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After two years in development, the new British Newspaper Archive provides online access to almost four million newspaper pages spanning two centuries
Millions of archive newspaper pages can now be explored online following the completion of a major digitisation project.
The new British Newspaper Archive website, the result of an ongoing partnership between the British Library and digital publisher brightsolid, offers family historians the chance to explore thousands of publications dating back as far as 1750. More than half of these, including pages previously only accessible to students in higher education, are being made available to the public for the first time.
As well as national and international newspapers, the site features local titles and those aimed at religious groups, tradespeople and other specific sections of the community. All of the pages have been scanned and run through a process known as optical character recognition (OCR), meaning that they can be browsed visually or searched by a range of details including name, date, keyword and publication.
Users of the new website can choose between a 12-month subscription package, which provides unlimited access and costs £79.95, and membership on a pay-as-you-go basis for either a month (£29.95) or two days (£6.95). Searching the entire collection, as well as viewing short preview 'snippets', is free of charge.
"What this new website offers is a whole series of entry points," the British Library's head of newspapers, Ed King, told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine when we visited the collection in October. "As well as the names of people and places that family historians are used to in other records, these newspapers provide social context – lots of colour and depth that you don't get anywhere else."