British Newspaper Archive Review!

By | December 27, 2017

You can discover your ancestors through the pages of an old newspaper. The British Newspaper Archive can help you trace the lives of your United Kingdom and Irish ancestors.

This archive contains the largest collection of newspapers that are available to you online. Please read on as I will show you what this resource has to offer.

British Newspaper Archive

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British Newspaper Archive Details:

British Newspaper Archive
Rating 4 Stars
Subscription 12 Months£6.67 per month (48% saving)

3 Months£8.64 per month (31% saving)

Monthly£12.95 per month

Pay as you go£19.95

Records 23 million pages and counting
Article types
Advertisement, Article, Family Notice, Illustrated, Miscellaneous, or Front page articles
Help & Support Hints & Tips, Knowledge Base, Feedback forums, online customer support form and webinars
Where to buy British Newspaper Archive

Historic Newspaper Archives Can Help You!

I have traced my family tree through newspaper archives such as this site and I can definitely say that it has helped me greatly.

This valuable resource has helped me to break down some brick walls that I have encountered during my genealogy research. For example, through articles I have been able to confirm where my ancestors once lived and their occupations as well.

I have also been able to backtrack even further up my family tree due to the details that I have encountered within articles that featured my ancestors.

Can you uncover secrets or forgotten family history?

Some of these articles have been an eye-opener as they have uncovered a past that I knew nothing about. Through newspaper archives I discovered that my 2nd great grandfather did like to drink, and because of this he did have a couple of altercations with the law.

This story was never passed down the generations. And there have been many stories so I am surprised that this one was never recited from generation to generation.

There are skeletons in every family tree and there will be times when you will discover them while researching through using many resources. And the British Newspaper Archive is just one of these that can really bring your family history to life.

So I do urge you to check it out and see what you can find out about your ancestry. It will certainly make your research more interesting with all the stories that you will uncover.

Topics discussed in this post:


Digitizing British and Irish Newspapers?

The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) website was launched in 2011 and since then it has grown to include over 23 million pages. Over a 10 year period the BNA plan to digitize up to 40 million pages from the collection that is available at the British Library.

Credit: The British Newspaper Archive

At present there are more than 700 newspaper titles within the collection from the United Kingdom and Ireland as well. They cover local, regional and national news all within their pages.

The legal deposition legislation of 1869 required that newspapers should supply a copy of each of their editions to the British Library. Because of this there is an almost collection of British and Irish newspapers within the collection that date from 1840.

If your ancestors lived in London during the early 1800s then you are in luck because these newspapers go back to 1801.

Why not visit the British Library?

If you live in London, (or plan to visit), you maybe thinking why not go to the British Library and check out the collection for yourself.

I would advise against this due to the sheer size of the collection and the ability to search through them.

There is a staggering 660,000 bound volumes of newspapers that take up 32 kilometers, (20 miles), of shelf space. Plus there is an additional 370,000 reels of microfilm that occupy 13 kilometers, (8 miles), of shelving.

Geez, that’s a lot right?!

Let’s make the newspapers digital!

The joint venture between The British Newspaper Archive and the British Library has seen more than half of the collection already digitized and uploaded to the Internet. There are new pages being added all the time!

These pages will include advertisements, articles, family notices, or illustrations that could feature your ancestor.

The plan is to make all of the newspapers and reels that are on the shelves available online to the general public. This will therefore mean that you do not need to make a long trek to London to see these papers.

I must point out that in order to access the newspapers you will have to pay a subscription. You could though visit the British Library and search these papers for free but this would be a monumental task as I have already mentioned.

It does take both time and money to bring this documentation of our ancestors lives to the Internet. And so I can fully understand why you do need to pay in order to see these newspapers.


You can simply search for articles featuring your ancestors by simply entering a name, location or date. You may also enter a keyword or a title. This will then bring up a number of hits matching your search criteria.

Credit: The British Newspaper Archive

Searching for your ancestor!

Searching for your ancestors is free on this site. But you will need to pay to access the page fully. I will discuss this later.

It will help your search results if you enter your ancestor’s full name. You could also enter their middle name if you know it.

Please make sure though that you enter their name within quotations. This will reduce the number of search results.

Entering other details about your ancestor can also help refine your search. But if you do this you will need to put a plus sign in front of your ancestor’s name. This will mean that the entered name will be featured in the article.

Refine your search!

You can also refine your search even further with the aid of the Refine Search bar to the left of the screen.

Limit results by:

  • Date – From 1700-1749 right up to 2017.
  • Newspaper – Choose between the 700 newspaper titles.
  • Countries – Choose between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  • Regions – Select between the regions that make up Britain and Ireland.
  • Counties – Similar to regions.
  • Place – Select a town or city
  • Recently Added – Choose between either pages that have been added Today or Last 30 days.

Or use the Advanced Search!

There is also the option of using the Advanced Search feature of the site. From here you can decide whether you want to search for all of your entered words, some of the words, or even exclude words from your results.

You can even  select whether you want to use an exact phrase of words.

Within the Advanced Search feature you can select certain criteria for the publication of the pages.

  • Publication Place – Any area within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • Publication Title – Choose between the different newspaper titles within the collection.
  • Publication Date – Set a start and end date.
  • Date Added – This refers to when the publication was digitized and uploaded. You just need to enter a start and end date.
  • Article Type – Select from Advertisement, Article, Family Notice, Illustrated, Miscellaneous, or Front page articles. You can select any number of these options.
  • Public tags – Similar to keywords that you can enter for the normal search.
  • Sort results by – You may want your results to be listed by Relevance, the earliest date or the most recent date.

Full text searching is also available!

You may want to refine your search even further by looking at the Article Type in further detail.

There are a number of options that are available:

  • Family Notices – Birth, marriage and death notices. Or birthdays, engagement notices, anniversaries, in memoriam, or congratulation messages.
  • Obituaries – Interesting insights into the lives of the deceased.
  • News Articles – Read about local or regional events and discover how they affected the public.
  • Illustrations – View your ancestors through photographs, or check out engravings, graphics, maps and editorial cartoons as well.
  • Advertisements – Check out classifieds, shipping notices and appointments that may feature your ancestors.
  • Letter – Get your ancestor’s opinion on ‘current’ affairs.

Your search results!

Each of the results will show a small image of the page in which your ancestor is featured within. There will also be a snippet of text, followed by the date of the publication and the newspaper title.

Further information is also included stating the type of article, the number of words, the page the result is on within the newspaper, and any possible tags connected with the results.

You can decide whether to bookmark the result for future viewing, or view the result straight away.

By viewing the result you will be directed to the section of the page that your ancestor features in. There is no need for you to do this manually.

This can be very helpful as newspapers in those days quite large. And there were many articles featuring on a page back then.

Tips on searching for your ancestors!

  • Alternative spellings – If you cannot find your ancestor try an alternative spelling of their wish, or maybe use initials as well.
  • Check more than one newspaper – There maybe more than one newspaper covering the same event, so it’s worth checking other papers.
  • Check a large city newspaper – Your ancestor’s nearest city may have run the story. So it’s worth checking this incase their town didn’t have a newspaper.
  • Try searching for other ancestors – Searching for a relative of your ancestor is also an excellent tip if you cannot find them.

This Is A Subscription Site!

I have already mentioned that you will need to pay in order to access pages that are uploaded to The British Newspaper Archive. So what choices do you have to choose from?

British Newspaper Archive Subscriptions!

There are three different monthly packages for you to choose between. Each of these require you to make a monthly payment, which you can do by most major credit cards and PayPal.

  • 12 Months£6.67 per month (48% saving)
  • 3 Months£8.64 per month (31% saving)
  • Monthly£12.95 per month

The benefits of these are all the same as you will have unlimited access to pages. And you can save your searches and bookmark articles as well.

The 12 Months subscription because is obviously the best option as you will be making a 48% saving than if you were to opt for the Monthly package.

You may though want to go with the Monthly package as you try out the site to see if you like it. Over time though this can be quite costly so you may want to then change to the 3 Months or the 12 Months package.

Pay as you go!

There is also a Pay as you go option available to you as well. For £19.95 you will have access to 40 pages and you can save and bookmark your results.

The other difference with this option will be that you will only be billed once.

The British Newspaper Archive For Free!

Yes you can actually access this fantastic resource for free. It is the same method that I use to gain access to Ancestry and FindMyPast for free.

If you haven’t already joined a local library then I highly recommend that you. From your local library you can borrow local history books and genealogy books that will help undoubtedly help you with your research.

Not only that but you have FREE ACCESS to genealogy resources online as well by using the library’s computers.

After you have joined the library and have your own library number you can then jump on a computer and access the British Newspaper Archive for free.

There is no need to worry if you are not tech savvy as a library staff member can help you out. I myself have had a few technical difficulties which have been resolved by a member of staff.


Help & Advice!

If you do get lost along the way when using the site then there is always help at hand. Through the Help and Advice section of the site you can find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Knowledge Base questions relate to:

  • About our newspapers – Get advice on what newspapers are available.
  • Getting started – Get help with searching for the site.
  • How to use the site – Questions include help with saving articles, sharing articles, and more.
  • Membership & payment – Common questions relating to what your membership entitlements and payment issues.
  • Tips & resources – Practical help to getting the most from this resource.
  • Who we are and what we do –  The people behind the scenes that bring the British and Irish newspapers to the online world.
  • All articles – All questions that are included within the Knowledge Base.

Feedback Forums

The British Newspaper Archive also values input from the users of the site. And you can give your comments or suggestions via the Feedback forums.

Through this section of the site you can suggest what newspapers should be added next, and what search or website improvements should be implemented.

Contact Customer Support!

If you cannot find help through the Knowledge Base then you can select the Contact Customer Support option in the Help & Advice section of the site, (listed to the right of the page).

From here you can enter your query or feedback. In order to get the best response it is advisable to give as much information as you possibly can.


Pros and Cons

Pros

✔ Contains millions of digitized newspaper pages
✔ New pages added all the time
✔ 700 newspaper titles from the United Kingdom and Ireland
✔ Dates from the 1700s right up to present day
✔ Find advertisements, articles, family notices, illustrations and miscellaneous articles
✔ Choose a monthly, 3 month or 12 month subscription
✔ Or select a Pay as you go option

Cons

❌ Can be expensive but the 12 month subscription is the best option
❌ Gaps in newspaper titles and pages but these are being added all the time
❌ Errors may creep in when digitizing pages but you can highlight these to staff


Do I Recommend The British Newspaper Archive?

Before I do state whether I recommend this resource or not I just want to show you why you should consider historic newspaper archives.

Help your genealogy research by:

  1. Proving a family story – You may have heard a family story that has been passed down to you. You may be wary though of the facts. Finding an account of this story within an newspaper article can therefore prove or disprove it.
  2. Discover new stories – You can also discover new stories that you have never heard about. For example, my 2nd great grandfather’s drinking episodes.

So newspapers can help further your research and also bring your ancestry to life. It is another valuable resource that is available to the family historian and it should not be disregarded.

Do I recommend The British Newspaper Archive then?

Yes I definitely do recommend British Newspaper Archive. Articles can make your family history more interesting as they go beyond the facts. They tell a story. But they can also help you to break down brick walls in your research too.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post reviewing The British Newspaper Archive and what it can offer you for your family history research. If you think that this post will be helpful then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “British Newspaper Archive Review!

  1. Lane

    Thank you for this post. Searching for ones genealogy can be fascinating. I didn’t even think about checking old newspapers. What a great idea.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      When you first start tracing your family tree the first thing todo is get the facts. Once you have got them and are well on your way to building an extensive tree it is then time to look at the stories.

      I had stories passed down the generations to me, but looking at historic newspaper archives allowed me to find even more stories.

      I wish you all the best with your genealogy research.

      Reply

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