Sunday, 3 May 2009

New British Library 19th Century Newspaper Collection service

Crikey - there is a God!

In this month's Your Family Tree magazine (77), I wrote an article imploring the British Library to make its 19th Century Newspaper Collection available online to the general public, and not just to those at subscribing institutions. Well - it has happened!

Don't worry, I'm not claiming the credit for this! It would have taken some time to set up, but it looks like lots of people have been thinking along the same lines here. The upshot is that the collection is now available online at, accessible through a daily subscription of £6.99 (allowing up to 100 article views) or for seven days at £9.99, allowing up to 200 article views.
Included in the titles from a very welcome Scottish point of view are the Aberdeen Journal, the Caledonian Mercury and the Glasgow Herald, but the collection also includes the Belfast Newsletter and the Freeman's Journal from Ireland, and literally dozens of English and Welsh titles. I used the collections when a student last year, and it was an absolutely fantastic resource for my own family history research.

So stop wasting time in reading this - and go off and start digging....!!! And a huge thanks to the British Library and Gale.

(With thanks to amanda0901 at the YFT Forum. The story has also been reported at Talking Scot).

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KathyJN said...

Woo hoo! I love this collection. I live outside of the UK so have only been able to get to it when they occasionally open the access to others. My husband didn't seem to understand why I was so excited at hearing the news. It's almost as big a thrill as finding some long-lost bit of information about an ancestor. Thanks for the post.

Chris Paton said...

Kathy, do come back and share any exciting finds if you make any from the collection!


JdeP said...

Why are you so excited? They are charging a lot of money for access to a product that was funded by the UK tax-payer (both the BL and JISC, who did the project together, are publicly funded, except for the funds they raise themselves from money-making schemes like this).

I suggest you write to Gage, and find out which public library nearest you has an annual subscription, and use the website there.

Chris Paton said...

Lots of records were funded by the taxpayer - the census, the BMDs, even the OPRs, but we still have to pay to use them. Yes, we may have to pay a subscription to something we have already paid for, but the bottom line is that we have access now.

It's good advice to ask people to check their local library - many do have access - but as far as I am aware, here in Scotland there is a library in Aberdeen offering access, but I am not aware of any others. Payment to this site therefore offers me three newspapers for the equivalent access to the Scotsman online for about the same price. So this is better value. I can look them up on microfilm at the Mitchell, but I can't do a keyword search.

The bottom line is, if you are not happy to pay, there is no requirement to do so! But as a resource, this will transform the research for many who do not have access to a local subscribing institution.