Genes Reunited Blog
Welcome to the new Genes Reunited blog!
- We regularly add blogs covering a variety of topics. You can add your own comments at the bottom.
- The Genes Reunited Team will be writing blogs and keeping you up to date with changes happening on the site.
- In the future we hope to have guest bloggers that will be able to give you tips and advice as to how to trace your family history.
- The blogs will have various privacy settings, so that you can choose who you share your blog with.
We are very pleased and proud to announce that you can now access the British Newspaper Archive on Genes Reunited. This is unlike any other data set available online, and will give you an insight into what was going on in the world whilst your ancestors were alive. View articles written at the time of key events in history, such as the breaking news of the sinking of the Titanic, or the reports following the grisly murders of Jack the Ripper.
What is the British Newspaper Archive?
Millions of pages of historical newspapers have now been made available online. You can search millions of articles by keyword, location, date or title and watch your results appear in an instant.
Compare this with hours of painstaking manual searching through hard copies or microfilm often requiring a visit to the British Library in North London and it is easy to appreciate the ground breaking nature of this project.
What can I search?
News Articles - read about national events, as well as issues of local and regional importance. News articles allow you to understand what was going on in the world when your ancestors were alive.
Family Notices - search for your family's birth, marriage and death notices plus related announcements including engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and congratulations.
Letters - read letters to the editor written by the newspaper's readers, including illuminating contemporary debates, aspirations and anxieties.
Obituaries - view a wealth of contemporary information on the lives of notable individuals and ancestors.
Advertisements - these include classifieds, shipping notices and appointments. Illustrations - see photographs, engravings, graphics, maps and editorial cartoons.
What does the collection cover?
The British Library's newspaper collections are among the finest in the world, containing most of the runs of newspapers published in the UK since 1800.
The scale of the newspaper publishing industry from the early 19th century onwards is enormous, with many cities and towns publishing several newspapers simultaneously, often aimed at distinct audiences depending on social status, geographical location and political affiliation.
These provide a rich supplement to resources already available online, such as the UK census. For each ancestor you discover in the census records, you can now discover what life was like where they were living by looking for a local newspaper from the area where they lived.
How have the original newspapers been scanned and made available online?
Over the past year The British Newspaper Archive team has been scanning up to 8,000 digital images per day from original bound newspaper pages. One benefit of being able to access the original bound volumes of newspapers and periodicals is that, unlike many other newspaper digitisation projects, they have been able to scan some of the rarest and most fragile newspapers in the collection.
They have even scanned single pages more than two feet wide! These publications are now not available for public view or access through the Library's reading rooms; however, they will be available to view on this Genes Reunited.
The Technical bit
The scanning uses five Zeutschel A0 scanners that create very high quality digital images of 400dpi in 24bit colour.
Some of the newspapers already scanned have resulted in single page image files being as large as 400MB! This is due to the very large physical size of the original newspaper pages, particularly around the turn of the 19th century.
The scanned page images are then converted to a JPEG2000 format for archive purposes. The image files are also run through an optical character recognition (OCR) process which creates the electronic text.
This process involves segmenting each page into classified zones to help your searching. Finally, the output OCR text is indexed in a large database which you see on Genes Reunited.
As well as the original paper scanning, the BNA team have scanned a significant amount from existing microfilm, created by the British Library over the years.
The resulting digital image quality is slightly lower than that produced by the paper scanning; however, it does have the benefit of being much faster to digitise.
This allows us to create many more pages for the website than would otherwise be possible. The resolution of microfilm sourced images is greyscale at roughly 300dpi.