Find My Past has partnered with the British Newspaper Archive to digitize the vast newspaper collections of the national British Library.
The different websites and subscription levels can be confusing. This review of newspapers on Find My Past should answer all your questions.
Most Newspapers On Find My Past Require The Premium Subscription
When you have a standard subscription on Find My Past, the search feature can return results from the entire newspaper archive.
However, most of the results can only be accessed with the premium level subscription.
If you don’t have the Pro subscription, you’ll be taken to the upgrade page when you try to access the record.
There is a collection of free British newspapers on the site. I cover these in a later section.
The British Newspaper Archive On Find My Past
The partnership agreement between Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archive allows the FindMyPast websites to access the government-backed collection of British and Irish historic newspapers.
The Find My Past premium subscription allows members to access newspaper transcripts and images.
What if you have a standard subscription on Find My Past?
If you have a standard subscription, you can search the newspaper collections.
However, you won’t get access to the transcripts or images without upgrading to the Pro level membership.
What British And Irish Newspapers Are Available?
The collection has about fifteen hundred British and Irish newspapers from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.
These are mostly regional and local newspapers. You won’t find national newspapers like the Times on the site.
You can get an overview of which newspapers are available by using the broad search filters on Find My Past.
It’s a good idea to specify a county and fifty-year time period in which your ancestors resided.
- Click on the Search tab in the top menu.
- Choose “Newspapers and periodicals”
- (Optional) select a county and time frame filter in the left pane
- Click on the “By Newspaper” filter
The pop-up page will let you browse through the available titles in alphabetical order.
How To Find Free Newspapers On Find My Past
When Find My Past renewed their partnership with the British Newspaper Archive, both websites made a selection of historic British newspapers available for free.
This free collection is comprised of over 150 British newspapers between 1720 and 1880.
The original announcement mentioned 158 with more to come. However, I counted 154 so maybe a few were removed. It’s still a decent number and one or more may cover an area in which your ancestors lived.
It’s not obvious how to identify the free newspaper records on the FindMyPast website, so here are two different paths.
Use the footer menu
Scroll down to the footer and click on the “Free genealogy records” link.
The “free stuff” web page shows the various archives that are available for free. You can expand and scroll down a list of all the free newspapers (this is how I counted 154).
The web page also gives you a “Search newspaper archives for free” button. This takes you to the Search page with the options pre-selected to only show free content.
Now for the alternative path…
Go straight to the Search page and set the free options
- Click on the Search tab in the top menu.
- Choose “Newspapers and periodicals”
- Turn on the “Free To View” filter in the left pane (under Access Type)
You’ll notice that the “British newspapers” option is selected by default when you arrive via the “Newspapers and periodicals” filter.
This is just as well because there are no free newspapers available in the Irish category.
Now that you’ve got the filter in place, you can apply additional filters and/or browse through the results. You will see the transcripts and images of these records without being asked to upgrade.
Will these records stay free?
I noticed an interesting little disclaimer at the bottom of each record I opened. This may be a coincidence in terms of the records that caught my eye.
This is what it says:
Successor rightsholder unknown. Please contact us…if you wish to claim rights to this title.
The British Newspaper Archive is the partner to Find My Past in putting these records online. It’s their role to investigate copyright and negotiate with the holders when necessary.
I wonder if the “unknown” status contributes to this content being free. If it was part of a paid subscription and a legitimate rights holder turned up, that might be more complicated for Find My Past and the BNA.
Are There Irish Newspapers Available With Free Or Basic Membership?
Unlike some British newspapers, there are no Irish newspapers available with free access or the lower level of subscription.
Most of the newspaper records are categorized under “Newspapers and periodicals”. The subscription information is clear that you need the Pro tier to see newspapers.
However, four publications are categorized under “Directories & Social History”. I thought these might be available using the standard subscription, but they’re not.
You still need the Pro subscription to access these collections. No back door, unfortunately!
Does Find My Past Have U.S. Newspapers?
Find My Past used to have access to regional and local newspapers from the United States and around the world.
However, these collections disappeared from the website in August 2021 without any fanfare or notification from the company.
When users noticed that the U.S. newspapers were gone, the company acknowledged that they had removed the “U.S. & World Newspapers” collection of over 100 million pages.
Find My Past had a partnership with American company Heritage Archives since 2012 – this is the parent company of the NewspaperArchive.com website.
The British company decided not to renew the contract in 2021. The reason they gave was that the usage by their members was too low to justify the cost.
When the company was asked if they would reduce the Pro subscription rate or give compensation to existing Pro members, they pointed to the terms of the user contract.
This is what the spokesperson said to a major genealogy magazine:
Section 21 of the Findmypast terms and conditions allows the website to make changes to its records and services without notice at any time.Find My Past spokesperson
The company is certainly within its rights. But I think it was a poor show not to notify Pro members and perhaps give them an extra month subscription as a sweetener.
Other ways to access historic U.S. newspapers
There are several major commercial archives that provide access to U.S. newspapers.
Check out our round-up review of the best U.S. newspaper archives for genealogy.
If you want to investigate further, we have detailed reviews of the big three:
- NewspaperArchive.com review (this content is what was lost from Find My Past)
- Newspapers.com review (this archive is owned by Ancestry.com)
- GenealogyBank review
Find My Past Pro Subscription Vs British Newspaper Archive Subscription
The British Newspaper Archive website has its own subscription and search features. This site and the Find My Past website are accessing the same newspaper archive.
So, is it better to get membership on one website versus the other?
You can check out our full review of the British Newspaper Archive website.
The one-month or twelve-month subscription rates are cheaper for British Newspaper Archive membership.
However, you don’t get access to all the other genealogy record collections on Find My Past.
If you are only interested in the newspaper archives, then go with the British Newspaper Archive. Check out our review for lots of tips on using their website features.
If you are interested in genealogy and researching your family history, I advise you to go with the Find My Past membership.
More About Find My Past
If you want to know more about the company and its services, check out these articles:
- Who owns Find My Past?
- A review of family trees on Find My Past
- Uploading DNA to Find My Past (read this before you do so)
2 thoughts on “Newspapers On Find My Past – Review (2023)”
It is worth noting that the British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast have independent searches, and both are free. Sometimes if you can’t find what you’re looking for at the site you have subscribed to (Findmypast in my case), you can find it more easily on the he other.
I am one of those (presumably rare) subscribers to Findmypast who made heavy use of their international news coverage. When I noticed that suddenly I wasn’t getting any hits, I wrote to them and they wrote back been discontinued, but they didn’t offer me any compensation. I will probably not renew my subscription.
thank you for the useful tip on searching on both sites.