“British Newspapers, 1800-1900 ” available for home access

I love being able to sit in my home in the U.S. and read newspapers from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I have been doing this for the last couple of hours and as usually happens when I read old newspapers, I start reading everything and forget the exact thing I was searching. But I usually find things that I wish had my ancestors listed in them. The item at the right is from the Aberdeen Journal [Scotland].

A relatively new website makes these newspapers such as this one available for research right in your own home. Quoting directly from the company making this possible: “Before “British Newspapers, 1800-1900” was created, a genealogist would have to visit various libraries and scroll through hundreds of screens of newspapers on microfilm to look for this information. Now, researchers can keyword search millions of pages of text with one key stroke from the comfort of their homes, drastically reducing the time and energy needed to research family genealogy. With this new resource the task of researching family genealogy, once arduous and seemingly impossible, is now relatively easy and very exciting.”

“Gale, part of Cengage Learning, along with The British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), have made nineteenth-century British newspapers available on the internet. The database, known as “British Newspapers, 1800-1900” and available at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/, gives users access to over two million newspaper pages from 49 different national and regional newspapers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Chosen by leading experts and academics, the newspapers represent a cross-section of nineteenth-century society and contain illustrated materials on a variety of topics, including business, sports, politics and entertainment.”

“To make this collection available to users, Gale turned The British Library’s collection of nineteenth-century newspapers into a high-resolution digital format with searchable images. The database presents online access to a key set of primary sources for the study of nineteenth-century history. For the 49 newspapers selected, every front page, editorial, birth and death notice, advertisement and classified ad that appeared within their pages is easily accessible from what is a virtual chronicle of history for this period. Users of the database can search every word on every page.”

Among the features I used on the website:

  • Short history of the individual newspaper
  • Short history of British newspapers in general which has sources cited!
  • Searched all newspapers for an uncommon surname
  • Searched a specific newspaper for a surname within a range of years
  • Searched for names in a specific newspaper
  • Searched for a surname and a city in the U.S.
  • Searched for a surname and a city in Scotland
  • Checked my search history
  • Printed an article (also could have downloaded, saved, or emailed it)
  • Browsed the alphabetical list of publications
  • Checked the map showing what cities’ newspapers are included

While I didn’t find anything on direct ancestors I found some articles that relate to possible collateral lines. I also gained a feeling of the social history of the years I searched. The articles loaded quickly.

Among the types of articles I saw:

  • Lists of births, deaths and marriages from these countries
  • Some U.S. b, d, and m in these newspapers
  • Accident notices
  • Bankruptcies
  • People sentenced to jail and to gaol
  • Business partnerships dissolved
  • Politics
  • Religion

Over two million pages are included and are all fully text searchable with keywords in context visible in the results list. Access cost:

  • A 24-hour pass for £6.99 that provides you access to 100 articles over that period. [ca. $11.52 US]
  • A 7-day pass for £9.99 that provides you access to 200 articles over that period. [ca. $16.46 US]

A larger library, especially a university library, near you might have this database. Before visiting the library check to see who may log on to do searches.

Check out the website at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/

© 2009 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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