The ‘New Candidate’ with 100 eyes: a look at the launch issue of the Brighton Argus, 30 March 1880

We have just released over 2,700 digitised copies of the Brighton Argus on to our Digital Media Bank. All these issues date from the 1880s, and can be downloaded and re-used free of charge.

The only local newspaper that survives today from the 19th century, the first issue of the Brighton Argus was published on 30 March 1880. It launched during the early days of campaigning for the Parliamentary elections that year, and the Argus’s editor proudly proclaimed the newspaper to be the ‘New Candidate’.

‘Born of the excitement of the election (as was Venus of the foam of the sea — and quite worthy of the comparison), devoted to the election, and appealing chiefly to those who are alive to the momentous character of the election, and who will watch its course with as much anxiety as a physician who feels a patient’s pulse — what more natural and proper than that The Argus should style itself a New Candidate?’

 

Named after a figure in Greek mythology who was reputed to have 100 eyes, the Argus’s all-seeing gaze covered local affairs, national politics, and international events. One of the more striking stories was sourced from the New York Herald, concerning an unusual divorce case in the United States:

‘By a decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey… Sarah Peterson has been re-united in marriage to James V Peterson, although the parties were divorced 13 years ago, and notwithstanding the fact that Mr Peterson committed suicide.’

Why have we just published the Argus from the 1880s?

These newspapers have been digitised from microfilm copies that were once held in the Brighton History Centre. The digital images have been converted into PDFs, but all require additional processing with optical character recognition software to make some of the text readable. This is a time consuming process, taking 20-30 minutes per newspaper.

As a result, we are releasing our digitised newspapers in batches. This release of Argus newspapers accompanies a previous release of over 4,500 copies of the Brighton Herald, another local newspaper.

In addition to searching by date it is possible to run keyword searches for specific names and phrases. Take a look at our Digital Media Bank search tips for advice on how to do this.

Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager

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