To download the Excel file of the UK Trade and Professional Press database, click on the following link:
We’d be very grateful if you could use the form at the bottom of this page to offer us any corrections, emendations or additions.
A short version of what follows was delivered at a CREL research seminar on 19 May 2020.
A video of that event is available here.
In 2005, Franco Moretti famously called on literature scholars to move “from texts to models” (“Graphs, Maps and Trees”, Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History, n.p.) and, though using a very different set of procedures, that is what I have done here in my overview of a previously uncharted field, the nineteenth-century periodical press addressing the trades and professions. I had begun work in this area for the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (2009) for which I was Associate Editor. I went on in 2008 to publish a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies on “Gender, the Professions and the Press” with a hefty piece of my own that sought to give a panoramic view of the field. But I was deeply dissatisfied with my procedures: I felt compelled to make generalisations – models – constructed on the basis of too little data. While there have been a few academic attempts to map the huge field of the Victorian trade and periodical press – most notably by David McKitterick’s “Publishing for Trades and Professions” in volume VI of his Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (2009) and J. Donn Vann and Rosemary T. VanArsdel’s Victorian Periodicals and Victorian Society (1994) – none has been complete or rigorous (see King, “The Trade and Professional Press” in David Finkelstein, ed. The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press volume 2 (2020) ). The linked Excel file above is the first attempt to create a database that enables a map – a model – of the field.
Creating such a database is not a simple or obvious process and has raised issues that affect not just the contours of my specific focus but how we see the field as a whole – it has implications that apply far beyond any conception of the trade and professional press. It impacts not only on the practices and practicalities of gathering data on texts, but also what data to gather and how we are to assemble that data so as to create new histories, and hence stories about ourselves. Classifying periodicals according to their morphological features, for example, creates an entirely different history from classifying them according to how they might be linked cladistically, ecosystemically or functionally (as I define these terms below). And then there were the very real practical decisions I had to face: as we all know from our knowledge of Marxist criticism, the histories we tell and the data we can use to tell those histories are inextricably bound to mode of production. It seems to me ethically imperative to be clear, therefore, about how the database was produced.
First, I had to decide what data it was feasible to gather and in what form it could be presented. Key was the question of value for money: how could I balance cost with value, time-constraints with desire for completeness? Rather than creating an elaborate bespoke database (as many projects have done), it was much cheaper both in terms of time and money to use a Excel spreadsheet. There was another advantage: many bespoke databases are not transparent or easily editable by the user. Excel enables the user to see all the data at once and order it in various ways. It also reveals at once any inadequacies in the data and enables the user to correct or add to it. This at once appealed to me. The database is an example of (comparatively) Big Data that does not promise more than it can deliver: inspired indirectly by the values of arte povera, the 1970s Italian art movement that used discarded and overlooked objects to challenge the values of the commercialised art system, a conception of art I was very influenced by in the 1980s in my own art practices, the database and the whole BLT19 website uses unglamorous, readily available and cheap software that openly shows its construction and its gaps as well as its content. This is completely consonant with the aims of BLT19 as a whole.
As explained in more detail below, the database was generated from a selection of nineteenth-century press directories. The elements I eventually chose to capture, having started with many more (from page size and number of columns to printers’ names and addresses and the sequence of items in sample issues) comprised the
- publisher and
- the publisher’s address
I consulted every edition of the chosen directories available to me in order to create a year-by-year list:
- Mitchell’s Newspaper Press Directory 1846 -1900,
- Layton’s Handy Newspaper List 1895-1900,
- Hammond’s List of London and provincial Newspapers, Periodicals, &c (1850) and
- ‘An Old Advertiser,’ Handbook for Advertisers and Guide to Advertising Containing all the Facts Necessary to Enable All Person to Advertise Most Efficiently (1854).
It will be clear that there are significant omissions, not least Sell’s Dictionary of the World’s Press and Deacon’s Newspaper Handbook and Advertiser’s Guide. Again this was a question of value for money: I had to balance completeness against the need to cover a wide time span and the time constraints of the projects. While I have used Sell’s to check the data culled from Mitchell’s and Layton’s, I did not have time to add data particular either to it or to Deacon’s.
To ensure accuracy, the data in the spreadsheet were cross checked with the Waterloo Directories of English, Scottish and Welsh Periodicals, the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, Sell’s Dictionary of the World’s Press, the British Library and other catalogues, as I detail in “The Trade and Professional Press” in David Finkelstein, ed. The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, EUP, 2020. Several hundred issues of the periodicals were also consulted in paper format.
The spreadsheet includes for each year not only new titles that appeared that year in the directories but also those that were still running. If a directory included them in some years but excluded them in others and evidence showed that the periodicals were being published in that year, entries were accordingly inserted into the appropriate spreadsheets. To maintain the practices of the directories and ensure consistency, entries were only made the year after periodicals were started. Thus, for example, the Colonial Trade Journal did not appear in Mitchell’s until 1884 even though it began to be published in 1879; entries were therefore included in the spreadsheets for 1880, 1881, 1882 and 1883 as well as from 1884. What this method was able to show (which a spreadsheet that only included, say, the starting and ending dates of periodicals) was the changing landscape of the press: it enabled the charting of different densities of kinds of periodicals, showing for the first time what the whole field looked like in any given year – from the viewpoint of the chosen press directories of course.
How it was that I chose to derive my data from the press directories is explained below in the section on functional classification and in King 2020.
Before we get there, however, we need to think through the classificatory possibilities for periodicals in general: the case of the trade and professional press are only examples of a much wider issue. While many of us have been involved for many years describing periodicals, this is the first time to my knowledge that a theoretical overview of the possibilities for classification beyond the conventional industry-derived categories the “penny weekly”, the “shilling monthly” and the “trade press” and so on has been attempted.
The taxonomy of periodicals is always difficult, and the case of the category “trade and professional periodicals” is no different. Previous attempts to grapple with the question have tended either to side step it, confuse the issue so as to offer a genealogy for selected academic interests, or to address it through the abundant academic literature on the various sociologies of work . What is involved in even thinking of the label “trade and professional periodical”? It is a problem related to the notion of “genre” in traditional literary studies, but here, as will be clear, “genre” is inadequate as a descriptor in any traditional sense.
I therefore looked elsewhere and, inspired by a conversation with a biologist on this matter, turned to biological taxonomy, where classification as a theoretical principle and practice has a long and detailed history. As a result, I am suggesting four main methods of defining a periodical, each depending on where we choose to place the emphasis on what data we gather.
These four ways can be explained simply through a brief account of the so-called “Darwin’s Finches,” specimens that Darwin – or rather his manservant Syms Covington – shot and collected on the Galapagos Island and which the ornithologist John Gould classified back in London.
Each finch has a differently-shaped beak – morphologically the shapes are different. While the birds make look different, they are nonetheless genetically related. They belong to the same “clade” in that they share an ancestor, for cladistics looks at the ancestry of organisms. Now these birds, who have their ancestor in south America, developed their different morphologies because their environment had changed. They also play different roles in the ecology of the islands from what they had originally in South America. As a result, those different beaks developed different functions: long beaks enable the birds to puncture the tops of cacti and feed on the flesh; short beaks enable their possessors to eat the base of cacti along with the grubs inside them.
Obviously, what I am proposing is not at all biological. Periodicals are social not natural entities and my purpose in applying biological classification to the field of media history is to help alienate us from our entrenched practices and see our field anew so that we can consider what is at stake in what we take for granted and what we can gain by re-orientating our conceptions.
Classificatory Procedure 1: the Morphological
When we describe and classify a periodicals through the morphological we will focus on the shape of the periodical ‑ basically its organisation of print space: page size, the number of pages and columns, whether there are covers and if so of what kind and whether they are filled with adverts, whether there are illustrations, what the sequence of content, use of headers, masthead, frequency, and so on. This is a common procedure that has its roots in the developments in bibliography that have come out of the “sociology of the text,” a term we owe to D.F. McKenzie’s inaugural Panizzi lecture (1985), and which has been extensively developed by Laurel Brake and others. It is a form of description fundamental to the template devised for contributions to Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism and the “Taxonomy” used for the central bibliographical database of nineteenth-century periodicals, the Waterloo Directory.
We are used to defining periodicals in morphological terms even if we don’t use the term. It’s common parlance to describe periodical publications in morphological terms as dailies, weeklies, monthlies, glossies, pulp or online magazines. The first thing we recognise when we distinguish newspapers from magazines are the item’s morphological features. But how far might we go with this procedure? Thinking morphologically, we are led to wonder what differentiates trade and professional periodicals from the rest of the press, and what differentiated them from one another. Was there something morphological that distinguished the trade from the professional press and from other kinds of publication? With that question in mind, I duly set out to start adding the relevant information to my spreadsheets, but I didn’t get beyond a few years: adding description of the morphological features beyond the basics meant that there were just too many and too complex data points. It wasn’t in the end efficient or economical to add so much detail: what story would I be able to tell with it? Nonetheless, there were distinct features that emerged even from my preliminary study that I am able to describe here.
In 1846, the beginning of my study, the comparatively few trade and a few professional periodicals usually cost 6d, had three columns, were quarto sized and came out on a Saturday. Illustrations were very few and far between. There was, in other words, a dominant form. There was some visual play and variation in the mastheads, but not much: most used a variant of Gothic font either in the title or subtitle, though some, like the Builder were much plainer and much more solid.
If we take the dominant morphology as the three column one, there were distinct variations depending on the audiences periodicals fed on. Business periodicals, like the Journal of Commerce, the Rail, the Mart and the Mine, the London Commercial Record and the Merchant, were folio sized – like newspapers with 4, 5 or 6 columns. Their dense text makes them look serious and business-like.
The Surplice, by contrast – a periodical for the clergy – had just two columns. In terms of size it has the capacity to be bound so as to appear more book-like – more literary, perhaps like Bent’s Monthly Literary Advertiser, a 7d monthly aimed at booksellers, or, more probably, like Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine or the Westminster Review.
By 1900, morphologies had diversified very considerably: Beerbohm’s Evening Corn Trade List was only a 12-page daily quarto (around A4 size) but cost no less than 5 guineas a year and, unusually, had no adverts: its annual subscription price alone evidently supported it. It looks quite old-fashioned, its format by now sanctioned by the ages with a Gothic masthead. Most of it is in two columns, interrupted only by important notices.
In marked contrast, even while retaining the two-column layout, was the Bradford-produced 10d monthly Journal of Fabrics and Textile Industries. It was packed with illustrations, patterns and adverts and had a preference for blue-green covers and green ink for full-page images and adverts. Patterns were often printed on one side only of paper heavier than the rest of the Journal.
Although the topic might suggest otherwise, the shilling monthly Railway Engineer was similar to the Journal of Fabrics and Textile Industries in many respects, equally anxious about displaying its design credentials. Despite its 3-columned cover, it too was elegantly laid out inside with just two columns and plenty of white space. Decorative headings helped readers distinguish units of reading. In addition, it offered a regular pull-out plate that could, conceivably, be framed or just pasted for display on an office wall. Meanwhile, other periodicals, like the Baker and Confectioner, were depicting the kind of labour and domain of knowledge they addressed directly in their mastheads, after the fashion of the British Workman in the 1860s, and in what was by now a clear and easy-to-read double column layout that separated out its different departments and articles.
By 1900, weeklies and monthlies had come to dominate. My database shows 228 weeklies, 97 of which came out on a Saturday and 51 on a Friday, and 203 monthlies.
The pricing had changed too, for while there was a large number of 6d monthlies and even weeklies, the dominant species was the penny weekly, as the following numerical breakdown shows:
- 144 x 1d
- 50 x 2d
- 29 x 3d
- 41 x 4d
- 117 x 6d
Even in this rapid run through, we are able to see quite a dramatic shift over just 50 years or so in the nature of trade and professional periodicals just by classifying periodicals according to their morphological features. It is clear too that morphology alone, at least in terms of layout, will not enable us to differentiate trade from other kinds of periodicals: as we have seen from just this very small sampling, layouts were used to make associations with other kinds of publications such as newspapers or literary quarterlies that in turn in size emulated books. The size and dramatic layout of the British Workman associated it both with the Illustrated London News and the first version of Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper in order to bring together an ethic of honest work, the urgency of news, and aesthetic pleasure. Morphology alone does not help us distinguish the trade and professional press.
The conclusions in this section are generalisable only with extreme caution. While the quantitative conclusions about price and frequency are valid, we should not be misled into generalisation by claims about other morphological features. My data, even while by no means limited to what is on this page, are not, for reasons described previously, comparable in terms of completeness. This is a warning to those who make wide generalisations based on as little evidence – or even less – than I have here.
If these unsatisfactory results come from a consideration of the well-established technique of morphological classification, what can we say of the classification of periodicals in terms of the Cladistic and Ecosystemic, two systems that have never before been applied to the classification of periodicals?
Classificatory Procedure 2: the Cladistic
Cladistics in biological taxonomy looks at genealogies and organises items into clades or “tribes”. There are several ways that the “genealogy” of a periodical might be considered. Most obvious is the morphological similarity a periodical has with previous publications. What does its shape recall? This is, as the previous section has showed, unsatisfactory. But one can also organise a group of publications according to what kind of person or organisation publishes or prints it and how it was begun. In other words: what social groups were able to start what kinds of periodical? My version of cladistics therefore regards “genealogy” as the social processes and structures that give birth to a periodical not what its literary ancestors were.
My version of cladistics overlaps with (but are not cognate with) what Laurel Brake called “theories of formation” in chapter 4 of her 1994 ground-breaking collection of essays on journalism, gender and literature Subjugated Knowledges, though the “cultural formation” she was concerned with in that chapter was not a trade association but the Metaphysical Society and the transfer of power and personnel in 1877 from the high-status Contemporary Review to the new Nineteenth Century. What I am doing here is extending Brake’s attention to the social dynamics of how periodicals are formed to a very different field, and at the same time seeking to identify general patterns in how periodicals come to be born.
We know very well that publishers are just one parent of periodicals – printers are another – and my definition of cladistics would suggest that periodicals might be grouped according to who published and printed them. That is of course easily done with a spreadsheet: one simply organises the relevant columns to show who is publishing and printing what at any one time. My researches, however, showed a widely disparate, even chaotic, field of publishing and printing throughout the century, comprising a very large number of printers and publishers who changed over time, and few of whom published many titles. There are in other words many ancestors of trade and professional periodicals, few of whom seem related. What it seemed more useful to think through in terms of cladistics was the kind of social structure that could give birth to a periodical: was it started by an individual, an informal group of friends, an established or new limited publishing company? The “tribe” or clade in this case would not be based on a common ancestry but on a method of creation – egg-laying as opposed to viviparous for example (there the analogy stops). It is easier to illustrate this with an example.
The Warehousemen and Drapers’ Trade Journal had been launched in April 1872, one of the many that came out in the huge expansion of trade periodicals in the 1870s.
The Warehousemen was a 3d, 24-page weekly, published by “Emmott, Hartley & Co.” William Thomas Emmott (1846-1895) was the son of a butcher in Halifax, though the Census of 1871 shows him living in Lambeth as a “manager to printer and publisher;” while Harold Hartley (1851-1943) was the son of a wealthy London wine merchant and grandson of a notable army officer, and had worked in his father’s business since he was 14 (Hartley, 1939, ch. 1). The Warehousemen was not their first experience of publishing as Harold Hartley explained in his autobiography.
A periodical called the Milk Gazette had been set up a year previously by Hartley’s uncle Joseph Samuel Gamgee, Surgeon at Queen’s Hospital, Birmingham, in order to show how a good deal that was passed off as pure milk had been either adulterated or infected with disease.  The Milk Gazette thus combined campaigning with science (rather like the early years of the Lancet) while also claiming to represent the best interests of the dairy trade. Harold Hartley explains how he and his friend William Emmott cut their periodical teeth on his uncle’s periodical – though he doesn’t say that they managed to ruin it, for it closed down 5 months after they took over, the space devoted to advertising getting smaller and smaller, indicating hugely diminishing revenues. Hartley claims in his autobiography, instead, that the Milk Gazette ceased because, rather improbably, it had achieved its object: the elimination of impure milk. Yet even if they had only run the Milk Journal for two months by the time they started the Warehousemen, Emmott and Hartley benefitted from their association with it, for they used the same distributor and printer Simpkin Marshall and Isaac Smyth. 
Now the key point I want to make here is that the Warehouseman and Drapers’ Trade Journal is typical of a class of periodical that emerges as the precipitate of family friendships. In cladistic terms (as I use the term here), this journal would be classed perhaps as venture by young men exploiting their social capital. This is its “clade” – its “tribe” or social organisation that enables it to hatch. The way it was born contrasts with other periodicals featured on this site, such as
- the Building World set up by the extremely well-established publisher Cassell in 1895, almost certainly as a safe generator of advertising revenue – which is the same way that the Navy and Army Illustrated was born;
- the Law Times set up by an insider to the relevant domain who, precisely because he was an insider, was able to recognise a previously unaddressed set of practitioners and hence potential market – the same way that the British Printer was born;
- the Swan Lane Gazette, published as a fake magazine purely in order to advertise a manufacturer’s wares.
Even this restricted set of samples is able to reveal a set of commonalities and differences in formation classifiable into types that have not hitherto been recognised. As more and more periodicals are added to the site and research is done to contextualise their origins, this form of classification will become richer and richer, so that we shall be able to understand which social groups were able to use which social practices and which knowledges to set up a journal.
Classificatory Procedure 3: the Ecosystemic
It is also significant that the office of the Warehousemen comprised the top three floors of a building above the shop of a scientific instrument maker, Troughton & Simms, at 138 Fleet Street. Here Emmott and Hartley also ran an advertising agency through which they were able to exploit communications channels and contacts for their journal. Their choice to position themselves in Fleet street was no accident. It connects the seat of political power in Westminster to the seat of financial capital in the City, so it no surprise that it became one the major centres of newspaper and periodicals publishing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In fact right across the street, at number 85, was one of the several offices of Bradbury and Evans, the famous publishers of Dickens and Thackeray.
In 1875 Emmott and Hartley decided to raise capital and so turned the periodical into a public limited company, advertising 6000 shares of £1 each. The directors of the company were John Walrond Clarke, a Cambridge-educated retired army officer and friend of the Hartley family; Henry Whitworth Jones, an accountant; and the printer and stationer George H. Judd who had previously printed the Milk Gazette . As the prospectus openly declares from its first sentence onwards, the publishers (still Emmott and Hartley] and now their business partners had no previous knowledge of the drapery trade as such: what they did know about was publicity.
It was Emmott and Hartley’s focus on advertising revenue, together with the injection of capital and, crucially, a network gained partly from their experience of working on a previous periodical (however, disastrous), that ensured the Warehousemen’s success.
Hartley describes how the paper used various promotional stunts, from local window dressing competitions – they employed local agents as judges – to giving free copies to stationmasters in return for the names and addresses of drapers in their locality. It offered a classified directory of wholesalers and manufacturers from all over the country where drapers could buy their cloth, and ran essay competitions for advice on window dressing which they then proceeded to sell as separate pamphlets, exploiting the contributions of their readers in ways other than simply providing copy for the journal itself. The Warehouseman was very successful, taking over rivals and coming to dominate the field of drapery and textile related periodicals in the 1880s.
It ended the century in the stable of the well-established non-fiction publisher and printer W.H. & L. Collingridge.
In continuing this example of the Warehousemen and Drapers Trade Journal, I wanted to exemplify an ecosystemic way of looking at a periodical. This account, unlike the previous cladistic one, emphasises both the legal environment which enabled a periodical to become a company that issued shares and how at least some periodicals depended less on their editors’ specialist engagement in the relevant domain of knowledge than on their knowledge of the publishing and publicity system and their physical location in a defined area which afforded relevant networking. We can see how a periodical has an interactive and dynamic relationship to much wider environments – legal, geographic, familial, gender-based, class and racial – than periodical publishing on its own. This is something I explored at a distanced, macro- level in the “Conclusions” to “The Trade and Professional Press” chapter (2020), but it deserves much wider application to a series of micro-studies such as I have offered with the Warehousemen, as only through such a series can we check any generalising conclusions and think through what they mean in practice.
Without such generalization, the problem with such case studies is that we don’t really know how widely applicable they are – what are the core elements and what are the peripheral, the accidents – of success right across the field. While the point of my gathering publisher addresses such I have done in the spreadsheets was to think through the impact of various environments on periodicals, we need a huge amount more work to produce any really reliable ecosystemic conclusions over a very wide field.
I shall conclude this consideration of the ecosystemic with another periodical that has received virtually no study in its own right, the 16-page weekly Municipal & Poor Law Gazette and Local Functionary which was launched in January 1844 and lasted for just a year. It does not appear in the press directories and accordingly not in my database: in describing it here I wanted to be absolutely clear about the limitations of my data selection, while also exploring what can be done with the alternative classification methods I am describing here.
Given its subtitle as “A stamped newspaper of all matters relating to local jurisdiction and general news” we have to ask indeed whether it can it be considered a trade or professional journal at all . The answer is that it certainly can be, as it was aimed at a specific class of worker:
“functionaries, themselves obscure and unobserved, but the aggregate of whose duties vastly exceeds those of central government… Local Functionaries [sic] of Counties, Cities, Boroughs, Towns, Unions, Parishes and other districts… wholly unprovided with the means of acquiring occasional information, or of extensive communication with each other, or with the general public ” .“To Our Subscribers,” p. 1 of the first issue, Municipal & Poor Law Gazette and Local Functionary, 6 January 1844
Initially priced at 8d, the Gazette soon dropped to the more usual price of the time, 6d. Its publisher was Alexander Maxwell (1779-1849), by the time of the Gazette‘s launch an established law publisher in Lincoln’s Inn, having been as one of the two founders (in 1802) of Sweet and Maxwell (still one of the most significant UK law publishers today) and having been granted a Royal Warrant as Law Bookseller in Ordinary to King William IV in 1833. The Gazette‘s publication therefore was an addition to an already substantial specialist publishing business and in that sense was utterly unlike Emmott and Hartley’s Warehousemen and Drapers Trade Journal.
The ostensible aim of the Gazette has been read as politically “radical” (Benjamin Winstein, Liberalism and Local Government, Boydell & Brewer 2011, p. 69). That it was given a two-page advert in the January 1844 instalment of Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit may prompt us to lend it an attractively progressive aura. But in fact the Gazette was inherently compromised in its politics and (to our eyes) ethics, not least by the employment of Charles Mott (“Mr Mott” in ‘To Our Subscribers”). As assiduous research by Andrew Roberts has shown in his study of “England’s Poor Law Commissioners and the Trade in Pauper Lunacy 1834-1847,” before joining the Gazette, Charles Mott had had a career as a brutal Poor Law contractor and Assistant Poor Law Commissioner concerned to cut costs and maximise profits (Ian Miller was later to make the connection with Oliver Twist, though his version of Mott is more liberal and concerned with respecting different habits than can come across from reading the Poor Law Reports themselves). In 1842 Mott had been dismissed as Assistant Commissioner, probably for making too much trouble for workhouses who he thought were too liberal in their regimes (he was especially concerned with providing the most cost-effective diet). Yet the Gazette saw him superintending its Poor Law Department while also incorporating his Poor Law Guide and Union Advertiser, a 6d weekly Mott had started in March 1843, after his dismissal as Assistant Commissioner, in order to disseminate “practical information connected with the detail of union and workhouse management.” Cannily, he had the Poor Law Guide printed by the famous Bradbury and Evans and published by the reputable firm of Onwhyn.
Even so it was not a success. The Municipal & Poor Law Gazette and Local Functionary is in fact a child of the Poor Law Guide – it even retains Bradbury and Evans as its printers – but with a significant difference: it was supported by abundant advertising.
Maxwell was no doubt willing to take on publishing the Gazette because he saw it as aimed at a new target market not only for sales of the periodical itself but more importantly for advertising his own publications and those of his network. A large proportion of the adverts in the images above are for “LAW BOOKS” published by his neighbouring legal publishers Spettigue and Deacons (both nearby in Chancery Lane) and, even closer, William Bond in Bell Yard, where Maxwell himself had his offices. However, most advertising space is taken up with publications printed by Bradbury and Evans in Charles Street: the and Agricultural Gazette – and, even, occupying much less space, Punch. Two columns devoted to advertising seem an anomaly. One column is devoted to publications by the prestigious Murray in Albermarle Street, Mayfair – some distance away from the others. It includes The Muck Manual for the Use of Farmers and two ads for the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, a couple of items addressed to women (The Farmers’ Ladies Library of Rural and Household Economy and Mrs Rundell’s New System of Domestic Cookery), Murray’s famous edition of Byron, and also at the bottom right hand corner (where they would more likely be seen) two publications addressed to Poor Law administrators more obviously consonant with the targeted readers of the Gazette. The final column on the last page is devoted to the agricultural machinery of Alexander Dean, prize-winning “Engineer, Millwright and Machinist Manufactory.” One cannot help feeling that this, like the advertising of Murray’s publications, is due to Bradbury and Evans, for while I can find no trace of Alexander Dean advertising in Bradbury and Evans’s two new periodical ventures (the New Farmers’ Newspaper and the Gardeners’ Chronicle), it would fit in either or both of them better than here. The column may have been sent in too late for inclusion in them, or, perhaps because he got a good rate from Bradbury and Evans, thought a suitable filler for the last column of the Gazette.
Yet despite the help of advertising income, the Gazette did not last long. Mott almost certainly did not find it lucrative enough, and both Maxwell and Bradbury & Evans no doubt found the target market not as welcoming as they had hoped. Newspaper reports available from the BNA show that Mott became auditor to several workhouses and was involved in running a lunatic asylum in Lincolnshire, Haydock Lodge, where people were shipped from all over the country (see Sussex Advertiser, 16 July 1844, p. 2) and where the conditions were appalling even by the standards of the time. There were so many deaths that in May 1846 Poor Law Commissioners conducted an investigation there and the following month the matter came to Parliament where the fact that Mott had been an Assistant Commissioner was of particular concern. Even worse was the connection The Times made in its account of the matter between the Home Secretary and Haydock Lodge (see Hansard, HC Deb 19 June 1846 vol 87 cc685-8). Mott was fired in July. The following year he appeared in court as insolvent to the tune of the enormous sum of £20,000, though he claimed to possess £31,000 in capital. His biggest creditor was Andover Union for £3900 “advanced without security.” (Saint James’s Chronicle, 11 March 1847, p. 4). Haydock Lodge felt it necessary to insert a notice in at least one newspaper that since Mott had ceased to be employed by them in July 1846 he “did not have any authority to receive monies, or to do any act whatsoever on their behalf.” ( Liverpool Mercury, 26 February 1847, p. 8)
What is clear is that the ecosystem described here the enabled the set up of the Municipal & Poor Law Gazette and Local Functionary involves a clash of practices: it could not have existed in the form it did without this conflict. On the one hand, we see in Mott the active agent of a political system that opened the way – however unintentionally – to a trade in poverty, a vampiric preying on vulnerability. The Gazette for him was no doubt simply a way of regaining or maintaining credibility amongst his own targets, the managers of workhouses and Unions, after he had lost his position as Assistant Commissioner. As soon as he had found another lucrative position, the Gazette lost its usefulness for him. For the publisher and printer, however, the periodical was part of a wider publishing enterprise whose risks were minimised – they hoped – by advertising of a specific kind that trumpeted the products of members of their local networks to a new market segment. It was a risk that did not in the end pay off, but it was a managed risk because it was spread around their portfolio of products. This violent clashing of values – which is not visible in the Gazette itself, be it noted – could only have existed at this particular time and place: without the New Poor Laws and without the geographical and social specificity of its publisher and printer, the Municipal & Poor Law Gazette and Local Functionary could not have existed. It was formed in a very different environment from Emmott and Hartley’s Warehousemen and Drapers Trade Journal a generation later. Not only were communications and transport technologies and knowledge of how to use them so much more developed then – the Warehousemen’s advertisers were from all over the country, not drawn from a specific area of London – but the purposes of the Warehousemen‘s participants were not at variance: everyone seems to have known the rules of the game: knowledge of publicity came before specialist knowledge, with all that that implies about lack of interest in dying on the hills of ideological or aesthetic beliefs.
Classificatory Procedure 4. The Functional
Note: a version of some of what follows has already been published as part of King, “The Trade and professional Press” in David Finkelstein, ed. The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press volume 2 (2020)
Advertising has already loomed very large in the ecosystemic method of classifying periodicals, and it’s in the function of periodicals as advertising vehicles that ultimately the data in the spreadsheets for my history of trade and professional periodicals lie, for in the end I found out that by far the most complete lists of the trade and periodicals press that I could find lay in Victorian advertising press directories. Turning to them enabled me to work more efficiently, balancing cost with value, though with less hope of completeness than width of coverage.
As explained above, I chose to gather my data from 4 press directories
- Mitchell’s Newspaper Press Directory 1846 -1900,
- Layton’s Handy Newspaper List 1895-1900,
- Hammond’s List of London and provincial Newspapers, Periodicals, &c (1850)
- ‘An Old Advertiser,’ Handbook for Advertisers and Guide to Advertising Containing all the Facts Necessary to Enable All Person to Advertise Most Efficiently (1854).
A dataset based on the press directories is essentially functional in that it is based on the role a periodical is considered to play in an ecosystem. As far as the Press Directories are concerned, a periodical’s function is simply to sell advertising space. Of course they care about a publication’s frequency, price and distribution, and whether it is a newspaper or magazine – its morphological elements – but only insofar as those are indexes of potential addressees of advertising.
It then follows that the category “trade and professional press” for the Press Directories refers to periodical publications classified by their readers defined by how they generate income (that is, what readers’ sources of income were: jobs, services, trades, professions, and in a limited number of cases, land). To that extent, the orientation of the Press Directories dovetails at least in this respect with that of the academic like me keen to approach periodicals as media rather than as cultural seams to be mined for data. In this understanding, periodicals are media whose function is to sell themselves rather than communicate some abstract idea of excellent specialised knowledge or content. Domains of knowledge are in this understanding just hooks to engage readers with the advertising, and hence into buying, selling or using.
The information that the press directories all thought important for this functional purpose comprised the title; price; year started (that gives an idea of how reputable a periodical is); the domain of knowledge it mainly addressed – Layton’s calls this “politics or class” (not to be confused with any idea of social hierarchy); the day the periodical came out (or its frequency at least) so advertisers would know when to send in copy and how often adverts could be repeated; and the address of the publisher where to send the copy. This choice of data, along with the publisher’s name (since address alone does not always reveal a commonality of publisher), formed the column headings in my spreadsheets. The printer is not listed.
My choice of data type has – perhaps not obviously – an ethical impulse. In choosing to make my selection of data very clear and basing it on contemporary sources and a single, functional, point of view, I am refusing a de haute en bas or retrospectively derived definition from twentieth-century and twenty-first-century sociologies of work as I have tried to do in the past – and so many others have done in their studies of periodicals too. This is why I derived my spreadsheets from the press directories.
Even though it is quantitative, it is not claiming to be “objective” in the sense of absolute and complete – it derives from a specific view of what periodicals are, and that view is itself derived ultimately from the culture under study, though it has of necessity to dialogue with what is possible in the present – and indeed with the reality of the past.
Of course, there are limitations to this method, yet it is the very act of specifying them that constitutes its strength.
Now the press directories are not always accurate. To try to compensate for the lack of accuracy, as I ahve explained above, I cross checked the data in the spreadsheet with the Waterloo Directories of English, Scottish and Welsh Periodicals, the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, Sell’s Dictionary of the World’s Press, the British Library and other catalogues, and also any secondary sources I could find. Wherever possible, I preferred to consult the periodicals themselves in paper format.
The press directories also have their biases: because they are produced by advertising agencies, of course they prioritise the periodicals and domains they work with most closely. Layton’s Handy Newspaper List, for example, had a lot of accountancy and banking items that the others did not list because Layton’s, as both advertising firm and publisher, specialised in those fields. Indeed, it published the Actuaries Journal. Neither do the directories include periodicals published in quite small numbers whose economics are not dependent on advertising (regimental periodicals, for example, which would hugely bolster the number of military periodicals in my spreadsheets), or those that were short lived – an omission that demonstrates the importance of studying periodicals through cladistics and ecosystemics, which ideally would be able to take them in to account.
These limitations aside, rigorously sticking to the Press Directories has meant that the point of view of that research is extremely focussed. It enables us to understand how the data were selected – who they were important for, when, where and why – and also what we can, realistically, do with it. The purpose of contrasting this functional approach with the morphological, the cladistic and the ecosystemic has been to make as clear as possible both the strengths and weaknesses of each. In terms of generating an overview, the functional unquestionably proved most efficient and cost-effective: the necessarily case-study nature of all of the others shows just how labour-intensive work with Victorian periodicals is, and how very long the other three procedures would have taken to generate an overview with properly general conclusions. While, like many other overviews, it would have been possible to make a synthetic account of secondary sources very efficiently (and I list all the major ones in King 2020) I did not wish to do that: I prefer always to turn to and read anew primary sources rather than repeat the déjà connu.
While not everyone may be interested in Victorian trade periodicals, the question of how we map fields of enquiry and classify individual units of those fields should be of interest to all: how do we make the classifications we do? The methods I am proposing, borrowed polemically, like Franco Moretti’s, from a domain of knowledge not usually used to help us understand printed matter, can, I hope, make us look again at our subject, and thereby offer us the possibilities of new histories and new stories about ourselves, or if not, at least make us consider what is at stake in maintaining the assumptions on which we build our constructions of the world.
AK (April 2020)
 Ancestry.com: Census 1871: Class: RG10; Piece: 669; Folio: 37; Page: 27; GSU roll: 823326
 Hartley, 1939: 33-4; Bookseller 12 December 1871: 231.
 1883 Slater’s Directory of Manchester & Salford, Manchester, Slater, p. 119. Emmott later ran another London-Manchester arrangement with the elaborately illustrated 16-page penny weekly for “all who are practically engaged in Mechanical Engineering or Scientific Industries,” Mechanical World (1876-1964). Its colophon records him as printer in Manchester while published in London where Emmott had offices at 6 York Street, Covent Garden.
 Information from Ancestry.com. On John Walrond Clarke; see Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900 [database on-line and the Army List 1875 p. 83; Henry Whitworth Jones, census 1891, Class: RG10; Piece: 178; Folio: 29; Page: 11; GSU roll: 823306; and on Judd census 1891, Class: RG12; Piece: 143; Folio: 124; Page: 11