Tuesday 10 September 2013

Barnsley Chronicle Digital Newspaper Archive Launch and Eddie Croft Councillor

We've been waiting (im)patiently for a couple of months now since the new Discovery Centre opened in Experience Barnsley, but finally today there was an official launch for the digitised Barnsley Chronicle. 
Paul Stebbing, Archives and Local Studies Manager with Sir Nicholas Hewitt,
Barnsley Chronicle Chairman and Managing Director (from Barnsley Council)

I was lucky enough to be in the Archives today and saw the photo above was being taken - nothing had been announced leading up to it despite the fact the Archives was pretty busy, I would say over twenty people were there at that point.  GB and I guessed something was up, the sight of Paul Stebbing perched on the edge of the map table with a huge archive volume of a newspaper and a laptop was a bit of a give-a-way. 

Later I enquired about booking a slot to use the new digitised resource.  You can book an hour slot - there are currently only two machines set up to access the archived newspapers and the Archive staff are expecting the demand to be high.

I was able to have a quick go before I came home.  Two of the staff, Michael and David gave me a quick run through on how to search the new resource.  The images are saved in files by month and year so firstly you have to choose a year.  The results for that year are shown, usually twelve .pdf (portable document format) files, one for each month of your chosen year.  You then pick a month and open the file where you can use the 'Find' functionality of Adobe Reader to search for a word.  I found that using the Advanced Search worked better for me as I could see all the results for that month listed with a little bit of context so I could work out if it was a 'hit' I wanted to open. 

For example I wanted to look for the OH's grandfather Joseph Edward (Eddie) Croft.  I knew he had been a councillor in Cudworth in the 1970s and that he'd been the very last chairman of the Cudworth Urban District Council.  With advice from David I searched 1973, the year before the creation of the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, which incorporated Cudworth.  I simply put 'Croft' in the Advanced search in each month in 1973 until I got a hit in April.  There were two results for 'Eddie Croft' both of which looked like election results.   
A clipping of a piece of an article showing that Eddie Croft stood unopposed for the Cudworth Ward.
Barnsley Chronicle 20th April 1973 (from Barnsley Archives)

As it turned out both of these 'hits' referred to the same newpaper piece - the item announcing that 'Labour had swept to victory throughout South Yorks' in the elections for the South Yorkshire County Council.  Eddie had stood unopposed for Cudworth and thus was elected Councillor, there's even a picture of him in the clip.  The image above doesn't give a very good impression of the quality of the newspapers available to view I'm afraid as I had to digitally snip the whole width of the page to get the article I wanted and I've done a smaller clip of that for this post.  Better results were obtained when I didn't try to take such big chunks of the paper in my clips.  I scanned the printouts with my FlipPal scanner since I got home this afternoon and made a few tweeks to improve the quality of the pictures.  It would be better if we could just take the digital snips home or maybe have them emailed to us ... but that is not the procedure at the moment.
A newspaper cutting with a black and white photo (uncaptioned) of a house? at the right hand side, gist described below
Barnsley Chronicle 29 March 1974 p.15 (from Barnsley Archives)

This one is Eddie chairing the very last meeting of the Cudworth Urban District Council - I suppose that's a photo of the offices in Bow Street, but I'll get that confirmed at the Cudworth History Group meeting tomorrow.

The procedure for printing out your results still needs a bit of fine tuning, but I am sure the Archive staff will have the best solution in place shortly.  For today I snipped the bits I wanted with the built in Windows Snipping Tool (available via the Windows button in the bottom left of your screen), saved the bits to the desktop and then Michael copied them onto the staff memory stick and printed them out for me.  The charge was 40p a sheet and the results were very good when I'd only selected a small article. They even let me pay by card, which saved the embarrassment of asking them to wait while I dashed to the nearest cash point!

All in all a very good day, I transcribed some more of the Worsborough Common Methodist Baptisms from 1891 to 1904 (I still haven't finished though), chatted to Gerald Alliott, the original Barnsley Historian, about 'Bobbins from Barnsley' one of his books, amongst other things and was in at the launch of the new digitised Barnsley Chronicle. 

Yes, definitely a good day!

No comments: