Century-old newspapers brought into the digital age with new database

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DELVE into the town’s history thanks to a new service available at libraries across East Sussex.

Newspapers from as far back as the 18th century are now going digital.

Titles from across the country are included in the fully-searchable online database of local newspapers, including editions of the Hastings Observer from 1866 to 1912.

This period covers events of local significance such as the building of Hastings Pier in 1872, the merger of Hastings and St Leonards in the same year and the switching on of the borough’s first electric street lights in 1883.

Also included in the archive are the now defunct Sussex Advertiser from 1746 to 1878 and Brighton Patriot from 1835 to 1839, with more newspapers being added all the time.

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.

Help will be on offer from staff to anyone unsure of how to get started.

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 in finding out more can call into their local library, call the county council’s library service on 0345 6080196 or email library.enquiries@eastsussex.gov.uk.