Today we have reached a landmark of 50 million pages all now available to search on the British Newspaper Archive. That’s 50 million pages of news stories that span four centuries, from 1699 to 2009, that come from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and beyond. And we’re not stopping here – we plan to add millions more pages over the coming weeks, months and years.
When the British Newspaper Archive was launched in partnership with the British Library in November 2011 a goal of 40 million pages was set. Over 10 years later, that estimate has been surpassed, with The Archive now growing by millions of pages each year.
And to celebrate reaching the 50 million page landmark, we’ve listed 50 fantastic things about the British Newspaper Archive right here for you to enjoy.
So without any further ado, here are 50 fabulous things you may or may not know about the British Newspaper Archive:
1. 50 Million Pages
First and foremost, we now have 50 million pages available to search on The Archive. Delve into all of our newspaper pages here!
2. Launched in November 2011
The British Newspaper Archive was launched over 10 years ago on 29 November 2011, and has grown amazingly ever since then. In 2020, we were delighted to announce the renewal of our partnership with the British Library, meaning that we will continue together to digitise more and more historic newspaper titles from across the United Kingdom and beyond.
3. The Archive’s First Ever Page
The first ever page to be published on The Archive was from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13 May 1848. This historic West Country title was first published in 1827 by Edward Woolmer and titled Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, circulating across the counties of Devon and Cornwall, as well as parts of Somerset and Dorset.
4. The 50 Millionth Page
And the 50 millionth page to be published on The Archive is from the St Pancras Gazette, in honour of our partners the British Library, as the British Library is situated beside the St Pancras International railway station. The St Pancras Gazette was first published in 1866, and circulated in North London, across Camden Town, Kentish Town, Hampstead, Highgate and Holloway.
5. 6 Million Pages Published Last Year
The Archive has been publishing more and more pages every year. In our first year, 2011, we published 802,211 pages. Last year, we published 6,400,201 pages, whilst so far this year we have published 3,426,166 pages – with more to come.
6. Free To View Pages
Did you know that The Archive currently contains one million free to view pages, with plans to add a total of 3.7 million free to view pages over the next couple of years? Find out more about our free to view collection here, which spans 160 titles and covers the years 1720 to 1880, or take a tour of our free to view newspapers with our sister site Findmypast’s newspaper expert Mary McKee in the below video.
7. Over 100,000 Pages Scanned Every Week
At our scanning facility at Boston Spa, we scan over 100,000 new newspaper pages every week, from microfilm and from original paper copies. Take a peak at our special behind the scenes video to see what the scanning process involves, which is all undertaken at our site in Boston Spa, Yorkshire.
8. New Pages Every Week
With over 100,000 newspaper pages being scanned at our site in Boston Spa every week, at The Archive we are delighted to bring you new newspaper pages on our site each week too. Our weekly blog lists all of the new pages that have been added to our collection.
9. View Recently Added Pages
With new pages being added to The Archive every week, you have the opportunity to sort your search results by articles that have been added over the past 7 days, or the past 30 days. You can also view all the newspaper titles we have added or updated over the preceding 7 or 30 days here. And if that wasn’t enough, you can even search by the specific date pages were added.
10. 1,928 Titles On The Archive
We currently hold 1,928 titles on The Archive. You can browse through all of our titles here, exploring the list alphabetically or searching by name for your favourite newspaper publication.
11. Upcoming Titles
Did you know that our site enables you to get a glimpse of the new newspaper pages that will be added in the future? You can view here which pages are going to be added to the site tomorrow, with the name of the newspaper, the year range and the page count all available to see.
12. Newspapers For Every County In England
At The Archive we hold newspapers which cover every county in England, from Cheshire to Cornwall, from Lancashire to Leicestershire, from Nottinghamshire to Northumberland, and from the other 33 historic counties. We hold 1,338 titles in all for England, which span 35 million pages. The county with the most newspaper titles is Greater London, with a total of 499 titles, which adds up to a total of 11 million pages. Following London are Lancashire and Yorkshire, with 100 and 98 titles respectively, and both counties each have over 2.7 million pages available to search.
13. Over One Million Welsh Newspaper Pages – Including Welsh Language Newspapers
Not to be outdone by its English neighbour, we have a fantastic array of newspapers covering Wales, with 94 titles in all, which span 1.4 million pages. Meanwhile, we also hold some wonderful Welsh language titles, like Y Genedl Gymreig and Y Tyst. You can find out more about our collection of Welsh newspapers by reading our special blog here.
14. Newspapers For Every Historic County in Scotland
Meanwhile, The Archive also holds 224 titles for Scotland, which cover the country’s 34 historic counties and consist of over 5 million pages, including the eminently historic Caledonian Mercury, which was founded in 1720. Other highlights from our Scottish collection of newspapers include The Scotsman, a pioneering newspaper renowned for its excellent journalism, and ‘Scotland’s favourite newspaper’ the Sunday Post. You can find out more about using our newspapers for research into your Scottish genealogy here.
15. Newspaper Pages for Every County in Ireland and Northern Ireland
The Archive holds an impressive collection of newspapers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, covering every county in both countries. In all, The Archive holds 234 titles for both Ireland and Northern Ireland, consisting of almost 7 million pages. Our Irish newspapers are a fantastic resource for filling in the gaps created by the loss of court, census and other such records in June 1922 during the Irish Civil War.
16. Newspapers from the Channel Islands And The Isle Of Man
Meanwhile, The Archive features newspapers from Jersey and Guernsey as part of its collection, including the Jersey Evening Post, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015. Our collection for Jersey also features our only French language newspaper, the Nouvelle Chronique de Jersey, which was published in Saint Helier. We also feature newspapers pages from the Isle of Man, having published the Isle of Man Times.
17. International Titles
Over the past few years we’ve been working to increase our collection of international titles at The Archive, that is to say, adding newspapers from beyond the United Kingdom and Ireland. To this end, we have introduced newspapers from the likes of Canada, India, New Zealand and Jamaica. These newspaper titles tell the stories of these countries, from their rule under the British Empire to their struggle for independence. We hold 20 international titles currently, which span over one million pages. You can find out more about all of our international titles here.
18. Living With Machines – Newspapers From The Industrial Age
The Archive is delighted to partner with the British Library and the Alan Turing Institute to publish newspapers that have been digitised as part of their ‘Living With Machines‘ project. These regional newspapers have been selected to study Britain’s industrial age, with the assistance of AI tools helping to undertake new kinds of historical enquiry. These newspapers are part of our free to view collection.
19. Newspapers From Endangered Archives
The Archive is also working alongside the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, which facilitates the digitisation of archives across the world which are in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration. As part of this project, we have published the Barbados Mercury, which is also part of our free to view collection.
20. Heritage Made Digital
Another fantastic British Library project, the Heritage Made Digital programme focuses on making British Library collections available online and the improvement of digital access generally. Through this project, The Archive has been able to publish a range of unique content, including early illustrated titles like the Colored News and the Pictorial Times, and intriguing early 19th century publications like the wonderfully named Porcupine. You can find out more about the Heritage Made Digital programme here.
21. Illustrating The News
As well as featuring early illustrated titles from the Heritage Made Digital project, The Archive is proud to publish a range of different pictorial titles. Chief amongst these is the Illustrated London News, the world’s first weekly illustrated news magazine. Meanwhile, we hold several illustrated titles from the Victorian era, like the intriguing Penny Illustrated Paper, as well as publications that stretch into the 20th century, which feature countless stunning photographs, like The Sphere and The Tatler. These titles are in addition to the illustrations that can be found across our regional newspapers.
22. Sports Reports
Meanwhile, The Archive is a repository of historic sports titles, which cover everything from football to boxing, from athletics to pedestrianism (a favourite sport of the 18th and 19th centuries). Highlights from our collection of sporting titles include the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, the Athletic News, Cricket and Boxing World. We also feature some historic Irish sporting titles, like Ireland’s Saturday Night. Find a full list of our sporting titles here, whilst you can also find sports sections across our regional newspapers.
23. Getting Political
Although our newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries were generally allied to one of the main political parties of the time, The Archive holds a range of specialist political titles that were tied to different political organisations, from Welsh socialist titles the Labour Pioneer (Cardiff) and the Rhondda Socialist Newspaper to ‘Journal of Anarchist Communism’ Liberty and Communist (London), which advocated the adoption of communism worldwide.
24. Radical Views
Prior to the rise of socialism and communism, our newspapers track the growth of political radicalism in 19th century society. Chartism, which began in the 1830s, was a working-class movement advocating political reform, and we have published several newspapers tied to this movement, including The Chartist and the Chartist Circular. Also part of our collection of radical titles is the Poor Man’s Guardian, which was one of the most successful examples of the unstamped press during the 1830s. The unstamped press swerved the payment of tax upon newspapers, an act which was illegal at this time. Other titles to explore are Hetherington’s Two Penny Dispatch, Holt’s Weekly Chronicle and the People’s Paper, all of which espoused reforming Chartist viewpoints.
25. Trade and Trade Union History
Following on from the radicalism of the 1830s to 1850s, we are proud to hold titles which trace the early trade union movement, which include the wonderfully named Bee-Hive. Meanwhile, our collection features a range of publications associated with different trades, from factory work (Cotton Factory Times and the Yorkshire Factory Times) to pawnbroking (Pawnbrokers’ Gazette), from tailoring (Tailor & Cutter) to brewing (Distillers’, Brewers’, and Spirit Merchants’ Magazine and Holmes’ Brewing Trade Gazette), from stonemasonry (Settmakers’ and Stoneworkers’ Journal ) to postal work (Temporary Postal Workers’ Gazette).
26. Votes for Women
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave women over the age of 30 the vote, The Archive published a range of newspapers which campaigned for women’s suffrage. Our collection of women’s suffrage newspapers includes the iconic Suffragette, which was edited by Christabel Pankhurst, and the Vote, the ‘organ of the Women’s Freedom League,’ which campaigned for women’s rights beyond the 1918 Act. You can find out more about all of our suffrage titles here.
27. Religious Newspapers
As part of our collection of newspapers on The Archive, we hold a range of religious titles, covering various branches of Christianity, from the Nonconformist, which represented the interests of Britain’s Congregational and Free Churches, to the Methodist Times, which was established in 1885 as part of the Methodist ‘Forward Movement.’ Meanwhile, The Archive has published a range of Jewish titles, including the Hebrew Observer, which was founded in 1853 to foster a ‘proper understanding between the Jew and his Christian fellow citizen,’ and the Jewish Record, which represented ‘a more traditional view of Judaism held principally by less assimilated members of the community.’
28. Going Places On The Archive
The Archive holds some wonderful titles related to transport, from shipping to the railways. One of the oldest continuously published periodicals in the world is Lloyd’s List, which became dedicated to the shipping industry, detailing the shipping arrivals and departures across Britain and joining up with the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette. In the same vein is the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette and Myers’s Weekly Advertiser, which was published in Liverpool. Meanwhile, the railway industry, which revolutionised the 19th century, is represented by such titles as Herapath’s Railway Journal and the Railway News.
29. The Motor Owner
Deserving of its own entry is our beautiful motoring newspaper, the Motor Owner. The Motor Owner was first published in June 1919, aiming to appeal to ‘those who drive their own car and who own a car.’ Not only this, the monthly publication hoped to be ‘The most beautiful publication in Britain.’ Like parents, we at The Archive can’t pick favourites, but we do think that the Motor Owner is certainly one of the most visually appealing titles in our collection, giving even The Tatler a run for its money.
30. Going To The Pictures
Another visually appealing title to grace our Archive is the Picturegoer, a film fan magazine that traces its origins to the 1911 magazine The Pictures. A treasure trove of vintage film nostalgia, the Picturegoer is filled with interviews with screen stars of the day, photographs of cinema’s leading men and women, as well as reviews of the latest productions. Meanwhile, our publications The Bioscope and the Kinematograph Weekly take a look at films from an industry perspective, detailing the latest advances in cinema, as well as the latest film releases. For those with an interest in radio and music history, come the Talking Machine News and the Gramophone, Wireless and Talking Machine News.
31. Off To War
Tracing the global conflicts in the 20th century are the variety of military newspapers that we hold on The Archive. From the Illustrated War News, to the starkly named The War, which includes images from both the home front and the front lines of the First World War, to Good Morning, the daily paper of the submarine service during the Second World War, we feature a variety of titles which help to illuminate the realities of conflict. Furthermore, the Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry) publication details the names of those injured or killed during the First World War, whilst the Volunteer Service Gazette and Military Dispatch is an invaluable resource for researching volunteer units in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
32. Women Only
As the 19th century progressed, newspaper editors begun to realise that they had a large untapped and potentially profitable audience: women. One of the earliest examples of a publication aimed at women was the Lady’s Newspaper and Pictorial Times, which was established in the 1840s and included articles on fashion, book and theatre reviews, and domestic subjects. Also available to search on The Archive is The Queen, which was established in 1861 by Samuel Beeton and had a focus on high society, fashion and culture. These two titles, alongside the Young Woman, the Gentlewoman and the Mothers’ Companion, give a wonderful sense of the changing notions of femininity during the Victorian era and beyond.
33. Children’s Corner
Again in the 19th century, newspaper editors began to realise they had another untapped audience, that of children. With increased literacy rates, and a growing emphasis on the importance of family, newspapers across Britain and Ireland began to include children’s corners, which provided entertainment and instruction to younger members of society. You can read more about children’s corners in the Victorian era in our special blog, whilst we also hold one of the earliest publications to be solely directed at children, the Children’s Paper, as part of our collection.
34. Fabulous Fashion
The Archive is a wonderful repository of fashion history. Our illustrated titles like The Tatler and The Sketch are filled to the brim with the latest fashions of the day, enabling you to take a step back in time to see what was in vogue decades ago. Meanwhile, The Archive also boasts dedicated fashion titles like Myra’s Journal of Dress and Fashion, which was founded in 1875 and was the first example of a cheap fashion magazine, providing easy to follow instructions for dress making. You can also find fashion columns in our regional and local newspapers.
35. Our Number One Title
With all these wonderful titles on the site (and we’ve only mentioned a fraction of them so far) – you might be wondering what our most popular newspaper title is? Taking the top spot, and edging out the Illustrated London News and the Morning Post in doing so, with The Scotsman and the Hull Daily Mail also in the top ten – is the Daily Mirror, the most viewed of all the newspapers in our collection. And a bonus fun fact for you – the Daily Mirror was originally aimed at women!
36. A Handkerchief Newspaper
One of the more unusual newspapers on The Archive is Berthold’s Political Handkerchief, a newspaper which could quite literally be employed as a handkerchief. Printed on cotton in the 1830s in a bid to avoid the dreaded newspaper tax, the first edition of this wonderful publication declared how ‘a piece of printed cotton may be read and then used for a thousand different purposes.’ The ruse, however, did not catch on, whilst the newspaper’s founder Henry Berthold was eventually transported for theft.
37. Spelled As Spoken
Sitting alongside Berthold’s Political Handkerchief as another one of our more unusual newspaper titles is the Fonetic Nuz. Both of these publications have been digitised as part of the British Library’s Heritage Made Digital project. The Fonetic Nuz was first published by Alexander J. Ellis and Isaac Pitman in 1849, and was dedicated to promoting spelling reform and the phonetic alphabet. To this end, all the articles in the Fonetic Nuz were written entirely phonetically, that is to say, spelled as spoken. However, the title met with widespread derision, and only existed for a few months.
38. Unlocking Black British History
In 2021 we added The Keys to our newspaper collection, which was first published in July 1933. ‘The Official Organ of the League of Coloured Peoples,’ and edited by Jamaican-born Doctor Harold Moody, it aimed to address ‘the racial misunderstanding’ that was prevalent in society at the time, in Britain and beyond. It looked meanwhile to promote the interests of Britain’s Black population, containing, for example, news from the West African Students’ Union, which was based in London and had opened a hostel in Camden Town in 1933. You can view pages of The Keys for free here, and you can find out more about this very special title here.
39. Mirror, Mirror
We’ve already mentioned that the Daily Mirror is the most popular newspaper title on The Archive, but it is certainly worth another mention, as we have published over 700,000 pages from the publication, from 1903 to 1999. Beginning life in 1903, in the first instance targeting the middle classes, and the women of the middle classes, in the 1930s the Daily Mirror shifted its target audience towards the working classes. The change was a success, the title becoming at one point in time the world’s best-selling newspaper, selling a record 5 million copies every day. Furthermore, we have also published the Daily Mirror’s sister paper the Sunday Mirror from its inception in 1915, when it began life as the Sunday Pictorial, all the way up to 1999.
40. ‘The Worst Newspaper in England’
One of the more lurid newspapers to be found on The Archive is the early tabloid title the Illustrated Police News, which during its publication earnt the moniker of the ‘worst newspaper in England.’ Capitalising on the British’s public obsession with crime and sensation, the Illustrated London News sold for one penny and graphically illustrated deviance in all its forms. With a weekly circulation of 175,000 copies, it was a hugely successful enterprise, its sensationalism ensuring its success until 1938. Read more about the Illustrated Police News here.
41. From 1699 to 2009
From our earliest newspaper page to our latest newspaper page, The Archive carries millions of stories that can help you unlock the past. Our earliest newspaper pages are eminently historic and hail from the 17th century, from the Edinburgh Gazette, 21 September 1699, whilst the rest of our pages chronicle the news from four more centuries, all the way up to the 21st century, to the Irish Independent from 30 December 2009.
42. The Recent Past
With newspaper pages going up to 2009, The Archive is an excellent repository for news from the more recent past. We currently hold fifteen titles from the 21st century, including specialist theatre and arts title The Stage and the Illustrated London News, copies of which run up to 2003. Meanwhile, we publish a range of Irish titles from the 2000s, including the Evening Herald (Dublin) and Sunday Life.
43. Advanced Search
And with over 50 million pages available to search, from 1699 to 2009, our advanced search page can help you discover exactly what you are searching for. With the ability to search by exact phrases, and to exclude terms, our advanced search page can help you narrow down your results. Meanwhile, you also have the ability to search within a given publication, or within a given date range, or indeed within both. You can also filter your results by our free to view collection, and as well as by country, county, or town.
44. Sorting Your Results
Search results on The Archive are generally returned by the most relevant, but you also have the opportunity to filter your results by the earliest mention of your search term, or indeed, by the latest mention of your search term. This can be especially useful if you’re looking for when a word or phrase was first mentioned, for example if you’re researching the history of your street, or the history of a particular sport, like football.
45. Picture This
Meanwhile, The Archive gives you an opportunity to search for images, allowing you to discover the plethora of different illustrations, diagrams and photographs which all form part of our newspaper collection.
46. Our Most Popular Image
And our most popular image – popularity in this instance calculated by the amount of requests we have had to reproduce it – is of the first street semaphore at Westminster, which appeared in the 16 January 1869 edition of the Illustrated Times. You can read more about the Westminster semaphore, or the world’s first traffic lights, in our special blog here.
47. Notices of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Our newspapers, particularly our regional and our local newspapers, but even our national ones too, contain notices of births, marriages and deaths. These notices are a fantastic way of bringing your family history to life, providing an exact date for your ancestors’ life events, or in the case sometimes of marriages, a complete list of all the presents that the happy couple were gifted.
48. Visiting Hour
Another fantastic tip for tracing your ancestors using The Archive’s newspaper collection is to check visitors’ lists. Visitors’ lists were often included in newspapers from the Victorian era and the early 20th century, and provided a list of people visiting a particular town at the time the newspaper was published. These are often featured in newspapers that were printed in seaside resort or spa towns, and they can be a wonderful help in tracing your ancestors’ steps in between censuses, or even for tracking them down if you haven’t been able to find them where you thought they might be – they may well have been on their holidays.
49. A Place To Save Your Discoveries
Whilst you’ve been searching The Archive, you’ve probably made some wonderful discoveries (always be sure to let us know about your discoveries, you can tweet us here). But did you know that you are able to save the articles you have found? Under our ‘Saved’ tab, you can find all your bookmarked titles, organised by folder. It’s a wonderful way of organising your research.
50. New Stories Every Week
With over 50 million pages and over 50 million stories to discover on The Archive, with new pages being added every week, The Archive’s weekly blog is the best place to discover more about our updates. Including detailed lists of all the new and updated titles of the week, complete with page counts and date ranges, the weekly blog is your guide to all that’s new and exciting on the site. As a bonus, every week we bring you a new story from the past that we’ve discovered by browsing our new pages. In the past, we’ve covered everything from beer houses in 1860 to early women’s football, from the launch of the Cutty Sark to hot air ballooning in 1802. Discover our weekly blogs here.
That’s it for our rundown of 50 fantastic things about the British Newspaper Archive. All that’s left to say is a big thank you to all who have supported us since the beginning back in 2011, and to all those who use the site today. Happy browsing!