A few weeks ago I was faced with a dilemma. The cost of my monthly subscription to the British Newspaper archive was to increase in September. I was offered an opportunity to sign up for a discounted annual subscription. I wasn't sure what to do so I posed the question here on my blog. I received some useful advice from several readers via Twitter and email and went ahead with the annual subscription. Many thanks to all those who shared their thoughts with me which were unanimously in favour of an annual subscription.
I use the British Newspaper Archives frequently and have unearthed some fascinating stories related to my family history researches both directly and indirectly. It can be very time consuming because all sorts of little stories catch your eye and are too good to miss. For example, I was looking for information about VJ Day (15th August 1945) for a blogpost I was trying to write about my dad's wartime experiences and stumbled on this:
and this little snippet about street parties:
The team at the British Newspaper Archive are adding new content all the time so the site just gets better and better. There is a facility to bookmark the pages you like and annotate your collection to make it easier to find the articles that have been of interest. The discounted annual subscription works out at just over a fiver per month which is good value. (Disclaimer: I am not being paid by BNA to make these positive remarks!)
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to find out about a housing estate where my family lived in the mid-nineteen-fifties. I had a few photographs in my family history box and an address. The estate was built as part of the British government's attempt to deal with an acute housing crisis by building thousands of council houses. I found lots more photographs in the on-line collection of the local museum and this amazing story in the BNA.
You can read the full story here if you follow this link.
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I've been reading on Twitter that August 13th is International Left Handers Day so to celebrate here are my memories of learning to write as a lefthander in the 1950s.
At school we learnt to write with thick stubby pencils before transferring to thinner pencils at the end of Infants school. Halfway through the Juniors we were introduced to pen and ink.
In the lower Juniors we were taught to write "joined-up" by the simple expedient of copying out "The Lord's Prayer" every Monday morning into our handwriting exercise books. Moving onto pen and ink was highly anticipated: one of life's milestones.
The pen was a thin wooden stick with a metal holder on one end into which was inserted a metal nib. This was dipped into an inkwell located in the top right corner of the desk. We had to work out how to load the nib with sufficient ink to write without dripping ink over the desk and the exercise book. No mean feat when you're only about nine years old. Once that hurdle was overcome the next step was to learn how to write without splattering the page or making smudges.
As a left handed person it was almost impossible to write without smudging because the left-right orientation of English means that the left hander has no option but to drag their hand over the wet writing unless an alternative technique was evolved. Mine was to push forward into the paper although some left handers twist their hand round and write over the top of the line.
My early efforts at joined up writing in ink were fairly disastrous despite my best efforts but salvation was at hand. In the next class our enlightened teacher allowed us to bring from home a fountain pen if we had one. For Christmas I received an Osmiroid fountain pen with a dark blue marbled effect barrel. It also had a special nib designed for left-handers which made writing with ink a lot easier.
From Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood.
And a few tweets as well!