Unlock your research with newspaper archives

Whatever your chosen non-fiction subject, the newspaper collection hosted by Findmypast, the inaugural sponsor of the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction, is a fantastic research resource. Spanning five centuries, and a myriad of different topics, it is a goldmine of stories and information waiting to be uncovered and written about.

Here, Findmypast newspaper expert and published writer Rose Staveley-Wadham explains how you can best use the Findmypast newspaper collection to unlock your non-fiction research.

Getting Started

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or searching for something specific, newspapers at Findmypast contain thousands of articles on many different subjects.

With the earliest newspaper page hailing from 1699 and the latest from 2009, the collection covers five centuries of headlines, and spans newspaper titles from across the United Kingdom, Ireland and beyond. Indeed, with papers published in the likes of India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Barbados, Uganda, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, you can explore stories from across the world.

Here is an image of Illustrated London News from April 1936.

To make the most of such an extensive range of dates and places, the best way to start your research is with a broad search. Using a name or a keyword, simply enter your search terms to return results from across the whole collection. You can always narrow down your results later by date, location, and newspaper title, using Findmypast’s smart filtering tools.

Need some help getting started? Here’s our handy guide packed with top tips for searching the Findmypast newspaper collection, penned by resident Findmypast expert and PhD student Mary McKee. You can even access millions of newspaper pages for free.

Having a Browse

Be warned, though, as you might be researching one thing, and a newspaper article about a disappearing heiress or a haunted mansion grabs your attention.

These research rabbit holes are why Findmypast has introduced the brand-new ability to browse through newspapers, much like you would be able to flick through a magazine as shown here, a copy of The Sphere from November 1940. You never know, you may choose to harness the power of the unexpected, and such serendipitous newspaper finds, as the starting point of your new non-fiction book.

People Search

Meanwhile, if you’re considering writing a biography, the Findmypast newspaper collection is an excellent tool. You can search all newspapers by name, and now you can search multiple names at once.

You may even consider creating a family tree to sit alongside your research.

Going Places

Alternatively, perhaps your research centres on a place, like a town or village. It may focus on a single building or an entire street, and the Findmypast newspaper collection provides superb support for such location-based research.

Discover the goings-on of a small rural village in Victorian times or learn how much a house in London sold for in the 1940s. Find out what life was like in post-emancipation Jamaica or uncover how a street in Dundee changed over the years.

For example, The Sketch from July 1904.

Special Subject

The Findmypast newspaper collection is much like a library. Within the newspapers themselves there are a broad range of subjects covered, from science and technology to nature and industry.

And, like a library, alongside more general newspapers, you’ll also find more nuanced, specialist titles. Indeed, the collection contains publications dedicated to subjects like crime, cinema, occupations, politics, religion, sport, and women’s history.

This is a copy of The Picturegoer from February 1958.

Top Picks

To get your research juices going, here are some top picks from Findmypast’s newspaper collection.

  • The Picturegoer – a film fan magazine covering the golden age of cinema
  • The Vote – a pioneering publication, which represented the Women’s Freedom League

Know Your Sources

To support your non-fiction research, Findmypast’s newspapers come with a handy information button, which allows you to access publishing information and to cite your sources. You can also clip and save your articles to organise your research.

Begin your non-fiction research journey today by diving into the Findmypast newspaper collection with a seven-day free trial of their Pro subscription and discover a multitude of different subjects and stories at your fingertips.

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