Introducing Free to View Pages on the British Newspaper Archive – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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Introducing Free to View Pages on the British Newspaper Archive

Following the extension of our successful partnership with the British Library, we are delighted to announce that millions of pages will be made free to view on the British Newspaper Archive, with one million of these free to view pages made available today.

Working together over the past decade to provide the largest online collection of British newspapers, the British Newspaper Archive now hosts over 44 million pages in total, with a remit that extends beyond Britain and Ireland to cover, for example, Jamaica, India and New Zealand. Alongside regional weekly newspapers, and national dailies, sit specialist sporting, religious, political, cinema and fashion titles, all bringing history to life and telling stories from the past, which otherwise might have been lost forever.

The British Library and the British Newspaper Archive are committed to making historical resources available to more and more people, and the introduction of free to view pages marks a significant milestone in this commitment.

Now, with one million pages made free to view today, consisting of 150 titles and spanning the years 1720-1880 more and more people will be able to search the unparalleled resource which is offered by the British Newspaper Archive, in partnership with the British Library.

Over the next three years, we will see a total of 3.7 million free to view pages being added to The Archive, with the aim of shedding light on the diverse content held by the British Library.

How Have the Free to View Pages Been Chosen?

The free to view pages have been chosen from four British Library projects, and carefully curated by members of the Library team.

These projects include:

  • Nineteenth Century Newspapers – the British Library’s first major newspaper digitisation programme, this project was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee to digitise newspapers from the nineteenth century.
  • Heritage Made Digital – an ongoing British Library project with a focus on making British Library collections available online and improving digital access generally. As well as newspapers, the Heritage Made Digital programme also looks at digitising books, manuscripts and sound recordings.
  • Living with Machines – jointly spearheaded by the British Library and the Alan Turing Institute this ongoing and landmark project has digitised and continues to digitise a selection of regional titles from the United Kingdom. These newspapers will be used in a study of Britain’s Industrial Age, with the assistance of AI tools in order to undertake new kinds of historical enquiry.
  • Endangered Archives Programme – a project to facilitate the digitisation of archives across the world which are in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration.
How Can the Free to View Pages Be Searched?

The advanced search form on the British Newspaper Archive has been updated, so that there is now an option to search the free to view pages only.

The search results page also been updated too, so that you can filter by free to view pages only.

You are also able to download the free to view pages.

You do not need to subscribe to The Archive in order to access the free to view pages, but you will need to register a free account, which you can do by clicking here.

Your Guide to the Free to View Pages

With one million free to view pages now available on The Archive, covering a wealth of history, we have put together a short guide to help you navigate through our free to view titles, full details of which can be found at the end of this blog.

International Titles

Published in this collection of free to view pages are three international titles, all of which were printed and published in the Caribbean. The Jamaica Mercury was first published in 1779, later becoming the Royal Gazette of JamaicaA confronting narrative of Jamaica’s history, this newspaper often featured advertisements for those enslaved people who had run away from their enslavers, revealing the abhorrent hardships to which they were subjected.

The Royal Gazette of Jamaica also covers the period post Emancipation, which took place in 1834. However, it chronicles the difficulties still faced by those who had been enslaved, as they were enrolled in apprenticeship programmes which were rife with abuse.

Royal Gazette of Jamaica | 17 August 1811

The other two Caribbean titles to feature in the free to view collection are the Barbados Mercury and the Barbadian. Published in Bridgetown from 1762, the Barbados Mercury predates the Jamaica Mercury by several years, although it was not Barbados’s first newspaper, that honour falling to the Barbados Gazette.

Illuminating what everyday life was like in a slave owning society, the Barbados Mercury also featured advertisements for ‘absconded’ enslaved persons, as well as news from across Barbados, the United States, other British colonies, and Britain itself.

Meanwhile, the Barbadian was first published on 11 December 1822, edited by Abel Clickett. Professing itself to be a ‘strictly conservative paper, and the organ of the church,’ the Barbadian promised to focus on the ‘ecclesiastical proceedings of the diocese.’

Like the Barbados Gazette, the Barbadian offers a fascinating insight into the transition from slavery to Emancipation, and into the modern era, the newspaper running until 1861.

Radical Titles

Also included in the collection of free to view pages are a host of radical titles, radicalism in this sense being associated with the push for reform, often tied to the liberal movement.

These radical titles include the Poor Man’s Guardian, which was one of the most successful examples of the radical, unstamped, press. The unstamped press avoided the government’s tax on newspapers, which they regarded as a ‘tax on knowledge.’ Distributing such papers was illegal, and many newspaper vendors were prosecuted for doing such a thing throughout the early 1800s.

Poor Man’s Guardian | 16 July 1831

Alongside the Poor Man’s GuardianCobbett’s Weekly Political Register is also free to view on The Archive. Founded by journalist and politician William Cobbett in 1802, the paper was initially Conservative before Cobbett himself became more and more radical, becoming an opponent of rotten boroughs and a champion of the disenfranchised working class.

Meanwhile, upon the introduction of the newspaper stamp duty, he published a shortened version of the Political Register to swerve the tax. At the cost of only two pence, it was incredibly popular. Another radical title in our free to view collection is The Examiner, which was edited by essayist and poet Leigh Hunt and contained contributions from the likes of John Keats and Percy Shelley.

The Examiner | 12 February 1809

Also included in our free to view pages are newspapers tied to the Chartist movement, namely the The Chartist and the Chartist Circular. Meanwhile, from later in the century, tracing the origins of the Labour movement, we have available in this collection the wonderfully named Bee-Hivea trade unionist journal published between 1861 and 1878.

Bee-Hive | 11 October 1862


Early Dailies 

We are delighted to feature some early daily newspapers amongst the free to view pages, including the historic Morning Chronicle. Founded in 1770, this London produced Liberal daily was home to many firsts, including in 1848 employing the first woman to work on a newspaper staff in Britain, and in 1845 it was the first British newspaper to publish a message sent via telegraph.

Indeed, such was the clout of the Morning Chronicle that during the nineteenth century it was seen as a veritable rival to The Times, with contributions from the likes of Leigh Hunt and William Thackery. It finally ceased production in 1865.

Morning Chronicle | 20 December 1862

Another early daily that is included in our free to view collection is the Morning Herald (London)Founded in 1780 by Reverend Sir Henry Bate Dudley, a former editor of the Morning Post, the Morning Herald was set to be another Liberal publication before it gradually became more and more Conservative.

The pages of the Morning Herald contained such features as ‘Female Fashions’ for the month, society news and gossip, the naval register, as well as birth, marriage and death notices. Of particular interest is the section entitled ‘Want Places,’ which features advertisements from people searching for jobs, a fascinating look at the social and economic landscape of the early nineteenth century.

Morning Herald (London) | 11 January 1850

The Morning Herald ceased publication not too long after the Morning Chronicle, in 1869.

Illustrated Titles

Also featured within the free to view pages are some wonderful illustrated titles. One of these is visual treat the Pictorial Times. An early illustrated title, coming into existence only a year after the Illustrated London News on 18 March 1843, the Pictorial Times promised to be a ‘graphic history of the world.’ Eschewing politics, it pledged to concentrate only on ‘the politics of the human heart.’

Pictorial Times | 20 December 1845

Appearing every Saturday, the Pictorial Times was known as a ‘Highly entertaining family newspaper,’ which generally contained ’30 beautiful engravings on wood [and] the latest intelligence and a great variety of information.’

Also free to view is fellow illustrated title the Illustrated Sporting News and Musical and Theatrical Review.  Founded by London printer Edward Harrison, this title was first published on 15 March 1862 with the intent to capitalise on the growing public enthusiasm for sport in all its forms. The first edition tells of how:

At a time when sporting subjects attract so much interest in England; the present newspaper is stated to illustrate whatever is great, new, useful, or curious within the sphere of its operations…The pencil of the artist cannot have a wider field for the display of talent than that which is presented to his view in the occurrences of the sporting world.

Illustrating Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review | 26 April 1862

Filled with illustrations, the title, as its name suggests, also featured the theatrical goings-on of the day.

Another free to view illustrated title is the gloriously technicolour Colored News. The United Kingdom’s first ever newspaper to contain coloured illustrations (and available in full glorious technicolour on The Archive), it was published for a few months in 1855.

Colored News | 11 August 1855

Also amongst our free to view pages sits the Lady’s Newspaper and Illustrated Times. This title, richly illustrated as its name suggests, was one of the first newspapers produced for an exclusively female audience, the originator, arguably, of a whole new publishing genre.

Lady’s Newspaper and Pictorial Times | 18 December 1847


Regional Titles

Finally, we would like to highlight a few of the regional titles which are now free to view on The Archive. We have the historic Glasgow Chronicle, Glasgow’s oldest Liberal newspaper, and arguably its first daily newspaper, as for a month it was produced every day instead of its usual weekly schedule.

Glasgow Chronicle | 26 April 1848

Also included in our free to view pages is the Manchester Times. Another Liberal title, the Manchester Times circulated in Manchester and its surrounding towns, including Salford, Stockport and Rochdale, advocating reform, free-trade and ‘religious liberty.’

There are too many regional titles which are now free to view to mention individually, but with titles included from Barrow to Bridport, from Atherstone to Runcorn, from Stockton to Swansea, you are sure to find a newspaper which covers your local region.

And there’s more, much more!

There are titles included in our free to view pages that simply do not fit into the above sections. For example, they include the Jewish Record, which was founded in 1868, and The Age, which was founded in 1825.

Jewish Record | 13 August 1869

Reflecting ‘a more traditional view of Judaism held principally by less assimilated members of the community,’ the Jewish Record was a penny weekly newspaper. It was in competition with the Jewish Chronicle, which mainly reflected the interests of the Anglo-Jewish establishment and the rising Jewish middle class.

Meanwhile, The Age had a reputation for specialising in ‘scurrilous and satirical gossip’ about celebrities of the day, which was eventually silenced by the passing of the Libel Act in 1834.

The Free to View Collection

We hope you enjoyed our snapshot of the range of different titles covered by our free to view pages. Covering many thousands of miles, many different opinions, and consisting so far a million pages, there is so much for you to discover.

Meanwhile, here is a full list of all the titles covered by the free to view collection:

Title
Date Range
The Age 1825-1843
Alston Herald and East Cumberland Advertiser 1875-1879
Argus, or, Broad-sheet of the Empire 1839-1843
Atherstone, Nuneaton, and Warwickshire Times 1879-1879
Baldwin’s London Weekly Journal 1803-1836
The Barbadian 1822-1861
Barbados Mercury, Barbados Mercury, and Bridge-town Gazette 1783-1789, 1807-1848
Barrow Herald and Furness Advertiser 1863-1879
Beacon (Edinburgh) 1821-1821
Beacon (London) 1822-1822
Bee-Hive 1862-1878
Birkenhead News 1878-1879
Blackpool Gazette & Herald 1874-1879
Blandford and Wimborne Telegram 1874-1879
Bridlington and Quay Gazette 1877-1877
Bridport, Beaminster, and Lyme Regis Telegram 1865, 1877-1879
Brighouse & Rastrick Gazette 1879-1879
Brighton Patriot 1835-1839
British Emancipator 1837-1840
British Liberator 1833-1833
British Luminary 1818-1823
British Miner and General Newsman 1862-1867
British Press 1803-1826
Caledonian Mercury 1720-1867
The Cannock Chase Examiner 1874-1877
Central Glamorgan Gazette 1866-1879
The Champion 1836-1840
The Charter 1839-1840
The Chartist 1839-1839
Chartist Circular 1839-1841
Cleave’s Weekly Police Gazette 1835-1836
Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register 1802-1836
Colored News 1855-1855
Cradley Heath & Stourbridge Observer 1864-1879
Darlington & Richmond Herald 1870-1870, 1873-1874
Denton and Haughton Examiner 1873-1879
Dewsbury Chronicle and West Riding Advertiser 1872-1875
Dorset County Express and Agricultural Gazette 1858-1879
The Examiner 1808-1880
Express (London) 1846-1869
Forest of Dean Examiner 1875-1877
Glasgow Chronicle 1844-1857
Glasgow Courier 1802, 1844-1866
Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review 1862-1870
Imperial Weekly Gazette 1808-1810, 1818-1825
Royal Gazette of Jamaica 1779-1836, 1838-1840
Jewish Record 1868-1871
Kenilworth Advertiser 1872-1879
Lady’s Newspaper and Pictorial Times 1847-1863
Lady’s Own Paper 1866-1872
Lancaster Herald and Town and County Advertiser 1831-1832
Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser 1832-1856
Liverpool Weekly Courier 1867-1879
Lloyd’s Companion to the Penny Sunday Times and Peoples’ Police Gazette 1841-1847
London Dispatch 1836-1839
Manchester Examiner 1848-1848
Manchester Times 1828-1848
Midland Examiner and Times 1877-1878
Mirror of the Times 1800-1823
Morning Chronicle 1801-1865
Morning Herald (London) 1801-1869
National Register (London) 1808-1823
New Weekly True Sun 1836-1836
The News (London) 1805-1839
Northern Daily Times 1853-1861
Northern Liberator 1837-1840
Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser 1838-1852
Nuneaton Times 1878-1879
The Odd Fellow 1839-1842
The Operative 1838-1839
Pictorial Times 1843-1848
Pierce Egan’s Life in London, and Sporting Guide 1824-1827
Pontypridd District Herald 1878-1879
Poole Telegram 1879-1879
Poor Man’s Guardian 1831-1835
Potteries Examiner 1871-1879
Press (London) 1853-1866
Runcorn Examiner 1870-1879
St. Helens Examiner 1879-1879
Saint James’s Chronicle 1801-1866
Shropshire Examiner 1874-1877
South Staffordshire Examiner 1874-1874
Brighton Patriot 1840-1840
The Ashton Weekly Reporter, and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle 1876-1876
Star (London) 1801-1831
Statesman (London) 1806-1824
Stockton Examiner and South Durham and North Yorkshire Herald 1879-1879
Stockton Gazette and Middlesbrough Times 1860-1865, 1868-1879
Stockton Herald, South Durham and Cleveland Advertiser 1858-1879
Stretford and Urmston Examiner 1879-1879
Sun (London) 1801-1871
Swansea and Glamorgan Herald 1847-1879
Tamworth Miners’ Examiner and Working Men’s Journal 1873-1876
Warrington Examiner 1885-1879
Weekly Chronicle (London) 1836-1867
Westminster Journal and Old British Spy 1805-1810
Weymouth Telegram 1862-1878
Widnes Examiner 1876-1879
Wolverhampton Times and Bilston, Willenhall, Wednesfield, and Sedgley Journal 1874-1876

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