THE ERA

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A - by Laura Berry, lead ge­neal­o­gist on Who Do You Think You Are?

Ac­tor Sheri­dan Smith was cu­ri­ous to learn more about her Dou­ble­day an­ces­tors who were said to have been cel­e­brated ban­joists and mu­si­cians. It is not al­ways easy prov­ing fam­ily sto­ries about en­ter­tain­ers, and lit­tle in­for­ma­tion was found for Sheri­dan’s fore­bears in per­form­ing arts ar­chives. The dig­i­tal col­lec­tion of The Era is there­fore in­valu­able to any­one search­ing for im­pre­sar­ios in their fam­ily tree. This weekly jour­nal ran from 1838 to 1939, pub­lish­ing a se­lec­tion of list­ings, re­views, ad­verts, en­ter­tain­ment news and gos­sip.

Thou­sands of is­sues of The Era are avail­able to search by name and key­word at www. british­news­pa­per ar­chive.co.uk, find­my­past. co.uk and genes­re­united. co.uk. Copies can be viewed in the Bri­tish Li­brary read­ing room at St Pan­cras where free ac­cess to the on­line col­lec­tion is also pro­vided.

We searched the dig­i­tal ar­chive for the name ‘Dou­ble­day’ and lo­cated an ad­vert posted by Sheri­dan’s great great grand­fa­ther in 1891 for mu­si­cians and singers to join him to com­plete Dou­ble­day’s Ladies’ Choir. Benjamin Dou­ble­day was of­fer­ing two-year con­tracts and clearly ex­pected his ven­ture to be a suc­cess, but just a few years later he was in

dire straits.

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