Historic local newspapers have been brought into the digital age – as part of a new service available at libraries in East Sussex.
For the first time, library users in the county are being offered free access to a fully-searchable database of old local newspapers online.
The British Newspaper Archive includes titles from across the country, including the Hastings & St Leonards Observer from 1866 to 1912 and the now defunct Sussex Advertiser from 1746 to 1878 and Brighton Patriot from 1835 to 1839, with more newspapers being added all the time.
The archive features coverage of events of local interest including Britain’s worst avalanche, which happened in Lewes in 1836, the coming of the railway to Eastbourne in 1849 and the merger of Hastings and St Leonards in 1872.
Zoe Edwards, East Sussex County Council local studies librarian, said: “This new service will be of interest to people who are researching their family history or are just interested in local history generally.
“People may have wanted to search historic local newspapers but not known where to start, or have spent far too many hours trawling through microfilm copies without success.
“The real value of this database is that it’s fully searchable, meaning people can find the information they’re looking for from birth, marriage and death notices, obituaries, news articles and advertisements for free in their local library.”
The service is on offer at all libraries in the county. People can call into their local library and register their details online to receive unlimited access to the archive, while help will be on offer from staff to anyone unsure of how to start.
The service coincides with the launch of a county council campaign aimed at showcasing the wide range of services on offer at East Sussex libraries, which is being promoted via poster advertising, leaflet drops and through social media.
Anyone interested can call into their local library, call the county council’s library service on 0345 6080196 or email firstname.lastname@example.org