Researching newspapers

A bound printed newspaper

We can help you find the article you’re looking for.

Do you know which newspaper titles you want to see?

Newspapers are listed in our main catalogue, which offers both ‘simple’ and ‘advanced’ search functions.

Newspaper records can be searched by title, word from title, place (e.g. the city/town, region or country of publication or distribution) or any word in the catalogue record or by shelfmark.

The advanced search enables you to select and combine specific fields. For example, if you know the title and the place of publication of a newspaper, use the advanced search option of combining a search of the ‘Main title’ field and the 'Place Name' field. This will present a list of the newspaper titles. To make it easier to identify relevant titles, you can re-sort the list of titles into date order by choosing the sort options ‘date-newest’ or ‘date-oldest’. 

Print copies of most newspapers in our collection are held in our Boston Spa site and will take at least 48 hours to be delivered to St Pancras. Microfilms of newspapers are stored in St Pancras and can be delivered within 70 minutes.

A small number of high-use London national newspapers such as The Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and several others are held in self-service cabinets in the Newsroom and are immediately available.

Become a Reader to access our collection

Anyone with a British Library Reader Pass can access our collection in our Reading Rooms.

Become a Reader to access our Newsroom.

Have you got a list of newspaper articles to find?

While the main catalogue can be searched for newspaper titles, it does not index individual newspaper articles. 

Most newspapers don’t have published subject indexes, so you need a good idea of when and where the articles you want were published. 

It is easy to trace reports of major historical events, but it can be difficult to study a large subject or a general theme through newspapers alone. In this case, we recommend you prepare before trying to order items or visit the Library. For example, you could consult books and subject bibliographies to prepare a set of dates or likely dates when newspapers may have covered your subject. 

A good starting point into searching for specific articles is to use searchable online newspaper collections such as the British Newspaper Archive (BNA). Our Newsroom Reading Room offers free access to the BNA, which has digitised a large amount of our newspaper collection. 

There are also online newspaper resources available in the Newsroom, including both UK and international newspapers. These include the 17th- and 18th-century Burney Newspapers, The Times Digital Archive 1785–1985, The Daily Mail Historical Archive 1896–2004, The Guardian Archive 1821–2003, The Scotsman Digital Archive 1817–1950, The New York Times 1851–2006 and The Times of India 1838–2003.

What about subject indexes to newspapers?

The only UK newspaper with a published index covering its entire run is The Times. This is available on the Newsroom open access shelves. There is also a full published index to The New York Times on the open access shelves. 

Other incomplete or short run indexes to UK and overseas newspaper titles can be found in the catalogue. There are also some online or CD indexes such as The British Newspaper Index which indexes the major UK broadsheet newspapers from 1990 to 2000.

Do you have very recent newspapers?

UK and Irish print newspaper titles are usually available six months after publication date because of the time it takes us to process and catalogue them. Some UK titles are purchased on microfilm and it usually takes between three and six months for these microfilm titles to become available. 

Overseas newspapers are usually purchased on microfilm and can take time to arrive. The delay for overseas titles can vary from a few months to several years. Search our catalogue for the latest issues available. 

We subscribe to some online newspaper collections which provide access to current news articles. For example, the database Access World News (NewsBank) provides text-only, searchable access to a range of UK and international newspaper content. UKPressOnline provides access to recent full facsimile images of selected tabloids such as the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star.

Do you have information on the history of the newspaper press?

In the Newsroom you will find information on the history of the newspaper press. The collection includes catalogues and newspaper bibliographies such as the Waterloo Directories and the Newsplan Reports.

Historic and current press directories include Mitchell’s Newspaper Press Directory, Benns Media Guide and Willings Press Guide; newspaper indexes; and a collection of monographs on newspaper history and the newspaper industry such as the multi-volume The History of The Times. The Newsroom reference collection is shelved according to the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme and is listed in our main catalogue.

A good starting point for research into the general history of the British newspaper press is our Concise History of the British Press.

Need further help and advice on newspaper research?

If you need help, just ask our staff at the Reference Enquiry Desk. If you are outside the Library, you can contact the News Reference Enquiry Team.

Newspaper Reference Service
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7377
Reference Enquiry Team