The British Library has announced public access to their collection of digital facsimiles of 19th-century newspapers.
This is fabulous news for any researcher who is not able to use a library that subscribes, via Gale Cengage, to the British Library 19th-century British Newspapers database — and in the United States, at least, that includes most people. With this new website, the searches are free, and then you pay for a period of time, from 48 hours to a month, during which you can explore the full search results.
A detailed comparison of the title lists has not been conducted, so it isn’t clear to how, if at all, the content differs from the subscription version; the BL press release speaks of an ongoing digitization without specifying what’s in the works. Of course, with both archives (the subscription and this pay-as-you-go version), researchers need to bear in mind that not included in these searches are some very important Victorian newspapers whose descendants are still publishing: The Times, especially, but also such titles as the Manchester Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Edinburgh Gazette, and the Inverness Courier.
Such caveats aside, this is a wonderfully helpful collection that includes not only major London papers but also many provincial titles, and the British Library’s efforts to make all of them more accessible to everyone are vastly welcome. Victorianists everywhere should be very pleased.
One feature of this new is a mode that allows users to see the underlying, uncorrected text and then submit corrections. Some researchers have been pressing the big vendors for the inclusion of this feature for years and years, and it is wonderful to see that the British Library has gone in this direction. Over time, this interactivity will improve the usefulness of the archive for everyone.
Sent by Patrick Leary firstname.lastname@example.org