British Library scans 18th and 19th-Century newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive aims to make every paper ever printed in Britain available online

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Four million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th Centuries have been made available online by the British Library.

The public will now be able to scan the content of 200 titles from around Britain and Ireland.

These will include historic events such as the wedding of Victoria and Albert and the rise of the railways.

Ed King, the British Library's head of newspapers, said it opened up the collection "as never before".

The archive is free to search, but there is a charge for accessing the pages themselves.

Other stories contained within the scanned pages include reporting on the Charge of the Light Brigade.

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The British Newspaper Archive website is one of the most ambitious digital projects undertaken by a museum”

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Mr King said: "Rather than having to view the items on site at the library, turning each page, people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the goldmine of stories and information contained in these pages.

"The ability to search across millions of articles will yield results for each user that might previously have been the work of weeks or months, in a matter of seconds and the click of a mouse."

Included in the project are pages from the Aberdeen Journal, Belfast Newsletter, Western Mail and Manchester Evening News.

A team has spent a year at the British Library's newspaper library at Colindale, north London, digitising up to 8,000 pages a day.

They expect to scan up to 40 million pages over the next 10 years.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said the archive was "a rich and hugely exciting resource".

He added: "I searched for my own constituency of Wantage and within seconds had 42,000 results - an indication of the breadth and variety of material featured."

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