Video: British Library and Findmypast announce renewal of long-term partnership

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24 May 2021
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Engineer John Roberts seen from the upper gantry of the storage void of the national newspaper building
Watch this behind the scenes video from The British Newspaper Archive as FindMyPast and the British Library today (24 May) announce their partnership renewal.

Originally launched in 2011, the ten-year project has delivered the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers the UK has ever seen. 

The British Newspaper Archive, now the largest online collection of British and Irish newspapers in the world, has published more than 42 million pages from over 1,000 regional, national and speciality titles covering all corners of the UK, Ireland and beyond. 

Spanning four centuries and including 34,000 local, regional, national and international titles, the British Library holds one of the finest collections of newspapers on earth. Prior to digitisation, this vast cultural treasure was held entirely in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating travel and hours of painstaking manual research for anyone wishing to use the collection.

Large parts of this unparalleled resource have since been made available online for the first time, revolutionising access and searchability for users worldwide while reducing wear-and-tear on the Library’s fragile collection items. This includes hundreds of regional titles with long and rich heritages that capture changing times in local areas and communities across the centuries.

Now anyone from amateur researchers to academics can discover the billions of stories that lie within in just a few simple clicks, transforming their understanding of past events both great and small while adding color, context and depth to their research. 

Today’s announcement will result in the online publication of a further 14 million pages over the next three years, including the addition of 1 million new free-to-access pages each year. 

Millions more newspaper pages still to come

With technology and processes becoming more efficient over time, Findmypast’s digitisation suite at the British Library’s Boston Spa site in West Yorkshire is now digitising the Library’s collection at an unprecedented rate. Since 2019 digitisation has increased dramatically, with over 5 million pages made available to search online in the past 12 months alone. Nearly every page is packed with new opportunities for discovery, containing an average of 80 names each. 

As well as being available online via the British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast, the archive can also be searched for free by users of the British Library’s reading rooms in London and Yorkshire. 

An 'archive of everything'

Originally focused on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911 as well as key events and themes such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement, the archive has since expanded dramatically scope and scale to form a digital “ archive of everything”, covering all facets of British and Irish life between 1699 and 2009. 

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, said: “We are thrilled to extend Findmypast’s partnership with the British Library to continue developing the British Newspaper Archive which has been such a game changer for researchers everywhere. Newspapers have been the powerhouse of the UK’s free press, and I am proud of the work we are doing to use cutting edge digitsation technologies to ensure this national treasure is preserved and accessible for future generations.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “Over the past decade, the British Newspaper Archive has transformed access to the extraordinarily rich collection of historic newspapers in our care. As well as protecting the fragile originals, digitisation has transformed the ways in which researchers can search newspaper content and make connections and discoveries that might never have been possible using print or microfilm. We are delighted to renew our strategic relationship with Findmypast, which has done so much to help expand the online audience for newspapers, whether they are accessing them for research inspiration or enjoyment.”  

Special offer

In celebration of their partnerships and everything the Archive has achieved so far, Findmypast are offering history enthusiasts the chance to explore this archive of everything with a discount 30% on all subscription options. 

This limited time offer is available to all new and returning subscribers from 24 May until midnight on 31 May. Visit British Newspaper Archive and enter the promotional code LIBRARY30 to claim your discount.