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In the three or so centuries before the rise of affordable newspapers in the middle-nineteenth century, the broadside was often utilized to send a "message to the masses". Emblazoned with the occasionally lurid woodblock print, these single sheets of paper brought news of recent events, royal proclamations, and official notices to the general public. Recently, the National Library of Scotland created this fine online collection of broadsides from 1650 to 1910. All told, there are 1800 broadsides in this digital archive. Visitors can search the broadsides by year, keywords, title, or by subject. Of course, searching the collection by subject may be the most enticing option, as some of the headings include apparitions, elegies, pirates, street life, and of course, temperance. The site is made even more compelling by the inclusion of background reading material on the production and distribution of the broadsides.
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