Webinar Q&A – The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Webinar Q&A

During our first ever webinar, we have over 600 questions from more than 3,500 registered viewers. It was incredible to get so much feedback and interaction from our viewers.  Here we will share a sample of the questions from our webinar event.


Didn’t get a chance to see the webinar?  Watch the event now.

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Sometimes I try to find a name in the newspaper archive and it says there are no matches. Why and what am I doing wrong?

Have you tried using speech marks? Adding before and after each word will allow you to search for those words as a phrase. For example, just searching John Smith will bring back results for all instances of John & Smith on that page, whereas searching for “John Smith” will only bring back results for instances where John and Smith appear next to each other.


What does putting a name in quotes do exactly?

It restricts the search to have to include that exact phrase rather than just those two words, so “Charles Smith” will return just results about Charles Smith, while searching Charles Smith without quotations could result in an article about a man named Charles Jackson who married a Joan Smith


I am trying to find more information on my Fathers relation who was a watchmaker in Bourton on the Water, Gloucester.  Unfortunately, I cannot find any further information.  Can you advise the best way of investigation?

Try and keep the search broad. I’d suggest searching all papers as news was often reported across the country. Maybe just search for him by surname too and leave out any first names.


How can you be certain the person found in a paper is “your ancestor” when there are several persons with the same name living in the same area?

It involves the usual detective work. Look for other details that can provide clues such as their age or occupation and see if you can match them with other records. You could also search other records (say BMDs or censuses) from that region to see how many people with that name were living in a certain place at a certain time. This should at least give you a rough idea of how likely the match is.


What is the easiest way to search for a known marriage? 

I would recommend searching for a family notice. You can do this by selecting the appropriate article type filter at the left-hand side of the results screen. I would start by searching papers from the county in which the marriage took place. You can also filter by year to narrow things down a bit.


Can members put a request in for certain newspapers to be scanned next?

Yes, you can make suggestions.

Suggest new titles


 How many votes for a local newspaper do you need before you would try to obtain the suggested title?

The availability at the British Library is more of deciding factor.


When looking at some copies of The Sphere – some pages are missing – is this due to copyright?

Can you please report missing images to support@britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk


Can I use the information obtained from the newspaper archive ie. court transcripts to use in a book I hope to publish. Thank you – the presentation was excellent.

There are copyright restrictions on images of the newspapers – email support@findmypast.co.uk to discuss further.  You can also refer to the terms and conditions of image use here:

Terms & Conditions


If I have a paid subscription to FindMyPast newspaper archives are these the same titles as are on the BNA, or are they able to view with the subscription?

All of the BNA titles are available to view with your Findmypast subscription.


Hi, I’ve only used this on FMP until now and I must say the BL search is much better.

The search function on BNA is more sophisticated because we cater to customers who have a wide range of interests outside of genealogy.


Is there a blog to share discoveries? If only to share the amazement, I get when a story starts to come together that reveals so much.

There is indeed – http://blog.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/. Send your story in and it may well get featured. We love hearing about people’s discoveries so please do get in touch!


Thank you again to everyone who participated in our first webinar.  Watch this space for our next one this summer.


What will you discover today in the British Newspaper Archive?


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