Ancestors lost in the crowd?
New to family history research?
Perhaps these articles on our website may help:
Census 1841 - 1911
Birth, Death and Marriage Registration
The London Gazette
Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors,
and British History
A look at the Essex newspapers available at the Essex Record Office.
Newspapers are a very important source of information for researching your family tree. Our article on Newspaper archives for family history research lists and describes the many different newspaper archives that now available. In this article we look at the various Essex newsapers which are available at the Essex Record Office, (ERO). Sadly, none are available online and a visit in person to the ERO would be required.
The newspapers at the ERO are either on microfilm / microfiche or the orginal newspaper. Unfortunately, as time progresses newspapers crumble into dust. To preserve these, the ERO have decided that several editions cannot be issued to researchers. Check with the ERO before you travel to make sure that the editions you are seeking can be produced to you. We hope that perhaps in time digital copies will become available.
Another problem is the standard of the microfilm / microfiche and their readers. When the newspapers were photographed this was advanced technology. With this media, however, it is no longer the case. Some of the images now seem to be of very poor quality and it is very difficult and time consuming to scan through them for an event or article if the exact date of the event is not known. So bear this in mind when planning your trip.
The earliest paper available is the Ipswich Journal for the period 1720 to 1766. This may contain some news about Colchester and North East Essex. Then comes the Chelmsford Chronicle (later the Essex Chronicle) which covers the period 1764 to 1868. Do not expect detailed local news until the 19th century as these newspapers were distributed over a large area and also contained UK news and news from abroad. After the repeal of Stamp Duty the number of Essex newspapers rapidly increased.
The newspapers with a span of several years and which provide the best coverage for the 19th century are:
- Chelmsford Chronicle 1764 to 1868 (the years 1873 to 1968 are held on microfilm at the Chelmsford Library)
- The Essex Standard 1831 - 1886, 1888 - 1931, and
- Essex Weekly News 1862 - 1865
For the 20th century, the number of available titles improves.
For a full list of the newspapers held, read the ERO's Information Leaflet no. 13 on Google Docs.