Findmypast removes international newspaper collection

The family history website removed 120 million pages of historic newspapers from around the world

Screenshot 2021-08-16 at 11.35.29

Family history website Findmypast has removed 120 million pages of international old newspapers after its contract with Heritage Archives elapsed.

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Under the contract, signed in 2012, Findmypast made 120 million newspaper pages from the USA, China, Denmark, Germany, France, Jamaica and South Africa available to its Pro subscribers.

However, from the week of 2 August reports emerged of Findmypast removing the newspapers without warning.

Findmypast's newspaper collection before the international newspapers were removed
Findmypast’s newspaper collection before the international newspapers were removed
Findmypast's newspaper collection now, showing only English and Irish newspapers
Findmypast’s newspaper collection now, showing only English and Irish newspapers

A Findmypast spokesperson said: “Usage of our US and World newspapers has traditionally been low and there is a significant cost involved in hosting this external resource. After careful consideration, we made a strategic decision to not renew our contract with Heritage Archives when it came to an end. This will enable to us invest in collections and tools that will benefit the greatest number of our users, including new and exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else online such as new titles and pages from the British Library and the 1921 Census of England and Wales.”

When asked why Findmypast did not warn subscribers of the change, the spokesperson said: “It’s very rare that we remove records. Given the low usage of our US and World newspapers, we have decided to deal with any enquires directly, on a contact-by-contact basis.”

They added that Findmypast would not offer a reduced subscription fee or other compensation to Pro users, pointing out that section 21 of the Findmypast terms and conditions allows the website to make changes to its records and services without notice at any time.

Separately, Findmypast is now offering free access to one million pages from its British Newspaper Archive collection, with the promise of adding over two million more over the next four years.

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Rosemary Collins is the staff writer of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine