How to use the British Newspaper Archive

I rarely buy family history magazines anymore but whilst we were on holiday last month I picked up one to read. There was an article about the British Newspaper Archive which sounded interesting so I signed up online and received 15 free credits (which equated to 3 page views).

I tried a couple of simple searches with no luck and was pretty disappointed at the results which seemed illegible. The original newspapers are scanned, converted to a JPEG2000 format for archive purposes, and then run through an optical character recognition (OCR) process which creates the electronic text. This means that the text isn’t read by a human so the words are made live on the website even if they don’t make sense, i.e. ‘MISS SELINA RANCE,n ttends bhtre Gret Lodon Serio-Comic. treet, ‘ Continued Engagement of the Universil Favourites and ge, ou Star Duettists.’ So you need to do a bit of detective work!

I then tried some searches for some of the middle and upper class members of my tree, in particular Selina Elizabeth Courtenay Mansel, as I noticed I didn’t have a date of her marriage to Alfred Young.

On the second page of results was for a notice of their marriage in the Hampshire Telegraph, dated Saturday 27 July 1850:

Young-ManselĀ  On the 16th inst., at the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway, by the Rev J Macready , Alfred Young Esq. Lieutenant R.N. grandson of the late Bishop of Clonfert , to Selina Elizabeth Courtenay, only child of Captain Thomas Mansel, R.N. , and grandchild of the late Sir William Mansel , Bart., of Iscoed, Wales.

I’m really glad I persevered with searching as I doubt I would ever have found a record of their marriage. I can see how easy it would be to become addicted to this site! I also found an entry for the death of Admiral Thomas Mansel in the Morning Post, 7th April 1869.

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