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Victorian Newspapers in Britain and America

I love history; it forms the basis of my interest in genealogy and has an influence on our itinerary when on family holidays.


Newspapers From the Victorian Era

Published in England and America

View a choice selection of newspaper articles from Britain and America saved in a Victorian Scrapbook by George Burgess (1829-1905). George Burgess born in Staple Hill, Bristol travelled to America with his brother-in-law, shortly after leaving school, to finish his apprenticeship in stone cutting and marble works.

While in America he learned about Phrenology, he return to England (for the third and last time) Christmas 1859 and in 1861 he set up a business as a professional Phrenologist in the shopping Arcades in Bristol where he practiced his profession for 40 years until his retirement in 1901.

Throughout his working life he had a passion for reading and writing and collected over 500 newspaper articles, on subjects that interested him, and stuck them into his scrapbook which has since been passed down from generation to generation and now transcribed and published on Nathanville for free viewing.

The Victorian era newspaper articles saved in his scrapbook covered the following topics:

  • Family
  • Health
  • Education
  • Humour
  • Poetry
  • Politics
  • History
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Nature
  • Temperance, and
  • Victorian Culture

A sample from each of these topics is reproduced below, read on....

The full transcripts and original copies can also be viewed on the Nathanville Genealogy website.

….Happy Reading

The Influence of Victorian Newspapers on Society

Inexpensive rapid response daily communication on newspaper print to the masses influenced and moulded society and affected individual daily lives in a way that previously wasn’t possible.

A new era of communication was born, and like any fledgling had to find its feet. The early days of newspapers were often splattered with spelling mistakes and bad grammar, journalism had to be invented and up to date news to fill the pages wasn’t always to hand for the publisher so all too often ‘filler’ stories were inserted to fill the pages; many of which like the famous Paul Denton and the Barbeque story of a 19th century Methodist preacher in Texas, America which did the circuit and ended up being published in one newspaper after another across the world. The published story, although convincing, and based some facts, is nevertheless largely fabricated to entertain and to fill the blanks spaces in newspapers.

Newspaper Scrapbook

Victorian News, Stories and Tips

A great source of information on Victorian life and society are the newspapers of the times. The scrapbook by George Burgess captures the best of that era; as seen though the eyes of journalism of early modern society in the 19th century. With the wealth of information contained, it tells a story in a way that no other media could; as the sample newspaper articles copied below will show.

Victorian Family, People and Relationships

A Wife and Something to Boot

British humour on how a young suitor got an unexpected windfall from his future father-in-law for agreeing to marry one of his daughters.

A Wife and Something to Boot

A Wife and Something to Boot

Victorian Health and Education

He Never Took It

British humour about a boy refusing to take his medicine.

He Never Took It - Published in a Victorian Newspaper 28 July 1888

He Never Took It - Published in a Victorian Newspaper 28 July 1888

19th century American Humour

Looking on the Bright Side

A brilliant and hilarious story of a wife in Massachusetts writing to her husband in California, and no matter how disastrous the situation was at home she still managed to look on the bright side when writing her letter to her husband.

Looking on The Bright Side

Looking on The Bright Side

Victorian Poetry

Be Off With You Now

A poem put to music and published in 1856, written by Charles Swain (1801-1874), an English Poet born in Manchester, England.

Scroll to Continue
Be off with you now by Charles Swain (1801-1874)

Be off with you now by Charles Swain (1801-1874)

19th Century Politics and History

Unmistakeable Evidence

American humour of a witness giving evidence critical in proving the demise of a passenger who was on board a steamboat when it sunk in Ohio.

Unmistakeable Evidence

Unmistakeable Evidence

Victorian Religion

Brought Down a Deluge

American humour of a Methodist preacher overdoing it, when during a drought, he prays for rain as a favour in exchange for hospitality.

Brought Down A Deluge

Brought Down A Deluge

19th Century Science and Nature

The Bottomless Pit in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky

Even though I’ve googled it I can find no reference to the bottomless pit in the cave in Kentucky. I guess this was a rather early fanciful newspaper article used as what was commonly known as a filler e.g. odd story’s republished in different newspapers to fill space. Quite often these story’s had little in substance and any connection to fact was tenuous at best.

The Bottomless Pit in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky

The Bottomless Pit in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky

Puffing Billy

Made by George Stephenson in 1815

Undoubtedly, steam power and the innovation of steam trains opening up mass transport and industrialisation never seen before in Britain was a major leap forward that helped to lay the foundations for rapid advancement in other engineering and scientific development.

It was while we were visiting Beamish on a two day visit that we had the privilege to take a free joy ride on Puffing Billy, as shown in the video below.

Location of Beamish (Living Museum of Northern England)

19th century Temperance in America

Drinks All Round

American humour of a Temperance family in Massachusetts, where each family member drinks in secret, when the other family members are not about, justifying their indulgence with good excuses.

Drinks All Round

Drinks All Round

Victorian Culture, Life and Society

Extraordinary Suicide of John Francis Hobler (1835-1856)

Thanks to contributions from other readers and fellow Genealogists I learnt a lot about John Hobler and his family, a summary is given below:-

John Francis HOBLER (1835-1856) at age six John attended a Grammar School, High Street, Haverhill, Suffolk, England and was the youngest in his group. In 1851 (aged 15) John was living with his maternal Aunt at 101 Piccadilly Street, Manchester, Lancashire, England and was an engineering student; five years later he committed suicide!

At the time of his suicide John was living with his Uncle Charles Clay who was married to his mother's elder sister, Maria Boreham.

EXTRAORDINARY SUICIDE of John Francis Hobler (1835-1856)

EXTRAORDINARY SUICIDE of John Francis Hobler (1835-1856)

Further Snippets

Eight More Insightful Publications on the Victorians

Below are eight further 19th century newspaper articles, some being humorous; they are as follows:

  • Wonders of Nature
  • Whom to Marry
  • What the Stream Engine Does
  • What Our Parlours Should Be
  • Virtue and ‘The Wise and the Foolish’
  • Theory of Life by Professor Faraday
  • Banter between a Physician and a stone mason
  • Humour on the dangers of 19th century medicine
George Burgess Scrapbook of Victorian Newspapers

George Burgess Scrapbook of Victorian Newspapers

Best Read

Give Your Vote Below On Your Favourite Victorian Newspaper Story

Victorian newspaper reporting in Britain and America was different to today's reporting style. To me they read more like today's blog sites rather than a newspaper reporting factual events!

The Victorian newspaper articles seem to be written more like mini-stories, often humorous, to entertain the reader rather than be just informative. I know newspapers these days tend to do this to some extent and therefore you can't always believe what you read but the Victorian's seem to have had it down to a fine out, sometimes not such a fine art considering the poor grammar in some of the American publications.

Nevertheless, I'd be interested to know which of the above main featured newspaper article you found to be the best read.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Arthur Russ

Your Feedback - Read the Newspaper Articles - Give Your Views

Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 13, 2017:

When I first published this there wasn't so much free access to historic newspapers; but in recent years I've noticed there are a growing number of good free resources on the web.

VspaBotanicals on April 09, 2014:

I enjoyed these articles a great deal! Thanks for sharing them with us!

Bercton1 on December 13, 2013:

Great lens!

AJ from Australia on October 22, 2013:

Congratulations on such a wonderful collection. I am keen to read some of your selected books too.

Bed-Bug-Bites on April 01, 2013:

Unique lens ...I love this.

OrganicMom247 on March 14, 2013:

what an amazing find.

ChristyZ on February 27, 2013:

Wow, this is really interesting. Great article!

CuriousBoy on February 25, 2013:

I'd like to collect them all...

randomthings lm on February 05, 2013:

This is very clever and very interesting. Thanks!

RangerMgr on February 01, 2013:

Having been a newspaper manager for 30+ years it was interesting to read the old articles. Thanks

anonymous on January 26, 2013:

Anything about Victorian Era is my favorite ..thanks for sharing such a lovely information

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 13, 2013:

I really enjoyed reading the snippets.

anonymous on January 05, 2013:

This was unique, original idea for a lens. Well done!

davenjilli lm on December 14, 2012:

What a wonderful piece! Love the story about Bounce.

ismeedee on December 11, 2012:

These are so fun to read. I love Victoriana.

anonymous on December 10, 2012:

I liked the "puffing billy" video. It's easy to see how the drive mechanism works.

Rose Jones on November 28, 2012:

Delightful. It is amazing how many Victorian newspapers still exist!

anonymous on October 21, 2012:

This is really interesting reading. Especially ''He Never Took It'', really funny.

pawpaw911 on October 17, 2012:

They had a different way of reporting/writing back then. I've done a little research in older papers, and I've found them to be very interesting. You made some nice selections above.

anonymous on October 11, 2012:

interesting topic and wonderful lens!

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on October 09, 2012:

Interesting way they had of expressing themselves back then.

Tonto Murray on October 04, 2012:

Very interesting and unique lens Nathan. Blessed.

anonymous on September 25, 2012:

As an interesting read, I recommend it to my lenses.

EbooksFreeWeekl1 on September 22, 2012:

Original topic. This lens is very nicely done!

anonymous on September 15, 2012:

Wow, interesting topic ... it is always nice to reed old newspapers, they are almost mystical:).

anonymous on September 14, 2012:


CottageHomestead on September 04, 2012:

This is a wonderful lens, we purchased a very old Bible and there were some original newspaper clippings, always so fun to find and read.

LadyFlashman from United Kingdom on July 22, 2012:

I love reading victorian newpaper articles, I use the website British Newspaper Archive for researching my family history which is an amazing resource. Great lens, I especially enjoyed reading "drinks all round"!

anonymous on November 19, 2011:

What a fascinating look at history!

TheBestGadgets on November 12, 2011:

Really interesting and original lens, thumbs up!

anonymous on November 12, 2011:

enjoyed my visit on your lens this morning, thank you for the reading, you sure earned a 'thumbs up' from this reader.

Michey LM on November 06, 2011:

This is an amazing lens, I like history facts reviled.

I learn a lot from it... this is a typical type of lens I really appreciate.

You also did a great article selection.


Chazz from New York on November 06, 2011:

Love your article selections, but then I really think I was born a hundred years too late.

andreaberrios lm on November 06, 2011:

Very interesting lens!!

Coreena Jolene on November 06, 2011:

Great lens. I can read this kind of stuff all day. Even papers from the 1940s have such an innocence about them. It is interesting to see how things changed.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on November 06, 2011:

I love all things old, especially paper ephemera. This page on Victorian newspaper is a great idea.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on November 06, 2011:

Squid Angel Blessed!

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on November 06, 2011:

It is amazing how much of real, everyday life could be found in Victorian newspapers. It makes you wonder how much of history will be lost as people switch from written word to digital bites that just disappear. Thank you for the glimpse into the Victorian world.

Paul from Liverpool, England on November 06, 2011:

Like finding an old newspaper in the bottom of a trunk in the attic :)

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