Thursday, January 02, 2014

Watchman, What Of The Night - The Morning Dawns.

I decided to treat myself to a little extra Christmas present and when the January Sales came around I bought myself a years' subscription (Isobel, please note : 20% off) to the British Newspaper Archive. 2014 will, of course, be a special anniversary, 100 years on from the year that did so much to define the last century. I thought it might be interesting to watch 1914 develop from the viewpoint of miscellaneous local and national newspapers. Hopefully, this will be a weekly selection, and it starts with a Leader Article from the Surrey Mirror of the 2nd January 1914. In it, the writer looks ahead to the new year and speculates what it might bring. With his focus on such trifling matters as The Kikuyu Conference (an episode of religious history that is best forgotten but if you insist, you can look it up on Wikipedia) and party political arguments, you get the feeling that the Surrey Mirror, like so many other European institutions, were sleepwalking into disaster. Hope seems to permeate the sorry paragraphs of a newspaper that, 12 months later, would be crammed with notices of premature deaths in Flanders. The morning did indeed dawn - and what a morning it was.


  1. Alan, thanks for this post and the link to the new archive. I've just completed a history PhD in which I made a lot of use of the Times digital archive, and can see myself getting a subscription to this new one. There's something about reading articles in these old papers.

  2. Ah, they don't write them like they used to. World has gone to Hell in a hand cart, if you ask me.

    Happy New Year Alan - long may you post!

  3. Historical New Year's greetings from around the world. Bound to make me shake my head.

  4. It'll be very interesting to see this series as it progresses.

    By the way... Happy New Year!

  5. I look forward to reading your finds. I have a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive and really enjoy reading there.

    1. It's beneficial to take a look at our every day history . In many ways it shows we haven't learned anything.

  6. There is something so strange about reading old greetings to old New Years. I came across a "Welcome to 1847" piece in I think it was the Illustrated London News. And of course to them it was a brand new year, just as full of possibilities for all kinds of things, good and bad, as 2014! Happy 2014 to you Alan.

  7. I really like this project and look forward to more. It's interesting how the tiny typeface of vintage newspapers encouraged long philosophical discourse. We'd never see this kind of writing in newspapers today. Maybe blogs though. Recently I've read several books that focus on the pre-WW1 years. There were many points of time when events and decisions might have changed the direction of history. War was not inevitable.


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