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IT and History: British Library opens access to digital archive of 18th and 19th Century newspapers

29 November 2011
Source: BBC

Four million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries have been made available online by the British Library. The public will now be able to scan the content of 200 titles from around Britain and Ireland.

Ed King, the British Library's Head of Newspapers, said: "Rather than having to view the items on site at the Library, turning each page, people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the goldmine of stories and information contained in these pages - and the ability to search across millions of articles will yield results for each user, that might previously have been the work of weeks or months, in a matter of seconds and the click of a mouse."

These will include historic events such as the wedding of Victoria and Albert and the rise of the railways, reporting on the Charge of the Light Brigade and articles about the Great Exhibition of 1851 plus stories about men, women and children being transported to Australia for minor crimes. Readers can also search letters, illustrations and advertisements published in the papers which date back to the early 18th century.

The archive is free to search, but there is a charge for accessing the pages themselves.

A team has spent a year at the British Library's newspaper library at Colindale, north London, digitising up to 8,000 pages a day. They expect to scan up to 40 million pages over the next 10 years.