Manon And Abbie Visit The Archives

DC Thomson © archive

A couple of weeks ago, Manon and I were lucky enough to visit the archives.

The archives are hallowed halls around here. It’s where every single thing DC Thomson has ever published is stored. We’d been looking forward to it for weeks and spent the taxi ride wondering what we’d see there.

On our arrival our colleagues from the archive team, Barry and Mollie, greeted us. If you’ve listened to our podcast then you’ll recognise Barry! He always brings fascinating historical context to the discussion.

We were led through a maze of corridors, past relics from the old printing presses and into the archives room.

Row upon row upon row of treasure!

Barry and Mollie retold the history of DC Thomson from when it was first set up in 1905 and described how the idea for “The People’s Friend” was born.

Would the original team have ever imagined that it would still be going today? That there would be 153 years of issues and still going strong?

Abbie dips into vintage issues

When Barry and Mollie let us loose, I headed straight for the issues from the 90s – I had to find the issue that had been out when I was born!

It was so fun to see the knitting patterns because my grandma made cardigans for me just like the one printed in that issue.

Then I picked up a book containing issues from the forties and randomly opened it to a story from January 6, 1945. The story was the writer’s debut.

Having heard that her husband would be returning from war, the main character worries that she hasn’t done enough to keep the house and children ship shape!

Realising the history that has been captured and stored inside each issue of the magazine is awe-inspiring. Particularly stories like this one about ordinary women and families.

Manon compares cover illustrations

Reading Abbie’s notes, I now wish I checked the issue from the week I was born!

Instead, I went towards the artwork archive and especially the covers. As I’m Illustrations Editor, I’m probably biased. But when you work with gorgeous, painted illustrations, who wouldn’t be?

It was a real travel in time. I found that the style of the cover paintings has changed in the past decades, becoming brighter and more peaceful to reach the style we currently have on our front page.

Awe-inspiring is the word that comes to my mind, too, and I would have happily spent hours browsing artworks and past issues.

I recognised a few places from years prior to the 2000s that we featured again recently, and loved looking at the differences between then and now. Each piece of artwork was and is a testimony to the era the painter created it in.

I hope that each of them will long outlive us, like a time capsule for future generations.

I once again felt pride in being part of such a long running magazine and couldn’t help trying to picture what the 300th anniversary of the magazine will look like. What will people find in the archive then?

Time travel anyone?

Read about Digital Editor Jacky’s recent visit to the archives here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.