Archive I’ve not been paid for

THE FANFARE over the Guardian and Observer digitised archive filled me with gloom. The possibility of articles I had written for these papers being downloaded with no recompense to the author was galling. The charges to view the archive are 24 hours £7.95; three days £14.95; one month £49.95.

Exciting picture of the Guardian Archive

In November Guardian readers were offered 24 hours' free use. At my first attempt to log in, each time I clicked on the offer panel, I would be given a fleeting glimpse of the log in page. Then it would be replaced by a blank screen with a banner advert for British Airways or a Mini Clubman.

I concluded that this was because I have a Mac. On a PC I found that the archive currently goes up to 1975, round about the time I first was published in the Observer. I searched for my name and found nothing. I'd have to wait until 2009 when the rest of the digitisation is completed to search for my name. So I searched for (famous columnist) Katharine Whitehorn - 12 entries. Surely not... They turned out to be items about Katharine Whitehorn. I tried Jill Tweedie. The first item that came up was a half-page of furious letters about an article she had written on menstruation. The actual article was not there. There appeared to be nothing by her. The same was true for James Cameron. The only mentions were in articles about him.

I could find no search facility for authors. I tried entering words that might have been in an article by Jill Tweedie - menstruation, period... no joy. My husband suggested I try Einstein's speech on relativity in 1919. We eventually had to browse the archive of the paper of the day it should have been reported, page by laborious page. Eventually we found a comment piece and from there the original article.

A couple of stories I clicked on produced the charmingly archaic "could not get entity from the Repository". So what should freelances' share be in the hypothetical income from archive articles that searchers may never find? But it might all be different by 2009...

  • We have heard from several members who were Guardian contributors between 1985 and 2005 and have either been approached about the archive or have seen their work on it. These contributors have said they won't agree to have their work featured in the archive until the Guardian remembers to talk about cash. Other members who have been contacted by the Guardian about their archive, or have spotted their work on it, please let the Freelance know.
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