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We are delighted to announce the successful completion of our project ‘Behind the Headlines: Documenting the People in the Guardian Archive’, which was funded by the Business Archives Council’s Cataloguing Grant for Business Archives.

Project archivist Jane Speller achieved a tremendous amount in only six weeks, producing the project’s two main outputs which are:

Our fantastic Heritage Imaging Team has also digitised the Guardian centenary photograph album mentioned in a previous blog post. You can view this in our image Library, LUNA, and for visitors to the Library it is also available on our large ‘Turning the Pages’ terminal in the Historic Reading Room, where it is already proving very popular.

Jane Speller found time to pen the following blog post for us just before completing her work on the project. It focuses on the newspapers’ House Journal, just one of the gems she came across when cataloguing staff records in the archive:

Cover of the House Journal no. 56, January 1928

Cover of the House Journal no. 56, January 1928

The Manchester Guardian and Evening News House Journal – or Ho. Jo. as it was affectionately known – was the staff magazine of the two newspapers.

The Ho. Jo.s in the Guardian Archive are a great resource for researching the people who worked for the two newspapers as well as for gaining an understanding of the ethos behind the company. They date from December 1918 (no. 3) to January 1932 (no. 69) and appear in the catalogue under the reference GDN/324/8. The Ho. Jo.s are crammed full of stories, photographs, illustrations and cartoons which describe staff lives, events at work, trips out, the staff sports teams and much more.

Manchester Guardian Football Club, as seen in the House Journal, no. 63, February 1930

Manchester Guardian Football Club, as seen in the House Journal, no. 63, February 1930

Work sponsored annual events, such as the children’s Christmas party and the veterans’ dinner are recorded. Births, deaths, marriages, promotions and retirements all feature in the ‘Personal Paragraphs’ section of the Ho. Jo. The extract below announces, amongst other things, W.C. Stopherd’s appointment as Chief Accountant of both newspapers in 1928.

'Personal Paragraphs', House Journal, no. 62, October 1928

‘Personal Paragraphs’, House Journal, no. 62, October 1928

By 1926, the cover of the Ho. Jo. regularly featured an  image of the Guardian and Evening News building on Manchester’s Cross Street, with the price of the journal being given as ‘Priceless’.

Special editions of the Ho. Jo. had different covers; for instance, the ‘Christmas Number’ from December 1925 carries an illustration titled ‘The Winter Sports’, by A.M., an un-named member of the paper’s Decorative Arts Department.

Christmas edition of the House Journal, no. 48, December 1925

Christmas edition of the House Journal, no. 48, December 1925

The history of the Manchester Guardian is well documented in the Ho. Jo. – for example, Ho. Jo.s 17 and 18 include coverage of the paper’s centenary celebrations in 1921. The centenary also marked the fiftieth year of C.P. Scott’s editorship of the Guardian, and the Ho. Jo. describes how the staff chose a present for him – a member of the editorial team, W.P. Crozier, ‘in a happy speech’ remarked that ‘Some younger heads had thought of giving Mr. Scott a new bicycle; older and wiser ones thought it better to take away the one he has!’

Manchester Guardian Centenary Dinner for the staff, held in the Chinese Hall at Belle Vue. The dinner was hotpot with red cabbage. Picture from the House Journal, no. 17, June 1921 (GDN/324/8)

Manchester Guardian Centenary Dinner for the staff, held in the Chinese Hall at Belle Vue. The dinner was hotpot with red cabbage. Picture from the House Journal, no. 17, June 1921

There are stories about the Guardian library which in the early 1930s contained over 500 books, as well as tales about the mythical ‘Corridor’ which housed individual journalists’ offices: ‘Though few have observed it, the lions of the corridor are kept in numbered cages…Cage 5. harbours a progressive animal.’ (Ho. Jo. no.14, February 1921).

As might be expected from the staff of two great newspapers, the Ho. Jo. stories are well written and laced with humour. Take for example, the relationship between the Manchester (head) office and the London office. In Ho. Jo. no. 10 (December 1919), two young members of staff who have visited each others’ offices give their views. In ‘The Manchester End by a Young Londoner’ the writer exclaims, ‘I have never seen such wonderful puddles before’ and in ‘The London End by a Young Provincial’ the writer remarks on ‘the cushioned and carpeted ease’ of the London office. A short piece in Ho. Jo. no. 18 (June 1918) is titled ‘The Gay Dogs’ and further highlights the witty banter between the two offices:

‘Our long suffering wire, immediately after midnight on December 31, bore the following New Year greetings between the London office and the head office:-
S.G. London to Manchester:  “A good New Year to the end that bites.”
B.Q. Manchester to London: “A good New Year to the end where the wages are’.

The Ho. Jo. had a serious side too. Well wishes were sent to staff who were ill and the deaths of staff were always marked, often with an obituary. The contribution made by Manchester Guardian staff in the Great War was recorded on a memorial plaque, ‘Our Memorial: To the Dead and the Living’, which was featured in Ho.Jo. no. 18 (June 1921).

'Role of Honour: staff of the Manchester Guardian: 1914-1919 War', memorial plaque. Image from the House Journal, no. 18, June 1921

‘Roll of Honour: staff of the Manchester Guardian: 1914-1919 War’, memorial plaque. Image from the House Journal, no. 18, June 1921

In 1949 the Cross Street Journal was launched. This new manifestation of the staff journal was named after the street on which the shared offices of the Manchester Guardian and Manchester Evening News were located. Cross Street in central Manchester was home to the Guardian for 85 years up until 29 August 1970. The famous Cross Street building shared by the two newspapers has long since been demolished, but the staff journals serve as a record of their longstanding relationship. The last edition of the Cross Street Journal was produced in 1966.

We are very grateful to the Business Archives Council for funding this work.

All images in this post are reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.