Wiltshire Newspaper Transcripts, Richard Heaton


I have been interested in regional newspapers as a source for family and local history since my first visit in the 1980s to the British Newspaper Library. From the mid-18th century regional newspapers survive in substantial quantities, many titles having also been microfilmed. The content offers us a window on our recent past, with unique references to incidents and individuals. Despite their undoubted value, the absence of indexes makes searching newspapers a major challenge, not least because it is very easy to be sidetracked while reading them!

Currently, the best solution of which I am aware, for indexing bulk printed material, is digitalisation. Text images are simply indexed by word, offering quick, flexible searches. Probably the best example at the moment is the Thomson-Gale Digital Archive for the Times newspaper (1785-1985).

Wiltshire newspapers currently have not been digitalized and as far as I am aware, there are no immediate plans to do so. As an alternative, back in 2003 I started transcribing copies of two well-known Wiltshire newspapers, the Salisbury and Winchester Journal and the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette. To date, I have finished some 240 examples (mainly 1782-1834), which have been loaded onto my very basic website. Access is, however, free and all transcripts are fully searchable: enter the word or words you wish to search for in the ‘Freefind’ box; then, after clicking on the page of interest, use Ctrl F to locate the precise reference on a page.

Site address: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~dutillieil/index.html