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British Newspaper Archive

Published on 20 Dec 2011 10:35 : british newspaper archive : 14 comments : 6859 views

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.


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by Blue_Fisherman on 5 Jan 2012 18:39 : Report Abuse
This sounds very interesting indeed :-)
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by on 7 Jan 2012 11:25 : Report Abuse
It doesn't seem to record the pages I have already paid to see and frequently sticks in downloading. Very tantalising glimpses of good stuff bu the system seems not to be qite right yet.
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by NewquayOAP on 9 Jan 2012 16:22 : Report Abuse
A fascinating resource and I for one am delighted hat this is available through GenesReunited. I agree with the previous poster that there are some glitches leading to blank pages. I hope that this does not mean that those pages will forever be unavailable.
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by Mary on 11 Jan 2012 13:27 : Report Abuse
I am waiting to hear whether the pages (as distinct from the index) are available to view on platinum subscription as the blurb mentions only pay-per-view? Does anyone know?
The whole idea is great, thanks Genes!
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by Sneeze on 16 Jan 2012 23:59 : Report Abuse
Hi I am a platinum member and I have signed up for the British Newspaper Archives. I actually signed up for it before I read this article.

I have been using it a lot because I find it very interesting unfortuantely at the moment I am finding it difficult when I find an article that I am interested in I am unable to save it to where I want to save it I can never seem to be able to open it again.

I am not very good with technology.

But I like the site.

Well done.

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by MarysRoots on 21 Jan 2012 21:41 : Report Abuse

How do I accsess the British Newspaper Archives.

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by Steven on 28 Jan 2012 09:58 : Report Abuse
I am a standard member of GR, and a full member of FindMyPast. In a blog post at the beginning of 2011, FMP included the British Newspaper Archives in a list of record sets which were coming to that site in 2011. As we know, this promise was broken as the British Newspaper Archives was in fact launched as a separate site requiring a separate subscription. Now the newspapers are available as part of the GR Platinum subscription, while FMP members still have to pay out extra for access. To say that I'm disappointed is putting it mildly.
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by Albert on 17 Feb 2012 14:44 : Report Abuse
I am a gr member and am able to see a list of the articles available, but am unable to `view` the article?
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by janet on 24 Feb 2012 06:59 : Report Abuse
Please give a procedure for snipping and saving and printing an article from the page!
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by janet on 24 Feb 2012 07:03 : Report Abuse
A more sophisticated search engine is needed for the British Newspaper Archives. Whole name, whole phrase, boolean, wildcards.
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by maureen on 1 Jul 2012 13:57 : Report Abuse
i to am haveing trouble accesing british newspaper archives i am platium member from redditch worcs, and looking for anything under the name gosage !an imposible task ..
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by Bernard on 22 Nov 2012 13:11 : Report Abuse
How do I get to access the news papers for BIRMINGHAM 1901--1911

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by Rita on 6 Oct 2013 09:03 : Report Abuse
I am not able to view any newspaper on my iPad!
Why would that happen? :-S
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by Susan on 19 Feb 2017 16:42 : Report Abuse
How to I see newspaper articles using iPad . I have just paid the subscription and all I can see in list of article but can't view them. :-(