British Newspapers offers unprecedented, open web access to historic British newspapers that have been digitally captured using new imaging technology, providing you the opportunity to view and search the full text of the facsimile versions of these publications as they were originally published. You can explore online, using any of several search methods, this vast collection of primary source materials. British Newspapers offers both free and premium content. Access to premium content is available by purchasing a subscription plan. In addition to the premium content, subscribers can also use tools within the database to view, print and save search results.
Here are answers to commonly asked questions, as arranged into the following categories:
What is British Newspapers?
British Newspapers is a joint effort between the British Library and Gale, Cengage Learning to make available digitised versions of key nineteenth-century British newspapers. By taking selected titles from the British Library's collection of nineteenth-century newspapers and turning them into a high-resolution digital format with searchable images, this database offers online access to a key set of primary sources for the study of nineteenth-century history.
For the forty-nine titles selected, every front page, editorial, birth and death notice, advertisement and classified ad that appeared within their pages for the time period available will be easily accessible from what is a virtual chronicle of history for this period. Users of the database will be able to search every word on every page.
Which newspapers have been selected?
The aim was to select a number of London and regional titles, covering as much of the UK as possible. London titles include The Morning Chronicle, The Illustrated Police News and a number of Chartism newspapers. Regional newspapers include: The Northern Echo, Western Mail, The Newcastle Courant, The Ipswich Journal, and The Bristol Mercury. In all, forty-nine titles from the nineteenth century are included. Of those titles, The Penny Illustrated Paper and (until January 2009) The Graphic are made available as titles that can be viewed freely without any subscription. Look for the "Free" indicator on the search results page:
Who has selected the newspapers?
A user panel that have extensive knowledge of nineteenth-century newspapers worked with the British Library to select the titles. The Newspaper Society was also consulted.
Are complete runs of newspapers digitised?
Yes, as far as this is possible, within the constraints of copyright.
Why can't I find pages from The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and other leading national papers in this collection?
The British Library anticipates that many of the newspapers still actively publishing will commercially digitise their backfiles.
There are many more newspaper texts that could be digitised. Will more be done?
The British Library is actively planning to expand its newspaper and serials digitisation program to other historic, out-of-copyright newspapers.
Are there any copyright restrictions on the use of the newspapers?
The general approach is that the texts that have been digitised are out of copyright. Appropriate advice has been sought to determine what is out of copyright. The images of the newspaper pages in this collection are under copyright and should only be used with appropriate permission and citation. For more information, click the Copyright link at the bottom of any screen within the British Newspapers website.
How may I access this database?
You may view as much of the freely available content as you wish. Free content is clearly marked when you are viewing the results of your search. To access articles from other titles, you may purchase either a 24-hour pass that allows you to view up to 100 articles, or a 7-day pass that allows you to view up to 200 articles. Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription.
What page first appears when I start this database?
That's the Home page, which features a way to search the database and provides a brief overview of the content and subscription plans to help you get started.
How can I get some background information on a newspaper included in this database?
Each newspaper source has its own page that provides detailed information about the publication. This page, known as the Issues page, includes background on the publication, which may include, for example, key dates in its history, an explanation of its role, significance or political leanings and a description of its layout and contents. You can access the Issues page and view these headnotes by clicking the hyperlinked publication title when it appears on a search results list, or when viewing newspaper articles and pages.
For example, look for a link such as this: The Morning Chronicle (London, England)
The title of the newspaper, The Morning Chronicle, is an active link to the Issues page. The Issues page can be freely accessed. Note that the location listed in parentheses after the newspaper title is the place of publication.
What are Variant Titles?
During their lifespan publications may change their name several times, reflecting everything from ownership changes and mergers to fashions of the day. The Variant Titles list on the Issues screen helps you keep track of these changes and link back to a master publication title.
How do I exit this database?
If you have logged in, click the Logout link at the top, left-hand corner of the screen. If you have not logged in, you may simple close the browser window.
Always make sure to click Logout to close your registered user session so other users at a public computer terminal (such as in the library) cannot access your settings.
I need more information on how to use this database collection.
Hover over the Toolbox menu at the top of the page and then select the Help link to open the Help pages in their own browser window.
How do I contact Gale?
Click the Contact Us link found at the bottom of most screens.
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How were the newspapers digitised?
The chosen method was to scan the newspaper texts from microfilm either newly-created for the project or pre-existing in which the British Library holds the photographic rights.
A quick summary of the process used to create this database:
- The microfilm image of the newspaper is scanned to create a digital image of the full page. The microfilm and images undergo extensive clean-up and digital enhancement to ensure both the clearest, most detailed images and the best possible Optical Character Recognition (OCR) results
- The images are then electronically clipped so that individual articles (including display advertisements and photographs) are identified
- The clipped images are then run through the OCR system to provide the data used for full-text searching. By having the images electronically clipped, the OCR data can be associated with specific articles rather than an entire page. Therefore, when you search for multiple words, the system is able to identify specific articles with all of the terms, as opposed to a page with all of the terms (where the words could be in different articles on the same page)
- The data then undergoes Quality Assurance. In particular, the headlines and author field information are thoroughly reviewed for accuracy
- The information is then loaded to the system for use by our customers
Is it possible to print from the database?
Printing entire newspaper pages on office size paper presents difficulties based largely on the difference in paper size between the original newsprint and today's office printers. Your best alternative is to print at the article level, where you will have the option to print the article in HTML or in PDF format. You may print at the page level (which may include one or more articles), and the software will tile sections of the original page image across multiple printed pages based on specifications you set.
What is the level of digital data capture?
The project has captured data for each page at 300dpi. Because most of the images were sourced from bi-tonal microfilm, there is very limited grey scale within this collection.
How are the pages of text indexed?
Newspapers are indexed by title, date, issue and location. A set of rules has been devised for the segmentation of pages and the creation of articles. The articles are then categorized into newspaper sections (such as Advertising or News) for more detailed searching. These sections help both at the search level, where a section may be specified to limit your results (for Advanced Searches), and on your search results list, where you can filter your results by section.
What kind of searches can be performed?
A full-text search of the database can be performed from the Home page. Use Advanced Search to refine your search using keyword, date range or various metadata fields, either across the entire database of all titles or limited to selected publications. You may also search for a specific publication and view all articles in a specific issue, either by name (Publications List) or by its place of publication (Browse by Location). All types of searches can be accessed via the search type bar, which appears as the bottom part of the product banner at the top of the page.
Sometimes the search result shows the wrong word: why?
This may occur as a result of an error in the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process, where one word was read as another. For example, if there was a poor original image, broken type or fading ink, a word such as king can be misread as kind.
Why do search results appear at times with no search term highlighted?
There can be several reasons for this. First, check to see if you executed a search from the Home page, or used the Full Text index on the Advanced Search page. Second, make sure that you have checked all pages in the article.
There are often more articles on a page than the number of articles highlighted in Page View. Similarly, often when one looks at an article, it contains multiple, unrelated articles. Why?
One of the most difficult aspects of newspaper digitization is the indexing and categorizing of articles. With historic newspapers that frequently merged news briefs and classified advertising together, often the most effective way to categorize is to cluster some miscellaneous material together.
Can I use wildcards in my searches?
Yes, the standard Gale wildcards (*, ?, !) can be used when searching British Newspapers. You may also use logical operators (AND, OR, NOT). Go to the Search Tips for a full discussion of wildcards and logical operators.
What kinds of materials are in the Research Tools?
In order to help non-specialist scholars and students, we have included a range of contextual materials that include essays about the collection, a discussion on how newspapers and the press impacted key issues of the century (and vice versa) and biographies of key editors and journalists. This material was specially commissioned by the British Library for this project. This material will be supplemented over time. For additional contextual information, please refer to the headnotes that appear on the Issues page.
I'm reviewing my search results. What do all the icons/links mean? And how can I view an article?
Refer to the "Guide to What You'll Find on the Results List" Help page. To view a facsimile image of the article as it originally existed in print, simply click its title or its thumbnail image from the results list. Your results list will also include links to view the full facsimile page which contains the article, as well as links to get publication information and to browse the entire issue.
My results list is too long! How can I narrow this list?
You can narrow a lengthy results list to more precisely target the type of articles you are looking for by using the Limit by selections in the left-hand sidebar. You may choose to view only those results for a specific section or article type.
You may also change the order your results are listed by using the Sort by drop-down list.
What does this icon mean?
That is the Multiple Page icon. Some articles appear over multiple pages. This is to alert you that your search term result may not appear on the first page of the article you see, and to click forward in the article to see the entire contents.
What is the difference between the Article View and the Page View?
The Article View displays only the selected article, while the Page View displays the entire page from the source publication, which may contain many articles. Both views display a facsimile image showing the way the article/page was originally published.
Is it possible to see the raw text of the article in HTML, as captured by the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system?
The British Library and Gale do not currently make this text available -- the text files are used solely for searching the product and the user is only able to view the digital image of the page.
I cannot find a specific person (or place or event) that I am certain is in the database. What am I doing wrong?
Certain individuals, places and events may not have been referred to in the nineteenth century by the names and titles that we commonly associate with them today. Try spelling variations for the words that you are searching. For example, John Cam Hobhouse may be referred to as Sir John Cam Hobhouse or Baron Broughton. Also keep in mind that spelling variations may exist within the texts of the newspapers themselves (such as Hawkesbury, Hawkesbuery, Hawksbury, and so on).
Is it possible to save an article for future reference?
You may bookmark an article (or a page of search results) by clicking the star icon. In addition, while viewing an article or page, you may email yourself or others the citation information for the article(s). During your session, you may also use the Mark feature to mark articles or pages of particular interest. Prior to ending your session, you may also email yourself the list of Marked Items for future reference.
I'm an instructor and I want a way for my students to access a specific article or a reading list I've created that contains numerous articles.
This can easily be done using Gale Bookmarks. While viewing an article, results list, or a Marked Items list you have created, click the star icon.
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What is iChapters.com?
iChapters.com is the eCommerce engine used by the British Newspapers website to process the purchase of a subscription.
What can I buy at iChapters.com?
iChapters may be used to purchase either a 24-hour/100 articles pass or a 7-day/200 articles pass for using the British Newspapers website. In the 24-hour pass, you are allowed to view and print up to 100 articles with a 24 hour time period, while the 7-day pass allows you to view and print up to 200 articles with the 7 days.
How do I access the newspaper content after purchase?
Once your purchase transaction is complete, you may return to the British Newspapers Home page or Advanced Search page to execute searches for specific articles. Once your search has returned a list of results, you may then click on any article to view it.
How can I keep track of my subscription, both in terms of time or article views remaining?
From any screen within the British Newspapers, you may click on the My Usage battery icon in the upper right of the screen to see how much time or article views remain in your subscription.
Can I access my content on more than one computer?
Yes, you may login into your account from any computer once it has been purchased.
How can I view my articles offline?
You may view the articles from within the product, or you may choose to print them off for further use, or save them as a PDF file. From the Article View, the Page View, and from your Marked Items list, click the Print tool to view printing options, including creating a PDF file that you can print and/or save.
How long can I access the content online?
It is dependent on your subscription. If you have chosen the 24-hour pass, you will have access to the system for up to 24 hours, during which you can view up to 100 articles. Similarly, with the 7-day pass, you have 7 days to use the system and can view up to 200 articles.
What is iChapters'/British Newspapers returns policy?
Refunds are not available for any purchase. If you have problems accessing all 100 article views (24-hour pass) or 200 article views (7-day pass), you may contact our support team for an extension of your subscription by clicking the Contact Us link in the page footer of all screens in British Newspapers.
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