The Spectator launches online archive

By jonbauckham, 13 June 2013 - 5:35pm

The current affairs magazine has added 1.5 million pages from its extensive back issue archive to a free online database, featuring editions dating as far back as 1828

Thursday 13 June 2013
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Even if you cannot find a specific person in the archive, it can help you to put your ancestors' lives in context. This article from 15 October 1853 offers a fascinating insight into the problem of cholera in London

More than 1.5 million pages from one of the world’s oldest continually-published magazines are now available to explore on the web.

Current affairs weekly The Spectator has launched a brand new online archive, providing free access to digitised versions of almost every edition of the publication since it first went to print in June 1828.

Scanned in from copies held at the magazine's offices in London, each page has been fully transcribed, meaning that researchers can search for their ancestors by details such as keyword and date.

However, even if searches for family members prove fruitless, the archive offers a ‘browse’ function, which enables users to hone in on a specific time period – ideal for those hoping to add some further context to their ancestors’ lives.

Featuring editions published as recently as December 2008, the release offers an insight into major world events, ranging from the debate surrounding the Great Reform Bill in 1832 to the Suez Crisis more than a century later.

The archive is still in a ‘beta’ phase, which means that maintenance work is still being done to improve the website's functionality and search accuracy.

Despite this limitation, however, the site does not require registration and can be accessed free of charge. As a result, family historians can create direct links to their findings via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

"In the basement of The Spectator’s offices in Old Queen Street, there are piles of tomes detailing our rich publishing history," says the magazine's online editor Sebastian Payne.

"Our archive is our most prized possession and today, we’re delighted to share that." 

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► Explore the collection at


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