Last updated 26 Sep 2023
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 scaled back its digitisation efforts a few years ago (see eogn.com). Also, an large number of out-of-copyright publications are only available in ‘snippet’ rather than full view (in return for payments from those publishing copies of them?). The main Google web search engine can of course also be used to find digitised publications on websites around the world.
Internet Archive. (Free) Millions of 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 use the ‘search text contents’ option. 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, sadly a high number of out-of-copyright books from the UK are 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). Note: Problems have arisen with searching BL images on Flickr in 2023; if these cannot be resolved I will remove this entry.
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. As with many of the sites on this page, Google can also be used to search the collection, here are the results for Atcherley.
The Gazette. (Free) Lots of useful content here including 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.
Early Canadiana Online. (Free) A virtual library holding what has been described as “the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents.”
Note: Sadly, the Flightglobal Archive, formerly included here, disappeared from the Web in 2019. An item in the Flightglobal website FAQ, dating from 2021, states that efforts were being made to reinstate the PDF archive, but as of 2023 there is no sign of that happening.
British Newspaper Archive. (£ / Free) The premier collection of digitised newspapers covering the British Isles from 1710 to 1953, with over 70 million pages and growing by the week (some 80,000 of those pages can accessed for free). 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.
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.
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.
Note: Other online collections of digitised newspapers which you might be able to access via a library or institutional account are: 19th Century British Newspapers; the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection; and The Times Digital Archive.
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).
Canada: British Columbia Historical Newspapers. (Free) BC community newspapers published from 1865 to 1994.
Canada: Peel’s Prairie Provinces. (Free) A range of digitised material from western Canada including over 66,000 newspaper issues (4.8 million articles) dating from 1871 onward are available. The newspapers can be accessed for the time being at the old website Peel’s Prairie Provinces, but are being migrated to the Internet Archive platform.
Canada: University of Manitoba – Manitobia – 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.
Biblioteca Nacional de España: Digital Periodical and Newspaper Library. (£ / Free) A large collection of digitised Spanish newspapers. There is also a page of links to other digital newspaper libraries across Spain.
USA: Chronicling America. (Free) More than 20 million historic American newspaper pages from 1770 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 50 million newspaper pages from Canadian and USA newspapers are available. If you find this quirky site’s own search functionality difficult to get to grips with and this help page does not, erm, help, there is a third party website (Fulton Search) from which searches can be carried out.
Worldwide: Elephind.com. (Free) Searches over four thousand newspaper titles from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and USA – including those within some of the sites listed above.
Worldwide: Newspapers.com. ($) Over 900 million pages from thousands of 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, New Zealand, Panama and the UK. 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).
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, in a series of pages which are linked to on this page of his site.