April Fools’ Day – Origins, History and Some Examples

Posted on March 31st, 2013 by The British Newspaper Archive

If you’ve ever been asked to nip down the shop and get some pigeon’s milk and hen’s teeth; or if a colleague at work has requested a bubble for the spirit level and also asked if you can go for a long stand and fetch some elbow grease; then chances are you’ll know all about running a fool’s errand.

So to mark April Fools’ Day, we thought we’d post some stories from the Archive about the history and origins of the day, as well as some examples of April Fool’s Day stories from historical newspapers.

As you can imagine, the Archive is not short of stories about April Fools. Admittedly, however, with so many bizarre tales in the BNA, it can sometimes be difficult working out which stories are the April’s Fools’ Day tales, and which are real stories!

Our favourite April Fool story is the one about the phone call to New York Police Department regarding the escaped lions at JP Morgan’s house. Buf if you find any stories that are worth sharing, please give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook.

historical newspaper report about april fools  day

Evening Telegraph – Tuesday 31 March 1931

Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000563/19310331/113/0007

historical newspaper report about april fools  day

Huddersfield Chronicle – Saturday 03 April 1869

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000167/18690403/012/0003

historical newspaper report about april fools  day

Western Daily Press – Thursday 01 April 1943

Image © Northcliffe Media Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000513/19430401/019/0002

historical newspaper report about april fools day

Evening Telegraph – Friday 04 April 1902

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000453/19020404/004/0003

historical newspaper report about april fools day

Hull Daily Mail – Wednesday 02 April 1930

Image © Northcliffe Media Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000324/19300402/014/0004

historical newspaper report about april fools day

Gloucestershire Echo – Wednesday 01 April 1936

Image © Northcliffe Media Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000320/19360401/030/0001

historical newspaper report about april fools day

Evening Telegraph – Monday 01 April 1901

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000453/19010401/045/0004

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