Historians stumped by missing WW1 file

Pictured are soldiers from the First World War.
Pictured are soldiers from the First World War.

Desperate researchers are appealing for the return of a crucial microfilm of Derbyshire Times’ newspaper coverage from the First World War that has gone missing.

The Derbyshire Record Office, at New Street, Matlock, confirmed the file was reported missing by researchers who are preparing books, exhibition information and background material to commemorate this year’s anniversary of the start of The 1914-18 Great War.

Sarah Chubb, Archives and Local Studies manager at the Derbyshire County Council Records Office, said: “The microfilm has gone missing and we’ve a lot of people coming to us who are researching the First World War so it’s creating problems. It looks like someone has taken it absentmindedly or accidentally or even on purpose, but the most important thing is that it is returned because of its historical importance especially during this anniversary year.

“We don’t hold the original newspapers so the file is our only reference of that particular time and we’re keen to get it back as soon as possible.”

The microfilm which features Derbyshire Times’ World War One articles from around the time war broke out was originally sourced from the British Library and the records’ office has put in a request for another copy but this may take time.

Writer Louise Page, of Youlgreave, is preparing a play for the Chesterfield Youth Theatre on the shameful Government’s old Enemy Aliens Act which saw many German and Italian nationals living in the region during the First World War treated abominably.

Ms Page had been benefitting from the record offices DT microfilm as part of her work but when she visited the library about three weeks ago she discovered it had gone.

She said: “I was looking into the sinking of the liner Lusitania by a torpedo which sparked a backlash against German-named people and I couldn’t find anything and the office said the DT microfilm had gone walkabout. If someone has stolen this, it’s a mystery because they will also need a big machine to look at it. There will be a lot of people like me doing projects and it could not have gone missing at a worse time.”

Anyone with information on the microfilm can contact the Records Office on (01629) 538347 or record.office@derbyshire.gov.uk with details.