Sunday, 22 January 2012

Research: Original Newspapers and Magazines

One of the most interesting and often exciting ways to research historical detail is to look for original old newspapers and magazines, many of which are found in antique shops. Apart from reading about history in the month or year it's actually happening, the advertisements are invaluable for showing people, clothes and the kinds of items they bought or used. The following photo shows three of the original publications I managed to find here in Britain.

The oldest is a rather tattered copy of the Weekly Illustrated from Saturday, June 20th, 1936. I was fortunate that this edition happens to be the Kings Birthday Number - celebrating the 42nd birthday of King Edward VIII on June 23rd, 1936. It's a fabulous edition, rich in photographs and adverts. The back page has great photos of 'England's Hope' for Wimbledon that year: two women tennis players.

The next in age is a copy of the famous satirical magazine, Punch, from March 17th, 1954. Again, it is full of wonderful advertisements (very full!), from cookery and home, to luggage and men's hats and shoes, with everything in between. Then there are the quirky articles and cartoons about world affairs and items in the news.

The other magazine is a copy of Country Life from October 4th, 1956. As the title suggests, this is full of detail about country life and the gloriously expensive properties for sale. Wonderful illustrations and photos accompany every article and, once again, advertisements for all the latest clothes and essential items. There are some lovely articles about plants, birds, famous landmarks, and fabulous lingerie and women's country fashions.

These three items alone provide hours of fascinating historical detail. So next time you're visiting an antique shop or antique fayre, seek out the old magazines as some of them might even suggest a new story idea. next time I'll talk about replica newspapers.



Diana said...

Oh wow! I love it! How beautiful those covers are, especially "Punch".
Looks like a fun escape jumping into the past.

Angelica Hart and Zi said...

Awesome. Whenever I (Ang) goes into an antigue shop I always search for the old mags and people's pictures. It is like going through a time machine. Great work!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Diana - it is good fun, but it's easy to get too distracted!

Thanks Ang and Zi - it's one of the reasons I like visiting new places, so I can look for interesting material!

Bill Kirton said...

Once again, spot on, Rosemary. I can add 2 of my own experiences. First, when I was consulting the Aberdeen Journal (June 1840) for background to The Figurehead, the feel of the period was instantaneous but, interestingly, many of the preoccupations were the same as they are today. There were, for example, complaints about the terrible traffic chaos at the Bridge of Dee.
Second, in an Edinburgh antique shop, many years ago, I found a bunch of diaries written by Joanna Hutchison between 1889 and 1921. There were only 11 volumes but she kept them meticulously every day. I read them all from cover to cover and got an astonishing picture of the lady and her times.

Pauline Barclay said...

Thank you! This is perfect timing as I had not thought of checking out old newspapers. I am busy looking at life of a working class family who worked in the mills in the north of England in 1960s. I'm away to check out the papers :)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Bill - thanks for that great comment. I'm going to go through several ways of getting historical detail and diaries are certainly one of them.

Glad to be of help, Pauline! Good luck with that research.