Findmypast Newspaper Search: New tech boosts new discoveries

By Sunny Jane Morton Premium

The British and Irish genealogy subscription giant Findmypast.com recently announced improvements to its search process for historical newspapers. So far, the new technology is available for just one paper, the Essex Newsman (but more widespread application is promised in 2019.) This U.K. paper has digital coverage spanning about 60 years. Since Findmypast is home to millions of exclusive digitized British and Irish newspaper pages (and also provides excellent access to U.S. newspaper content), this is a development worth watching!

Findmypast newspaper search improves with new technology

The new technology makes newspaper discoveries more accessible. How? By including computer-extracted names from newspapers in the main search experience. (Previously, you had to search all the newspapers in a completely separate location on the site.) In other words, when you use the main search box now, you’ll see any relevant results from the Essex Newsman in your search results. If you have a tree on Findmypast, you’ll even receive automated hints from that Essex Newsman collection. Other genealogy websites have applied comparable processes to other old printed materials, such as city directories and yearbooks.

Findmypast newspaper search tool

I’ve just started playing with the new newspaper search tool, but I can already see one more apparent advantage. Searching the Essex Newsman in the old newspaper search area for Clifford Rogerson (which you can still do) reveals two intriguing results:

However, searching on the same name in the main search area means you have more flexibility. I opted to click “include name variants” for the first and last name. Now my search results include not just the exact name “Clifford Rogerson” but also another entry for a “C Rogerson:”

Findmypast newspaper search makes it easier to find ancestors.

The new search experience is currently being tested with limited data from the Essex Newsman, with the idea that it will soon expand: “While this first iteration of the new search is focused on accurately identifying names [almost 1.3 million of them], Findmypast plans to extract other details such as locations, events and relationships in 2019,” says a company statement. “This will further improve the search experience and will dramatically increase the number of hints generated by the collection….Other titles from the archive will receive similar search upgrades in the future.”

Extra! Extra!

Ready to discover your ancestors’ amazing stories in old newspapers? I recommend The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide by James M. Beidler. Not only is he an expert genealogy researcher, he’s a longtime newspaper columnist himself! James brings a lot of passion and inside tips to show you how find your folks in old newspapers.