by Richard Mackenzie, Archive Assistant
Newspaper Knapsack Needs New News.
Ok, apologies for forcing my editorial aspirations on you, but this month’s blog is about a surprise discovery made recently inside one of the major objects of our collection. Having thought we knew our collection well this discovery is a pleasant reminder that familiar objects can still have the power to astonish. In this case it was the knapsack of Major Sir Peter Halkett which he carried as a Lieutenant, and later a Captain, in the 42nd during the Crimean War. Having looked at and handled this object a number of times during its life in the Museum, the decision was made to open it – no mean feat given the frailty of some of the strapping – when it was noticed that the knapsack seemed to contain some type of stuffing. To the delight of the archivist, who it must be said is very easily pleased, the
material inside was found to comprise of several newspapers all in a very good state of preservation. Just how good though only became apparent when the newspapers were laid out and the dates of their publications revealed.
The earliest is a copy of The Field, The Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, dated from Saturday March 27th 1858, and the latest is a copy of The Times, dated Friday January 5th 1900. A full list of the newspapers found is printed below:
The Field, The Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, March 27th 1858
The Field, The Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, April 10th 1858
The Saturday Review, February 7th 1874
The Saturday Review, February 21st 1874
The Saturday Review, February 28th 1874
The Graphic, May 24th 1879
The Times, July 11th 1879
The Times, July 12th 1879
The Times, July 14th 1879
The Edinburgh Courant, July 15th 1879
The Times, January 5th 1900
So if any of our readers want to read about the state of the army in Natal and Zululand, or a critique of Gladstone’s Government, then they are more than welcome to look over this new archive resource after the Museum’s opening. In the meantime I will leave you with a question to ponder: how is it that a knapsack came to be stuffed with newspapers that have a date range of over 40 years? Evidence that the Halkett family were secret newspaper hoarders or should we be looking for a simpler solution? Readers, I leave it up to you.