The Guardian News and Media launched two digital archives today — one for The Guardian from 1821-1975, and one for The Observer from 1900-1975. While this is an extensive launch, it’s not complete — the rest of the archive will launch in early 2008 and will include the Guardian from 1821-2003 and the Observer from 1791-2003. You can access them at a 50% discount during November and then you can purchase time based passes.

I always loved those fascinating little sections in my local paper “The Tyrone Constitution” where they printed excerpts from the paper from 10, 25 and 50 years ago but the Guardian/Observer archives takes it to a new level. Katherine Whitehorn writes in today’s Guardian about the development of women’s pages.

“I was keen to see the groundbreaking women’s pages of Mary Stott, who transformed the face of women’s journalism. She was told in the 1950’s that she had to move to the women’s pages because, if you please, they needed her job of Deputy Sub editor to train up the next man to be chief. She was first heartbroken, and then belligerent and set out to change the whole women’s page concept. Women wouldn’t just concern themselves with clothes and cooking and such, but with everything women were interested in: personal relationships, education, medical matters, divorce – one forgets that such subjects, now found routinely in every paper’s feature pages, once didn’t figure in serious papers at all…
Mary Stott’s women’s pages became almost a political force, with the very name “Guardian woman” purred and spat at…and since we can call up the froth of indignation in the letters pages, we can see what these groundbreakers were up against.”

The archives from the year you were born is always a good year to begin.