In the centuries before there were newspapers and 24-hour news channels, the general public had to rely on street literature to find out what was going on. The most popular form of this for nearly 300 years was ‘broadsides’ – the tabloids of their day. Sometimes pinned up on walls in houses and ale-houses, these single sheets carried public notices, news, speeches and songs that could be read (or sung) aloud.
The National Library of Scotland’s online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what ‘the word on the street’ was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions – all these and more are here.
Each broadside comes with a detailed commentary and most also have a full transcription of the text, plus a downloadable PDF facsimile. You can search by keyword, browse by title or browse by subject.
Take a look, and discover what fascinated our ancestors!