One of the jobs our department is responsible for is the From the Archive column which runs on the leader page of the Guardian each day. Our basic brief is to find an interesting article that ran on the same date, and edit it down to around 450 words. It doesn’t have to be pure news, or editorial – it can be about anything as long as the writing, the author or the subject are interesting. Recent pieces have covered the films Tootsie and Gandhi (1983), airport virginity tests (1979), sherry parties (1936) and the penny post (1840).
Rather than poring over old copies of the newspaper, we use the digital archive to search for stories, either by browsing specific issues for events we’ve already pinpointed or searching for topics using the advanced search option. It can be frustrating when you can’t find a decent article on a major event, or when you realise your killer piece has already been printed in the column, but you do come across some really fascinating items.
Like the photo, from a March 1950 edition of the Guardian, which is captioned “Various styles of negotiating a barbed wire fence in the English National Youths’ Cross-country Championship at Aylesbury on Saturday”. I don’t have fond memories of cross country running at school, but I don’t think it was ever that extreme.