Times Online Opens 200-Year Archive, Free For Now

Times Online has switched on the 200-year digital archive we revealed in May that it would launch. Times Archive includes more than 20 million searchable newspaper clippings going back to 1785, both the scanned papers and best guesses at the text within, as determined by OCR software. Thomson Gale had already scanned the two centuries to 1985 for its Times Digital Archive product, used primarily in education and libraries, and Times has its own premium archive offering – but this has now been taken to the web. The most recent 27 years will be archived later.

Guardian: “The archive is currently free, and (editor-in-chief Anne) Spackman says no decision will be taken about whether it will remain free or require a subscription until it has generated a solid userbase.” The archive does, however, require users hand over personal data for marketing profiling before they can access articles, so at least News International will get some pay-off. The archive includes editorial function, too, with its front page updated daily to reflect current news in a historical context – today: “1973: Panic buying of oil products“.