic resources to its collection of over 700 databases. To find more new and on-trial databases and electronic resources, visit our A-Z Database page. The “New/Trial Databases” list is on the right-hand side of the page beneath “Featured Databases.”