UK: Digitised newspapers go online

Unique insight into international news has been made available for the first time after two million digitised pages of 19th century British newspapers were put online. Researchers, academics and genealogists, regardless of their location, can explore newspaper pages from 49 national and regional UK titles.

Developed by the British Library, in partnership with the Joint Information Systems Committee and Gale, part of Cengage Learning, the 19th century British Library Newspapers website is available to historians, authors, journalists and expats, or anyone else interested in such topics as the Irish Famine and emigration; the Boer War; the Great Australian gold rush; the Californian Railway expansion; or the Franco-Prussian War.

The site has enhanced search capabilities and new imaging techniques so researchers have access to vivid newspaper reports previously only available via hard copy in Reading Rooms.

Users will be able to read first-hand factual reporting of the Siege of Paris in The Graphic and details of the British ruling class in India in the melodramatic Illustrated Police News.

The collection focuses on national newspapers such as the Daily News, English regional papers, for example the Manchester Times, home country newspapers from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Ireland, weekly titles such as Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic and specialist titles that covered Victorian radicalism and Chartism such as Charter.

Chosen by leading experts and researchers to present a cross section of 19th century society, the website offers its users highly illustrated materials on topics as diverse as business and sport, politics and entertainment. Bathing machines, children as young as nine smoking and drinking, Vesta Tilley - London's very own Pop Idol, the banking collapse of 1878 and zero percent income tax are just a few of the fascinating items researchers can now examine online.

Ed King, British Library's Head of Newspaper Collections, said: "There's a huge appetite for international online access to this kind of content. News from around the world was covered at length in national and regional UK press in the 19th century and this new pay-as-you-go service will enable users from across the world to delve into this unrivalled online resource."

Searches of the site are free and downloads of full-text articles are available by purchasing either a 24-hour or seven-day pass. Users can buy a 24-hour pass (up to 100 downloads) for £6.99 (US$11.35) or a seven-day pass (up to 200 downloads) for £9.99. Access to The Graphic and The Penny Illustrated Paper is free.