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British Library Newspaper Archive

December 6th, 2011 by Chris Strauber

The British Library has recently made available about four million pages of local, regional, and national newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can search the archive for free…but to read the contents you’ll need to subscribe individually. (via The Telegraph)

What Tufts Has

We have a subscription to a subset of this collection, in our 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers and our 19th Century British Library Newspapers collections, which means it’s a good bet we will eventually have access to all of this material. For the moment we have about fifty of the hundred and seventy-five 19th century titles listed here. That’s a conservative estimate–I’m counting titles which change names only once.

As always, if we don’t have it and you can identify what you need, we can probably get it for you via interlibrary loan.

Commentary on Newspapers and Libraries

Newspapers are hard. Pace Nicholson Baker (seriously, don’t get me started), libraries are *very* concerned about the preservation of newspapers. What’s tricky is that they tend to be collected locally, except for national papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. Ever have the local paper miss a delivery? Libraries get that, too, and we subscribe to many, many more newspapers than you do over much longer periods of time. This means we might have, for example, all of volume 68 of the New Yorker, except for number 36. Multiply by several hundred subscriptions and a hundred and fifty years….

Digitization projects tend to be market-driven, so the national papers everyone collects got done first. Local papers are being done piecemeal, local library by local library. Or they’re being done as part of larger packages by publishers or other vendors or, in this case, national libraries. Copyright concerns limit most digitization projects (in the US at least) to pre-1923 material.

National papers like the New York Times are available electronically for their whole run; we also have this arrangement for the Boston Globe and London Times. Note that the most recent x years of each of these is not covered in the same place as the older material. For the latest issues of these titles (it varies by title, but usually the last ten years or so), as well as local or regional papers, you’ll want to check Lexis-Nexis and/or Factiva.

Confused? Just ask.

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