October 12, 2009

British Newspapers, 1800-1900 available online

The following press release about British Newspapers 1800-1900 was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy from Gale, part of Cengage Learning. I explored the site briefly and was very impressed! My first experiences using the site will be published here tomorrow so stay tuned!

Farmington Hills, MI, September 24, 2009 – Gale, part of Cengage Learning, along with The British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), have made nineteenth-century British newspapers available on the internet. The database, known as British Newspapers, 1800-1900 gives users access to over two million newspaper pages from 49 different national and regional newspapers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Chosen by leading experts and academics, the newspapers represent a cross-section of nineteenth-century society and contain illustrated materials on a variety of topics, including business, sports, politics and entertainment.

Providing the historical news content needed to track the lives of ancestors, “British Newspapers, 1800-1900” is a powerful new resource for genealogists and family historians, providing access to property and legal notices, marriage and birth announcements, illustrations and photographs. Users are able to search for relatives by name or keyword with additional resources available including biographies, timelines and publication histories.

This web site also offers users a unique opportunity to travel back in time to uncover rarely read accounts of nineteenth-century events as if they were historians stumbling upon long-lost artifacts. Whether it be a fascination with the East End of London at the time of the Whitechapel murders, “the hunting grounds of some of the lowest and most degraded types of humanity” (Penny Illustrated Paper, Sept. 1888), or an affinity for Civil War history and Abraham Lincoln, a man who “had in him not only the sentiments which women love, but the heavier metal of which full-grown men and Presidents are made” (Penny Illustrated Paper, Oct. 1861), this database offers historians, genealogists, researchers and anyone with a curiosity for nineteenth-century history the opportunity to read first-hand accounts of momentous events.

Many key anniversaries and world-changing events -- the Economic Panics of 1857 and 1873, the abolition of slavery, the Great Potato Famine, the California Gold Rush, the settling of the American frontier and many more -- are documented and available via a few keystrokes. Users can also access work from celebrated authors of the nineteenth-century, including Charles Dickens and William Thackeray.

“‘British Newspapers, 1800-1900’ places the fascinating events of the nineteenth century at the fingertips of genealogists, researchers, historians and consumers,” said Jim Draper, Vice President and Publisher, Gale. “We are honored to be able to give audiences around the world access to content that was once only available to a small audience who had access to local library reading rooms in the United Kingdom.”

To make this collection available to users, Gale turned The British Library's collection of nineteenth-century newspapers into a high-resolution digital format with searchable images. The database presents online access to a key set of primary sources for the study of nineteenth-century history. For the 49 newspapers selected, every front page, editorial, birth and death notice, advertisement and classified ad that appeared within their pages is easily accessible from what is a virtual chronicle of history for this period. Users of the database can search every word on every page.

“This web site was developed with the researcher in mind,” said Simon Bell, Head of Strategic Licensing and Partnerships, The British Library. “There is a huge appetite for wider online access to this kind of resource and we are pleased that so many researchers and journalists have used the web site to research material which enables users across the world to delve into this unrivaled online resource.”

Searches of the site are free and downloads of full-text articles are available by purchasing either a 24-hour pass or a seven-day pass. Content from The Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic is available free.

For more information, please visit http://www.gale.cengage.com/DigitalCollections/ or http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/

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