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Publisher's Note

The Guardian newspaper has a permanent and respected place amongst the leading international newspapers of record. It has always been characterised by its liberal outlook, its interest in world affairs and the quality of its writing.

Back files of The Guardian are held by hundreds of libraries throughout the world, but access to its contents has been hindered by the absence of any index prior to 1986.

The discovery of The Guardian’s own working index offered a solution to this problem and Adam Matthew Publications now offers a complete run of this hitherto unpublished index (previously held in three different locations) to The Guardian running from 1842 to 1985.

For these libraries already holding backfills of the newspaper in microfilm or hard copy it is an essential reference tool.

The Guardian Index unlocks the riches of this leading international newspaper by providing a direct route to the millions of articles written in this period.

It will be particularly helpful for library patrons to have access to the countless review articles featured in the newspaper. As well as book reviews (always a strong feature of the paper) there are reviews of ballet, cinema, drama, music, opera, radio and television.

Given the paper’s radical/liberal stance the index also provides access to those issues which The Guardian covered in greater detail than any other national newspaper. These range from the Case for Home Rule in Ireland in the 19th Century and the early struggles for women’s suffrage, through to analysis of labour disputes and issues of multi-culturism in the post-World War II world.

The Guardian also benefits from its broad international outlook. Cosgrave and Gandhi both acknowledged that The Guardian had played a part in the struggle for independence of their countries by presenting a detailed and factual account of what was happening1. The rise of fascism and the plight of the Jews in the 1930’s and 1940’s is covered in great detail and Alistair Cooke’s regular Columns on American affairs, as well as his special reports on the Korean War, repay reading. There is much on decolonisation, apartheid and protests against the War in Vietnam. Affairs in Russia, Eastern Europe and in the Far East are also extremely well documented.

This index - compiled by The Guardian to enable its own Journalists to get rapid access to leaders, articles, features, reviews and pictures - will now provide the same ready reference service for all who consult it.

The Index is published in three sections, covering 1842-1928; 1929-1972 and 1973-1985 respectively.

Each of these sections is divided into parts to enable libraries with partial backfills to acquire just those years of the Index which match their holdings.

Section I - The Guardian Index, 1842-1928

The Manchester Guardian first appeared as a bi-weekly newspaper on May 4, 1821. It was founded by John Edward Taylor who edited the newspaper from 1821-1844. He was succeeded by Russell Scott Taylor (Editor, 1844 -1848) and Jeremiah Garnett (Editor, 1848 - 1861). It was Garnett who made The Manchester Guardian a daily (in 1855), reduced its price from two pence to one penny (in 1857) and opened the paper’s first London office in the neighbourhood of the Houses of Parliament.

John Edward Taylor Junior, the son of the founder, took over as editor in 1861 and served in that position until 1871.

Very much to the fore in newspaper matters, in 1870 Taylor was the leader of those responsible for the formation of the Press Association. In February of the following year, he engaged C P Scott, his 24 year old cousin, for the newspaper and 12 months later Scott took over as editor.

Scott was to be The Manchester Guardian for the next six decades. He was editor of the paper from 1872 until 1929, a record 57 years During this period The Manchester Guardian was transformed from a provincially based paper to an internationally respected newspaper of record. The Christian Science Monitor described Scott as “For more than half a century a leading figure - perhaps the Leader - in the journalism of the world.”2 His success lay in the extraordinary range of contacts that he established.

Gladstone became a friend because Scott - a liberal activist himself - used paper to champion the Home Rule Bill. That led to trusted friendships with John Dillon and John Redmond in Ireland. Manchester was a politically active area at this time and the Pankhursts sparked his interest in women’s suffrage and many other civil rights issues. The Fawcetts were also valued contacts. Chaim Weizmann, a chemistry lecturer in Manchester before he became the first President of Israel, used the pages of The Manchester Guardian to articulate the cause of Zionism, just as Tagore and Gandhi voiced the views of the Indian sub-continent.

Scott’s connection with Lloyd-George is perhaps the most remarkable. At one stage it seemed that he was in and out of the Prime Minister’s office more than many members of the Cabinet and he was involved in many crucial discussions and decisions. Kerensky, Wilfred Laurier and Jan Smuts also fell into his sphere and Arthur Henderson and Ramsey MacDonald saw Scott as a useful ally.3

These contacts presented Scott with scoops that few other papers could match. As Francis Williams was to write in his Dangerous Estate (1957) “Scott went on to make the Guardian into something unique in British journalism: a provincial paper which came to be accepted not only in Britain but in every part of the civilised world as the supreme expression of the liberal spirit.”

During his long years as editor, Scott was able to engage some of the best young journalists in the country, names such as C P Crozier - future editor; Oliver Elton, a future biographer of Scott and W T Arnold.

Other prominent names associated with his editorship include L T Hobhouse, the Lancashire playwright; Andrew Long, Comyns Carr, Sir Claude Phillips and Spencer Wilkinson. The London office relocated in 1914 to Fleet Street, also had its talents, of whom Henry Massingham and Harold Spencer were the best known.

From 1907 until 1913 Scott, apart from his editorship, was also sole proprietor of The Manchester Guardian. Then, in order to safeguard the paper’s independence, he divided the ordinary shares equally among himself, his two sons Edward and John and his son-in-law, C E Montague, on the understanding that the shares of any one of the four who died or left the paper must be offered to the others.

In 1921 The Manchester Guardian celebrated its centenary giving Scott the opportunity, in a famous and much-quoted leader, to express his creed for his paper: “Its primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the included face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

Despite the acknowledgment that The Manchester Guardian under Scott deserved to be considered as a great newspaper, it did not always make profits.

Nevertheless, careful accumulation of reserves during prosperous years had made possible the purchase between 1923 and 1930 of The Manchester Evening News which, in the years to come, was able to provide a “cushion” for The Manchester Guardian with its profits.

The Manchester Guardian started its own in-house index in 1842 making use of a series of large manuscript ledgers. One volume was devoted to each year with the entries being made alphabetically in a single sequence incorporating persons, places and subjects.

Under ‘A’ in 1842 for instance, one will find entries concerning: Abduction Case; Anticorn Law; Athenaenem; Antimonopoly; America; Assizes; Accidents; Agriculture; Agitation; Antibread Tax Circular; Averages; Amateur Choral Society; Annual Licensing Sessions; Arson at Liverpool and Ashburton, Lord. Following each entry is the date of the issue concerned. In some instances (e.g. Anticorn Law) there are additional explanations of the nature of the articles (e.g. interview of Anticorn Law delegates with peel; ACLL and the monopolists, etc). By 1928 there are many more indexing terms used and the individual entries provide detailed abstracts (5 - 10 words) as well as the date of each item indexed.

Due to the size and format of these large manuscript ledgers it was decided that 35mm microfilm was the most suitable format for filming, ensuring the legibility of all the handwritten entries.

These manuscript ledgers are now held by Manchester Central Library and we are grateful to Steve Willis, Mike Luft and their colleagues for making this publication possible.

Part 1 covers the period 1842-1880 including the re-establishment of Income Tax, Peel’s Corn Law Bill, the 1848 Revolutions, Chartist Risings, the Great Exhibition, the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, Wars with China, Disraeli’s Bill (1859), the Civil War in America, the Death of the Prince Consort, the Zulu War and Gladstone’s First Ministry.

Part 2 covers the period 1881-1904 which witnessed Gladstone’s second and third ministries, the Franchise Bill, the Home Rule Bill for Ireland, the Factory and Workshops Bill, the London Dock Strike led by Ben Tillett, Tom Mann and John Burns, the Jameson Raid, the Sudan War, the Boer War and the Death of Queen Victoria.

Part 3 covers the period 1905-1928, featuring the launch of the first Dreadnought and the Anglo-German Arms Race, the Women’s Suffrage Campaign, the First World War, the Balfour Declaration that Britain favoured the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, the Russian Revolution, the partitioning of Ireland, the emergence of the Labour Party, the first Labour government and the onset of the slump.

Section II—The Guardian Index, 1929-1972

When C P Scott retired in 1929, he was succeeded by his son, Edward Taylor Scott. His tenure as editor was brief, for in 1932 he was drowned in a boating accident on Lake Windermere. For the next twelve years, W P Crozier was the editor and he was succeeded in 1944 by A P Wadsworth who served as editor until 1956 when Alastair Hetherington took charge (Editor, 1956 - 1975). It was Hetherington who changed the title of the newspaper to The Guardian in 1959, foreshadowing the transfer of the paper’s Head Office to London in 1961.

The crusading liberal style established by Scott was taken forward as can be seen from the paper’s extensive coverage of women’s issues, race and minority affairs. The Guardian became a thorn in the side of the establishment and a champion of civil rights.

On 1 January 1929 The Manchester Guardian instituted a new card index system to replace the old ledger system. This offered a great deal more flexibility and meant that entries could be kept in strict alphabetic sequence. This was essential given that the entries for a given letter of the alphabet were now running over numerous pages in the ledgers.

Entries were made in typescript on 3” x 5” cards and offered a brief abstract (5 –10 words) of the indexed item, together with the date, page and column references. Numerous cross-references were made to enable users to retrieve the information they needed quickly. In addition to covering persons, places and subjects in a single alphabetical sequence, the Index also include numerous special sections. For instance, Book Reviews (under ‘B’) were indexed by Anon, General and then A-Z and ran to c1000-2000 entries per year. Similarly, Cinema (Kinema in the earlier years), Ballet, Drama, Music and Opera are all covered, providing access to a vast body of critical debate. Other sections include Articles, Illustrations, Leaders, Speeches, Company Meetings, Lectures, Obituaries and Wills.

The entries made under each indexing term are arranged in date order and there are frequently multiple cards for a single indexing term. For instance, there are 78 cards covering ‘Palestine’ in 1937, 108 cards.

Covering ‘China: Sino-Japanese War’ in 1938 and 23 cards covering the ‘Beveridge Plan’ in 1943 (with another 5 for Sir William Beveridge himself). The depth of coverage on such topics is impressive and the Index allows ready access to the main news coverage, to the background stories, to side-issues and even to letters to the Editor on the subject. For instance, the 1937 entries for Russia provide references to Charles Sumner’s portrait of Trotsky and to the views of Dr J N Steinberg and A J P Taylor on the Trials & Executions at Moscow, among many other items. There are approximately 75,000 entries for each year of the paper.

The original card index is held in the Guardian Archives at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. It is held in steel filing Cabinets (232 drawers) and there are some 354,100 cards in total. We are most grateful to John Tuck and his colleagues for their assistance in making this Index available.

Given that this was a working newspaper index, it inevitably has some of the associated problems. Some of the entries include crossings out and typographical errors, which may look untidy, but do not obscure the information content. There are also numerous mis-numberings in long-running card sequences. For instance, in 1930 the card entitled CRIME:SUICIDE (5) is followed by CRIME: SUICIDE (9), but as the date of the last item on the first of these cards is the same as the date of the first item on the latter card, it is clear that there has been no omission. This sort of mis-numbering is inevitable given that reporters and information staff were able to remove sections of the cards whilst chasing up a particular story, only to return them later. This practice has also resulted in a small number of cards being lost or misfiled. Every attempt has been made to correct the misfiling (not an easy task with so many cards involved) and we have been careful to ensure that all surviving cards have been filmed. However, users are advised to scan the whole of a section such as CRIME: SUICIDE before concluding that cards have been mis-numbered or lost. The quality of the typed entries was also dependent on the freshness of the type-writer ribbon at the time that the entry was made. Some entries are very faint and we have tried to compensate for this by darkening the photographic image. Despite such imperfections in the original, there can be no doubt concerning the utility of the Index which does not open up the news and review content of The Guardian to researchers for the first time.

Whilst the size of the manuscript ledgers covered in Section I of the Index made 35 mm microfilm the most sensible choice, the sheer volume of the cards pointed to microfiche as a better reference format for the second section. Approximately 180 cards are contained on each fiche and are arranged in 5 rows reading from left to right in sequence. Each fiche has an eye readable header and the third line shows the alphabetical sequence covered, enabling rapid identification of the required fiche.

The second section is divided into five parts covering the periods 1929-1935; 1936-1945; 1946-1955; 1956-1962; and 1963-1972 respectively. In Part 1 of the Index, covering 1929-1935, attention is focussed on issues such as the social impact of the Great Depression, the rise of fascism throughout Europe, the Abyssinian crisis, the origins of apartheid, the plight of Jews, Soviet show trials, the Representation of the People Act, the fall of the second Labour Government in Britain and Roosevelt and New Deal politics in America.

Part 2, featuring the years 1936-1945, offers extensive coverage of issues and events such as the Spanish Civil War, the death of King George V and the ensuing abdication crisis, the independence movement in India, crisis over Palestine, the policy of appeasement, Munich, the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain’s alliance with Poland, Churchill and Britain during the Second World War, Lend-lease, the Holocaust, the origins of the Cold War and Post-War Reconstruction. From 1940-1945, paper restrictions reduced the size of all newspapers, so the Index for this period is also of a smaller size. However, the quality of the Index is not diminished and entries under “WAR” describe the progress of the conflict in all its aspects.

Part 3 covers the years from 1946 to 1955, a period which witnessed the implementation of welfare state policies in Britain by the new Labour Government; the independence of India, Pakistan and other nations as de-colonization swept the world; the Korean War and renewed worries about the world’s security in the nuclear age; Marshall aid in Europe and the Schuman Plan for European integration and co-operation and the coronation of Elizabeth II, witnessed by millions through the increasingly pervasive medium of television.

Part 4 covers the years from 1956 to 1962, dominated by the Suez Crisis and Kruschev’s vigorous foreign policy. In Britain, Macmillan took over from Eden, coal rationing came to an end, the Clean Air Act was passed, the Wolfenden Committee recommended the creation of a Sports Development Council and the Government started negotiations for British entry into the Common Market.

This period also witnessed an International Conference on the suspension of Nuclear tests, De Gaulle’s election in France, trouble in Cyprus, the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, the creation of the E.E.C., the formation of the European Free Trade Association, the growth of Rock and Roll, the election of John F Kennedy as US President, UN condemnation of South Africa’s policy of apartheid, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Part 5 covers the years 1963-1972, the rise of Harold Wilson, the Profumo Scandal, the independence of Ceylon, Fiji, Guyana, Kenya, Nyasaland, Rhodesia, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, Zambia, and Zanzibar, the assassination of President John Kennedy, the death of Churchill, the Vietnam War and protests against it, the rise of British popular music led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Hippy movement and student unrest, De Gaulle’s continued vetoing of Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community, the Race Relations Bill, the outbreak of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland and man’s first landing on the moon.

Section III - The Guardian Index, 1973-1985

Taking over in 1975, Peter Preston became the 10th Editor in the history of The Guardian. The card index system continued although the terms used continued to evolve over time. Much of the ‘news’ content of the Index withered away in this period, although the Reviews, Letters to the Editor, Leaders, Woman’s Page and other special sections continue to be extensively covered. From 1986 onwards the paper made use of the printed index produced by UMI (also in CD ROM format).

This third section completes coverage of The Guardian Index, bringing it right up to the UMI edition of today. This was the last section of the Index to be found - still at The Guardian - but it has now been passed to the John Ryland’s University Library of Manchester.
It is in two parts covering 1973-1978 and 1979-1985.

Part 1 covers Britain’s eventual entry into the EEC, the Arab-Israeli War and Oil Crisis, the Watergate Affair and the fall of President Nixon, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign, the three day week in Britain and Margaret Thatcher’s election to the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Part 2 covers the Conservation Election victories of 1979 and 1983, the birth of the SDP, one man/one vote elections in Zimbabwe and the Falklands War.

Special Features of the Index


Under ‘Leaders’ users will find a chronological list of Leader articles broken into the three or four major sub-headings of the day. This is a useful way of establishing what The Guardian viewed as the key topics of the day.

Featured Writers / Signed Articles

Under ‘Signed Articles’ users will find an alphabetical list by writer of all of the Signed Articles in a given year. As such, this is a quick way to track down the reviews and articles of a chosen writer.

Among the many leading writers who have contributed to The Guardian are:

Brian Aldiss, John Arlott, W T Arnold, Norman Bentwich, Michael Billington, Asa Briggs, Karl Capek, Neville Cardus, Richard Crossman, C P Crozier, Alistair Cooke, Ivo Duchacek, Michael Frayn, Max Freedman, Victor Gollancz, Jo Grimond, L T Hobhouse, Simon Hoggart, Bernard Ingham, Lena Jeger, Nicholas Kaldor, Arthur Koestler, Bernard Levin, David Marquand, Henry Massingham, Henry Woodd Nevinson, A Ponsonby, Arthur Ransome, Diana Rowntree, Norman Shrapnel, Harold Spender, David Steel, R H Tawney, A J P Taylor, Arnold Toynbee, Jill Tweedie, Alex Werth Tanya Zinkin and Victor Zorza.

There are also breakdowns of the contents of the Woman’s Page, Travel, Car and other special sections of the paper that existed from time to time. These are found under the relevant headings.


Reviews are a major feature of the Index and are found under the relevant topic. Book Reviews are broken down under Anon, General and then A-Z author, with about 1,000 or 2,000 entries per year. Other Review headings include Art Exhibitions, Ballet, Cinema/Kinema, Concerts, Drama, (generally giving play, playhouse, date and reviewer), Gramophone Records (Later on) Opera, Radio and Television (including memorable early TV reviews by Bernard Levin).


Every cartoon is identified, specifying the cartoonist (e.g. all those by “Low”) and giving the caption. All maps, photographs, drawings and diagrams are identified, opening up a huge library of news pictures and other graphic materials. These are usually found together under ‘Illustrations’.

Letters to the Editor

These are listed either chronologically or alphabetically by correspondent each year, including the subject of the letter and the correspondent. Together with sections on ‘Lectures’ and ‘Speeches’ these are a useful source of contemporary comment.

Wills & Obituaries

All wills and obituaries are indexed opening up a wealth of biographical material.

Company Meetings and Reports

Under this heading will be found the name of the company and the page/column reference.


This is also a first class news index. This is particularly important as The Guardian covered many areas and subjects (e.g. Wales and the North West of England, Industry, Labour disputes, Suffrage and Feminist Politics, Minority Affairs) better than its broadsheet rivals.

The result is a workable and extremely useful index that will help library patrons to gain access to articles and reviews locked away in historic backfills of The Guardian which they would otherwise struggle to find.

These letters will be found in Journalism and Politics - Series One: The Papers of C P Scott, 1846-1932 from the John Rylands University of Manchester, also published by Adam Matthew Publications.

Christian Science Monitor, 4 January 1932.

Scott’s correspondence and involvement with these figures - as well as his remarkable Political Diary 1911-1928, are included in the project mentioned above (footnote 1)



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