The launch of The Guardian newspaper’s historic online archive today offers anyone looking for ancestors in the Chartist movement fresh hope of a discovery.
The site charges for access, but is currently offering 24 hours free access for first-time visitors and a cut price rate of £3.97 a day for the rest of November, before the price doubles to £7.95, so it is worth giving it a try soon.
To give some indication of the volume of material, a search on Chartist comes back with 1,000 items, Chartism produces 1,000 more (I suspect the search engine has a default upper limit at this level, so you will need a rather better defined search) and Feargus O’Connor a further 138.
The Guardian is not the first newspaper to put its archives online. The Scotsman’s archives go back to 1817 and have been online for some time. Like The Guardian, it charges £7.95 for a day pass, rising through various levels to £159.95 for a one-year season ticket.
The big excitement to come, however, is the digitisation project for the Northern Star, the principal Chartist newspaper, owned by Feargus O’Connor himself and packed full of news items about the what Chartists were up to all over the country.
This project is now pretty well advanced and things are looking good for a launch in spring 2008.