Posts Tagged ‘DIB’

Newspapers and the Dictionary of Irish Biography

1 June 2010

Contributed by Felix M. Larkin

G.K. Chesterton once said that newspapers were ‘the largest work ever published anonymously since the great Christian cathedrals’.  This anonymity has huge implications for historians using newspapers as a source for their research.  Undoubtedly, newspapers are valuable sources of information.  However, there are obvious dangers in relying on any newspaper – or, indeed, periodical – without some background knowledge of the publication in question, in particular its political bias and the people who controlled it.  That is why research on the history of the press is so important – apart altogether from its inherent interest.  The new Dictionary of Irish Biography has made a significant contribution to lifting the veil of anonymity that has long shrouded the history of Irish newspapers.  Take, for example, the Freeman’s Journal – probably Dublin’s most distinguished newspaper, published continuously from 1763 to 1924.

The search mechanism on the Dictionary of Irish Biography website throws up 340 entries that contain a reference to the Freeman.  That’s over 3.75 per cent of the total.  Some are merely references to the newspaper in the bibliographical paragraph at the foot of the entries, and it seems to me that the option of excluding the bibliographies from a word-search would be a worthwhile modification to the website, enhancing the ease with which scholars can find entries relevant to their field of study. Read More