British newspapers are an incredibly useful resource for genealogists as well as other historians researching the UK and Ireland. If you are looking for your British roots or investigating British history, then the most comprehensive newspaper collection is in the British Library. Since 1869 it has been a legal requirement that a copy of every newspaper published in Great Britain and Ireland is deposited at the Library. There are also some overseas titles in the collection.
Much of the British Library’s collection is being digitized. This is a 10 year project which started in 2011 in conjunction with FindMyPast. Currently there are around 700 British and Irish newspaper titles available giving access to more than 20 million pages. The pages are fully searchable and can be refined to focus on
- Family notices – birth, marriage and deaths as well as engagements, anniversaries, in memoriam, birthdays and congratulations
- News articles – national and local events; history unfolding
- Illustrations – including photographs, maps and cartoons
- Letters to the editor
All this is very useful to both the genealogist and historian.
Newspapers online include national dailies such as the Daily Herald, Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph as well as local, trade and specialist papers from all over Britain Ireland. Here is a (very) small selection of what’s available:
- Aberdeen Evening Express (1879 – 1978)
- Ballymena Observer (1857-1957)
- Cambridge Daily News (1889-1939)
- Derby Daily Telegraph (1879-1950)
- Edinburgh Evening News (1873-1942)
- Farmer’s Gazette and Journal of Practical Horticulture (1845-1870)
- Glasgow Herald (1820-1900)
- Harrogate Herald (1915-1947)
- Illustrated Police News (1867-1938)
- Jedburgh Gazette (1871-1920)
- Kerry Evening Post (1829-1917)
- Lancaster Guardian (1855-1956)
- Manchester Evening News (1870-1945)
- North Devon Journal (1824-1950)
- Ormskirk Advertiser (1857-1940)
- Pall Mall Gazette (1865-1923)
- Roscommon Messenger (1848-1935)
- Sheffield Daily Telegraph (1855-1950)
- The Tatler (1901-1966)
- Ulster Gazette (1844-1909)
And many more!
The online collection can be accessed on the British Newspaper Archive website for a monthly or yearly subscription or even on a pay as you go basis. Access to the database is also available with some FindMyPast subscriptions.
Incidentally, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, the BNA blog is tweeting a daily historical newspaper front page from the same date 100 years ago.
For further reading on using British newspapers for historical research, you may be interested in this book: