This series of articles is written in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Cherwell newspaper or, as it was first published in 1920, ‘The Cherwell: An Anti-Political Weekly Review of Everybody and Everything in Oxford’. I researched and wrote these articles in a two week period after finishing finals for two main reasons. The first was I felt it would be wasteful to leave Oxford without at least recording, in some form, what I’d learnt about the paper through dipping into the archives from time to time. The second was that I thought that the paper needed a short outline of its history, and that this would be a useful resource for Cherwell as it approaches a century of existence. I hope that by having written this short work, I will be able to sate the curiosity many people have about the paper’s past when they begin working for it. The history of the paper is far more tumultuous than most realise and there was by no means any guarantee that it would reach this point. In fact, there were several times that it almost didn’t.
There have been two previous major attempts to document the history of the Cherwell – the 50th anniversary edition printed in 1970 and the 75th anniversary edition in 1995. Chris Baraniuk (Editor MT 2008) has also written a number of pieces for Oxford Today about the paper. I wrote this history largely using the Cherwell archive in the Bodleian Library as well as the limited number of archival documents in the OSPL Offices on St Aldates. This was not an ideal way to approach the project, as past editions don’t necessarily provide the best indication of what was going on within the paper. But given the paper’s poor records and minimal contact with alumni, I thought it would be a good way to lay the foundation for future work. It is for this reason that I would encourage any alumni reading this to contact the paper as it approaches its 100th anniversary to tell us about your time at Cherwell and how it shaped your university experience.
While various generations who have worked at the paper have been able to discover many interesting details about its past, no one has attempted to weave together the whole picture. My ultimate hope is that, by reading this, those who follow on from me shall have a fuller grasp of the history of the publication that they have inherited and the duty of stewardship that this entails.
Cherwell Editor, Hilary 2015