A wartime advert for St David’s Day

Posted on March 1st, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Here’s a charming wartime advert from 1944 for all of you celebrating St David’s Day today:

St David's Day advert from 1944

 

The Sunday Post – Sunday 27 February 1944
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

Victor Hugo, a “man of genius”

Posted on February 26th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Novelist Victor Hugo was born on 26 February 1802.

In this review of Les Miserables, the Dublin Evening Mail stated that he was “almost the only French imaginative writer of the present century who is entitled to be considered as a man of genius.”

Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Dublin Evening Mail – Friday 17 October 1862
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Top tips for searching the newspapers

Posted on February 25th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive attended Who Do You Think You Are? Live at London Olympia this month, helping a number of people track down their ancestors in our newspapers.

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to attend the family history show – we’ve asked our lovely team to share their top search tips here so that you can take advantage of them too.

 

1) Put “quote marks” around a name

This will tell the website that you only want to find newspaper reports in which the two words appear next to one another, giving you more relevant results.

 

2) Search the whole country

Bear in mind that news stories were reported around the country, not just where they took place. One customer found this article about a fire in London included in an Aberdeen newspaper:

London fire 1935

Aberdeen Journal – Wednesday 25 September 1935
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

 

3) Enter a specific date range

Focusing your search on a particular date range will give you more relevant results. Click on the ‘Advanced’ link next to the search box and enter the period you’d like to search.

Advanced search

 

4) Search for an event instead of a name

Newspaper reports might not have listed the names of the people involved. For instance, one customer couldn’t find an article about his military ancestor’s death, but found a full report when he searched for “44th regiment”.

 

5) Try alternative names

Mary Smith could have been recorded as Mrs M Smith, Mrs Smith or as the wife of Joseph Smith. One customer found this article after she tried searching for the husband of the ancestor she was looking for:

Wife murder charge

Derby Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 01 August 1944
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

 

6) Use the terminology of the time

Bear in mind that the way we refer to events changes over time. For instance, newspapers would have referred to ‘the war’ during 1915, not to World War One.

 

7) Work through the names in your family tree

Try searching for each person in your family tree, even if you’re not expecting to find anything. Amy from The British Newspaper Archive has found her ancestors mentioned in stories that she would never have thought to look for. Here’s one example:

Richard Howard found not guilty

Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser – Tuesday 02 July 1867
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

8) Try your search again

More newspaper pages are added every week, so not finding something may just mean that the report isn’t online yet. Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to hear about the latest additions to the website.

Sign up for our free email newsletter

 

 

Your newspaper discoveries: The case of the poisonous Bath buns

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

Michelle Higgs, author of A Visitor’s Guide to Victorian England, got in touch to share this shocking story she found in The British Newspaper Archive.

What have you found in the newspapers? Let us know by emailing
press@britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

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Victorian Britain was a hazardous place to live, and not just because there was a potential accident around every corner. The trading standards and food hygiene we take for granted today simply didn’t exist, so shoppers often risked illness or even death when they bought everyday food items such as bread and cakes.

The problem was that nothing was as it appeared. Ground bones, plaster, lime and pipe-clay were often added to bread. Alum was a frequent extra ingredient as it increased a loaf’s weight and its whiteness, but it could cause severe indigestion.

Confectionery was bright and attractive because potentially lethal salts of copper and lead were used to colour them. Even beer was diluted and adulterated with vitriol and cocolus indicus which could cause convulsions, gastroenteritis and over-stimulate the respiratory system.

 

School boys made violently ill

In 1859, a case of poisonous Bath buns was reported at Clifton, near Bristol and its consequences led to much comment in the newspapers. On Friday 16 December, six pupils at a boarding school bought the cakes from a confectioner’s shop but were all violently ill after eating them.

Two of the boys were not expected to survive, but eventually recovered. The case appeared in many of the national and local newspapers, including the Bradford Observer:

Poisonous Bath buns in the Bradford Observer

Bradford Observer – Thursday 22 December 1859
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

No legal action taken

The schoolboys were not the only ones to eat the poisonous Bath buns. A publican named Robert May also bought some, and he and his brother were both very ill after eating them.

He was not able to get any redress under the law as he could not prove he had been poisoned, there being none of the poisonous buns left, as explained in the Western Daily Press:

Poisonous Bath buns in the Western Daily Press

Western Daily Press – Monday 19 December 1859
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

That was not the end of the story because there was a further, more shocking twist reported in the Inverness Courier the following month:

Poisonous Bath buns in the Inverness Courier

Inverness Courier – Thursday 05 January 1860
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Both the druggist and the confectioner were at fault. However, they had not broken any law so no further action was taken. Until 1875, there was very little control over the food and drink sold to the public. Under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, passed in that year, inspectors had the power to sample food and drugs, and to test them for adulteration. This was the beginning of trading standards legislation to protect customers.

It makes you wonder how so many of our ancestors survived!

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Read more fascinating stories from the Victorian period at Michelle Higgs’ blog

 

Pluto discovered and nearly named Percival

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

Pluto was discovered on 18 February 1930, though the Nottingham Evening Post reported that the planet was very nearly given a different name.

The article states that Atlas, Prometheus, Tempus, Marconi and even Percival were considered as potential names.

Pluto almost named Percival

Nottingham Evening Post – Thursday 10 April 1930
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Your newspaper discoveries: A mother loses her children in three separate coal mining disasters

Posted on February 15th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Denise BatesWriter and historian Denise Bates sent us a message recently to explain what The British Newspaper Archive and the family history records available at findmypast have helped her discover about a nineteenth-century mining family.

Denise wrote Pit Lasses: Women and Girls in Coalmining c1800-1914 after discovering her great-great-great-great-grandmother listed as a miner in the 1841 census and wondering what her life would have been like.

 

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Many people are surprised to learn that until 1842, women and girls worked underground in coal mines. Several hundred female workers gave evidence during a government enquiry in 1841 when the Children’s Employment Commission investigated child labour. It is possible to trace what happened to some of these workers after the enquiry.

 

Hopwood Pit disaster, 1842

It did not take long to discover the names of three young witnesses from the Hopwood Pit in central Barnsley, Yorkshire listed in the death registers from 1842, available at findmypast. A report of the inquest into their deaths also featured in the Leeds Times.

Hopwood Pit disaster 1842

Leeds Times – Saturday 26 February 1842
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

This reveals that Hannah Mallender, her sister Elizabeth and colleague Mary Day were killed in an underground explosion early on the morning of 22 February. The reporter made a mistake by naming the wrong Mallender sister as a victim. This suggests noise and poor acoustics in the room where the inquest was held.

 

Oaks Colliery disaster, 1847

It is not unusual for mining families to be bereaved twice in mining accidents, or to lose more than one family member underground. For Esther Day, Mary’s mother, the blast at Hopwood was the start of a scarcely believable tragedy.

In March 1847, a huge explosion at the Oaks Colliery near Barnsley cost many lives. Seventy-two workers perished, including Esther’s husband Peter and their son John. A report of the inquest in the Leeds Times reveals that friends of Peter Day employed a solicitor to attend the inquest, but that he was prevented from asking questions about conditions underground.

Oaks Colliery disaster 1847

Leeds Times – Saturday 13 March 1847
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Oaks Colliery disaster, 1866

As soon as Esther’s younger son, Peter, was old enough to learn a trade, she apprenticed him to a Sheffield grinder so that he would not have to risk his life cutting coal. The strategy failed. Joseph Taylor was a brutal master and in September 1855, magistrates agreed to set aside the indentures.

With no other way of earning a living, census and marriage records reveal that the teenager joined his step-father down the mine, grew to manhood and married. On a December morning in 1866, Peter lost his own life, along with over 380 colleagues in another huge explosion at the Oaks Colliery, where his father and brother had perished almost twenty years earlier. Esther’s reaction to the death of the fourth of her five children is scarcely imaginable.

A report in The Leeds Times captures the impact of the disaster on the local community and on individuals who were bereaved.

Oaks Colliery disaster 1866

Leeds Times – Saturday 15 December 1866
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Newspapers preserve unexpected human interest detail that often escapes official records. The more this valuable resource becomes searchable online, the better insights into the past we will have.

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Copies of Pit Lasses: Women and Girls in Coalmining c1800-1914 can be ordered through Denise Bates’ website

 

10 unusual vintage Valentine’s Day cards

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

The tradition of sending and receiving Valentine’s Day cards is well documented in The British Newspaper Archive, but not all were as sentimental as you might expect.

We’ve found a number of references in our historical newspapers to the unusual Valentines that were exchanged. Here’s a selection of the best for you to enjoy.

 

1) I saw you kiss the office boy

This little rhyme about an office romance was included in the Nottingham Evening Post in 1903:

Valentine from 1903

 

View the whole newspaper page
Nottingham Evening Post – Thursday 12 February 1903
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

2) With coals at the price they are

The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that one Victorian took the opportunity to complain about the cost of heating:

Valentine from 1938

 

View the whole newspaper page
Yorkshire Evening Post – Monday 14 February 1938
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

3) Dirty, fat and greasy

The Dundee Courier printed this delightful caricature and rhyme about Butchers on Valentine’s Day in 1916:
Valentine from 1916

 

View the whole newspaper page
Dundee Courier – Monday 14 February 1916
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

4) My Heart’s at your feet

The Gloucester Citizen scoffed at a card featuring this terrible football pun in 1925:
Valentine from 1925

 

View the whole newspaper page
Gloucester Citizen – Saturday 07 February 1925
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

5) I’ll sweep the mat and feed the cat

The Dundee Courier included this Valentine’s rhyme, which they suggested ‘should please even practical Miss 1930’:
Valentine from 1930

 

View the whole newspaper page
Dundee Courier – Thursday 13 February 1930
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

6) One for the Minister of Transport

This Valentine’s Day card ‘for the Minister of Transport’ was included in the Aberdeen Journal in 1936:
Valentine from 1936

 

View the whole newspaper page
Aberdeen Journal – Friday 14 February 1936
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

7) If plough and cart can please your heart

This rhyme entitled ‘from a Farmer to his Valentine’ was printed in the Dundee Courier in 1907:
Valentine from 1907

 

View the whole newspaper page
Dundee Courier – Thursday 14 February 1907
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

8) I wanna grab you

The Derby Daily Telegraph reported that ‘the very newest American version’ of Valentine’s Day cards had been sent in 1929:
Valentine from 1929

 

View the whole newspaper page
Derby Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 13 February 1929
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

9) You are by nature a bird of prey

This delightful rhyme about a ‘husband hunter’ was included in the Dundee Courier in 1916:Valentine from 1916

 

View the whole newspaper page
Dundee Courier – Monday 14 February 1916
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

 

10) I wish to rhyme a little maid

The final Valentine we’ve found is a charming note from a father to his one-year-old daughter, published in the Evening Telegraph in 1912:
Valentine from 1912

 

View the whole newspaper page
Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 14 February 1912
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

 

125,000 extra pages now searchable

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

January was a busy month at The British Newspaper Archive – we added thousands of newspaper pages to the website and also moved our scanning equipment to Boston Spa, the new home of the British Library’s newspaper collection.

We’ve updated 40 newspaper titles, including the Cheltenham Chronicle, the Hastings and St Leonards Observer and the Stamford Mercury. A full list of recent additions is provided below.

 

Search the newspapers

 

The Cheltenham Chronicle, searchable at The British Newspaper Archive

 

Newspapers added to The British Newspaper Archive in the last month

Aberdeen Journal – 1889
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924
Birmingham Journal – 1840
Burnley Express – 1923, 1938, 1950, 1951, 1953
Burnley News, The – 1913, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1929
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 1875
Cambridge Independent Press – 1889
Cheltenham Chronicle – 1872, 1875, 1876, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1884, 1888, 1930
Chester Chronicle – 1775, 1805, 1832
Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register – 1819
Coventry Herald – 1829, 1873, 1879
Coventry Standard – 1874, 1877, 1889
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – 1942, 1943, 1945
Dover Express – 1889
Dundee Courier – 1952
Durham County Advertiser, The – 1816, 1819, 1822, 1823, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828
Grantham Journal – 1939, 1954
Hastings and St Leonards Observer – 1913, 1922, 1940
Kent & Sussex Courier – 1893
Lancaster Gazette – 1859
Leamington Spa Courier – 1833, 1835, 1836, 1837
Leeds Intelligencer – 1833, 1835, 1856
Leicester Chronicle – 1911
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle, The – 1953
Middlesex Chronicle – 1879
Newcastle Journal – 1889
North & South Shields Gazette and Northumberland and Durham Advertiser – 1852, 1860
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser – 1860
Sports Argus, The – 1915
Stamford Mercury – 1736, 1793, 1794, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1913
Sussex Agricultural Express, The – 1900, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1919, 1952
Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle – 1859, 1860, 1862, 1863
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – 1874
Western Gazette – 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1915
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald – 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922
Wiltshire Independent – 1856, 1858
Worcester Journal – 1858
Yorkshire Evening Post – 1927, 1931, 1934, 1948
Yorkshire Gazette – 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, The – 1882, 1904, 1912, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1935, 1942

 

Facebook in the Edwardian era

Posted on February 4th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Facebook is 10 years old today, but did you know there was actually also a ‘Face-book’ in 1902?

We’ve found this reference in the Western Times, describing a book in which ‘everyone who comes to stay has to draw a face in… however badly, and sign his name underneath’.

 

Facebook in 1902

View the whole newspaper page

Western Times – Wednesday 30 April 1902
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Help us improve The British Newspaper Archive

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

We’re planning some exciting changes in 2014 and would love to get a better understanding of what you want from The British Newspaper Archive.

 

Complete our survey and win a 12 month subscription

Please spare us 10 minutes of your time to complete a short survey, telling us how you use the website and what you’d like to see more of.

 

Complete the survey

 

Not only will you be helping to shape the future of The British Newspaper Archive, but we’ll also award one lucky person a 12 month subscription or a £50 Amazon voucher as a prize.

 

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