- To find birth, marriage, and death intimations of family members, particularly those who have moved away from the rest of the family.
- To get detail on events in ancestors' lives.
- To understand your ancestors' lives in the context of local and social history.
- To gain perspective on opinion of historical events.
- To find mentions of ancestors and discover hitherto unknown facts.
- To find wills relating to ancestors as a lead to their deaths or property ownership.
I registered with the National Library of Scotland, and I can access the Burney collection of 17th and 18th century newspapers from Britain and the colonies; 48 19th century newspapers (though unfortunately, no Borders newspapers); the digital archive of the ephemera collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford; the Times newspaper (1785 to 1985); the Economist newspaper/magazine (1843-2006), as well as the full text of a huge number of printed books, and it's all free, because I'm a Scottish resident. Much of it is available online through my computer, but for some of it, I would need to go to Edinburgh, so if you don't have a computer you can access it there.
For people not resident in Scotland, the British Newspaper Archive might be useful.
I was privileged, last week, to see the beta (test) version of the online British Newspaper Archive. In my view, it was a shambles, it just didn't work properly; I was surprised they had the audacity to charge for it.
Their registration process was overly complex, the confirmation emails did not arrive, and though one could login, the archive searches did not work as expected. After several days an email did arrive, though whether it was the confirmation email, I don't know. After clicking a link, one could access a search but the newspaper image was too blurred to read. The help pages weren't helpful, nothing about system requirements, suitable browsers, or troubleshooting.
I hope that it will be tested exhaustively on several browsers before it becomes live.
I've blogged previously about Australian Trove. Trove has a huge number of Australian newspapers and it's free.
I've also written about Papers Past - New Zealand Newspaper Archive. Papers Past provides access to 68 New Zealand from 1839 to 1945, and it's free.
If you have a favourite newspaper archive, please let me know.