British Newspaper Archive now online

Up to 4 million pages of historical newspapers now searchable online at the British Newspaper Archive.

This valuable and fascinating facility will provide unparalleled access to a treasure trove of stories covering up to 4 million pages from the British Library’s newspaper collections and is set to transform family history research.

The British Library and online publisher Brightsolid  have launched a website that will transform the way that people use historical newspapers to find out about the past.

The British Newspaper Archive website will offer access to up to 4 million fully searchable pages, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland.

The newspapers, which mainly date from the 19th century, but which include runs dating back to the first half of the 18th century, cover every aspect of local, regional and national news.

Highlights include

Exhaustive coverage of crime and punishment, from infamous murder trials to heart-rending stories of men, women and children transported to Australia for the most minor thefts (in one case, seven years transportation for the theft of seven cups and five saucers).

Eyewitness accounts of social transformation – newspaper reports, commentary and letters to the editor on topics ranging from the railway mania of the mid-19th century to the extraordinary expansion of the temperance movement.

Illustrations and advertisements – the aspirations and anxieties of the time laid bare in searchable ads and classifieds, peddling everything from the latest fashion to miracle cures for baldness and venereal disease.

Alongside first-hand accounts of historic events such as the wedding of Victoria and Albert and the Charge of the Light Brigade, these newspapers also provide countless vivid details of how our ancestors lived and died, how they went up and down in the world and how they fed, clothed and entertained themselves.

Historical newspapers provide a fresh perspective on the history we think we know: contemporary reporting of notable individuals and milestone events yield a host of surprising details and social history often absent from conventional accounts.

The website offers a wealth of material for people researching family history, including family notices, announcements and obituaries, while the ability to search by name, location, date and newspaper title means that people can search across hundreds of thousands of pages at a time as they track down that elusive ancestor.

Searching the website generates free preview snippets of results found – to download full articles and images, users have a range of payment options including pay-per-view access for 48 hours or 30 days, and a subscription package for a year. The website is free to use in the British Library’s reading rooms.

Pricing information

The British Newspaper Archive is free to search. To view the content in a newspaper page image, there is a choice of two pay per view or subscription packages lasting 48 hours or 30 days. The subscription package is priced £79.95 for one year.

The British Newspaper Archive can be used for free on-site at the British Library’s Reading Rooms in St Pancras, Colindale and Boston Spa.

For more information visit The British Newspaper Archive website.

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