Local newspapers are a valuable resource for local and family history research as they record events as they happened. Eighteenth century newspapers and early news sheets reported mainly national news. From the mid-nineteenth century many new local newspapers were established and during the century local news was increasingly reported including public announcements, local government issues, business news, social and sporting events, obituaries, reports of court cases and advertisements.
The principal newspaper for Oxfordshire was Jackson’s Oxford Journal published from 1753, which became Oxford Journal Illustrated from 1909 and was incorporated into the Oxford Times from 1928. This title can be viewed in the searchroom on microfilm and editions up to 1900 are accessible online.
Newspapers covering all Oxfordshire towns and their surrounding areas are held mainly on microfilm at Oxfordshire History Centre. A list of their titles and dates (pdf format, 276Kb).
The majority of newspapers in the Oxfordshire History Centre collection are held on microfilm. Microfilms are copies of the original newspapers stored on reels of film that are arranged by date. The films do not include indexes but there are separate indexes to assist searches of some titles.
Visitors to the searchroom can view, print or download digital copies of articles for private research, subject to current charges. Alternatively, copies of articles can be supplied by post or email.
Indexes to assist searches of our microfilm newspaper holdings and newspaper cuttings include:
Heritage Search which includes our Oxfordshire People Index (obituaries and other biographical notices), and our Oxfordshire Business Index (including Inns and Public Houses), selectively compiled from local newspapers 1800 – 2006.
- The Synopsis and Index to Jackson's Oxford Journal, 1753-1790 by Eileen Davies which includes most Oxfordshire news items and advertisements, but doesn’t cover the Vale of White Horse. An extension to 1795 on microfilm does include Vale parishes.
- News of a country town: being extracts from Jackson's Oxford Journal relating to Abingdon, 1753-1835.
Newspaper cuttings 1970s-2006
Newspaper cuttings in our pre-1980 collection are individually catalogued and can be traced in the Local Studies Catalogue on Heritage Search.
Our cuttings dating from 1980-2006 cuttings are not individually catalogued but arranged by place and broad subject.
For Oxfordshire, Oxford City and for the larger Oxfordshire towns, the subject areas are: Arts and Music, Education, Employment, Environment, History and Archaeology, Health Services, Housing, Industry, Law Enforcement, Local Government, Planning, Politics, Public Utilities, Recreation, Religion, Social Welfare, Streets and Buildings, Tourism, Trade, Transport, Weather, and Miscellaneous Subjects (for example, Millennium, Gulf War). Oxford City cuttings include separate files for Oxford University and for Oxford Brookes University. Smaller town and parish cuttings files have no subject subdivisions.
Visitors to Oxfordshire History Centre can access a range of resources on our public computers including:
- British Newspaper Archive - more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland, and includes: Jackson’s Oxford Journal 1753–1900, Oxford Times 1862-1910 with some gaps, and the Banbury Guardian for most years between 1843 and 1955.
- Newsquest Oxfordshire newspaper archive - a searchable database of articles from Newsquest titles: Abingdon Herald, Banbury Cake, Bicester Advertiser, Didcot Herald, Oxford Mail, Oxford Star, Oxford Times, Wallingford Herald, Wantage Herald, and the Witney Gazette, covering the period 2002 to 2013.
- The Times Digital Archive - a fully searchable database of the Times newspaper from 1785 – 2011.
- 19th Century British Newspapers - a fully text searchable of 71 national and regional British and Irish newspapers, 1800 - 1900, including Jackson’s Oxford Journal.
Holders of Oxfordshire Libraries membership cards can also access The Times Digital Archive and 19th Century Newspapers on Reference Online.
Oxfordshire History Centre currently receives almost 100 new periodical issues every month as well as maintaining back files of many more titles, some of which have now ceased publication.
Local and family history periodicals
Titles include parish and community magazines from across the whole of Oxfordshire as well as local and national publications relating to the study of local and family history. These include:
Local history titles
- Berkshire old and new
- Current archaeology
- Local historian
- Local history news
- Oxfordshire local history
Family history titles
- Berkshire family historian
- Catholic ancestor
- Family tree
- Genealogists magazine
- Journal of one name studies
- Oxfordshire family historian
- Your family history
Periodicals of corporate bodies
Periodicals of corporate bodies
Many local organisations publish periodicals containing news of their activities and articles of interest to their members. Titles in the collection cover a wide range of topics, and include:
- Bloxhamist (Bloxham School)
- Cake and cockhorse (Banbury Historical Society)
- Great Western echo (Great Western Society)
- Journal of the William Morris Society
- Odd bob (Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers)
- Oxon recorder (Oxfordshire Buildings Record)
- Oxoniensia (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society)
- South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group bulletin
- Journals published by individual Oxford colleges.
Record Society publications
Berkshire Record Society, Oxford Historical Society and Oxfordshire Record Society all publish extensive ranges of transcripts of important local documents with useful introductions helping the researcher to interpret their contents.
Details of these publications can be found in our online catalogue by typing the name of the society in the ‘exact phrase’ box.
The originals of many of the documents included in these publications are held by Oxfordshire History Centre, but many others are held in other repositories such as the National Archives, so would not otherwise be accessible within the county.
Trade and street directories
The original purpose of directories was to provide information about towns and villages for residents and visitors.
They included a general description of the area covered, and details on transport, churches, schools, local government, shops and businesses. Information on individual people was also included. In earlier editions this was restricted to gentry, clergy and people in business. Later, directories also included both street and alphabetical listings of householders.
Directories locate individuals in a particular place and time, and can be particularly useful in the years between those covered by censuses and for the period before censuses were taken. They also contain background information, giving context to life in the community at the time they were published.
It should be remembered that the information presented in directories is correct only at the moment of compilation. Businesses could start and cease trading at any time. Also, householders are the only residents listed – not their families or any other individuals living at their addresses. They, too, could move in or out of the area between directory editions.
The collection contains county directories for Oxfordshire as well as some for the neighbouring counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. These cover the period 1783-1981.
There are also directories for Oxford and larger towns. Please see List of directories at Oxfordshire History Centre (pdf format, 468Kb) for a summary of titles and dates covered.
Telephone directory holdings are:-
- Oxford from 1944
- Oxford classified/Yellow Pages 1962-1967, from 1979
- Banbury 1982-2007
- Reading 1914, 1925, 1944-1954
- Reading Yellow Pages 2008/09
- South Midlands 1939/40
The early editions, when few individuals or businesses had telephones, covered very wide geographical areas.