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Irish Times Celebrates Anniversary With Free Digital Archive Access

Congratulations to the Irish Times, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary! (I think that’s about 1 million in Internet years.) The newspaper announced yesterday that to celebrate it would be making access to its digital archive free until April 6th.

The digital archive goes all the way back to 1859 and is available at http://www.irishtimes.com/search/archive.html. Make sure you click on the 2nd tab, the one that reads “Digital Archive: Search the Irish Times Paper from 1859 to Present”. (There’s also a text archive but it only goes back to 1996.)

I did a search for “George Boole” and was surprised to get over 4700 results. The archive notes that quote marks work to keep keywords in a group, but I found in my search results lots of references to Saint George and none to the mathematician. It was only when I used the “Refine By” option in the search results to search for “George Boole” again that I got a much more reasonable 77 results.

Search results are listed oldest first and in this case the results started with the obituary of George Boole. Interestingly there are no other archive mentions of him again until 1956, and according to the trendline to the right of the search results, archive mentions seem to peak around 1994/1995.

Archive results show a snippet of the actual page image, not a text snippet. Click on the snippet and you’ll get an image of the newspaper page itself, with the section of where your keywords appear highlighted. It might take a moment for the page image to load, but I found all the images — even back to 1859 — pretty easy to read. You can click and drag on the page to move it around, or you can click on the thumbnail of the page image on the right side of the screen to move to a different part. Page sections seem to load article by article; this works fine for more recent versions of the newspaper (the last sixty or seventy years?) but for the 19th century editions, where pages are just rows and rows of columns, it can get a little confusing.

I spent a great deal of time browsing and reading the archives and was never asked for money or even to login or register. You’ve only got a week or so to enjoy this archive for free!

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