Headlines from History – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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‘In Durance Vile’ – Exploring Life Behind Prison Bars Over A Century Ago

Following on from our look at life on board the prison hulks of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in this special blog we are going to take a look at what life was like behind prison bars over a century ago. Dartmoor Prison | The Sphere | 10 December 1927 Using our newspapers, we will try to understand what life was like for the men and women sentenced to prison time in the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:

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‘Colleges of Villainy’ – Life Onboard the Prison Hulks

On 15 July 1910 the Sheffield Evening Telegraph recorded the anniversaries of the day. One particular entry was this: Prison hulks first seen on the Thames…1776 But what were the prison hulks, and what was life like on board these ‘floating hells,’ as they came to be known? Prison hulk Warrior at Woolwich | Illustrated London News | 21 February 1846 As part of our history of law and crime month here on The Archive, we will take a look at what life was like on

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Rose Heilbron – Legal Superstar of the 1950s

‘If you want something to write, write about Rose Heilbron. She’s the greatest lawyer in history.’ These were the words of Jack Comer as he left the Old Bailey in September 1955, having been defended by 39-year-old Rose Heilbron QC, and subsequently acquitted. Who was Rose Heilbron? Born in August 1914, she was the first woman to win a scholarship at Grey’s Inn, one of the first two women to be appointed to the King’s Bench, the first woman to

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Ida B. Wells – Speaking Tour to Britain 1893 & 1894

In the years 1893 and 1894 pioneering African American investigative journalist and early civil rights leader Ida Bell Wells (1862-1931) visited Britain on a series of speaking tours. Ida Bell Wells Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, had made it her mission to raise awareness of the brutal ramifications of the lynch law in the Southern States of America. This special blog will explore how Wells was received in Britain, and how the press of the

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‘Courage and Devotion to Duty’ – Remembering Jane Haining

Scottish missionary Jane Mathison Haining (6 June 1897 to 17 July 1944) was one of the only, if not the only, Scot to die during the course of the Holocaust, as she refused to leave her post in Budapest upon the outbreak of war and the subsequent invasion of Hungary by the Wehrmacht. In this special blog, we will tell the story of Jane Haining, the quiet daughter of a farmer from Dumfriesshire, who was subsequently honoured as Righteous Among

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Celebrating Vesta Tilley and Other Incredible Male Impersonators

Vesta Tilley, Annie Hindle, Hetty King and Ella Shields – just a few of the incredible male impersonators who were the superstars of their day. In music halls across the world, from London to Baltimore, from South Africa to Australia, these pioneering women hit the heights of fame during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Music Hall and Theatre Review | 12 June 1896 In this special blog, we will celebrate the legacies of these early drag kings, exploring their

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‘A Great National Work’ – Charting the Changing Attitudes to the Census in Our Newspapers in the Nineteenth Century

With the next census fast approaching in England and Wales, we thought we’d delve into the history of the census, and the changing attitudes towards it from its inception in 1801 and throughout the nineteenth century. From initial fears and suspicions, to feelings of pride and honour, our newspapers chart the evolving attitudes to the modern British census, and how it was depicted in popular culture, in poetry, illustrations and even on the stage. So read on to discover more

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‘Exciting Scenes’ – Buttercup and Other Canal Swimming Cows

Here at The Archive, as well as exploring pioneering figures of the past, and momentous moments from history, we like to celebrate the best of our collection’s local news, however bizarre, amusing and strange! Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 13 May 1959 With so many regional titles to be found on The Archive, there are many surprising and unusual stories to be found from around the country. And none more amazing is the story of Buttercup the cow, who was

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‘This Pestilential Stream’ – Exploring the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858

‘The foulest nuisance that ever disgraced the annals of a nation,’ the condition of the Thames in the summer of 1858 had reached a crisis point. Bloated with sewage and other effluence from the world’s second largest city, the Thames had become a ‘pestilential stream,’ emitting a putrid odour that was dubbed the ‘Great Stink.’ Westminster Bridge | Illustrated London News | 21 October 1843 In this special blog, we shall uncover the true state of the Thames, as it was in the

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Far From ‘Idle:’ The Women Canal Workers of the Second World War

Nicknamed the ‘Idle Women,’ although they were about as far from idle as anybody could possibly be, the women canal workers of the Second World War performed vital war work which is all but forgotten today, some seventy years later. Some of the ‘Idle women’ arriving at a canal dock | The Sphere | 15 April 1944 The curious name of ‘Idle Women’ came from the badges that these pioneering women wore, with the initials ‘IW,’ which stood for ‘Inland Waterways’.

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