What exactly is Punch magazine?
Fair point, you’re probably too young to remember it. Punch was a satirical British magazine which ran from 1841-1992. It was briefly revived again from 1996-2002, after which it closed permanently.
Punch was set up with capital of just £25 (although this was probably worth a bit more in 1841). Its aim was to make fun of current events, politicians and the Establishment generally. Punch was particularly famous for its cartoons, and in fact invented the cartoon as we know it today.
Really? How do you know all this?
See more information about the history of Punch here, and about its cartoons in particular here. (We wouldn’t be librarians if we didn’t give you references).
Touché. So what is the Punch Historical Archive?
Well, if you’ve ever ventured up to the second floor of the library, you might have spotted our old copies of Punch in the periodicals area at 941.05 PUN.
The trouble with the print copies is that a) they’re a bit old and fragile these days and b) there’s rather a lot of them to browse through if you don’t know the exact date of the issue you need.
This is where the Punch Historical Archive comes in. With online coverage of Punch from 1841-1992, you can search through back issues at the click of a button and view the results online.
Sounds good. How do I get access to it?
Start off from the library website at https://lib.leedstrinity.ac.uk
Under the Quick Links menu, you will see a link to Databases A-Z. Click this link to see a full list of Leeds Trinity databases, and select Punch Historical Archive from the list.
Alternatively, if you’re a History or Victorian Studies student, you can go via your subject page. Go to the My Subject tab on the library website and select your subject. A variety of historical databases are linked from there including Punch.
Use the Click here to access link to get into the database. You should now see a screen like this:
OK, I’m logged in. Now what do I search for?
That depends what you’re trying to find out!
If, for example, you wanted to find Punch coverage of the Chartist movement, you could search for words like Chartist or Chartism, or the names of key people in the movement such as William Lovett or Feargus O’Connor.
In the Advanced Search option, you can search for specific types of article, limit your search to a specific date range, and narrow down your results in various other ways.
When looking at your list of results, it may not be immediately obvious why certain articles have come up. Try clicking on the title to see the full article (or cartoon), and the words you searched for should be highlighted in green – this helps to explain why the result matches your search.
What kind of things can I expect to find in Punch Historical Archive?
You are likely to find articles, adverts and cartoons which can all help to shed light on historical events of the time. It’s particularly interesting to view these from a modern perspective. For example, after graduation you might aspire to be like this jolly fellow in a cartoon by H.M. Bateman:
H.M. Bateman, ‘The man who paid off his overdraft’.
Punch, 26 May 1930.
However, this apparently cheerful image takes on a different tone when you consider the context of its publication in 1930: the early days of the Great Depression, when the UK was still recovering from the economic effects of WWI and unemployment was on the rise.
Makes sense. Anything else I should check out while I’m here?
For broader historical context, and help with interpreting the content of Punch, have a look at the section of the Punch Historical Archive titled Essays and Resources. This is a really useful collection of supplementary information on topics such as Punch’s influence in the Victorian era, case studies of Punch coverage of particular historical topics, and a guide to understanding Punch cartoons.
You’ve convinced me… but what if I need more help?
For assistance with using the Punch archive, or any other in-depth library questions, you can drop in at the library Enquiry Point, open 11am-3pm Monday to Friday in term-time.
Alternatively, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian – there’s one for every subject! Find contact details for your librarian on the Contact Us page on the library website.