Some national newspapers were established as early as the seventeenth century. Local newspapers are, however, more likely to date back to the late eighteenth or nineteenth century.
In many places old editions of local newspapers were bound in volumes and have been kept in reference libraries. Although it may be possible to view these it is more likely that you will have to view the copies on microfilm and you will probably need to book a reader to view them. It may also be able possible to obtain printouts of pages or articles. Some local studies libraries will also have collections of newspaper cuttings, generally filed under themes.
Local magazines and journals were popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and often have interesting articles about buildings. Libraries may also have collections of articles from national magazines such as 'The Builder' relating to their local buildings.
Large reference libraries or local studies libraries are the most likely places. Some archive repositories may have printed material.
The British Library maintains a newspaper library at Colindale in London.
Some local and national newspapers keep back copies and may make them available.
The Guardian recently opened a new public archive that includes an education service.
The Times digital newspaper library dates back to 1985 - there is a charge.
The British Library website gives more information about the availablility of old newspapers online
Ideas for use
It is rare for old newspapers to be indexed and, unless you have a definite date, research can be very time consuming particularly in Victorian newspapers where the print was small and there were few illustrations.
- To research the opening of your school. [First find the date your school opened in the original log book which should either be at the school or in the local archive repository]. The school may also have had an 'official' opening by a local dignitary, often commemorated by a plaque in school. Either event may have been reported in the local paper.
- To find out how national events such as VE day or the Coronation were celebrated locally.
- To compare the 1940s, 50s or 60s with today.