British Newspaper Archive Goes Digital

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The British Library has made millions of local and national newspaper pages searchable online

The British Library, in collaboration with online publisher, Brightsolid, has opened an online newspaper archive spanning more than 200 years.

Announced in May 2010, the partnership with Brightsolid, which is expected to yield a collection of  up to 40 million newspaper pages over the next 10 years, has seen the online publisher digitise up to 8,000 pages of historic newspapers a day for the last 12 months, said the British Library in a statement.

As events took place

This resource, ranging from crime reports to advertisements, will give people a unique perspective on historical events, not necessarily published in conventional accounts, according to the statement.

The British Newspaper Archive Website will offer access to up to four 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,” it stated.

The archive currently holds only out-of-copyright material pre-dating 1900, but, according to the statement, Brightsolid is negotiating with some rights holders for permission to digitise more recent newspaper runs from the early to mid-20th century.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “The British Newspaper Archive Website opens up a magical new window on a magnificent treasure store of real history, recording the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in vibrant communities, rather than merely the cold facts of politics and pestilence. Thank goodness ageing newspapers are being brought back to life through new partnerships and modern, accessible media, to enthrall new generations.”

The British Newspaper Archive is free to search. To view the content in a newspaper page image, there is a choice of time-limited Pay Per View (PPV) or subscription packages. There are two PPV options available: the £6.95 package that lasts for 48 hours, and the £29.95 package that lasts for 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.

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