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The hair, violence, and craftsmanship of Emma Willis’ ancestors

Trinity College, Dublin

Emma Willis explored the back streets of Birmingham, uncovered a violent ancestor, and revealed magnificent Irish craftsmanship in her family tree.  In this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, we followed the lives of three of Willis’ ancestors: James Gretton, Richard Fowler, and Michael Kirwan.  We will take a closer look at the newspapers and explore what more we can discover about the stories and lives revealed. James Gretton Emma Willis found out that her three-time great

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Mothering Sunday

Whilst Mothering Sunday is now commonly combined and celebrated with the secular holiday of Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom and Ireland, its origin is religious in nature and separate from that of the American Mother’s Day. Starting in the 1700s, individuals would attend a special service on Laetare Sunday (the fourth Sunday of Lent) at their mother church (usually the church where an individual was baptised or their local parish church/closest cathedral). This activity was soon coined as going

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We hit another exciting milestone! A newspaper from every county in England.

We have reached a major new milestone in our project to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library’s vast collection of historic British & Irish newspapers.  Following the addition of a newspaper from the country’s smallest county, Rutland, the Archive now covers every corner of England as, for the first time, at least one title from each of the country’s 48 counties is now available to search and explore.  We have added 3,968 pages from the Rutland

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St Patrick’s Day through the years

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, we’ve dug into The British Newspaper Archive to find out how the day has been celebrated in different parts of the world over the last century. Interested in finding more examples of St Patrick’s Day celebrations? Register today and explore all of The British Newspaper Archive! Register for free today!  

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Valentine’s Day Poems

Over the course of its history and in its present-day iteration, Valentine’s Day has been a day fit for the writing and sharing of romantic verse. The union of romantic love and Valentine’s Day has been advantageous for aspiring poets, and the newspapers have been quick to publish such verse over the years to honour St Valentine’s Day. In the pages of the newspapers, you can find numerous poems celebrating Valentine’s Day. Here is a sampling. Discover more poems and

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For the Love of Valentine’s Day

As we covered in our last blog post, the traditions and opinions surrounding the celebration of Valentine’s Day have evolved and changed over the years. But as we search through three hundred years of stories in The British Newspaper Archive, we see that the day has endured as one of celebration and, occasionally, scandal. In the newspapers, we can see a long tradition of celebrating this day, but we can also observe the emergence of a certain skepticism and cynicism

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Valentine’s Day Throughout the Ages

Valentine’s Day in its present iteration is inexorably linked to both romantic love and commercialism. It inspires strong feelings, both for and against this day of chocolate boxes and heart-shaped cards. However, the day and its traditions have not been static. In performing a simple search for ‘Valentine’s Day’ on The British Newspaper Archive, you can start to see the ways in which the holiday — and its reception — have changed (and, occasionally, stayed the same) over the years.

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Copies of old newspapers reveal a World Cup myth

England took part in the World Cup for the first time in 1950. Like this year’s tournament, the football matches were held in Brazil. The English national team met the United States in the group stages and suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat. The game has gone down in football history and has a rather interesting urban myth attached to it. Many say that English newspapers reported a 10-1 win, assuming that there had been a typing error in the message they received

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