Research is sometimes fun, mostly very hard work, but always rewarding. During the course of assembling the background for my first biography, I was thankful that small town newspapers actually existed, and stalwart reporters actually reported. The minutiae of details that made it into print in the late 1800s and early 1900s is staggering, when seen through today’s eyes. We may have Twitter, texting, email and Instagram, but they are essentially ephemeral mediums. Here right now, and then replaced with something even newer.
Not so with old newspapers. Within their pages was the only means for people to keep in touch with the events in their town. Who was staying at the local hotel? Who had just left town to visit a sick relative? What colour was their cat? (I’m not kidding…)
Like today, people were intensely curious about other people’s lives. With no other alternative to keep up with their neighbours, this marvellous recording of lives exposed the ebb and flow of society. Contained within yellowing sheets of acidic paper is a great richness of information, just waiting to be mined.