Thursday 17 January 2013

Newspapers on Find My Past

With my Christmas money I bought a year's subscription to Find My Past purely with the intention of looking up my ancestors in the newspaper collection.  They had sent me a 10% off voucher so it seemed a reasonable step to take as I had used several (well more than several actually!) two day packages at the British Newspaper Archive at £6.95 last year. And I had bought some credits on Find My Past to look up Merchant Navy Records and Teacher Registration Records. 

The only problem is that as we currently have a 10Gb cap on our broadband I am limited to searching newspapers at the end of the month if we have lots of broadband left.  Or using my mum's broadband when we visit her.  It was a cost cutting measure when we moved house to change from unlimited Virgin broadband, phone and TV to a limited BT account. 

However BT has just offered us an unlimited broadband contract for 12 months with Infinity (that's the fibre optic version)  for just a fiver more than we pay now ... hmmm, £5 is what they will charge us each month if we go over the 10Gb cap and that would only be for another 5Gb.  So ... we've ordered it.  I guess it will go up in a year, but we'll cross that bridge then. In a week's time I may be able to browse as many newspapers, maps, old parish records (new collection from Essex Record office announced today) as I want! Yay!!

I have found that the search on Find My Past is not as good as the one on the British Newspaper Archive. 

British Newspaper Archive search
Find My Past Newspaper Search
As you can see the options in the Find My Past search are very limited.  On the BNA and the 19th Century Newspapers site (the free limited version that is available through some libraries) you can select Publication Places and Titles, a specific date and use logic in the search boxes (AND, OR etc).  You can also choose to browse a publication on the BNA site, that is you choose a newspaper title and read all the pages - useful when the OCR has been less than good on the older papers.  I have written to Find My Past about this as their parent company BrightSolid also provide the service on the BNA site.  I haven't had an answer yet.

Find My Past do provide a filter on the results page which lets you reduce your hits to areas or specific papers, however I haven't yet found a way to, say, look at the Shipping OR Maritime Intelligence for a specific ship for a specific week, which is the kind of search I was doing on the 19th century site searching for shipwrecks. 

My best tip so far is put all your search terms in the keywords box - even the names.  And bear in mind that the results are ordered by relevance, so only the first few may contain ALL your key words.

To finish - here's a cutting of my 5x great grandfather's brewery  - Elstob & Co, in Bishopwearmouth (Sunderland, Co. Durham) celebrating the installation of a new brewing vessel in some style.  I've visited a few breweries in my time but never seen one this big! 

Newcastle Courant 4 Oct 1800 (from Find My Past)

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