British Workman nos. 1-43 (1855-8)

The British Workman (1855-1921) was a richly-illustrated penny monthly that brought Temperance messages to the working classes. Its founder and editor, Thomas Bywater Smithies (1817-1883), thought that pictures were the best way to communicate improving messages. In 1863 a magazine was started modelled on the British Workman but aimed at women, the British Workwoman. Many issues of the latter are also available through BLT19 and make an interesting comparison.

On this page there are links to the first 43 issues (issues 77-120 can be found here). They have been digitised in four main ways so that the user can get an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of all 4 by comparing what each can reasonably be used for. There is also a 5th method used for issue 1 which proved too time-consuming to continue given its likely usefulness: its cost-benefit ratio was just too ineffective. Heading the page for issue 1 is a discussion of the digitisation methods used on this website, and we list our own methods of making the BLT19 website here. On this page we only ask the user to pause and consider the implications of our choices.

  1. CLICK HERE to browse ALL  British Workman numbers 1-43 (1855-1858) and numbers 77-120 (1861-1864) on the ZOOM & BROWSE INTERFACE (Metabotnik):  what can we learn from this that we can’t from the others? What kind of “searches” can we perform? For more information on Metabotnik, click here.
  2. In the individual numbers below we have provided JPEG images of individual pages. To whom might these be useful and why? What can you do easily with JPEGs that you can’t with the other forms of digitisations? What are the implications of reading a single page or a single article isolated from the rest of the periodical?
  3. PDFs of the whole issue. This connects the pages together and gives a different experience from disconnected individual pages. It also suggests ready-made contexts for individual images and texts.
  4.  Uncorrected OCR of the PDFs. The user will appreciate immediately how inaccurate it is. While improvements in the accuracy of OCR are constantly being made (and certainly improved from the 2009 National Library of Australia’s report), the claims made by commercial companies only apply to clean recent texts, not nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals.

Finally, we ask the user to reflect on what the paper Index that the British Workman itself made offers that the above do not (and vice versa). A digital version of it appears below.



Single Issues of British Workman digitised by BLT19 Project


Click here for issues 77-129


BLT19: AMH revised AK