Ancestors lost in the crowd?
New to family history research?
Perhaps these articles on our website may help:
Census 1841 - 1911
Birth, Death and Marriage Registration
The London Gazette
Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors,
and British History
A look at newspaper archives and how they can help you research your ancestors.
Newspaper archives are rapidly becoming a very important source of information for researching your family tree. Many newspaper archives are now being made available online, some pay per view, but many available free through your local library. Each of them accessible by keyword or text searching. This article looks at newspaper archives and their importance in discovering your Essex ancestors and the drawbacks of using newspapers.
British Library - The primary source for newspaper archives is the British Library Newspapers. The collection, which is the largest in the UK, consists of British and overseas newspapers, and popular magazines and periodicals. Many are now available through three online sources.
The British Newspaper Archive. Published and manged by brightsolid it covers 18th/19th and 20th centuries up to c.1950. An online collection of hundreds of local and national titles which is being added to daily. In 10 years it could consist of over 40 million pages. Pay-to-view. one year, 30 day or 2 day packages available. See our article on the British Newspaper Archive where a example search has already been formatted.
Alternatively, Findmypast.co.uk, which is owned by the same company, are now offerring access to the same database for subscribers to their site.
British Newspapers 1800 - 1900. An online collection of 49 local and national titles. Payment for a 24 hr and 7 day pass on the website. Access to the Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic is free. An extended version of the collection is available from Gale Publishing via universities and other subscribing institutions, or local libraries (Essex libraries included).
For titles currently not available online, visit the British Library Newspapers website to find out how to visit their collection.
Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition
The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (ncse) is a free, online edition of six nineteenth-century periodicals and newspapers which are the Monthly Repository (1806-1837) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Northern Star (1838-1852, Leader (1850-1860), English Woman’s Journal (1858-1864), Tomahawk (1867-1870) and Publishers’ Circular (1880-1890)
Guardian and Observer newspapers
Guardian and Observer newspapers. 1821-2000 for the Guardian, and 1791-2000 for the Observer. Pay for 24 hours or longer. This can also be accessed for free through some UK county libraries. Speak to your local librarian.
Daily Mirror, Daily Express
Daily Mirror archive 1903 - 1980. The archive will in future include the Daily Express and other publications. Pay for 48 hrs or longer. This can also be accessed for free through some UK county libraries. Speak to your local librarian.
The Times digital archives 1785 - 1985 is operated by Thomson Gale databases and can be accessed through some UK county libraries and universities. Speak to your local librarian (Essex included).
If you are a member of Ancestry.co.uk, they have a searchable text version of the newspaper for the following years: The Times 1788-1833.
The Scotsman 1817 - 1950. Payment or free for Athens users.
The Irish Times 1851 - 2007. Payment.
Newspaperarchive.com is a largely American audience aimed newspaper archive, but with a surprising number of British titles in their archive. Subscription based.
Ancestry.co.uk also have some years of the Illustrated London News, the Penny Magazine, and several regional papers such as Liverpool, Bristol and Edinburgh.
County Record Offices, including the Essex Record Office, and County Libraries often hold extensive collections of newspapers in hard copy, microfilm or digitally. Enquire at the relevant local institution.
For newspapers at the Essex Record Office, see our article: Newspapers at the Essex Record Office.
Problems with Newspapers
A glance at our present-day newspapers immediately reveals the problem with newspapers. They full of mistakes, misquotes, and do not contain all the facts. They are also written with a particular reader in mind and their attitudes. The same applies to 19th century newspapers, so one must bear this in mind when reading them.
Having pointed out the problems, it must be said, however, that newspapers are an excellent source of information for your family tree and they should be included in your research.