Wednesday 14 March 2012

Belfast Newsletter released on Ancestry

Ancestry has released the Belfast Newsletter online via its website at From the site, the following blurb about the collection:

About Belfast, Northern Ireland, The Belfast Newsletter, 1738-1925
This database contains images of the Belfast News-Letter, an Irish newspaper.

Historical Background
The Belfast News-Letter began publication in 1737 as the Belfast News-Letter and General Advertiser and is in the running for the title of oldest continually published, daily English-language newspaper. The paper started with two four-page issues a week, eventually becoming a daily in 1855. The News-Letter contained both local and international news and advertisements.

What You May Find in the Records
The copies of the News-Letter contained in this database chronicle almost two centuries of Irish history, including the Great Famine, the country’s own political upheavals, and World War I, when the paper printed long lists of death notices after actions such as the famed Ulster Division’s attack during the Battle of the Somme. Genealogically significant items researchers may find in the News-Letter’s pages include, amongst others
  • death or memorial notices
  • notices from or about ships or passengers that arrived safely
  • people taking out game certificates
  • notices from trade groups or guilds
  • premiums paid
  • notices of executions
  • marriages
  • births
  • lists of sheriffs
  • announcements for ships that will be leaving

On the downside - the collection is not searchable, but needs to be browsed. On the plus side - it does significantly expand the availability of the title accessible on the British Library 19th Century Newspaper Collection (

NB: an index to the earliest editions of the Belfast Newsletter, from 1737-1800, is available online at – there are gaps in the coverage, however, particularly from 1737-1750.

UPDATE: I've just noticed the source - the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. Now that's promising - what else has Ancestry been up to?!


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