British Library puts 4m historic newspaper pages online
Published Nov 29 2011, 12:03 GMT | By Andrew Laughlin
Around four million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries have been made available online today by the British Library.
The Library and online genealogy provider Brightsolid have jointly launched a website enabling people to use old newspapers to find out details of British history and their past.
The British Newspaper Archive website will offer up to four million searchable pages from more than 200 different newspapers covering every part of the UK and Ireland.
Articles mostly date from the 19th century, but some cover local, regional and national news dating back to the first half of the 18th century.
Users can read newspaper reports on key historical events, such as the wedding of Victoria and Albert, the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Charge of the Light Brigade.
The archive is free to search and preview, but there is a charge for accessing the full pages themselves, including options for access for 48 hours or 30 days, or an annual subscription.
The website is completely free to use inside the British Library's reading rooms.
"The launch of the British Newspaper Archive website opens up the British Library's newspaper collection as never before," said Ed King, the British Library's head of newspapers.
"Rather than having to view the items on-site at the Library...people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the gold-mine of stories and information contained in these pages."
The British Newspaper Archive is the result of a ten-year partnership between the British Library and Brightsolid Group, the company that purchased Friends Reunited from ITV in February 2010
Brightsolid's digitisation team, based at the British Library's newspaper archive at Colindale, has been digitising up to 8,000 pages of newspapers every working day. The project is expected to scan up to 40m newspaper pages over the next decade.
Welcoming the new website, culture minister Ed Vaizey MP said: "The British Newspaper Archive is a rich and hugely exciting resource, packed with historical detail. It's a great example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver something that neither party could have delivered by themselves.
"I searched for my own constituency of Wantage and within seconds had 42,000 results - an indication of the breadth and variety of material featured. I'm delighted that the British Library and Brightsolid are working together to transform access to the nation's published memory."
So far, the project has focused on out-of-copyright material pre-dating 1900, but Brightsolid is negotiating with rights holders to obtain permission to scan newspapers from the early to mid-20th century.