11 unusual tales of terror from historical newspapers

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive is full of grisly stories about the unusual and the unexplained. We’ve selected some of the oddest tales, including a description of a monster with the head of a sea lion and a rumour that Germany was turning dead soldiers into explosives during WW1.

Let us know if you’ve found a story to rival these. You can comment below or post on our Facebook page.

1) 1877: A bizarre 70-foot beast

What the giant monster might have looked like in 1877

A very strange creature was sighted in St Genevieve, Missouri in 1877. The Dundee Courier included a detailed description, stating that the monster was ‘at least 70 feet in length’, with the head of a sea lion and a tangled mane like a horse.

The ‘immense horn’ on its head was shaped like a pelican’s bill and it had a long tail that looked like a double-edged saw, with ‘a spreading fan-like fin’ at the end. According to the article, the beast made no sound apart from ‘an occasional puff, loud and sonorous, similar to that of the sea-cow’.

A report of a bizarre monster with the head of a sea lion, found in the Dundee Courier

Dundee Courier – Tuesday 23 October 1877
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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2) 1897: The haunted London taxi

According to this spooky story from the Shields Daily Gazette, you could hear ‘muffled moans and harsh cries’ coming from a dilapidated London cab if you were brave enough to go near it on dark nights in 1897.

A tale of a haunted London taxi cab, printed in the Shields Daily Gazette

Shields Daily Gazette – Thursday 10 June 1897
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The article goes on to explain the story behind the haunting. On a dismal night, the cabbie picked up a man who was on the run from some invisible enemies.

After frantically driving his vehicle away, urged on by his fare’s terrified screams, the cabby discovered the man had committed suicide in the back of his taxi. Within a few days, the driver was also found dead in his cab – apparently strangled ‘by the ghost of the suicide’.

3) 1895: Woman almost buried alive

A woman was almost buried alive according to the Illustrated Police News

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 25 May 1895
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Illustrated Police News was full of reports about strange crimes and odd occurrences, including this story about the narrow escape a woman had in Limoges, France. As her coffin was being carried into church, some mourners insisted that they heard knocking coming from it.

It was quickly opened and the woman was found ‘alive and conscious, although terribly frightened at the awful ordeal’. It seems she had mistakenly been pronounced dead while she was actually suffering a cataleptic fit.

4) 1917: WW1 explosives made of dead soldiers

The Sheffield Evening Telegraph was one of many newspapers to report a shocking rumour during World War One. In April 1917, it stated that the Germans were ‘distilling glycerine from the bodies of their dead’ to make soap and explosives.

It is thought that the report was actually anti-German propaganda and in 1925, the British Government announced that there had never been any foundation for the story.

A rumour that Germany was turning its dead soldiers into explosives appeared in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph during WW1

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 18 April 1917
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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5) 1883: Terrified to death by a donkey

The Illustrated Police News reported that a child had been terrified to death by a donkey

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 21 July 1883
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A strange and terribly sad story was printed in the Illustrated Police News in 1883. One night, a young girl set off to visit her grandparents and heard footsteps behind her. She ran for her life and fainted with exhaustion and terror at the door of their house.

The child’s grandfather found her and noticed his donkey standing close by. The poor child had evidently been frightened by the sound of the animal following her home.

6) 1894: A gruesome Parisian nightclub

The Cabaret du Néant was a rather bizarre nineteenth-century bar, decorated with skeletons, pictures of dead bodies and coffins. According to this article from the Pall Mall Gazette, patrons could even take part in an eerie faux funeral.

After stepping into a coffin, you would be covered ‘up to the shoulders with a white cloth [as] the harmonium played solemnly’. The lights would go out and you would appear to turn into a skeleton!

The Cabaret du Néant in Paris was described in the Pall Mall Gazette

Pall Mall Gazette – Monday 01 October 1894
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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7) 1951: Fight with a giant rodent

This image of a giant rodent appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Press in 1951.

Yorkshire Evening Post – Monday 10 September 1951
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Not to be outdone by Victorian newspapers, the Yorkshire Evening Post printed this terrifying image of a ‘giant rat-like animal with webbed feet and teeth an inch long’ in 1951.

The creature was 19 inches long with a 15-inch tail and was found in a house in Creskell Grove, Leeds. According to the article, it took a rat catcher and the RSPCA two hours to capture the rodent.

8) 1901: The woman who married a ghost

On 15 January 1901, the Sunderland Daily Echo reported that Bessie Brown of Cameron, Oklahoma had married a ghost. The writer explained that Bessie’s fiancé had died a few weeks before their wedding and, after his spirit appeared to her, she decided she would marry his ghost.

The article reported that Bessie had moved into a cottage with her husband and that ‘persons who pass the house can hear them talking and laughing just as if they were both in human form’.

The Sunderland Daily Echo reported that a woman had married a ghost in 1901

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Tuesday 15 January 1901
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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9) 1870: Death by corset

The Illustrated Police News reported that a woman had been killed by her corset in 1870.

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 25 June 1870
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Victorian fashion could be more terrifying than stories of ghosts and ghouls. This image accompanied a report in the Illustrated Police News about a young woman who was killed by a corset that had been laced too tightly.

The newspaper stated that the lady collapsed while dancing at a ball because ‘the heart’s action had been impeded [and] the excitement and exertion was, under the circumstances, too great a strain upon the system’.

10) 1886: Monster shark in Scotland

An image of a monster shark, printed by the Dundee Courier

Dundee Courier – Tuesday 07 September 1886
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A giant basking shark was found 25 miles to the east of Bell Rock in 1886. The Dundee Courier reported that it was 31 feet in length and 17 feet in girth – much larger than a typical basking shark.

The ‘monster shark’ had eight rows of teeth and was exhibited in the Scouringburn before being handed over to the University College of Dundee.

11) 1869: Killed by eating her own hair

A horrifying discovery was made when a young woman died in Grayton-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire in 1869. The Liverpool Daily Post reported that her medical attendants found that her stomach and gullet were full of a mass of human hair.

The woman’s sister was questioned and stated that ‘during the last twelve years she had known the deceased to be in the habit of eating her own hair’.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported that a woman had died from eating her own hair in 1869

Liverpool Daily Post – Wednesday 03 November 1869
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Examples of Winston Churchill’s work as a war correspondent

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Simon Read

Simon Read is currently using The British Newspaper Archive to research Winston Churchill’s adventures as a war correspondent. He got in touch to show us some examples of Churchill’s journalism.

 

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Hear the name Winston Churchill, and what comes to mind? Most likely, it’s Churchill the war leader with his ever-present cigar, bulldog scowl, and never-surrender spirit. But long before Churchill’s Finest Hour, there was Winston Churchill the young adventurer.

Between 1895 and 1900, Churchill covered wars of empire in Cuba, India’s North-West Frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa as a correspondent for several London newspapers.

 Winston Churchill

Churchill’s journalism and The British Newspaper Archive

I’m currently writing a book on this aspect of Churchill’s life and am putting The British Newspaper Archive to great use.

Churchill’s dispatches are vivid, graphic, and make for compelling reading. Although he published some of his articles in book form, I wanted to rely on his reports as they originally appeared.

There is something to be said for doing research in the comfort of your own home, printing documents the moment you need them, and not having to scroll through endless reels of microfilm. The British Newspaper Archive has been a great treasure trove of information.
 
 

Winston Churchill at the Battle of Omdurman

As a war correspondent for the Morning Post in 1898, Churchill was attached to General Kitchener’s army and followed the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest of the Sudan. At the Battle of Omdurman, Churchill was commissioned with the 21st Lancers and took part in an epic cavalry charge against several thousand enemy Dervish.

We can see exactly how he described it in this report, printed in the Morning Post on 29 September 1898:

 

Winston Churchill's newspaper report in the Morning Post, 29 September 1898

Morning Post – Thursday 29 September 1898
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Equally vivid is his detailing of the bloody aftermath, which appeared in the Morning Post on 6 October 1898:

Winston Churchill reported from the Battle of Omdurman for the Morning Post

Morning Post – Thursday 06 October 1898
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Churchill’s report from the Battle of Spion Kop

In 1899, Churchill was again reporting for the Morning Post, this time from the South African battlefields of the Second Boer War. It was here he made an international name for himself after being captured and then escaping from an enemy Prisoner of War camp.

In January 1900, he was present at the disastrous Battle of Spion Kop. This article was published in the Morning Post on 17 February 1900. It’s yet another example of his gripping journalism:

 

Winston Churchill worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post in 1900.

Morning Post – Saturday 17 February 1900
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Churchill’s exploits rival those of Indiana Jones – and The British Newspaper Archive is allowing these early adventures to come to life once more on the page.

 

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Simon Read has published several non-fiction books, including Human Game: Hunting the Great Escape Murderers and The Case That Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England. Visit Simon’s website to find out more.

 

Twiggy on Who Do You Think You Are? – Grace Meadows in the newspapers

Posted on October 9th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Twiggy used historical newspapers during her WDYTYA? episode to research the life of her great-great-grandmother, Grace Meadows.

 

Grace Meadows charged with stealing bank notes

The York Herald printed the following article about Twiggy’s ancestors on Thursday 9 July 1874. Grace Meadows and her 14-year-old daughter Lucy were charged with stealing ‘three Bank of England notes for £20 each’ from Lucy’s employer.

The newspaper article states that Twiggy’s ancestors were initially discharged as there was no evidence. Grace Meadows was said to have made ‘much show of virtuous indignation [and] threatened the prosecutor with a civil action’.

 

Twiggy's ancestor Grace Meadows was mention in the York Herald in 1874.

York Herald – Thursday 09 July 1874
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Twiggy’s ancestors stole money to pay their taxes

The newspaper article goes on to reveal that one of the stolen £20 notes was found to have been paid into the Bank of England by a rate collector. The note had been collected from Grace Meadows two days after the robbery.

Twiggy’s ancestor was called back to court and admitted to the theft. She returned two £20 bank notes and £8, which remained of the third note.

 

Grace Meadows appeared in the York Herald, now available at The British Newspaper Archive.

York Herald – Thursday 09 July 1874
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Find out whether your ancestors appear in the newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive is a fantastic resource for family history. Twiggy, Mary Berry and Sheridan Smith all found newspaper articles about their ancestors during their Who Do You Think You Are? episodes.

Can you find some of your own family members? Register for free today and you’ll be able to view three newspaper pages for free.

 

Create a free account

 

175,000 extra newspaper pages and 7 new titles

Posted on October 7th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive added 175,000 pages in September. They come from newspapers published in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland between 1753 and 1953.

 

Search the newspapers

 

7 extra newspaper titles to search

The following newspaper titles were added to the website last month.

You can click on the titles below to start exploring them. Let us know if you find something exciting!

  1. Aberdeen People’s Journal
  2. Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser
  3. Dublin Monitor
  4. Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser
  5. Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty
  6. Pue’s Occurrences
  7. South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal

 

Search the newspaper archives of the Galway Vindicator

 

Thousands of English, Irish and Scottish newspaper pages added

As well as adding seven new ones, 66 existing newspaper titles were updated last month. These included the Bedfordshire Times and Independent, the Hull Packet and the Perthshire Advertiser.

A full list of recent additions is provided below.

 

Aberdeen Journal – 1880, 1884, 1891, 1892, 1899, 1901, 1902, 1903

Aberdeen People’s Journal – 1900, 1907

Alnwick Mercury – 1909

Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs – 1907, 1929, 1931

Bedfordshire Times and Independent – 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933

Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser – 1845, 1848, 1849

Biggleswade Chronicle – 1898, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909

Birmingham Daily Gazette – 1862, 1868

Blackburn Standard – 1835, 1836, 1839, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849

Bucks Herald – 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1938, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 1836, 1889

Chelmsford Chronicle – 1870, 1884

Cheltenham Chronicle – 1820, 1821, 1832, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1847, 1849

Cheltenham Looker-On – 1858, 1878, 1880

Chester Chronicle – 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918

Coventry Herald – 1830, 1912

Coventry Times – 1862, 1880

Daily Herald – 1915

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – 1950

Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser – 1828, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1838, 1839

Dublin Evening Mail – 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858

Dublin Monitor – 1839

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – 1917

Durham County Advertiser – 1830

Edinburgh Evening News – 1914

Falkirk Herald – 1862, 1864, 1876, 1879, 1881, 1883, 1888, 1891

Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – 1911

Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser – 1858, 1859, 1861

Gloucester Journal – 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1870, 1894, 1895

Gloucestershire Chronicle – 1833, 1834, 1852, 1853, 1865, 1871, 1880

Gloucestershire Echo – 1893, 1899, 1918

Grantham Journal – 1918, 1950

Hartlepool Mail – 1910, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1929, 1931, 1932

Hastings and St Leonards Observer – 1950

Hertford Mercury and Reformer – 1870

Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser – 1866

Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty – 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1778, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 1805, 1806

Hull Packet – 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1819, 1823, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839

Inverness Courier – 1870

Ipswich Journal – 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 1784, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1796, 1797, 1798

Kent & Sussex Courier – 1876, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891

Kentish Gazette – 1772

Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser – 1867, 1868

Lancashire Evening Post – 1942

Leamington Spa Courier – 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952

Leeds Mercury – 1912

Leicester Chronicle – 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1818, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1852, 1901, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915

Lincolnshire Echo – 1914, 1932, 1949

London Evening Standard – 1869

Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle – 1905, 1906, 1936

Manchester Mercury – 1753, 1754, 1757, 1770, 1781, 1785, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1795, 1796, 1804, 1805, 1814, 1822, 1828, 1829

Middlesex Chronicle – 1916

Motherwell Times – 1890, 1891

Northampton Mercury – 1906, 1907, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931

Perthshire Advertiser – 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1848, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1857, 1858, 1860, 1861, 1863, 1864

Portsmouth Evening News – 1910, 1911, 1942

Pue’s Occurrences – 1757, 1758

Reading Mercury – 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918

Royal Cornwall Gazette – 1802, 1803

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – 1950

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – 1905

Sheffield Independent – 1898

South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal – 1860, 1862

Stirling Observer – 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918

Sunday Post – 1914

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – 1917

Surrey Advertiser – 1869

Surrey Mirror – 1881

Sussex Agricultural Express – 1857, 1859, 1861, 1950

Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle – 1861

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser – 1889, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1915, 1928

Wells Journal – 1882

Worcester Journal – 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1829, 1830, 1850, 1851

 

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‘Dear Boss’ letter: how Jack the Ripper got his name

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

On 27 September 1888, in the midst of a series of horrific murders in Whitechapel, the Central News Office in London received a letter, signed by ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Known as the ‘Dear Boss’ letter because of the way it was addressed, the letter changed the way British newspapers reported the Ripper murders.

 

Read newspapers from 1888

 

Facsimiles of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter in the newspapers

The name ‘Jack the Ripper’ reached the British press and general public on 3 October 1888, when Scotland Yard released images of the letter in the hope that somebody would recognise the handwriting.

A number of newspapers reproduced these facsimiles, including the Nottingham Evening Post:

 

A facsimile of the 'Dear Boss' Jack the Ripper letter, printed in the Nottingham Evening Post

Nottingham Evening Post – Friday 05 October 1888
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The letter read as follows:

 

Dear Boss,

I keep on hearing the police have caught me. but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits.

I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games.

I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you.

Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work. then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck.

Yours truly
Jack the Ripper

Dont mind me giving the trade name

Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now- ha ha

 

‘Jack the Ripper’ before the letter was released

Newspapers from August and September 1888 show that, prior to the publication of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, the British press largely referred to Jack the Ripper as the ‘Whitechapel murderer’, ‘Whitechapel fiend’ or presumed that the killings were the work of more than one person.

The letter itself also references the name ‘Leather Apron’. Before the murderer gained the moniker ‘Jack the Ripper’, the British press often referred to him in this way.

Some newspapers printed vivid descriptions of the man, as demonstrated by this snippet from the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette:

 

Leather Apron aka Jack the Ripper, described in the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Monday 10 September 1888
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Read newspapers from 1888

 

Meet the Marketing Lead of The British Newspaper Archive

Posted on September 16th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Natasha from The British Newspaper ArchiveTake a peek behind the scenes of The British Newspaper Archive in our series of Q&As with the team who work here.

This time, we sat down with Marketing Lead Natasha White to find out who she is and what she does.

 

What does your job involve?

I’m in charge of spreading the word about The British Newspaper Archive in all forms!

I promote the website both online and offline, run email campaigns, look after The British Newspaper Archive’s affiliate programme and organise our presence at events.

 

How long have you worked at The British Newspaper Archive?

I actually took part in a stunt at London’s Kings Cross station on the day the website launched, back in November 2011. I was dressed as a newspaper boy, handed out leaflets and hollered ‘read all about it’ at commuters all day!

For the last few years, I’ve mainly worked for the family history website Genes Reunited, but joined The British Newspaper Archive about a year ago.

 

Which is your favourite newspaper title?

It’s difficult to pick just one newspaper, but I do love the variety, humour and surprises that you find when searching the Illustrated Police News.

A colleague recently found a fantastic front cover with the title ‘ALARMING EXPERIENCE OF FAIR BATHERS WHO ARE ATTACKED BY AN OCTOPUS’, we loved it so much we posted it on our social media pages!

 

Octopus attack depicted in the Illustrated Police News

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 17 October 1896
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Why do you like working for The British Newspaper Archive?

I spent many hours at the British Library’s newspaper archive at Colindale when I was a student, writing my dissertation about how the media portrayed the Vietnam War.

It’s fantastic that the newspapers are now being digitised, so we can search them from the comfort of our own homes. I remember having to make a lot of long and expensive trips down to London to be able to access them before The British Newspaper Archive existed.

The real highlight of working here is hearing about the discoveries our customers make. From images of your family members to a story about a Rhinoceros falling through ice and being saved by 26 men – it’s all in the newspapers!

 

Who’s your favourite historical figure?

I really admire Mary Seacole, a determined and inspiring woman. She applied to the War Office to be sent to the front line as a nurse during the Crimean War, but was refused.

She was undeterred and decided to fund her own trip, risking her life to aid wounded soldiers. You can read newspaper articles about Mary Seacole’s life at The British Newspaper Archive.

 

Explore The British Newspaper Archive

 

 

180,000 extra newspaper pages now online

Posted on September 12th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Thousands of newspaper pages were added to The British Newspaper Archive last month, including a brand new title – the Bedfordshire Times and Independent.

 

Search the newspapers –>

 

Historical newspapers added from 1801-1954

Copies of the Bedfordshire Times and Independent from 1906, 1910, 1935 and 1950 are online already, with lots more coming soon.

41 other titles were updated in August, including the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs, the Motherwell Times and the Royal Cornwall Gazette. A full list of recent additions is provided below.

 

Search the newspaper archive of the Bedfordshire Times

 

Aberdeen Journal – 1881, 1886

Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs – 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921

Bedfordshire Times and Independent – 1906, 1910, 1935, 1950

Bradford Daily Telegraph – 1868, 1870

Bucks Herald – 1930, 1931, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1948, 1949

Chester Chronicle – 1870

Coventry Herald – 1888, 1910, 1911

Daily Herald – 1918

Daily Mirror – 1914

Daily Record – 1916

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – 1859, 1915, 1918

Dundee Advertiser – 1841, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1879,

Durham County Advertiser – 1855, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – 1892

Falkirk Herald – 1853, 1854, 1855, 1865

Gloucester Journal – 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1813, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1857, 1859, 1860, 1863, 1874, 1875, 1879, 1880, 1906, 1939

Grantham Journal – 1936

Hartlepool Mail – 1880, 1897, 1940, 1941, 1942

Hastings and St Leonards Observer – 1943

Illustrated Times – 1870

Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser – 1858, 1859, 1860, 1865, 1866, 1869, 1870

Lancashire Evening Post – 1930, 1931, 1941, 1943, 1945

Leamington Spa Courier – 1921, 1923, 1924

Liverpool Daily Post – 1870

London Evening Standard – 1870

Motherwell Times – 1917, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954

Northern Whig – 1868

Portsmouth Evening News – 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1941

Royal Cornwall Gazette – 1801, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811

Southern Reporter – 1937, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1944

Staffordshire Advertiser – 1812, 1816

Staffordshire Sentinel and Commercial & General Advertiser – 1856

Surrey Comet – 1858

Surrey Mirror – 1903, 1908, 1916, 1917, 1925, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1936

Sussex Agricultural Express – 1889, 1938, 1940

Tamworth Herald – 1889, 1899

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser – 1852, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1908, 1911, 1924, 1929

Watford Observer – 1863, 1866

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – 1903

Western Daily Press – 1905, 1906

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald – 1921, 1923

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – 1914, 1915

 

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Mary Berry’s ancestors in the newspapers: Christopher Berry and Robert Houghton

Posted on September 11th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Mary BerryMary Berry uncovered some fascinating newspaper articles during her Who Do You Think You Are? episode, revealing shocking information about her ancestors Christopher Berry and Robert Houghton.

 

Christopher Berry declared bankrupt in 1811

On Saturday 14 November 1811, the Norfolk Chronicle printed the following announcement about Christopher Berry, Mary Berry’s great-great-great-grandfather.

He was described as a ‘bookseller, printer, stationer, dealer and chapman’ who had been ‘declared a bankrupt’. Because of his bankruptcy, people indebted to him were advised not to pay Christopher Berry, but to give notice to two Norwich attorneys instead.

Christopher Berry, Mary Berry's ancestor was declared bankrupt in the Norwich Chronicle.

Norfolk Chronicle – Saturday 16 November 1811
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Baker Robert Houghton and the substandard bread

Another Norfolk-based newspaper, the Norfolk News, published a story about Mary Berry’s great-great-grandfather Robert Houghton in 1855.

Robert Houghton was a baker. He had his own bakery shop in Norwich and, as this newspaper article shows, also supplied the local workhouse with bread. The Norfolk News reported that, in February 1855, the inmates of the workhouse complained about the bread he was baking.

The paupers apparently stated that ‘it is so bad that we do not know how to eat it’.  According to the newspaper article, however, ‘on inspection, the bread was found to be very good, and the matter was therefore dropped’.

Robert Houghton, Mary Berry's ancestor, was accused of baking substandard bread in the Norfolk News.
Norfolk News – Saturday 10 February 1855
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Have you found your ancestors at The British Newspaper Archive?

Local newspapers are a fantastic resource for family history research and very easy to search. Simply search for an ancestor’s name to get started.

You can view your first three newspaper pages for free at The British Newspaper Archive and a 1 month subscription is great value for money at just £9.95.

 

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London cabbie George Smith arrested for drunk driving in 1897

Posted on September 9th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The first person to be arrested and charged for driving under the influence of alcohol was George Smith, a London cabdriver.

Charged with drunk driving on 10 September 1897

This article from the Morning Post reported that at about 00:45 on Friday 10 September 1897, Smith’s vehicle ‘swerved from one side of the road to the other, and ran across the footway into 165 New Bond Street’.

George Smith admitted that he’d had ‘two or three glasses of beer’ and apologised, stating that ‘it is the first time I have been charged with being drunk in charge of a cab’. In fact, it was the first time anyone had been charged with the offence.

 

George Smith charged for drunk driving in 1897
Morning Post – Saturday 11 September 1897
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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‘You motor-car drivers ought to be very careful’

Smith was fined 20 shillings and told ‘you motor-car drivers ought to be very careful, for if anything happens to you – well, the police have a very happy knack of stopping a runaway horse, but to stop a motor is a very different thing.’

 

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Top tip: Searching newspapers from a particular date, such as World War One

Posted on September 8th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

This step-by-step guide will show you how to search newspapers from a specific date range (such as World War One) at The British Newspaper Archive.

Watch this short video tutorial or follow the steps below:

 

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How to search newspapers from World War One

  1. The easiest way to limit your search to a particular date range is to use the advanced search. You can get to this by clicking the ‘advanced search’ button on the homepage.
  2.  
    Find The British Newspaper Archive's advanced search from the homepage

     

  3. Type the words you’re looking for into one of the boxes at the top of the form. We’re looking for a person called Charles Whitelaw.
  4.  
    Using the advanced search at The British Newspaper Archive

     

  5. Scroll down the page and then enter the date range you want to search. We know that Charles Whitelaw died during World War One, so we want to search newspapers printed between 1914 and 1918.
  6.  
    Searching British newspapers from World War One

     

  7. You could choose to search a much wider date range, or limit your search to one particular day in history. You can leave the rest of the boxes empty and click the ‘search’ button.
  8.  

  9. On the left-hand side of the results page, you’ll see the date range we’ve selected. You could click the ‘X’ button to remove the date filter from your search. You’ll then see results from the whole collection of historical newspapers.
  10.  
    Filter your search results by a date range

 

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