Showing posts with label brightsolid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brightsolid. Show all posts

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The First Birthday of the British Newspaper Archive

The following is from BrightSolid.

Online newspaper archive celebrates its first birthday
·         The British Newspaper Archive reaches the 6 million page mark on its first birthday

The British Newspaper Archive celebrates its first birthday today, as it reaches the 6 million page milestone. With a target of 40 million fully-searchable pages by 2021, this 10-year project is the biggest digitisation of newspapers to take place in the UK.

The online archive holds stories of all human life, ranging from a heart-rending story of a child transported to Australia for seven years for the theft of seven cups and five saucers, to the coronation, marriage and attempted assassinations of Queen Victoria.

The 6 millionth page to be added to the archive is page three of the ‘Manchester Evening News’ for Friday 11th May 1917.  The main headlines for that day include heavy casualties of war, a ban on horse racing because of a shortage of oats and an advertisement for ladies’ corsets.
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager for The British Newspaper Archive, comments: “We are thrilled to hit the 6 million page mark on our first birthday.  The online archive is an Aladdin’s Cave full of fascinating local and national stories that are waiting to be uncovered, all of which can be done, within seconds, from the comfort of your own home.”
Facts about the British Newspaper Archive
·         10,000 pages are added every day, 7 days a week to the website
·         150,000 new stories a day, 4,500,000 new stories a month (approx)
·          Over 200 newspaper titles from the UK and Ireland
·         Newspapers cover the period 1710 to 1950
·         It is the biggest programme of newspaper digitisation to take place in the UK and aims to have 40 million, fully-searchable pages on the website by 2021.
To celebrate our birthday, we’re posting Archive stories on the British Newspaper Archive blog for events and birthdays that happened on 29 November through the years.

The website is free to search, with a range of credit and subscription packages available to suit the different needs of researchers who wish to view the paid-for content. Access to the resource is free to users of the British Library’s Reading Rooms.

About The British Newspaper Archive

1.      The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership project between the British Library and brightsolid. From November 2011 to 2021, up to 40 million pages from historical newspapers across the UK and Ireland (spanning the period, 1700 to 1950) will be uploaded to the
2.      The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection.
3.      brightsolid began life in 1995 as Scotland-Online and is a leading UK independent provider of IT business services to large public and private sector organisations. The online publishing division of brightsolid has significant expertise in the digitisation and management of archival records, and works in partnership with the British Library, the National Archives and the National Records of Scotland. Headquartered in Dundee, the company is owned by the publishers D.C. Thomson and has offices in Edinburgh and London.

Monday, January 30, 2012

brightsolid hires top genealogist D. Joshua Taylor to support move into US market

The following is from brightSolid.

brightsolid hires top genealogist D. Joshua Taylor to support move into US market

• He’s helped stars find their roots on TV’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Now, he’s helping brightsolid’s US launch as business development manager
and media spokesperson

• Taylor is one of several new appointments to the new US operation
of UK’s major online genealogy business

January 30, 2012. SANTA MONICA, CA: brightsolid online publishing, a leading online provider of historical and genealogical content, today announces that top genealogist D. Joshua Taylor has joined its new US operation with immediate effect, as business development manager and media spokesperson.

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS is one of America’s most prominent genealogists – a prolific genealogical researcher, speaker and author, who has also received numerous awards for his work. Adept at media interviews, he has twice been featured on the NBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, helping both Sarah Jessica Parker and Ashley Judd trace their family trees.

“We’re thrilled to have recruited such a dynamic and talented genealogist to represent us both to the media and the wider genealogical community”, says Neil Curtis, brightsolid’s new Senior Vice-President (SVP) of North America.

Speaking about his appointment, Taylor says: “Having seen what brightsolid has achieved on the UK genealogy scene, I’m excited about helping them fulfill their huge potential in the US.”

British-owned brightsolid has itself been at the forefront of technological innovations in family history for over three decades. It hosts over a billion genealogical records across its family of brands and was this month voted Best Genealogy Organization in the online Gene Awards. 

As part of its move into North America, brightsolid is sponsoring RootsTech 2012, the major family history and technology conference, taking place in Salt Lake City from February 2-4 2012, where Taylor himself will be giving three talks. They will cover, respectively, the need for a universal standard in online digital archiving; best practices for using Cloud computing in family history research; and a forecast for future genealogy software developments.
Other new appointments to brightsolid’s new US operation:

D. Joshua Taylor is just one of several new appointments for brightsolid, following the opening this month of its new US operation, based in Santa Monica, California. 

• Neil Curtis moves from his role as brightsolid Corporate Development Manager to focus on the US market as Senior Vice President (SVP) of North America.

• Rachel Denning joins as the General Manager of North America, after 14 years experience in the IT and web industries.

• Brian Speckart joins as Marketing Manager of North America, after a varied 15-year career in marketing and public relations, including teaching New Media Marketing at UCLA Extension.

• Katy Curtis will focus on North America as Finance Manager, after previously working as a director at KPMG.  

• More About D. Joshua Taylor

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS has been passionate about genealogical and historical research since his youth. He has continued to show this passion during his 15-year year career in the genealogy industry.

He has received numerous awards for his work, including RootsTech’s Distinguished Presenter Award, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society. 

He is the current Vice-President of Administration for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), where he also serves as chairman of the Conference Planning Committee. He previously held the role of Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the nation’s oldest genealogical organization (founded in 1845).

He was a regular columnist for ‘Digital Genealogist’ and has published prolifically in ‘America Ancestors’ and ‘Association of Professional Genealogist Quarterly’, amongst other titles. He is also a frequent speaker at genealogical societies and events, including GENTECH, the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference and RootsTech, where he’ll be speaking again this year.

He holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons. In the medium-term Taylor will be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He will be giving three talks at RootsTech 2012, February 2-4:
•             A User's Perspective: Developing a Universal Metadata Structure for Genealogical Content Providers
•             Do I Trust the Cloud? - Cloud Computing and Family History
•             Software Forecast 2.0 - What Genealogists Need for the Future

• About brightsolid

Since 1994, brightsolid group has been delivering online innovation and pioneering the expansion of the genealogy market with leading family history websites including the global network of findmypast sites, plus ScotlandsPeople, GenesReunited, and, together servicing over 18 million registered customers worldwide.

The sites connect people via their innovative family tree software and deliver access to over a billion records dating as far back as 1200. Family historians can search for their ancestors among global collections, relating primarily to people with UK and Irish ancestry, of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, newspapers, as well as birth, marriage and death records.

brightsolid is proud to be part of the 1940 US Census Community Project, a joint initiative with, FamilySearch and other leading genealogy organizations, which aims to make the 1940 census searchable as quickly as possible after its release in April 2012. The completion of the project will allow anyone to search for their ancestors in the 1940 census for free online. Learn about this exciting new project and volunteer to help today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The following is from BrightSolid.


• It will be a main partner with a large presence at major family history and technology conference in Salt Lake City
·         CEO Chris van der Kuyl will be announcing the launch of a new product into the US market

brightsolid, a leading online provider of historical and genealogical content, today announces that it will be sponsoring RootsTech, the major family history and technology conference, taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah from 2-4 February 2012. 

With over 3,000 attendees in 2011, when brightsolid first sponsored the event, Rootstech again promises to be the genealogy and technology event of the year. It will assemble everyone from family historians and product developers to content providers and users in a unique forum of innovation, learning and networking.

“We are proud to be a main partner of such an important event”, says Chris van der Kuyl, brightsolid CEO, who will himself be speaking at RootsTech, as part of a 19-strong team there representing brightsolid.

brightsolid has been at the forefront of technological innovations in family history for over three decades. It hosts over a billion genealogical records across its family of brands and was this month voted Best Genealogy Organisation in the online Gene Awards.  

As well as sponsoring the conference itself, brightsolid will also be using RootsTech to announce the launch of a new product into the US market and sponsoring key elements within the conference.

Van der Kuyl will address a brightsolid-sponsored lunch on Thursday, 2 February with a talk on, “Why Everyone Deserves Their Own Episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and How brightsolid Will Help You Get There.” 

RootsTech overall will include no less than 11 different talks by members of the brightsolid team, who will also join a range of discussions and workshops between leading family history content developers and users.

brightsolid will also have a large stand at RootsTech, showcasing not just brightsolid’s global network of findmypast sites ( and but also the Scottish Government site, ScotlandsPeople
( and the British Newspaper Archive ( The latter is a unique treasure trove for the family historian, containing millions of pages from the British Library’s newspaper collection, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland published in the 18th and 19th centuries.

RootsTech will assemble all these resources in one place for the first time. The brightsolid stand there will also boast a presentation area for 15 to 20 people, where visitors will be able to see demonstrations of brightsolid sites and meet production developers. “If English is your mother tongue, the brightsolid stand will be where you’ll find your roots”, says van der Kuyl.   

brightsolid is also sponsoring Exercise Your Funny Bone, an evening of comedy on Thursday 2 February, presented by comic Ryan Hamilton, recently named by Rolling Stone as one of Five Comics To Watch.

• About RootsTech 2012

RootsTech 2012 will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center of Salt Lake City, Utah, from 2-4 February, 2012. It will be a gathering of technology users and technology creators who will be working together to find solutions to difficult family history and genealogy problems.

• About brightsolid

Since 1994, brightsolid group has been delivering online innovation and pioneering the expansion of the genealogy market with leading family history
websites including the global network of findmypast sites, plus  ScotlandsPeople, GenesReunited,, together servicing over 18 million registered customers worldwide.

The sites connect people via their innovative family tree software and deliver access to over a billion records dating as far back as 1200. Family historians can search for their ancestors among global collections, relating primarily to people with UK and Irish ancestry, of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, newspapers, as well as birth, marriage and death records.

• About brightsolid and the 1940 U.S. Census

On 2 April 2012, digital images of the 1940 United States Federal Census will be made available by the National Archives and Records Administration for the first time.

brightsolid is proud to be part of the 1940 US Census Community Project, a joint initiative with, FamilySearch and other leading genealogy organisations, which aims to make the census searchable as quickly as possible after its release. The completion of the project will allow anyone to search for their ancestors in the 1940 census for free online. Learn about this exciting new project at

Friday, December 23, 2011

British Newspaper Archive goes live on Genes Reunited

The following is from Genes Reunited and BrightSolid.


. Previously hard-to-reach material now available
. Over 4 million fully-searchable pages of historical newspapers
. Archives feature over 65 million stories
. 8,000 pages added everyday

The British Newspaper Archive - recently launched to the public - has today been made available through leading family history website, transforming how people research the past.  Members will be able to search for newspaper articles about their ancestors or the areas where they have lived, adding a whole new dimension to family history research.

The newspaper archive, first launched to the public on the 29th November 2011, currently hosts over 4 million pages from more than 200 regional newspaper titles (UK and Ireland), spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, and is fully searchable.  8,000 pages are added every day, making this an invaluable resource for family historians throughout the UK.

The newspapers illustrate the stories, issues, anxieties and obsessions of 19th century Britain and Ireland, also the parallels between the 19th century and present day.  The archive includes phenomenally detailed and elaborately illustrated reports of the Great Exhibition of 1851, highlighting Victorian creativity and enterprise, as well as the complaints registered about strikes, delays and the effect on trade in the capital during the Exhibition's run. Also included are stories on infamous murder trials, and men, women and children transported to the other side of the world for minor crimes; prominent illustrations and adverts, flagging the latest fashion to cure-alls for illnesses - all illuminating local history on an unprecedented level.

Rhoda Breakell, Head of, commented: "We are really excited to be able to host the British Newspaper Archive on following its huge success since launching earlier this year.  Offering this service to our members means that the nation's memories are not only kept alive online, but members can find stories about their ancestors or look up the area they lived in at the touch of a button.  Material that was previously hard to reach because of where it was kept can now be in front of you within minutes. It's a fantastic new resource for looking into the history of your family.

"Our members are undoubtedly going to unearth some special findings and we're really interested in hearing about them via the community forum or message board. Whether it is an unusual discovery about their ancestors or area they lived in, or the most amusing and scandalous headlines, tell us about it!"

Genes Reunited Platinum members can add the British Newspaper Archive to their current subscription for £39.95.

Genes Reunited is owned by online publishers brightsolid.  brightsolid was chosen by the British Library as the partner for this project due to its track record on projects such as the digitisation of the 1911 census in partnership with The National Archives.

Genes Reunited was launched in 2003 as a sister-site to the Internet phenomenon Friends Reunited. Since then it has grown to become the UK's largest genealogy website.

It marked a revolution in genealogy and ancestry by combining them with Internet social-networking. Members are able to build their family tree by posting it on the site and investigating which ancestors they share with other members. They can also search historical records such as census, birth, death, marriage and military records.

Genes Reunited has over 12 million members and over 780 million names listed. One new name is added to the site every single second.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


The following is from brightSolid.

A fascinating snapshot of pre-war Scotland and a major new family history resource

A snapshot of history from the Scotland of a century ago is revealed today with the release of the personal details from the 1911 Census.

The archives were opened after 100 years in line with the closure period for all personal data collected by each census. The Census returns were made available for members of the public to search at Edinburgh’s New Register House. Staff in period costume were on hand to provide advice and two centenarians attended to view their own entries in the Census.

From today, family historians, researchers and members of the public can view high quality colour images of their ancestors’ entries in the Census, fully searchable by name or address.

In 1911, the Scottish population was growing quickly, partly as a result of better health and the resulting improvements in child mortality rates, and partly because of immigration. Compared to the previous census of a decade beforehand, the total population had grown by six per cent.

This was the last census before the Great War, during which many tens of thousands of young people recorded in 1911 would have been killed.

Register General for Scotland Duncan Macniven said:

“We are today releasing details we have kept secret for a century, just as we are today promising to do with the information collected by the 2011 Census. People in 100 years will be able to read the information their ancestors are today contributing to this year’s census.

“The 1911 Census gives us a snapshot of what Scotland was like just before the great cataclysm of the Great War. Many thousands of the young people recorded here never returned from the battlefields of Europe.”

“For family historians, the major change is the inclusion of details of the number of children born from a marriage, which will make it easier to track children between the census years. Also, the full colour images make it easier to decipher the enumerator’s handwriting.

“You can also see what happened to Scotland in the decade before 1911. The total population was up by 6 per cent. However in Fife, for example, the population had gone up by 22 per cent, while in Orkney it had gone down by 10 per cent.

“A lot of that was due to the continuing industrialisation of Scotland, and the drift of people from rural areas into our towns and cities.”

The Census will be made available on the ScotlandsPeople website ( ), and at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh. The online records will be interesting both to people in Scotland and to the Scottish diaspora, which numbers many millions especially across the UK and in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

General background

The 1911 Census showed that the population of Scotland on the night of April 2, 1911 was 4.7 million.

This was the 12th modern census, the first having taken place in 1801. It was authorised by the Census (Great Britain) Act 1910. The Registrar General for Scotland in 1911 was James Patten MacDougall supported by James C. Dunlop the Superintendent of Statistics.

It was the first time ever that mechanical tabulation was used to process the statistical results, which made the task quicker and easier to do. Hollerith machines were used that incorporated a punch card system. In this census the householders were asked for more information than ever before and the new system using mechanical tabulation ensured that the statistics were reported in record time, in 5 volumes published between 1911 and 1913.

In Dalziel in Motherwell, April 3, 1911 was a holiday. Over 2000 people were absent on Census night. Whether these people were picked up in the census in other parts of Scotland is currently unknown.

This was the last census taken prior to the first war. Deaths in the war meant that the number of males remained around 2.3m between the 1911 and 1921 censuses, whereas between the 1901 and 1911 Census the male population had increased by 11.9%.

The police were used to help the enumerators take the Census for vagrants as well as the enumeration of people who passed the night in barns, sheds, tents, etc. or in the open air. People on boats or barges were enumerated if the vessel was within the limits of the jurisdiction of His Majesty’s Customs.


The main objective of a census is to provide statistical data. Reports were produced that included tables showing the population of Scotland as a whole, of its counties, civil parishes, registration districts, burghs, Parliamentary constituencies and so on.

The reports and tables were based on summaries from the Enumeration Books. No household schedules (the forms filled in by the head of each household) have survived but the Enumeration Books provide similar information to those published in 2001 from the 1901 Census and include additional information about the number of children born to each married woman, nationality and occupation.

The following statistics were produced from the 1911 Census:

  • The population was 4,759,445.
  • The number of males was 2,307,603.
  • The number of females was 2,451,842.
  • This was an increase on the population of 287,342 from 1901.
  • The increase in males was 133,848.
  • The increase in females was 153,494.
  • This increase was less than any since the 1861 Census.

In earlier Censuses:

  • The first Census, in 1801, showed a population of 1,608,420.
  • The 1821 population exceeded 2m.
  • The 1861 population exceeded 3m.
  • The 1891 population exceeded 4m.
  • The increase over 110 years was 3,151,025 or 195.9%

Between 1901 and 1911 there was an increase in population in 18 counties and a decrease in 15. The greatest increases were in Lanarkshire, Fife, Dumbarton and Renfrew. The greatest decreases were in Inverness, Orkney, Argyll and Forfar.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011 to digitise British Library's UK electoral register and India Office record collections

The following is from FindMyPast.

British Library and to digitise 5 million pages of family history records

       - Selections from the India Office Records and a century of electoral registers will be made available online

The British Library and family history website are to digitise a treasure trove of family history resources held by the Library, making them available online and fully searchable for the first time.

The project will involve the scanning of UK electoral registers covering the century that followed the Reform Act of 1832, along with records of baptisms, marriages and burials drawn from the archives of the India Office. When available online, these collections will enable historians, genealogists and family history researchers to make connections and track down details of ancestors and others at the click of a mouse - work that would previously have necessitated visits to the Library's Reading Rooms and many hours of laborious manual searching.

The British Library holds the national collection of electoral registers covering the whole of the United Kingdom.  The registers contain a vast range of names, addresses and other genealogical information.

"Digitisation of the electoral registers will transform the work of people wishing to use them for family history research," said Jennie Grimshaw, the Library's curator for Social Policy and Official Publications. "Printed electoral registers are arranged by polling district within constituency and names are not indexed, so the process of finding an address to confirm names of residents is currently incredibly laborious. Digitisation represents a huge breakthrough as users will be able to search for names and addresses, thereby pinpointing the individuals and ancestors they're looking for."

The other holdings included in the large-scale digitisation are drawn from the archives of the East India Company and the India Office. These records relate to Britons living and working in the Indian sub-continent during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, up to Independence in 1948. They include over 1,000 volumes of ecclesiastical returns of births, marriages and burials, together with applications for civil and military service, and details of pension payments to individuals.

Antonia Moon, curator of post-1858 India Office Records said, "These records are an outstanding resource for researchers whose ancestors had connections with British India, whether as servants of the administration or as private inhabitants."

The partnership between the British Library and followed a competitive tender process and will see five million pages of UK electoral registers and India Office records digitised over the next year. The resources will become available via and in the British Library's Reading Rooms from early 2012; online access will be available to subscribers and pay-as-you-go customers - access to users in the British Library Reading Rooms will be free.

Simon Bell, the British Library's Head of Licensing and Product Development, said: "We are delighted to announce this exciting new partnership between the British Library and, which will deliver an online and fully searchable resource that will prove immensely valuable to family history researchers in unlocking a treasure trove of content that up to now has only been available either on microfilm or within the pages of bound volumes. The Library will receive copies of the digitised images created for this project, so as well as transforming access for current researchers, we will also retain digital versions of these collections in perpetuity, for the benefit of future researchers."

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at, said: "We're very excited to be involved with this fascinating project. The electoral rolls are the great missing link for family historians: after censuses and civil registration indexes, they provide the widest coverage of the whole population. To have Irish and Scottish records alongside England and Wales is also a huge advantage. These records will join the 1911 Census, Chelsea Pensioner Service Records and many more datasets available online at, which enable people to make fantastic discoveries day after day."

About The British LibraryThe British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The British Library's collections include 150 million items from every era of written human history beginning with Chinese oracle bones dating from 300 BC, right up to the latest

Leading UK family history website (formerly was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.
Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today. has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.
In November 2006 launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

In April 2007,'s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company that was awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ScotlandsPeople has a revamp as part of new contract deal


ScotlandsPeople has a revamp as part of new contract deal

Scotland's new-look genealogy website, has been officially launched today (Tuesday Sep 7) by the Scottish Government’s tourism minister Jim Mather.

The revamped ScotlandsPeople service is up and running and includes new search features designed to make it easier and quicker for people to discover their family roots.
This includes plotting search results on maps, helping those unfamiliar with Scottish geography - such as users overseas - understand more about Scotland and their ancestors.
Following the first revamp of the site since its launch in 2002, it now contains records dating back to when national records of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland first began in 1855. It also includes parish records, dating back as far as 1538, and other data, including wills and testaments and heraldry.  The new site offers advanced search functions, providing quicker results, as well as additional information from Catholic Parish Registers.
Chris van der Kuyl, chief executive of service provider brightsolid, said: "ScotlandsPeople now has nearly 80 million records and will continue to add new exciting data sets to what is, without doubt, a world-leading website.

“brightsolid is enormously proud of the fact that it has established a strong track record in publishing sites such as ScotlandsPeople, and has built a centre of excellence in this growing and popular genealogy market sector.

“We understand the community and we know how to innovate and develop online products for family history enthusiasts."

Mr Mather said: "Once again Scotland has proved that it can make available the key records for those who wish to trace their Scottish family history.  It is estimated that over 50 million people across the world claim Scottish ancestry, with ancestral tourism estimated to contribute £64 million annually to Scotland's economy.

“Following the success of the year of Homecoming, the improved ScotlandsPeople will help connect people to their ancestors and cement links between Scots overseas and their home country - encouraging them to come and walk in the footsteps of their ancestors and boost revenues in the Scottish economy."

Duncan Macniven, Registrar General for Scotland, said: "This is a great step forward in the ongoing improvement of the ScotlandsPeople website, which has over one million registered users. We are proud to have one of the most comprehensive sets of family history records. These changes will continue to make us one of the world leading websites for family history.  This creates a platform for the launch of the 1911 census in April 2011." 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

British Library and brightsolid partnership to digitise up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers

  • Mass digitisation to make millions of newspaper pages available online and in the Library’s reading rooms
  • Innovative deal will help safeguard the future of the world’s greatest newspaper archive

The British Library’s Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, will today announce a major new partnership between the Library and online publisher brightsolid, owner of online brands including and Friends Reunited. The ten-year agreement will deliver the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers the UK has ever seen: up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection will be digitised, making large parts of this unparalleled resource available online for the first time.

Spanning three centuries and including 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles, the British Library holds one of the world’s finest collections of newspapers. Each year the Newspaper Library at Colindale is used by 30,000 researchers in subjects ranging from family history and genealogy to sports statistics, politics and industrial history. This vast resource is held mainly in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating a trip to the north London site for people wishing to use the collection.

The partnership between the British Library and brightsolid will enable the digitisation of a minimum of 4 million pages of newspapers over the first two years. Over the course of ten years, the agreement aims to deliver up to 40 million pages as the mass digitisation process becomes progressively more efficient and as in-copyright content is scanned following negotiation with rightsholders.

Delivering the keynote speech at the Westminster eForum this morning (Wednesday 19 May), Dame Lynne Brindley outlined how the partnership will transform access to this vital part of the national memory.

 “I am delighted to announce the British Library’s partnership with brightsolid to embark upon the most significant programme of newspaper digitisation this country has ever seen,” said Dame Lynne. “Historic newspapers are an invaluable resource for historians, researchers, genealogists, students and many others, bringing past events and people to life with great immediacy and in rich detail. Mass digitisation unlocks the riches of our newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world; by making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print. brightsolidhave an excellent track record of digitising archive materials and making them available to new audiences – I look forward to announcing the web service resulting from this partnership, which will launch and then steadily grow from next year.”

Digitised material will include extensive coverage of local, regional and national press across three and a half centuries. It will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911. Additional categories will be developed looking at key events and themes such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement. The aim will be to build a ‘critical mass’ of material for researchers – particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy.

brightsolid, a subsidiary of Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson, was selected following an EU procurement process. brightsolid has previously delivered the highly successful project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA) and owns the leading family history resources and brightsolid is taking on the commercial and technical risks of the project, with no direct costs to the British Library. The firm will digitise content from the British Library Newspaper Library, which it will then make available online via a paid-for website as well as integrating it into its family history websites.

This resource will be available for free to users on-site at the British Library and copies of all scanned materials will be deposited with the Library to be held in the national collection in perpetuity.

Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the British Library on such an exciting project. Digitisation will mean that those people who haven’t previously been able to access the physical resource will now be able to access it from anywhere at any time.  In particular it is an important resource for the genealogy community, which we are closely involved with through our and, helping them to bring to life how their ancestors lived.  It will also offer a unique insight into major events and key periods of historical interest.  

“We’re also closely linked to the publishing community through our parent company, DC Thomson and we very much see this project as a collaboration with the industry.  In fact we are already in dialogue with some rightsholders and expect this to continue throughout the project.  As a business, our core strength is in building innovative online businesses around people and places, and this project fits perfectly within our expertise.  We are looking forward to working with the British Library on this project and developing this hugely important online resource.”

Along with out-of-copyright material from the newspaper archive – defined in this context as pre-1900 newspaper material – the partnership will also seek to digitise a range of in-copyright material, with the agreement of the relevant rightsholders. This copyright material will, with the express permission of the publishers, be made available via the online resource – providing fuller coverage for users and a much-needed revenue stream for the rightsholders.

David Fordham, President of the Newspaper Society said: “This initiative is a hugely significant and exciting development which will unlock many of the great newspaper treasures that lie within the millions of pages in the British Library Newspaper archive at Colindale. It represents a particularly exciting opportunity for regional newspapers which have a long and rich heritage and capture changing times in local and regional areas across the centuries. I look forward to watching the project develop and hope that it makes a major contribution to the industry.”

The successful appointment of brightsolid as its newspaper digitisation partner will help the British Library to fulfil its strategic goals of long-term preservation of and access to the national newspaper collection. The Library’s newspaper strategy aims to secure the future of this unique resource by moving the hard-copy collections from the current building at Colindale to a purpose-built storage facility in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Access to the collection will be provided via microfilm and digital copies made available at the Library’s main site at St Pancras.

“The success of our 19th Century British Library Newspapers website demonstrated the public’s huge appetite for digitised historic newspaper content,” added Dame Lynne. “Our new partnership with brightsolid will enable us to deliver a huge increase in the amount of digitised material available – transforming access and searchability for users on and off-site and reducing wear-and-tear on our often fragile collection items. It will help the newspaper collection to remain relevant for a new generation of researchers, more used to accessing research information via their laptop than travelling to a physical location.”

She concluded: “The British Library’s newspaper archive is one of the world’s great newspaper collections. Through this partnership with brightsolid we will make millions more pages accessible – and to many more people.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

new ScotlandsPeople contract awarded

The following is brom brightsolid and ScotlandsPeople - 8 Sep 2009

Online publisher brightsolid wins new deal to manage ScotlandsPeople online family history service

Online publisher brightsolid has won a three-year deal to manage the hugely-successful family history site,

The site, with almost one million registered users and growing currently by more than 10,000 per month, is run in partnership with the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). The contract, awarded by competitive tender, will run for three years from September 2010.

brightsolid is among the major online publishers specialising in family history and genealogy sites. It has operated the site since 2002 and also owns the genealogy site Last month brightsolid completed the acquisition of FriendsReunited,
including GenesReunited, from ITV plc (subject to approval by the competition authorities).

"This new contract to manage in partnership with GROS is a significant one for brightsolid," commented brightsolid chief executive Chris van der Kuyl.

"We have developed an unparalleled expertise in processing, managing and presenting information for online audiences as well as providing hosting and customer service support.

"ScotlandsPeople is a world-leading web site that has built a real community of users worldwide, with that number rapidly approaching one million people.

"We look forward to continuing to build on that success with GROS with this new contract. We will continue to invest in providing enhanced services to the site, in partnership with GROS."

The site contains more than 50 million records dating back to when national records of births, deaths and marriages began in Scotland in 1855. It also includes parish records, dating back as far as 1533, as well as other data including wills and testaments.

Mr Paul Parr, Deputy Registrar General of the General Register Office of Scotland, commented: "We are very proud of It is one of the leading sites of its kind worldwide, and has helped bolster the interest of the Scottish diaspora in the history of their country or
the country of their ancestors, as well as providing a popular service for the Scottish public.

"This contract has been awarded after a keenly competitive tenders process and we look forward to continuing the site's progress and further development in partnership with brightsolid."