Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Essex newspapers at the Essex Record Office

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 them 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.

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.

However, much of this collection is or will soon be completely replicated online at the British Newspaper Archive. This is a pay-to-view site; various packages are available, but sometimes they do offer introductory free articles or periods of time. The British Newspaper Archive was launched in 2011 and is a partnership between the British Library and DC Thomson Family History Limited who also own Findmypast. Their aim is to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's vast collection by 2021. Already millions of pages have been scanned. See our article on the British Newspaper Archive for more informtion on their Essex coverage.

british newspaper archive website

More articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Find your Ancestors in the Newspapers

Essex Standard Newspaper

Newspaper archives are now a very important source of information for researching your family tree.

Try our example search to help you discover if your ancestors are in the British Newspaper Archive.

Help me find my ancestors

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Looking for pictures to add to your family tree album?


Ebay is a good source of old images of Essex towns and villages. If you're looking for pictures to add to your family tree album, then try one of the auctions, or there are several 'Buy It Now' shops offering postcards which have been touched up and improved - so if you're unsure about bidding, try these. Link already formatted for Essex Postcards. Browse through or type the name of the location in the Ebay search box.