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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Shameless self-promotion

I have recently started a YouTube channel. It is called What the Paper Said and – as I say every week in the introduction – involves me skimming through The Times from a hundred years ago, picking out some of the articles and commenting on them.

So, if you are into fascism, communism, socialism, hyperinflation, genocide, civil wars, kangeroo courts, unemployment, deadly diseases, non-deadly diseases, smog, alcohol prohibition, cocaine prohibition, compulsory vaccination, dirty old Clerks to the Privy Council, the Ku Klux Klan, American spelling, imperialism, railway statistics, rent control, aging battlecruisers, some bloke called Hitler, and Oxford commas; this may be the channel for you. Until it gets banned.

Also available as a podcast.

8 comments to Shameless self-promotion

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Excellent, Patrick!

  • Colli

    Looks great!

    Why don’t you also post these on Rumble? That removes banning as a concern.

  • Steven R

    I used to do a lot of genealogy work. I loved going through the newspapers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the articles were whimsical or gave a slice of life that simply are no longer in newspapers. The society pages were always funny when they would announce that Mr. and Mrs. Welltodo would be going out of town for the next six weeks and then when they came home there would be an article about how awful it was that the Welltodo mansion suffered a break in. Or articles on what was happening on the other side of the world that in historical retrospect we know didn’t happen.

    Yes, there was all the sensational crime stories, following of big trials, wars, elections, editorials, scandals, all the stuff in the papers today, but they also printed full speeches instead of just the gotcha! soundbite.

    I read somewhere that newspapers today are generally written on an 8th grade level, but the papers back then seem to have been written to a more intelligent or educated population.

  • X Trapnel

    Fabulous, Patrick. All this morning I’ve followed – back to front, as it were, like a modern novel – the reverse unravelling of poor Sir Almeric Fitzroy, Clerk of the Privy Council, arrested, charge and bailed on charges arising from engaging in conversation with ladies in Hyde Park in 1922, as reported in The Thunderer. As his Wiki entry offers no embellishment to this unsavoury business, other than to indicate that Sir Almeric left his position as Clerk of the Privy Council he following year, I’m curious to know from later episodes what became of him and the charges laid against him.

  • Paul Marks

    Good Patrick – I will subscribe.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Colli, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll look into it in the fullness of time.

    Steven R, Indeed. It’s when you come across untranslated phrases in French, Latin or even German you start to question your own level of education.

    XTrapnel, There may be more to come in the Fitzroy. Possibly even in the next episode (hint hint) but as far as I am aware FitzRoy has been acquitted and that is that as far as he is concerned.

  • I read somewhere that newspapers today are generally written on an 8th grade level, but the papers back then seem to have been written to a more intelligent or educated population. (Steven R, December 5, 2022 at 8:21 am)

    In the 1920s and 1930s, British papers written at what you call an 8th grade level would simultaneously be written to a better-educated population. Ordinary people were poorer then but the rigour of their children’s basic ‘the-three-Rs’ education was significantly greater (and they also spent much more of their school day on it).

    A lot of that was true for the whole late-19th / early-20th century period you mention, but I speak from family knowledge as regards the interwar years.

  • Alex

    The city I live in has suffered an appalling loss of grey matter in the past two hundred years. The provincial newspaper in the 1820s to the early 1900s could pass as a modern quality paper, while from the ’20s to the ’80s it could pass as a decent modern tabloid (or the Grauniad, say, reasonably educated quality of prose but less loony in content on average). Unfortunately today it could be outcompeted by a school newsletter for variety, veracity and general appeal; it now frequently mistakes the locations of local news items transposing them not only by neighbourhood but sometimes by 30 miles or more.

    In the 1800s the city had a population around 50,000. There were societies for every imaginable hobby and interest. The output of those societies rival modern professional scientific papers. Thorough, accurate and detailed. Very valuable contributions to literature.

    The modern city is five times bigger and has effectively no significant societies left. A fallen nation. Undoubtedly there are some clever folks around today but much of the professional work pales in comparison with that of amateurs a century ago.