Research tips: newspapers
We would love to hear how our researchers are getting on with their searches. You might like to let us have your findings, or alternatively we are also asking people if they would like to share their experiences of these strange times. Future researches may be very interested in how everyone coped and how it affected them specifically. We are aiming to create our own archive of such documentation.
As part of your family history research, consulting newspapers can throw up some interesting information. They can list events such as births, marriages, and deaths, but also trials, inquests, scandals, and convictions. This is where you may find some intriguing and surprising accounts of family members you were unaware of. However, searching for information can be time-consuming as there are often no indexes to articles – you would usually be searching by date.
The earliest Shropshire newspaper was the Shrewsbury Chronicle, first published in 1772, followed by the Salopian Journal. Early newspapers contained little local news, though some social events likely to interest their readership of the gentry and professional people were included. We hold the Chronicle on microfilm for this early period.
From the 1850s onwards, the smaller Shropshire towns started their own local papers, and Shropshire libraries such as Market Drayton, Bridgnorth, and Oswestry hold some of these publications for their own areas. Although the earlier Shrewsbury Chronicle and the Salopian Journal became more concerned with Shrewsbury itself and the immediate surroundings, both the Chronicle and the Wellington Journal were distributed widely in the county in the twentieth century and are worth consulting for reports of places some distance from both Shrewsbury and Wellington.
The more modern daily paper, the Shropshire Star, dates from 1964 and is viewable on microfilm (with several editions of each day’s paper). More recent editions are viewable as original newspapers with one of our Reader’s Tickets. The Shrewsbury Chronicle post 1950 and the Wellington Journal are also only viewable with a Reader’s Ticket – you can register for one on our website.
We do have an index on microfiche to articles in the Shrewsbury Chronicle from 1892 to approximately 1980, arranged by surname. This includes any reported marriage, funeral, bankruptcy, suicide, presentation, coming-of-age or similar event, but not the entries in the weekly births, marriages and deaths column. There is also a microfiche index for the Salopian Journal for the years 1794-1843, referencing people and occupations before trade directories were available.
We also hold some newscuttings packs on various topics – from new supermarkets and the move of STFC from the Gay Meadow, to the development of the flax mill and new theatre. Some are on the open shelves in the reading room but all should appear on our online catalogue.
At the moment, Shropshire Archives is closed although staff do have limited access so can check indexes for you. Please contact us if you think we can help although please note that there will be delays in checking indexes and providing copies.
What you can do from home
The Wellington Journal for 1914-1918 has been digitised – the originals are very fragile. You can search transcripts and view images via our website and you can also order copies – follow the link to the collection:
A quick way to search for people within these newspapers is to use the search box to search for the reference and the name you are looking for eg
As the transcripts are quite long, you can then use the keyboard shortcut Ctl + F to highlight all instances of Cooper in the transcript.
There are also several websites with searchable newspapers. These include a number of Shropshire and Telford papers for some dates. You can do quite a wide search or search within particular publications. The links below will take you to the newspaper collection on the sites:
These are subscription sites. If you have a Shropshire Libraries log in, you can use this to access Ancestry and FindMyPast (although the latter is very limited).
These sites generally use scanned versions of the newspapers converted to text – so sometimes this does come through in a slightly unreadable way, but they still provide a short cut to trawling through lots of editions.