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I'm looking for sources of information freely available online about happenings in London the day July 1st 1858 (besides the famous Darwin-Wallace presentation, that is.) I have found copies of the front page of The Times, but they are almost illegible and mostly full of advertising.

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    You might want to browse a copy of One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858, by Rosemary Ashton – Steve Bird Mar 24 at 20:53
  • Advertising! Think of the archeologists who often have to sift through piles of junk and human waste (literally!) ;) Invaluable gems (figuratively) are commonly found there. – Zeus Mar 25 at 4:39
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    The Times was originally an advertising sheet. News came later, but the front page was ads until 1966. – David Richerby Mar 25 at 8:54
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    Darwin was burying his son that day. Everyone else was getting as far away as possible from the appalling smell of the Great Stink. – Strawberry Mar 25 at 13:52
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    I looked up what is available on Europeana newspapers and was surprised to realize that, from all Britain, they only have Welsh newspapers for that period. At first, this looked like a dead end, but it depends on how significants the event have to be. If you only want something that was big enough to get reported in Wales, the newspapers will have done your work for you, instead of you having to comb through all London newspapers. theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/newspapers/… – rumtscho Mar 25 at 16:41
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The first place that I would search is the British Newspaper Archive. Note that this site requires a subscription to actually view the newspapers, although it is free to search.

If you have a subscription, it is possible to zoom in on the high-resolution scans of the newspapers, making it easier to read the stories than it is with many of the originals!

Many libraries in the UK offer free access to the British Newspaper Archive online. Access is also available with some subscriptions to the FindMyPast genealogy site.


Use the Advanced search function and set the publication place as 'London' and choose an appropriate date-range.

Bear in mind that events occurring on 1 July may not appear in the newspapers until several days (or even weeks)) later. You should also remember that not every paper was published daily. Your date-range should reflect that.


It may take several iterations to refine your search until you are satisfied with the results.

For example, a simple search limited to the exact date 1 July 1858 gives 11 hits.

Extending that to include 1 & 2 July 1858 gives 23 hits.

The titles include:

  • London Daily News
  • London Evening Standard
  • Morning Advertiser
  • Morning Chronicle
  • Morning Post
  • Evening Mail
  • West Middlesex Advertiser and Family Journal
  • The Globe
  • Police Gazette
  • County Courts Journal
  • Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser
  • Shipping and Mercantile Gazette
  • Lloyd's List

If, for whatever reason you are unable to view these titles on the BNA, you at least now have some titles to search for on other sites. (Note that some of those sites may offer limited free access to new subscribers!). Wikipedia includes a (probably incomplete) List of online newspaper archives

Once you have a list of titles, it is always worth checking Google Newspapers to see if any appear in their digitised collections.


Also, you should be aware that it was common for the front page of newspapers to be dedicated to adverts with news inside.

  • thanks for the tips, too bad the site requires a subscription to see the actual articles. – black-clover Mar 24 at 21:33
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    @black-clover I guess digitising the whole of the British Library's newspaper collection costs money. I believe you do get free credits to view (a few) pages when you join the site. They also have occasional offers giving a few days free access. – sempaiscuba Mar 25 at 4:28
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    Also bear in mind: if you want to know what happened on July 1, you must look at papers from July 2. – Joel Coehoorn Mar 26 at 1:47
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    @JoelCoehoorn Sometimes. Evening papers, like the London Evening Standard usually covered the news from that day (as it still does today). Weekly newspapers might come out several days after the events they were reporting. – sempaiscuba Mar 26 at 1:50
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A good resource is this page on the National Archive's site. It's a very useful page, listing several different ways you can read historic newspapers, such as websites and physical locales.

You may not be able to find much (many of the websites are paywalled or are for a different location), but there is some stuff. For example, here's some news about bankruptcy from The London Gazette:

WHEREAS a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, was, on the 1st day of July, 1858, filed in Her Majesty's Court of Bankruptcy in London, against Joseph Stratford, of No. 20, Pelham-street, Thurlow-square, Brompton, in the county of Middlesex, Baker, and he having been declared bankrupt, is hereby required to surrender himself to Robert George Cecil Fane, Esq., one of Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, on the 15th of July instant, at eleven in the forenoon precisely, and on the 13th day of August next, at twelve o'clock at noon precisely, at the Court of Bankruptcy...

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I'm looking for sources of information freely available online about happenings in London the day July 1st 1858

Consider going to your local library or university, and enquiring about where you can find London news archives (be it online or offline) from that day.

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    where I live presently there are no libraries worth visiting. – black-clover Mar 24 at 21:35
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    @black-clover: Many local libraries have associations with larger library networks or know of easy ways to get access, so it doesn't hurt to ask. If you have a university or college of some sort around, it only sometimes hurts to go visit their library and then ask their librarians for help. – Seth Robertson Mar 25 at 2:22
  • @black-clover I don't knows about UK, but in some other European countries, there are online databases that are available for free from any of the country's library. For example, in my country, all the historical press had been digitised and is available via internet from any of the public libraries in the country. – Gnudiff Mar 25 at 16:08

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