Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mmm...Archival Newspapers...

LISNews reports that the British Library has millions of newspaper articles from historic papers published in the United Kingdom: the British Newspaper Archive. Yay archive!

A quick glance (and a commenter on that post) shows that the collection is not free to read, which limits it somewhat. You can run a search for free, but need to pay to read the articles that result from a search.

They give you a tiny sample of the text surrounding your search term, so you can kind of guess if a result is something you're interested in looking at more closely, but that surrounding text appears to be the result of a rather careless character recognition program, so it's not always completely clear what the original text said.

See this fine example:
90 Id taci JI .ouii ,i ase, rent11ai ols , iXg s ~lo llw- thie ioeaiirteA , tie4 tisli, aftile chtiinj7, Soit - uey niieim fo 35, kit 132 icesetwJogtmji
Direct quote! And either some very odd language, or an interesting font that the Optical Character Recognition software couldn't quite handle. Judging from the information on the site, if you pay for access you can view the scan of the original page, so with any luck, you would be able to work out what it actually said.

I personally am unlikely to have research needs that require access to a huge online huge archive of scanned British newspapers, but I think it's cool that it exists.

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