Jesse Pomeroy – Union Jack, November 5th, 1932

There was a viral going around about a bloke who was put in prison in 1976, and only just got out. Well such a thing happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, too. A murderer called Jesse Pomeroy went inside in 1876, and didn’t see the outside world again until a car(!) ride in 1929. Imagine what that must have been like!

There’s also an article about combating election fraud, and, and some small articles. The issue is interesting in itself, because it’s the start of a “round table” serial, in which four of the top Sexton Blake writers set puzzles, for the others to solve!


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Union Jack – September 17th, 1932 – Crime & Punishment news.

This is most of the Union Jack’s regular “From Information Recieved” column, which reported on crime and punishment from around the world (in the twenties and thirties, the American mafia and prohibition featured regularly). It also occasionally has interesting information on forensic science, and the gradual shift away from disproven “eyes too close together” judgements, and into more practical things such as fingerprints and better indexing.

These particular columns deal with the state of policing in London (I’ll let some of the statistics, and old-time practices, speak for themselves. There’s an interesting bit about buses, too), and a look at an aborted attempt to reform Spain’s prisons. The bit about the Hungarian coin “forger” is amusing, too.




Rovering – Gilwell Scoutmaster Training Camp – April, 1924

Another article from Rovering, this time about the camp at Gilwell, where scoutmasters are trained. Scouting was less than 10 years old, at that point, though “outdoorsy” recreation was far more popular in those days. I guess they still wanted to make sure the scoutmasters-to-be had a proper grounding in woodcraft and good citizenship to pass on to their young charges.

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Introduction, Baden-Powell – from early issues of Rovering, 1924

The editor’s page, from the very first issue of Rovering, which helps to explain a bit about what the Rover Scouts are (they have ceased to exist in the UK). Note also the part about Rovers taking an interest in politics, as they approach voting age (then 21, or 30 for certain women, who would not get full enfranchisement until 1928).


An article about Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Better known as “B.P.”, the founder of the modern Boy Scouts. Though, as he and others would readily admit, other “boy scouts” had existed for centuries before. Formally in Ireland, or simply by the nature of their lifestyle, in Africa and America.

There’s also a section called “Up to You Papers”, which was a recurring feature containing guidance for good citizenship, from a broadly Christian point of view.

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And an interesting advert, presenting the ownership of a comprehensive encyclopedia as the passage to a utopian ideal of universal knowledge. Of course, today, we carry about tiny boxes in our pockets which have the potential to access more useful information that would have filled a thousand such volumes. As long as we use it wisely!



My main blog, British Comics Misecellany, is about British comics and (especially) story papers from all eras. But I prefer the ones from the 1890’s to 1940’s, the age of the Empire! (well, it’s height, and start of the rapid fall). That blog concentrates heavily on the stories, giving articles a brief once-over, and says almost nothing about the adverts.

A lot of the “higher minded” story papers, such as Chums, Rovering and The Boys’ Own Paper (though, oddly, I don’t own any of those) had articles on many subjects – and some of those subjects were politics, society, history, geography, citizenship and, of course, the Empire. They provide a very interesting look at British society of the time, and how Britons saw other societies. Other articles provide glimpses of half-forgotten fragments of British history, once well-known to every citizen, and of now-dead customs and “cottage industries” that once existed in out-of-the-way places.

We have, in the words of Show of Hands, “lost more than we’ll ever know”, but these articles often provide a window into what has been lost. We hear little of them in the media – and what we do hear is usually filtered through modern academia, and the broadcaster’s intended narrative. Any article about The Boys’ Own Paper will inevitably mention the infamous “golden hamster letter” it printed, right at the end of it’s life – and not the huge influence it exerted on several generations of British men. Even Mr Jeremy “one nation tory” Paxman’s series on the Empire dismissed Chums with a giggle at the title, and a close-up of a particularly racially-stereotyped illustration.

The purpose of this blog is to reproduce these articles in full, so you can get a real impression of what these papers were like. They will also provide some interesting information about how life used to be lived and, for some readers, suggest now-neglected places they might like to visit. While I’m pretty obviously nationalist, imperialist, “far right”, etc… I’ll only provide minimal contextual commentary. Where possible, I’ll provide links back to British Comics Miscellany, where I’ve given some of these papers more general coverage (an article on Rovering is on the way!).