Monthly Archives: December 2012

The value of old newspapers….

When researching your family tree, to really get a feel for how our ancestors lived and what important events happened in their lifetimes, other sources of information are often required.

In Victorian times, an excellent source was the Illustrated London News, the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper. Founded by Herbert Ingram, a printer from Nottingham ,he moved to London and started the paper in 1842. The first issue appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842. Herbert Ingram initially wanted a paper that concentrated on crime reporting, but his partner, Henry Vizetelly, convinced him to cover more general news of the time to appeal to a larger audience.

With articles mainly covering the capital but also covering events abroad including conflicts and wars, it gives an interesting snapshot into life at the time and the journalistic take on big events of the time. By 1863, The Illustrated London News was selling more than 300,000 copies every week, much higher circulation figures in comparison to other British newspapers of the time.

Using larger circulation newspapers or more local regional newspapers, it’s possible to find out information about the life and times your ancestor experienced and even if they appeared in the local papers. If they were famous, reputable at a certain skill or well known, there’s a chance they may have appeared in the local newspaper.

My subscription to TheGenealogist has enabled me to get a flavour of events in Victorian times with the increasing numbers of newspaper issues they have now available online. They have recently added issues for the decade from 1870 to 1879. This means there is now a collection available from 1842 to 1879 giving a real feel for newsworthy events in the  mid part of the century.

Examples of what can be viewed.

I’ve listed a couple of the screenshots to show what is available on TheGenealogist. Around the time of The Great Exhibition the Illustrated London News devoted a number of pages to the exhibition and the main people involved. Below is a page taken as a screenshot from the newspaper.

Crystal Palace Illustrated London News
The Great Exhibition of 1851

A Christmas issue…

Christmas supplement in The Illustrated London News
Christmas supplement in The Illustrated London News

More specific articles, this one is looking at the celebrated French chef, Alexis Soyer.

Alexis Soyer screenshot
A more in depth article, this one into celebrated French chef Alexis Soyer

It’s definitely worth working your way through the newspaper articles- just to add a bit more background to how your ancestors lived, it helps give you a feel for how things were for them all those years ago!