On this day, 18 May – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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On this day, 18 May

Today, we’re looking at two events that occurred on 18 May: the Khodynka Tragedy in 1896 and Jacqueline Cochran’s breaking of the sound barrier in 1953.

Khodynka Tragedy

The first took place in 1896 in the Khodynka Field, Moscow. The field was the site of festivities honouring the recent coronation of Emperor Nicholas II. Thousands gathered to celebrate and to, hopefully, receive rumoured gifts of food and a commemorative cup. With growing and increasingly frenzied crowds, the police force on duty for the festival was unable to maintain order and stampede broke out. The stampede resulted in the deaths of 1,389 individuals.

By searching for ‘Khodynka’ on the homepage search bar, 20 articles are returned. On the left-hand sidebar you can filter these results by date, newspaper region, county, place, type, and public tags.

By default, results are ordered by relevance. You can change this by clicking on the drop down found beneath the search bar. This allows you to order results by date — earliest or most recent.

The first result, sorted by relevance, is titled ‘Khodynka Disaster Memorial’ and pertains to the aftermath of the tragedy: ‘The Moscow newspapers state that work has just been begun on the monument to be erected in the cemetery over the common grave of the victims of the disaster which took place on the field of Khodynka, just outside Moscow, at the time of the Coronation of the Emperor, in May, 1896’. You can see from this report a discrepancy in the number of casualties: the article printed that there were ‘at least three thousand’ buried in the common grave.

Morning Post | 19 September 1899

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Breaking the Sound Barrier

In 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier. This was just one of Cochran’s many accomplishments in American Aviation, of which she was considered a pioneer. Cochran was a key player in the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

Illustrated London News | 2 September 1961

Performing a search for Jacqueline by putting her full name inside quotation marks returns over 200 results.

In filtering the results by newspaper title, specifically by Illustrated London News, the results drop down to 5 articles.

One of the illustrated results is 28 June 1941.

Illustrated London News | 28 June 1941

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Her impressive feat breaking the sound barrier made it into the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Yorkshire Evening Post | 19 May 1953

The type filter allows you to narrow your results to those that are illustrated.

The first result, when filtered by illustrated, is from The Sketch. It is a full-page article in honour of Cochran being the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic.

The Sketch | 2 July 1941

It is interesting to note that over the past 70 years, how women and their accomplishments are covered in the media have not changed much; in this brief article about her flight across the Atlantic, there are multiple mentions of her wardrobe in the image captions, including a comment noting she had ‘sixteen pairs of silk stockings’.

When researching an individual, it is best not to limit your search to just a name. You may find additional information by researching events and places associated with a particular person. This helps not only to add depth to your research but to also account for any variations in spelling and OCR capture that may have caused articles to not appear in the initial name search. You can also try searching by a last name and an event or a last name and a place. For example, when searching by Cochran and ‘air transport auxiliary’, 58 results are returned. The first result includes a photograph of Miss Pauline Gower with Cochrane titled ‘They Deliver the ‘Planes’ and captioned as ‘Miss Pauline Gower, Commander of the Air Transport Auxiliary (Women’s Section), with Miss Jacqueline Cochrane, Flight Captain of the American Women Pilots’ Section. The Air Transport Auxiliary is the service responsible for fearing ‘planes from the factories to the R.A.F.’.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer | 1 June 1942

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