British Newspaper Archive webinar recap | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Our first webinar – a review

Last week, the British Newspaper Archive hosted its first ever webinar, and we are delighted to say it was a success.  We had over 3,500 people register to watch the webinar, and since then, we have had more watch on demand.  If you missed the event, you can watch it through our YouTube channel.

The discount code displayed at the end of the webinar is no longer valid.

During and after the event, the questions came in thick and fast.  Over 600 questions! Our team tried their best to keep up with them, but we do apologise if we did not get a chance to respond to your question.  We have added a sampling of questions in another blog – ‘Webinar Q&A’.

Our speaker on the day was Aoife O’Connor, the Head of Data Development for the British Newspaper Archive.  If you enjoyed her presentation, you can follow Aoife O’Connor on Twitter @Ordinary_Times or her blog ‘A Criminal Record’.


New changes

Things have been moving fast around here! Since our first webinar, the homepage has undertaken a makeover.  All your favourite search functions are still there, and you can still use all the tips revealed in the webinar.  To take a closer look at the changes read our blog.

Our new look


BNA collection

Aoife’s presentation slides are also available to download through the resource section on the webinar.  The presentation focused on hints and tips to get the most out of The British Newspaper Archive while being extremely informative about our digitisation process.  For example, many customers ask about the gaps in newspaper coverage.  Aoife explained that in the past we undertook a special project in partnership with specific publishers to digitise only the war years (1914-1919 and 1939-1945).  This explains the gap in coverage for some titles between 1919 and 1939.  To review all our titles, use the titles list.  Select a newspaper, and its bespoke page will explain what years are available and what years we plan to digitise.

Full list of titles

Title page for The Sphere
Title page | The Sphere

What can you find in the newspapers?

The breadth of subjects and information available within the newspapers is staggering.  In one slide, Aoife demonstrated how the newspapers printed everything from literature to news of union strikes to local family stories.  Incredibly, the slide used a photograph from a newspaper of five generations of one Scottish family, and one of our viewers recognised their ancestor!  Even while watching a BNA webinar, you never know what you could find.


Twitter comment from a viewer who found their ancestor on the webinar.


Presentation slide where the viewer found her ancestor (top left corner)
Presentation slide where the viewer found her ancestor (top left corner)

Peculiarities of newspapers

The webinar also explained that while not the whole population was literate, they did have access to the news.  Newspapers were read out in cafes and bars daily.  They contained everything from court cases and inquiries to poetry and fiction.  At this point in the presentation, Aoife explained some peculiarities of newspapers.

* News reporting was often delayed, especially world news, thus search for events in the newspapers from days or even weeks after the event occurred.

* Keep in mind the way 19th and 20th-century people thought.  For example, in Ireland, the Second World War was referred to as the Emergency.  Another example is during the First World War, the papers would have referred to it as the Great War or simply, the war.

* Journalists were not usually given a by-line in a newspaper.  Therefore, it is extremely difficult to study journalistic history through the newspapers.

Searching the newspapers

The webinar took us through the various search options, particularly the features of the advanced search option.  In this option, you can narrow your search by a date range, exact phrases, or even request that particular words not appear in your search results.

Advanced search screen
Advanced search screen

Viewing an article

We have different formats for you to view an article.  After you select an article from your results, you will be brought to the article page.  To view the whole page, use the refresh button.

Refresh button on British Newspaper Archive
Refresh button

With the plus and minus symbols on the left, you can also zoom in and out of the image to read it better.

Zoom options on British Newspaper Archive
Zoom options


Aoife explained further how to view an article on the full screen and the best method for capturing an image.

Watch the British Newspaper Archive webinar



Thank you from the British Newspaper Archive
Thank you

Thank you again to everyone who attended our first webinar.  We were thrilled with the response, and we definitely plan to have more in the future.  From the comments we received, it was clear you enjoyed it too.

 ‘Aoife has been a tremendous speaker.  She presented great information and in a great manner.  Thank you so much.’ 

‘Thank you from Toronto, Canada! Excellent webinar!! Thank you!’ 

‘Thank you for this webinar. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The BNA has been invaluable to me when researching and archiving the history of my local cricket club.’


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