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Archives in London and the M25 area

Newspaper cuttings

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 111 series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
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Full title: Newspaper cuttings
Date(s): 1684-1999
Level of description: Series
Extent: 52 volumes, 50 files, 6 items
Name of creator(s):



Administrative/Biographical history:

Not applicable.


Scope and content/abstract:

The newspaper cuttings follow the development of the postal and telecommunications services from the postal declaration of 1685, and early accounts of the collection of mail from coffee houses in the eighteenth century, through to contemporary reports.

The most complete run of catalogued material covers the period 1843-1903, during which time the cuttings were bound into large volumes, each volume spanning one to two years. These cuttings are largely concerned with the early development of the telegraph and telephone and include details of private telegraph companies (particularly the Electric Telegraph Company, founded in 1846) and their takeover by the state; the relationship between the postal and telegraph services and the railways; international expansion of the system; and, later, the growth of the telephone service, and negotiations which eventually led to the transfer of ownership from the private telephone companies to the state in 1912. Some items are included because the report was received by telegraph and do not have any obvious postal connection. The majority of cuttings were collated centrally, with some early selections marked 'For the information of the Postmaster General', but the collection also includes albums collected by individuals or at a local level.

The twentieth century is not represented as comprehensively, with very little material from the First or Second World Wars, or the interwar period. Wartime reporting restrictions and the rising cost of newsprint, combined with the role of the Post Office on the home front probably contributed to the absence of material during this period. In the second half of the twentieth century, cuttings are more likely to be found arranged by local area or by subject, e.g. the 1971 postal strike. Since 1999, photocopies of selected cuttings, entitled 'What the media are saying', have been received from the Royal Mail Press Office on a weekly basis, and these are arranged chronologically, but have not been catalogued.

During BPMA stocktaking 2005 a quantity of material was transferred from the search room portfolio collection to the archive. These cuttings cover both the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, and have been catalogued by decade or, in a very few cases, by subject. The nineteenth century material includes many engravings and illustrations.

Cuttings have been taken from a variety of sources - national and local newspapers; satirical magazines; government and Post Office publications; and scientific and trade journals; but the volumes also include original items such as share application forms, annual reports, tariffs, technological specifications, photographs, cartoons and illustrations. The cuttings cover many aspects of postal history and legislation which are officially documented in other post classes, but offer alternative perspectives and provide a good indication of both public opinion of the postal administration, and public response to postal innovations, including new issues of stamps, new buildings and the introduction of new uniforms. They also provide an opportunity to gain an overview of developments in the service during a particular period.

In addition to specific postal information, the class provides a record of the influence of the Post Office on British culture, demonstrating its role in the growth of mass communication and technological advances; education; the development of employment opportunities for women; and the trade union movement. Some volumes contain personal stories of the lives of postal workers, which may be of interest to family historians, and many volumes include interviews with employees and accounts of the daily running of the postal service which provide information about the duties attached to particular posts. Obituaries are a particularly good source of personal information relating to senior postal officials.

The catalogue entries include an overview of the material with a list of examples of particular interest, some volumes contain indexes of every item.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Please see Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Public Record

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Allied Materials

Related material:

A collection of newspaper cuttings from 1928-1981 was transferred to the archive from Bruce Castle Museum, these are available in the searchroom and are arranged chronologically, but have not been catalogued. Many are of philatelic interest.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
EAD transfer validated May 2011

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