Friday 28 July 2023

New newspaper viewer coming soon to FindmyPast

Last night I had the pleasure to host a talk by Mary McKee from FindmyPast, as part of Family Tree magazine's webinars series ( The talk was about various tips and tricks to get the best from the site for family history research.

The most interesting revelation, and the one for which most questions were asked, was FindmyPast's newspapers section, which Mary demonstrated. By way of background, FindmyPast has a long running arrangement with the British Library to digitise its newspaper content for the British Newspaper Archive (, with the same content being added to a FindmyPast premium subscription. Until now it has always been far better to carry out searches on the BNA site, which has a far superior search system, and if successful in a search, to then look for the actual image on the FMP site, if you have a subscription there, rather than having to have two subscriptions. Searches on the BNA are free, you only need a subscription to see the images on that site (although there is a small part of the collection that is available to view for free).

The new FindmyPast viewer should be launched in the next few weeks, and does have many serious improvements. You will be able to view double page spreads, view a thumbnail strip at the bottom of the viewer to go to other pages in the edition being viewed. There will also be a handy cropping tool, to snip articles from pages, and you will be able to switch on and off the highlighted words in the viewer (from the search terms used).

When the new front page for the newspaper search section was launched on FindmyPast I was really unimpressed, it was way to simplistic for my taste, with two simple fields, for names and keywords. However, Mary did state that once into the main search area there are many filters that can be selected, e.g. to select a specific title, and a few tips and tricks there to concentrate searches. These include using a - sign before a word to remove to matches containing that word, a ~ sign to look for words within a range in text (e.g. adding ~5 after a search with more than one word so that it will only return instances of those words appearing within 5 words of each other), and the use of * as a wildcard. 

Mary suggested a useful blog post to visit on the topic is, with some excellent tips included.

I asked Mary whether even with the new additions, it would be better to stick with the BNA or FMP for more specific research? At the moment, it is recognised that the BNA search facility is the gold standard, but the new enehancements are now making the FMP version a much better prospect. A new 'advanced search' is also currently being developed. As such, it may not be too long before the pain of having to decide on either a BNA or a FMP subscription for newspaper research is finally removed. 

I look forward to seeing the new viewer released and to road-testing it soon!

(With thanks to Mary McKee and Family Tree)



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