Saturday, September 27, 2008


Past Times

The Times of London has a brand-new blog up -- just two weeks old, and you can count the postings on one hand -- but it's an absolutely brilliant idea. The Times Archive Blog digs through their two centuries of digitized issues for whatever strikes their fancy, and the postings link directly into the original newspaper pages.

Their first post is particularly fascinating, on how Times classifieds were used by German (and then Austrian) Jews wanting to escape to Britain:

For much of 1938 and 1939, the columns were full of applications from mainland Europe for jobs as cooks, governesses, housekeepers, nannies, gardeners, chauffeurs and men of all work. Clearly, very many of the applicants were well-educated and over-qualified for these positions. Most say that they are Jewish, although some refer to themselves as "non-Aryan". Some even specify that they have one Christian parent.

European Jews who wished to escape persecution by emigrating were subject to restrictions on their eligibility to enter Britain. To protect the home labour market, Jewish immigrants had to prove that they would not be a liability on the state, either because they were bringing their own business with them, or by producing a letter from a prospective employer confirming that they were coming to work as domestic staff.

I hope the Times continues to push the development of this blog -- it really could become an extraordinary site, as well as a model for what other newspapers can do online with their archives.

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