1M pages of historical British newspapers free to explore online


11 August 2021
The former Monmouth Street in London: women and children playing and men sitting and standing while smoking pipes, with items for sale hanging outside shops. Etching by George Cruikshank, 1839
158 historical newspapers spanning 1720 to 1880 are now free to search and explore online - with 2.7 million more pages to be added by 2025.

Following the renewal of their long-term partnership, Findmypast and The British Library have pledged to make millions of historical newspaper pages free to view online. 

As of today (11 August 2021), over one million pages are now free to search and explore on both the British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast websites, which will be expanded by more than 2.7 million additional free pages over the next four years.

Free historical newspapers 

There are currently 158 free titles to explore, dating from 1720 to 1880. The newspapers selected were digitised as part of four special British Library projects, including: 

  • 19th Century Newspapers: a project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee and the British Library’s first major newspaper digitisation programme 
  • Heritage Made Digital newspapers: an ongoing project to transform digital access to rare and early newspapers, focusing on newspapers in a poor or unfit condition 
  • Living with Machines: another ongoing project, jointly led by the Library and the Alan Turing Institute, which has been digitising selected UK regional newspapers as part of a major study of the British industrial age and using artificial intelligence tools to undertake new kinds of historical enquiry
  • The Endangered Archives Programme: a project that facilitates the digitisation of archives around the world that are in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration 

Find your ancestors in old newspapers

Findmypast’s use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and machine learning means researching these historically significant titles is accessible to all, allowing users to search billions of lines of printed text by name, date, keyword or phrase.

QUICK LINK: 3 questions to consider when using old newspapers for family history 

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Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast said: The growth of the British Newspaper Archive over the last decade has enabled social and family historians around the world see history through the eyes of communities as they experienced it. We are delighted to have extended our partnership with the British Library, combining their unrivalled cultural archives with Findmypast’s technology and digitisation expertise so that everyone can now search and find inspiration in this rich and diverse collection. 

Luke McKernan, British Library Lead Curator, News and Moving Image, said: “Our partnership with Findmypast has enabled us to transform access to the incredibly diverse collection of newspapers in our care, offering historical insight into the lives of ordinary people from communities across the British Isles and beyond. Today, we are very excited to make one million pages available online which our audiences can enjoy for free, wherever they are in the world.” 

Anyone wishing to explore these titles and their contents will still need to register a free account with either Findmypast or the British Newspaper Archive before accessing, though no charge will be made for their use. Options to filter searches by “Free Access” titles only are available on both sites.