- What is News of the Great War?
- What is Het Archief?
- Why were all these papers digitised?
- How did the digitisation get started?
- How where the digitised newspapers controlled in terms of quality?
- Where can I find more information on News of the Great War?
- How do I create an account?
- How do I search the papers?
- How do I refine my search results?
- How do I find a victim from the Names List in this newspaper collection?
- How can I get started with this linked data?
- How do I search for an exact word in a newspaper?
- How do I download an article or a newspaper?
- Do I have to pay for a download?
- Can I reuse the newspapers?
- How do I create a collection?
- Where can I find more information on a certain paper?
- Is there a list of newspaper titles which are accessible through News of the Great War?
- I am looking for a certain paper but I cannot find it on the website. Where else can I look?
- Do you have papers from the Second World War?
- When I do multiple searches on the same keyword, I get different results.
- The search results are not marked, so I have to look for the keyword in the papers myself.
- When I open a paper, it does not take me to the right page. Instead, the front page appears.
- In the paper I wish to read, a page is illegible or invisible.
- I opened a paper and a page was missing.
- I regularly spot strange characters when I open the text via Show text. Where do these come from?
- Some papers do not show text when I click Show text klik.
- This FAQ does not answer my question.
1. What is News of the Great War?
News of the Great War is the name of a collaborative project of the Flemish Institute for Archiving (VIAA), the Flemish Heritage Library (VEB), the Flemish Interface Centre for Cultural Heritage FARO, the Centre of Expertise in Digital Heritage PACKED vzw and thirteen partners from the cultural heritage field. In 2013, VIAA was asked by these organisations to digitise all preserved trench papers from the First World War. Because of the poor quality of the paper, many of these papers were at risk of being lost forever. With the centenary anniversary of the First World War, it appeared that the general public also had an interest in digitisation. VIAA decided to respond to the request and took the lead together with the Flemish Heritage Library. The database resulting from News of the Great War contains more than 270.000 pages, consisting of trench papers and illegal publications from the First World War on the one hand (newspapers, weekly and monthly magazines, pamphlets and fly sheets), and legal publications, published with permission of and censored by the occupying German government, on the other hand. In 2015, the result was made accessible, so that everyone can consult the papers from this important historical period online.
2. What is Het Archief?
Het Archief is the overarching brand through which VIAA makes archive material available for everyone. ‘News of the Great War’ was the first major collection that was made available through Het Archief, back in 2015. Since November 2019, descriptions of over half a million video and audio items from over 100 Flemish media, cultural and governmental organisations can be found on hetarchief.be. Here you can read what you can find there and what Het Archief can do for you. Since 2019, you can consult the wartime newspapers on nieuwsvandegrooteoorlog.hetarchief.be.
3. Why were all these papers digitised?
With their rich pages and varied articles, the newspapers offer a unique view on the Belgian history during the period of 1914 until 1918 – not only politically or economically, but also on the everyday life during the war. Think of advertising, death reports and events. Because of the poor quality of the paper, a lot of newspapers risked irreparable damage. Even when preserved excellently, the paper is still subject to decay. It slowly turns brown and fragile, and finally crumbles. By digitising the newspapers, we can make these valuable sources freely accessible for researchers worldwide. At the same time, the paper copies can be preserved optimally, because they no longer need to be consulted physically.
4. How did the digitisation get started?
To have a clear view of which papers are preserved in which place, we used the online krantencatalogus Abrahamas a starting point. This catalogue offers an unparalleled overview of the historical newspaper landscape. Next, the content partners imported their collections into VIAA’s registration system; more than 52.000 newspapers in total. The specialised firm GMS was selected after a public tendering to carry out the digitisation. The OCR-software (Optical Character Recognition) made the newspapers searchable. Finally, this digitised archive material was made accessible for the general public through hetarchief.be.
Any questions about reading OCR-texts? Be sure to check these frequently asked questions:
- How do I search for an exact word in a newspaper?
- The search results are not marked, so I have to look for the keyword in the papers myself. How come?
- In the paper I wish to read, a page is illegible or invisible. How come?
- I regularly spot strange characters when I open the text via Show text. Where do these come from?
- Some papers do not show text when I click Show text. How come?
5. How were the digitised newspapers controlled in terms of quality?
During the digitisation, VIAA and PACKED vzw thoroughly checked the digital files. This quality control was carried out by using Adobe Photoshop and specialised software such as ImCheck and iQ Analyzer. Further on, the quality workflow was checked with the digitisation firm GMS. Early October 2014, the signal was given to start the actual digitisation and in the same month, the first newspapers and trench papers were digitised. More information on the project history can be found on CEST (Cultural Heritage Standards Toolbox, only in Dutch), where the workflow is explained. Click here to find more details on Metamorfoze Light, the quality standard used by VIAA.
6. Where can I find more information on News of the Great War?
You can find further details on News of the Great War in several places. Be sure to read 'About Het Archief' at the top of this website. In this publication, made up in honour of the launch of News of the Great War, you will find a detailed explanation made up as one of the war papers (only available in Dutch). We will keep you posted on the latest developments and novelties on our blog, which you can also find at the top of this page.
7. How do I create an account?
Creating an account on Het Archief is fast and easy. Click on the Account button in the top right corner. At the bottom of the page you will see No account yet. Click this button and fill in your email address and password. Click on Create new account. You will receive a confirmation email with a link. Click on it and you have created your account! You can also log in with your Google account at the bottom of the login page.
8. How do I search the papers?
You can search the collection simply in several ways
- ✓ Via the search bar:
- - At the top of the homepage you will find a grey search bar which you will recognise by the magnifying glass on the left. Here, you can enter one or more keywords. Click enter, and the newspaper in which these words were found, will appear.
- - You can open a newspaper by clicking a title or a picture. The asset page will open, where you can read the paper in its entirety. You can zoom in and out by clicking + and - on the top right. Navigate the page by dragging your mouse. The OCR text will appear when you click Show text. At the bottom of the papers you can navigate to other pages of the same paper. At the top, you can easily navigate to the next paper in your selection.
- ✓ Via the map:
- - You can also search on place of publication using the map on the homepage. Look on the map or enter a place name in the search bar in the top left corner. You can zoom in and out by clicking ‘+’ or ‘-‘ on the top right. Navigate by dragging the mouse.
9. How do I refine my search results?
There are three ways to make your search more clear.
- ✓ Exact search:
- - Use quotation marks to search on an exact word or combination of words. E.g. cat gives you all words in which cat appears, like cats, scatter or education. “Cat” will only give you exact matches. The same goes for “vrije stem” and “la Belgique indépendante”.
- - Use ‘+’ or ‘-‘ to make a word obligatory ‘(+) or to exclude it from your search (-). E.g. +market - silver will search for texts with the word ‘market’ in them but without ‘silver’.
- ✓ Filters: you can refine your search via the dropdown filters on the left of your search results:
- - Type: filter on document, blog or collection
- - Subject: filter on subjects linked to the Abraham newspaper catalogue.
- - Publication date: filter on date of publication
- - Series or title: filter on newspaper series or newspaper title
- - Genre: filter on printed, typed or handwritten documents
- - Language: filter on the language in which a document is written
- - Provider: filter on the content partner who provides the archive material
- ✓ Sort: you can sort the search results on relevance, alphabet, date (ascending/descending), most viewed or last added.
The most precise results will be gained by combining the methods above. Experiment and experience how specifically you can filter a search result.
10. How do I find a victim from the Names List in this newspaper collection?
On a newspaper's detail page, you will see various fields in the right-hand bar. If victims from the Names List are mentioned in the newspaper, you will find a 'Names List' box in the right-hand bar. All the victims found are mentioned here. Beside their names you will see three icons.
The left-hand icon shows the probability that it is the same person mentioned in the newspaper and in the Names List. If the bar is empty, this does not necessarily mean that the person in question is someone else, but that are no factors that lead us to believe that it is the same person. Such as a reference to place of death, regiment or date of birth that matches that in the Names List. The second icon, the magnifying glass, shows you the place where the person is mentioned in the newspaper. The third icon, the In Flanders Fields Museum logo, refers to the information in the Names List itself.
11. How can I get started with this linked data?
12. How do I search for an exact word in a newspaper?
If you are looking for an unmarked word in a paper, you can open Show text and use the search function Ctrl-F (Windows) or Cmd-F (iOS) to find what you are looking for. Keep in mind that spelling has changed in the past century. Words and names of cities can be spelled differently. ‘Gendbrugge’ for example, instead of ‘Gentbrugge’, or ‘Meessen’ instead of ‘Mesen’. Not familiar with the alternative spelling? You will probably find what you are looking for on Geonames.
13. How do I download an article or a newspaper?
Below every paper at the same height as the page numbers, you will find two icons on the left. When you hover over the left one with your mouse, the text Download this page will appear. Click it to download a jpg version of the page. Click the icon next to it with the text Download this paper to download the full paper as a zip file. Questions about how you can use your download? Read the Disclaimer.
14. Do I have to pay for a download?
No, you do not have to pay. Every user can download the papers for free. Questions about how you can use your download? Read our Disclaimer.
15. Can I reuse the newspapers?
Yes, but please read our Disclaimer first. Most of the newspaper material is not signed. This means that after 70 years, it is no longer protected by copyright. We kindly ask users to mention the name of the provider as well as VIAA. If the material is signed, it remains protected by copyright up to 70 years after the author’s death. Consequently it is not in the public domain. The name of the author, the provider and VIAA must therefore be mentioned.
For more details, we refer to our Disclaimer.
Are you looking for a high-resolution scan of a specific newspaper? Contact us and we will gladly refer you to the provider.
16. How do I create a collection?
Do you want to create your own (thematic) collection of different papers? You can. There are two ways to assemble your own collection:
- ✓ Via the homepage: enter the name of your collection in the textbox Compile your own collection! and click Create.
- ✓ Via the detail page of a paper you want to add: enter the name of your collection in Collection name and click Create.
Once you have created a collection, you can easily add a paper by selecting your collection at the bottom of the page, and clicking Add.
17. Where can I find more information on a certain paper?
When looking for more information on a paper or an article on Het Archief, you can contact the provider of the paper. You can find these on a paper’s detail page below the viewer, next to Provider. Thirteen institutions collaborated on the project:
- Universiteit Gent
- Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
- KU Leuven
- In Flanders Fields Museum (IFF)
- Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
- Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis
- Liberaal Archief
- Provinciale Bibliotheek Limburg
- Studie- en Documentatiecentrum Oorlog en Hedendaagse Maatschappij CegeSoma
- Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België
- Bibliotheek van het Federaal Parlement
- Dienst Archief Oorlogsslachtoffers
- CARCOB Archives Communistes
- Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge
- Openbare Biblioteek Kortrijk
- Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en de Krijgsgeschiedenis
18. Is there a list with newspaper titles which are accessible through News of the Great War on Het Archief?
Yes, there is an alphabetical index available with all accessible titles. You can find it at hetarchief.be/index or at the top of the page with every search.
19. I am looking for a certain paper but I cannot find it on the website. Where else can I look?
Not all papers from the period 1914-1918 are stored in an archive or have survived the test of time. Some papers may be missing from a series. The starting point of this project was the newspaper catalogue Abraham. Are you looking for a paper you did not find on Het Archief? Try looking for it on http://www.krantencatalogus.be/.
20. Do you have papers from the Second World War?
For the project News of the Great War, only papers from 1914-1918 were digitised. You can find papers from the Second World War on CegeSoma’s Belgian War Press. In this database, you will find clandestine and censored press from both World Wars. You can find more papers from the forties in the Belgica Press database of the Royal Library. Finally, a lot of regional and local archives cover the period 1940-1945, such as the digital newspaper archive of Aalst.
21. When I do multiple searches on the same keyword, I get different results. How come?
A different number of papers with the same keyword is most often due to a software error. Most often, the fault is with the individual paper. If you are sure the paper is inexplicably missing in a certain search, you can tell us via the feedback-button, on the right side of your screen. Give us as much information as you can, such as title and publication date of the paper and the keyword you were searching on. Be sure to mention earlier searches where the paper in question did appear. This way, we will be able to track the error more easily.
Apart from a different number of results, it is also possible that the results are in a different order, because of the sorting mode. Check if the newspapers are sorted right, on the top right of your screen. The options are: relevance, alphabet, date (ascending/descending), most viewed or last added.
22. The search results are not marked, so I have to look for the keyword in the papers myself. How come?
Marked search terms can be missing due to several causes. For handwritten texts, the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) information, needed to mark the search terms, is missing. It is also possible that the files, needed to mark the search terms, are missing or cannot be loaded correctly because of a technical error. When you encounter a printed paper without marked keywords, you can report it via the feedback button on the right side of your screen. Be sure to describe the problem and the keywords you were looking for. We will find out what is at the base of the problem.
23. When I open a paper, it does not take me to the right page. Instead, the front page appears. How come?
On Het Archief, we work with digital information which we call metadata and which is defined on the level of the papers. We do not have metadata on article level. Because of this, it is not possible to refer directly to an article or to link a certain article to a collection.
24. In the paper I wish to read, a page is illegible or invisible. How come?
A badly readable page can take many forms: unsharp or blurred text, black space, descending or disappearing text along the margins, faded or low contrast letters. All these examples can be a consequence of the low quality of the original paper or of an inaccurate scan. When a paper shows one of these issues, you can report it via the feedback button on the right side of the page. Fill in your question or remark at the top and add more details below. Fill in your name and email address, and click Send.
25. I opened a paper and a page was missing. How come?
More than 270.000 pages were digitised. Despite a thorough quality control, it is possible that a page was not scanned or that the file is damaged. When a paper shows such a fault, we would like to hear about it. You can report it via the feedback button on the right side of the page. Fill in your question or remark at the top and add more details below. Fill in your name and email address, and click Send.
26. I regularly spot strange characters when I open the text via Show text. Where do these come from?
To convert the scanned images to searchable text, we use the specialised OCR software (Optical Character Recognition). Though a powerful software, the quality of the results can vary. The precision depends on the quality and readability of the original, the font, the colour and the contrast. Reading errors in the form of strange or unexpected characters are not unusual. OCR modifications can only be done by hand, but this is very time consuming and expensive. That is why we chose to only correct the titles of newspapers by hand, to increase the searchability of the papers. In the future, we want to use new technologies to enhance the accuracy of the OCR. For now, it is best to take into account that the content of the papers is not always transcribed correctly.
27. Some papers do not show text when I click Show text. How come?
Not all papers are suited to apply OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on. An example are the many handwritten trench papers. The software is not capable of recognising these texts and to convert them into characters, so they have no text view. Some papers may have a faulty or inexplicably missing OCR page. When you find such a paper, you can report it via the feedback button on the right of the page. We will look for a solution.
28. This FAQ does not answer my question.
If you have a question or an issue that is not answered in this FAQ, you can always contact us. We will be happy to help. To do so, you can use the feedback button on the right of every page. Fill in your question or remark at the top and add more details below. Fill in your name and email address, and click Send.