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How can newspapers help me with my research?
For family historians and social historians ancient newspapers are a time capsule - a window into the past.
Alongside the national and international news, you will find: news from the towns and villages through which the newspaper circulated; details of local marriages and obituaries; coroners reports; crime and punishment; competitions; sporting events; and local advertisements.
They complement rather than substitute entries in the Parish records. But when at their best they provide nuggets of information recorded in no other source of the lives of our ancestors and neighbours.
I have seen the possible marriage of my ancestor in a newspaper, but it does not agree with the Parish Records. Which version is correct?
Unfortunately newspapers were not infallible. Mistakes were made and in some instance deliberately misleading or mischievous information was introduced. So if something unexpected turns up it is always best to check the following week’s newspaper in case a correction was printed.
I have found a reference to an ancestor in your database. Do you have any suggestions which other newspapers I should search?
It is always worth trying to track down the paper which may have first printed the news item. As today, bad news in particular (an unfortunate accident for example) travelled well, and could appear in a number of different papers (sometimes quoting the source). Your best option is to search for alternative local publications assuming copies survive for dates you need.
For the UK you could consider the Online British Library Integrated Catalogue
which lists local newspapers titles.
You might also consider purchasing a copy of Local Newspapers 1750-1920. Compiled by Jeremy Gibson, Brett Langston, and Brenda W. Smith. ISBN 1-86006-157-5
It should be stressed however, that even searching the British Library integrated catalogue and buying the guide to local newspapers by Jeremy Gibson will not
guarantee that you will be able to locate the issue of the newspaper you need. Not all copies of newspapers have survived. This may not be apparent until you search the microfilm or original copies at the British Library at Colindale and other repositories.
I searched for my ancestor but didn’t find any matches. Would I be correct to assume my ancestor was never reported in the newspaper?
The newspaper images available at lastchancetoread have been through a process of optical character recognition (OCR) to make them searchable. Unfortunately due to the quality of the original newspapers not all text will be “read” correctly. We therefore intend over time compare forenames and surnames appearing in the newspapers with those in the OCR, and where necessary, manually correct the OCR to improve search results. Unfortunately this is likely to take several years. In the meantime we would recommend the use of wildcard searches and fuzzy searches to maximise your chance of finding your ancestor.
Why are the lines of text in the newspaper curved?
While preparing the newspapers for digitalisation it was apparent that paper of some older newspapers, had over the years, slightly distorted (possibly due to variable levels of humidity). While specifically for some issues of the Police Gazette the text as printed has a bow or curve (which has been reproduced by scanning).
Why can I see handwriting, crossing out, and other marks on the image of the newspaper?
In some instances e.g. Edinburgh Evening Courant, some of the copies in the collection appear to be the working office copies (so contain details of who placed the advertisements). In others we have name and address of to whom the paper was to be mailed to , and in others marks (usually in blue crayon) presumed to be highlighting changes to be made.
You may also notice some effects from foxing (discolouration of the paper), candle wax (presumably dropt be a previous reader), and spilt ink
In all instances it was thought better to retain the full image with the text. All the above marks are part of the history of the paper – the wear and tear on an antique
Why is your newspaper image of a page incomplete?
We would always prefer to have a pristine copy of a newspaper to include in the collection – unfortunately this isn’t always possible with such scarce material.
With the passage of time newspapers can be easily damaged through : poor storage conditions; insects; and human handling. So that that text can be obscured by hand written notes, wax (from candles), foxing, soot, and in extreme cases articles and advertisements may have been cut out and removed altogether.
To help you identify potentially damaged pages you will be able to view a small thumbnail of the page(s) before deciding whether to purchase or not. If as a result of viewing the thumbnail, you have any concerns, please contact us prior to payment
Can I view the collection at a Library?
Currently there is no Library version available. If there were sufficient interest from Libraries in the content available on this site, it would not be difficult to add this functionality.
Searching the Collection and some strategies for searching
What Size were the Newspapers?
Most of the collection falls into three sizes
Octavo (8vo): Common for 18th Century Magazines such as the European Magazine or London Magazine and would be roughly 8 1/2 inches tall by 5 inches wide
Quarto (4to): Roughly 12 inches tall by 9 inches wide, this was the usual size for early newspapers
Folio: Roughly 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide, a common size for newspapers from the mid 18th Century
The exact sizes do vary according the amount of trimming required of pages for binding
I have downloaded a newspaper and would like to print out a cutting how can I do this ?
There are many ways to edit the pdf document to extact a section for printing. One possible method is to use Adobe Reader - here is a basic guide to help
How would I unsubscribe from the Last Chance To Read Website ?
There is no automatic facility to unsubscribe from Last Chance To Read. If a user wishes to unsubscribe please send an email via the contact form on the site requesting removal.
On receipt of the request an email will be sent to the email address of the sender to confirm the receipt of the request to unsubscribe and giving an indication of when the request will be processed.
If the account relating to that email address contains downloadable pdf paid for by the user, the account will be closed when all downloads have been removed (each download is retained for 180 days) - otherwise the account will be closed as soon possible - typically within 36 to 48 hours of the request being made.