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Victorian Newspapers in Britain and America

Updated on October 28, 2016
Nathanville profile image

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

The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction After the Invention of the News
The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction After the Invention of the News

A well-researched and compiled hardcover book that explores the novelty of rapid and mass communication through the publications of Victorian Era Newspapers and the impact they had on society and daily life. This book examines how these newspapers reflected on and influenced society and how they changed daily lives of individuals at a time of great technological advancement during the period of rapid transformation of life from the simpler and harsher times of before and bringing it into the modern industrial, commercial and bustling 20th century.

Miss Lucy's Victorian Scrapbook
Miss Lucy's Victorian Scrapbook

Kindle Edition of Miss Lucy's Victorian Scrapbook which includes every aspect of Victorian life from the cradle to the grave including tips on gardening, handwriting and etiquette and a selection of short stories form popular newspaper magazines of the time.


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.

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)

A markerBeamish museum -
Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham DH9 0RG, UK
get directions

A large open air living museum of times past in northern England, covering life from the Georgian to Edwardian period.

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)
Married to the Sea: Victorian Newspaper Art Gone Wrong
Married to the Sea: Victorian Newspaper Art Gone Wrong

Hilarious collection of daily comics, compiled into this paperback book; written by Drew, born 1979 in Columbus, Ohio, USA.


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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
 Wonders of NatureWhom to MarryWhat the Stream Engine DoesWhat Our Parlours Should BeVirtue and ‘The Wise and the Foolish’Theory of Life by Professor FaradayBanter between a Physician and a stone masonHumour on the dangers of 19th century medicine
 Wonders of Nature
Wonders of Nature
Whom to Marry
Whom to Marry
What the Stream Engine Does
What the Stream Engine Does
What Our Parlours Should Be
What Our Parlours Should Be
Virtue and ‘The Wise and the Foolish’
Virtue and ‘The Wise and the Foolish’
Theory of Life by Professor Faraday
Theory of Life by Professor Faraday
Banter between a Physician and a stone mason
Banter between a Physician and a stone mason
Humour on the dangers of 19th century medicine
Humour on the dangers of 19th century medicine
George Burgess Scrapbook of Victorian Newspapers
George Burgess Scrapbook of Victorian Newspapers
Daily Life in Victorian London : An Extraordinary Anthology (Victorian London Ebooks Book 4)
Daily Life in Victorian London : An Extraordinary Anthology (Victorian London Ebooks Book 4)

A Kindle Edition Ebook giving an extraordinary anthology of daily life in Victorian London.


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.

Which of the above Victorian Era Newspaper did you enjoy reading the most?

See results

Your Feedback - Read the Newspaper Articles - Give Your Views

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    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

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

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      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.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      Squid Angel Blessed!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

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

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 5 years ago

      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.

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens!!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

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

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      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.


    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • TheBestGadgets profile image

      TheBestGadgets 5 years ago

      Really interesting and original lens, thumbs up!

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      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"!

    • CottageHomestead profile image

      CottageHomestead 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago


    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • EbooksFreeWeekl1 profile image

      EbooksFreeWeekl1 4 years ago

      Original topic. This lens is very nicely done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 4 years ago

      Very interesting and unique lens Nathan. Blessed.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Interesting way they had of expressing themselves back then.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      interesting topic and wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

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

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      These are so fun to read. I love Victoriana.

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 4 years ago

      What a wonderful piece! Love the story about Bounce.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I really enjoyed reading the snippets.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      RangerMgr 4 years ago

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

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 4 years ago

      This is very clever and very interesting. Thanks!

    • profile image

      CuriousBoy 4 years ago

      I'd like to collect them all...

    • profile image

      ChristyZ 4 years ago

      Wow, this is really interesting. Great article!

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 4 years ago

      what an amazing find.

    • profile image

      Bed-Bug-Bites 4 years ago

      Unique lens ...I love this.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 3 years ago from Australia

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

    • Bercton1 profile image

      Bercton1 3 years ago

      Great lens!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

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

    • Nathanville profile image

      Arthur Russ 2 weeks ago from England

      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.

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