The British Library Channels University Microfilms and the Google

September 1, 2021

While a quick Google search can yield pertinent information, it is hard to find. Why? Google search results are clogged with paid ads and Web sites that are not authoritative sources. Newspapers are still a valuable resource, especially newspapers from before the Internet’s invention. The brilliant news is, as IanVisits shares, is that, “The British Library Puts 1 Million Newspaper Pages Online For Free.”

The British Newspaper Archive contains over forty-four million newspaper pages that range from 1600-2009. The newspapers are from British and Irish sources and they are over 10% of the newspapers the British Library owns. Around half a million pages are added the archive every month.

The newspapers currently require a subscription, but all funds go to scanning more pages to the archive. The British Newspaper Archive has released one million pages for free and plans to add another million over the next four years. Not all pages will be free, however:

“They won’t add all papers, as they say that while they consider newspapers made before 1881 to be in the public domain, that does not mean that will make all pre-1881 digitized titles available for free, as the archive is dependent on subscriptions to cover its costs. If like me you do a lot of historical research, then the cost of the full subscription is not that bad – just £80 a year for the full archive.”

The archive offers 158 free newspaper titles that range from 1720-1880. All of the newspapers that fall within this date range are in the public domain.

It would be awesome if all newspapers were available for free on the Internet, but money makes the world go round. Libraries and universities offer free access to newspaper databases and subscription services, in most cases, are not that expensive.

The good news is that researchers may have access to news stories infused with some of that good old “real” journalistic wire tapping.

Whitney Grace, September 1, 2021


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