Storyhouse in Chester is offering people the chance to explore over 250 years of the region’s history in its unique collection of microfilm newspapers.
Microfilm is a method of preserving and storing large amounts of printed material in the space of a small reel. It is ideal for newspapers as they are bulky to store and the newsprint paper they are printed on deteriorates rapidly.
Each page of the newspaper is painstakingly scanned and minimised down to a tiny image, and these are then printed consecutively on a reel of film. The images can later be expanded and displayed using specialised equipment, which allows users to scroll the film from page to page.
As the majority of newspapers only have online content starting in the 1990s, microfilm can be a crucial source of information that may not be able to access otherwise.
The Storyhouse library team have a large collection of microfilm newspapers and have traced back an article from 1768 – when the country was ruled by King George III and Australia was yet to be discovered. The article featured in the Adams Weekly Courant – a weekly newspaper distributed across modern day Chester about a missing dog read:
‘LOST: A large white well-made pointer dog with liver-colour’d ears and head, a white mark down his face, and a liver-coloured spot on his rump, answers to the name of Ponto…. He is supposed to have followed a butcher from the neighbourhood of Mold from the market.’
The public are invited to learn how to use the microfilm reader and explore its immense newspaper archive at drop-in sessions on Sunday 1st and Wednesday 4th March, each between 2pm – 5pm in Storyhouse’s Reading Room located in the award-winning library.
Linda Tyson, team leader at Storyhouse Library said:
‘We think people might not be aware of how they can use microfilm as another source for exploring their family history research and a way to connect with the past. We regularly get people looking for articles that feature their parents/grandparents/friends etc. For example, we had one lady who was looking for a photograph of her friend’s wedding in the 1950s and she was able to find a photo that was much better than any photo she had – so that meant a lot for her!’
The sessions will be led by members of Storyhouse’s library team and will show visitors examples of articles and how to use the machine.
The sessions are free, drop-in and non-bookable