The 19th Century UK Periodicals project has its origins in consultations at the British Library in 2004, convened by Gale to discuss a follow up to the Eighteenth Century Collections Online project, a possible ‘online searchable facsimile library of the nineteenth-century book’. The British Library Newspapers project was already underway, to digitise more than two million pages of historic newspapers published in Britain between 1800 and 1900. Work had also begun on 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, an ambitious project to digitise a range of representative newspapers from across the North American continent.

The eventual outcome of those discussions, 19th Century UK Periodicals was undertaken in response to strong representations from scholarly communities on both sides of the Atlantic that access to the enormous range of nineteenth-century periodical literature would be an invaluable resource, unprecedented in its range and potential, and of interest to historians and students of nineteenth-century literature and culture, empire, feminism, the history of the book, the creative and performing arts, sport and leisure, science and medicine, the professions, in short, of all aspects of nineteenth-century life that the press encompassed.