The launch of The British Newspaper Archive means that some editions of Birmingham’s oldest paper can be seen online for the first time. There are some 1200 issues currently available from 16 Nov 1741 (Issue no. 1) to 24 Jun 1871 with most of the coverage from 1831-1871. The dates represent the British Library holdings of this newspaper – we have virtually the complete run available on microfilm.
The online archive is a 10 year partnership between the British Library and Brightsolid (owners of FindMyPast and Scotland’s People) in which 40 million pages of British newspapers will be digitised. The opening selection includes titles from 1711 to 1944 and there are a range of national, regional and local newspapers.
The Birmingham Post is also included but this has been available online for sometime through the British Library’s 19th Century Newspaper collection (and is available here) .
The free search facility on the new site is different and enables results to be filtered by various fields including date, title, area, county, or town. The results include a short transcription of the article featuring your search term but to see the full image or transcription you need to have a subscription package. Birmingham Central Library does not (yet!) have a subscription.
There are a number of free sample pages available on the timeline and these will be altered from time to time to highlight particular historical events.
One innovative addition is the facility to correct the text generated by the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) scanning facility – an example of crowdsourcing in action!