Read all about it!

If it happened it was in the news

I research and identify press articles published in the British newspapers between 1750 and 1950. A fast, efficient and completely free service for historians.

Grantham Journal - Saturday 03 July 1869Old news reports are a goldmine for historians.

Small items, big stories, some hidden away since the event all those years ago. Many revealing, a few shocking but all fascinating for the family historian or researcher (top headline: ‘Sensational Evidence in Court’ Illustrated Police News – Saturday 20 March 1897, news report right: ‘Spittlegate Petty Sessions’, Grantham Journal, 3rd July 1869).

There are no fees.

This whole process is free of charge.

Just complete the enquiry form on the right of this page. I will conduct a full search based on the information you send me. Within about 24 hours I will advise you if my research has revealed any news items. If my search is successful I will immediately enclose the news items to your email address as an attachment in PDF format.

Old British News - James Yates The service I provide is fast. The research is very detailed. The results could shed new light on your research. There are now two historic researchers who voluntarily handle enquiries – Ian Waugh (news research) and Robert Venour (family history research). If you wish to make a donation towards this service, you are welcome (above left: November 1892 ,  The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser report a case of bigamy). 

I aim to respond to your enquiry quickly and accurately

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 06 January 1855I am in London and normally at my desk between 1000 hours GMT and 1800 hours GMT daily including weekends. During that period I aim to conduct news research into enquiries received. You can expect a response from me during UK daytime within an hour or so depending on the nature of your enquiry. Enquiries received after 1800 hours GMT (‘over night’) will be handled first thing next morning. If there are technical issues it is possible that the response time could be slower. Also, I am a disabled person and as such there are times when this can impact on the response time. It is possible (rarely) that the research response period of 24 hours could vary due to potential complexities in the process (right: Isle of Wight Observer – Saturday 06 January 1855).

It’s all about the news

Evening Telegraph - Thursday 12 May 1938

News items can reveal added detail of the person you are researching – maybe other relatives, confirmation of relationships, more background, perhaps detail of how life was and the actual circumstances of the event.  Criminal news reports often quote statements or the words spoken in court. No matter how minor, how petty, how long ago, old newspapers can open the door for you and shed light on your relative or the person you are searching. Sometimes there was actually some good news – and even the pleasant events were reported. That’s what we love about research, it never fails to bring up a few little surprises and patterns.

This really is something unique, designed to make British history within easy reach for everyone. My priority is providing you with an accurate British news research service ( headline above right: Evening Telegraph – Town Crier – Thursday 12 May 1938).

Being in the news

Most people sometime in their life are mentioned in the press – maybe it’s a few words in a marriage, a school prize, a workhouse report or a sports event. Old British NewsPerhaps they have been a victim in crime. The result can greatly enhance your research by painting a more accurate picture of the person and the family you are investigating.

Old newspapers can reveal potential, ambition and aspirations. Other times it can paint the genuine picture of how our ancestors really lived. Newspapers then, much like today, paint a very contemporary portrait of the mood – not only nationally but very locally at street level. It captures the feelings and gives us not only the bigger picture but frequently more pointers as a real aid for research and knowledge.

Old British News was invented by history enthusiast Ian Waugh who now operates it with co-researcher, Robert Venour who handles our genealogy enquiries. It’s our pastime and passion. We do the research because we really enjoy it – simple as that. And we like to think we provide an accurate yet personal ‘human’ touch as well.

Ian Waugh and Old British News

Ian Waugh“I come from a broadcasting background and for many years have been a researcher specialising in British historic newspapers and British history in general – it really is my passion”.

I am probably most recognised for my work and in-depth investigation into ‘The Man They Couldn’t Hang’, John Lee  – the long-term on-line study, the book I co-authored and currently the screenplay”. 

“These days I am immobile through certain disability and partial paralysis issues, so I have time on my hands for what I adore. I believe all history should be easily and fairly accessible to everyone”.

Old British News“I created Old British News sometime ago as a place to publish some British historic criminal data I had saved. Since then it’s grown considerably with the development of my enquiry service. Hundreds of British news enquiries are handled every year and I receive thousands of hits each month from all over the world”.

Old British News - reaction from usersI am proud of Old British News, always keen to do the research for users and fascinated to read what people write about in their quest to find out more about their relations”.

You can read more about me here, follow my research into ‘The Man They Couldn’t Hang’ here. My Old British News Blog is here – you can join the Facebook page here and follow me on Twitter: @oldbritishnews.

You need a PDF reader

In order to participate in services available from Old British News apart from an email account, you need a PDF reader. We recommend the free Adobe PDF reader available to download here (other readers are available).

It’s not only news

We also offer a free British historic family research service. If you would like us to research your family history, please click here .

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