SHEDNOTES 135: Find a newspaper for a date

add to the filofacts under – newspaper & picture archives

the filofacts is The Shed’s library project – see more of it at

tags: advice for bloggers, news and picture archives, find newspaper day born, computeractive, ukpressonline, south eastern gazette, british newspaper archive, gale news vault, welsh newspapers online, digital comic museum, comic archives, pathe news, find newsreel clips, buy newsreel clips, search old film, modern history research, punch archives, buy old copies of newspapers

Computeractive, an excellent magazine, is quite hard to get at online because, ironically, it can’t see a way of earning money for its efforts except by selling hard copies. The Shed sympathises but Computeractive can hardly argue with a little respectful lifting into the internet when when we can manage it and we have a collection of useful cuttings which might one day get scanned and organised, although don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile, here is a partial transcript of a useful piece by Jonathan Parkyn, with thanks to him …

One of the most reliable sources of downloadable newspapers is

which has digitised editions of several national uk titles.

Public access to some parts of the archive is restricted – e.g, anyone can access digital editions of the Mirror between 1903 and 1980, but only academic institutions can access issues that go up to present day.

To see what’s available on a specific day, type the date (dd/mm/yyyy) into the search box on the home page and click Date Search. You’ll be greeted by thumbnails representing the pages available for that date.

To view a larger preview, or download a copy to your PC, you’ll need to subscribe to the archive. You’ll have to pay for a one-or two-day subscription, but you can download everything you need in that time frame. An all-inclusive 24-hour subscription costs £7.50, while 48-hour access to either the Mirror or Express archives costs £5.99 each. Click the Shop link for details. To download pages, click the Register link at the top and sign up for an account – this process is free and grants you access to the archives of Victorian regional paper the South Eastern Gazette ( for nothing.

Now go back to the shop and select the subscription you want. Once you’ve paid, go back to the UKPressOnline page and, making sure you’re still signed in, carry out your date search again. This time you’ll be able to click the Save PDF icon under each page you want. Be warned that the quality of some of the scans is a little low.

The British Newspaper Archive

has set itself the admirable task of digitising a staggering 40m newspaper pages from the British Library’s vast collection over the next decade. There are already hundreds of millions of articles online, all searchable by keyword.

The site specialises in regional press dating from the early 1700s to mid 20th-century, though nationals, such as the Daily Telegraph, are gradually being added. You can narrow your research to a specific title or county, as well as search by date.

You need to register and pay for a subscription before you can download. The cheapest package costs £9.95, which grants you a month’s access. Currently, this collection is a little hit and miss, so before you cough up we definitely recommend clicked the Advanced Search button and searching the archive to see whether there’s anything relevant.

Some of the larger collections of newspapers are restricted to academic use, including Gale News Vault

which contains digitised editions of The Times, Daily Mail, Independent and satirical magazine Punch, which closed in 2002. If you have access to a university or library that subscribes to the Gale News Vault, you may be able to view some online content but access is not permitted on an individual basis

Other online archives are more freely available. Welsh Newspapers Online, for example, has a searchable archive of 7.6m articles published between 1804 and 1919. You can’t currently download PDFs but you can take a screenshot of anything you want to save. Simplest way is to press PrtScn on your keyboard, open an image editor such as Paint, and then press Ctrl+V to paste the screenshot into it

For something a bit different, browse the collection of downloadable historic comic books found at the Digital Comic Museum. The archive is a little chaotically ordered and most of the content is from the US rather than the UK, but all public-domain comics are free to download once you’ve registered.

If you’re looking for a gift, a scruffy A4 inkjet printout is unlikely to cut it. You could consider ordering a physical copy of a newspaper from the date in question. One site offering such a service is

which claims to be one of the largest private collections of original British newspapers in the world. It holds around 7m original editions dating from 1900 to the present day. You’re not guaranteed to find anything on your chosen date. But in most cases you should find a wide variety of national papers to choose from, including Guardian, Times, Daily Express and London Evening Standard. Prices start at around £25 a copy, though there’s a surcharge for rarer editions. You can add a number of gift options – boxes, folders or frames – to your order.

It’s not just newspapers that can help you mark a moment in time.   The web hosts a number of burgeoning video archives. Head to

for a brilliant selection of 90,0000 clips including news articles, football matches and more, spanning the best part of the 120th Century. Pathe clips are free to watch online, but if you want a copy to download and keep you’ll need to pay about £30.

The BBC Archive

has a handful of interesting historical collections worth browsing too. Also try the Internet Archive’s library of royalty-free clips

and you can always search YouTube for your birth year to see what comes up.

forbloggers …

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