Top five tips for using newspapers to explore the history of your area

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30 June 2020
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Turn back the pages to the past and see how newspapers can help you work on your #StoryOfOurStreet project and learn about the history of your local area.

Local newspapers are a treasure trove information on the streets, shops and even local people of your area in times gone by. But with literally thousands of pages to explore, you might struggle to find what you're looking for.

These five tips will help you search with precision to explore the story of your street:

1. Remember that street names may well have changed. Before diving into the online newspaper collections, be sure to track down a map of the area for the era you wish to search. The map will show you which street and place names you need to search on for a particular time period. 

2. You can just search for a place or street name, or combine your search with a specific event, for instance ‘Corby AND Coronation’. Feeling brave? You could search on your street name, combined with terms that might reveal crimes and misdemeanours. 

3. In addition to searching for a street name, perhaps expand your search to include the local area – to gain a feel for the community (the local market, shops, entertainment and sporting fixtures) and to understand how national events affected it too (from the Coronation, to the world wars). 

4. Remember that news was often reported far and wide, so expand your search beyond the local county paper (this can be particularly useful if the digitised collections for the area you’re researching are a little lean). 

5. Don’t just search – take the time to browse. Browsing through the pages of an old newspaper will give you hints and insights that you will never have thought to search for and give you a richer understanding of the area. 

These tips were extracted from a local newspapers article in the August issue of Family Tree magazine. For your fact-packed copy of the magazine, click here.