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