Updated 19 May 2018; additional amendments made 5 Aug 2019
Links to a selection of websites hosting digitised books, periodicals and newspapers, with a focus on those which have been most helpful to me in my Atcherley family history research (and an emphasis on sites with free content!).
Google Books. (Free) Millions of books and periodicals. Options to narrow search by a range of publication dates etc. Sadly, Google has scaled back its digitisation efforts (see eogn.com). Also, an increasing number of out-of-copyright publications are only available in ‘snippet’ rather than full view. For now though, this is still the top site for me (and of course the main Google web search engine can also be used to find digitised publications on websites around the world).
Internet Archive. (Free) Over 15 million books and periodicals, including parish register abstracts and other sources useful to genealogists and family / local historians. If it’s out-of-copyright but ‘snippet view’ only at Google Books, try Internet Archive. Be sure to ‘search text contents’. I also use Google to search across the collection and track down what I’m looking for – see search results for Atcherley found in this way (they include the find above!).
Hathi Trust. (Free) Millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. Many publications of value for genealogy and family / local history are included. Not all items included are full access, with a disappointingly high number of out-of-copyright books from the UK being visible only to folks in the United States.
MyHeritage Compilation of Published Sources. (Free) 84,206,892 pages from 447,870 sources, the publications included having been chosen for their interest to family historians.
Genealogy Gophers. (Free/Donate) 80,000 genealogy books. “You can see 3 books a week for free, and after that we ask for a small donation to help defray the hosting costs: $3 for a month or $20 for a year.”
British Library Flickr account. (Free) Although the purpose of the BL Flickr account is to provide access to thousands of images extracted from the library’s out-of-copyright books, for each image in the collection there is a link (under the heading ‘Explore’) to ‘Download the PDF for this book’. This has enabled me to download a PDF of The Exile of Saint Helena, a poem by David Francis Atcherley (see link on this page).
National Library of Scotland Digital gallery. (Free) Included within the NLS digital collections which can be accessed online are Genealogical collections concerning families in Scotland 1750-1751, Scottish Post Office Directories, Gazetteers of Scotland and WW1/WW2 British Military Lists.
Historical Directories of England & Wales. (Free) A collection of digitised trade directories covering England and Wales from the 1760s to the 1910s. Personally, I find this newer version of the site more difficult to use than the old one, but it is worth making the effort! Google can be used to search the collection, here are the results for Atcherley.
The Gazette. (Free) Another site which has reinvented itself and become, for me at least, a place where it is more difficult to find what I want. But it has content worth finding: UK Government notices, military appointments and awards, insolvency notices, honours and more, dating back to 1665.
The Spectator Magazine Archive. (Free) All issues of The Spectator Magazine, from 1828 to 2008, are included. Even if your ancestor is not amongst the magazine’s pages, you may find articles about some of the historical events they lived through.
Flightglobal Archive. (Free) Explore nearly a hundred years of aviation history as it appeared in the original pages of Flight Magazine from 1909-2005. Useful for researching ancestors involved in aviation, both commercial and military.
Early Canadiana Online. (Free/$) A virtual library holding what is described as “the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents.” Some content is only available on payment of a subscription.
British Newspaper Archive. (£) The premier collection of digitised newspapers covering the British Isles from 1710 to 1953, with over 25 million pages and growing by the week. The same content (but without the BNA site’s superior search facilities) can also be accessed via Findmypast (£) or Genes Reunited (£) if you have the right subscription package.
Note: A free alternative to the above is 19th Century British Newspapers (2 million newspaper pages, also derived from scans of newspapers in the British Library’s collection). Your library service (or that of another area, which does not restrict membership to locals) may enable you to access this collection from your own computer or device by logging in with your library card number. Another collection which may be available in this way is the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection (1 million pages).
Welsh Newspapers Online. (Free) A fantastic free collection of Welsh newspapers covering the period from 1804 to 1919 (though the bulk of the content is from the last five decades of that timespan). The news covered by these papers extends in some cases to English counties bordering the Principality, or even beyond. 15 million articles and 1.1 million pages are included.
The Times Digital Archive. (Free / £). An archive of The Times from 1785 to 1985. Available as part of a subscription package, or you may be able to gain free access via a library membership.
LastChanceToRead. (Free/£) Over 165,000 pages from “a wide range of 18th and 19th Century newspapers with a mix of international, national, and local news items”. Many of the newspapers included are scarce or even unique, hence the website’s name. Limited ‘snippets’ of search results can be viewed for free, but payment is required for full access.
Australia: Trove Digitised Newspapers. (Free) Provided by the National Library of Australia. A growing collection primarily covering the period from the mid-1800s to the 1940s (but extending beyond in both directions). Over 22,148,084 pages are available.
Canada: British Columbia Historical Newspapers. (Free) BC community newspapers published from 1865 to 1994.
Canada: Peel’s Prairie Provinces. (Free) Over 66,000 newspaper issues (4.8 million articles) dating from 1871 are available, primarily from Alberta.
Canada: Manatobia – Newspapers. (Free) Content from 38 Manitoba newspapers covering various date ranges from as early as 1859.
Canada: See also Old Fulton New York Postcards under USA below.
New Zealand: Papers Past. (Free). Millions of pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals covering the years 1839 to 1948. The collection is still being added to.
Singapore: NewspaperSG. (Free) A digital archive of newspapers published in Singapore and Malaya between 1831 and 2009.
USA: Chronicling America. (Free) 13,101,570 historic American newspaper pages from 1789 to 1963, provided by the Library of Congress.
USA: Old Fulton New York Postcards. (Free) A unique site in that it is maintained by an individual rather than a Government department, company or organisation. Over 43 million newspaper pages from Canadian and USA newspapers are available. Search and filtering options appear to have been improved since the last time I looked, but are still rather limited and can make the site challenging to use. (Arranging results by date, for example, arranges them in order of their addition to the site rather than by the date of the newspaper.)
Worldwide: Elephind.com. (Free) Searches over 3,500 newspaper titles from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and USA – including those within some of the sites listed above.
Worldwide: Newspapers.com. ($) Over 379 million pages from 7,600 newspapers spanning the 1700s to the 2000s make this quite an impressive resource. The newspapers are primarily American, but there are titles from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Panama and the UK (pages from the above-mentioned 19th Century British Newspapers seem to have added recently). A nice feature is that users can ‘clip’ articles and share them – I have used this to create a collection of Atcherley newspaper clippings.
Worldwide: Google newspapers. (Free) Sadly, this is a newspaper collection which has diminished rather than grown like so many others. The content is primarily from the USA and Canada, but with some content from other countries (particularly Australia). Make the most of it while it’s there – Google has a habit of pulling the plug on services beyond its core web search product.
Note: An excellent website for keeping up with developments in the world of digitised online newspapers is Kenneth Marks’ The Ancestor Hunt. Kenneth has provided some useful lessons and links relating to searching online newspapers on this page of his site.