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Leeuwarder Courant

A Case Study in Digital Archiving

X cago 3000

1752-2017: 265 Years of Newspaper History Online

In 2017, the Dutch newspaper De Leeuwarder Courant is celebrating 265 years of continuous publication. No other newspaper has a longer history of publication under the same masthead. Daily, enthusiastic readers enjoy getting their news from one of The Netherlands’s most respected newspapers, either via hardcopy or the Online Edition.

Archive Specifications:

  1. Archive Time Span: 1752-2018
  2. Pages in Archive: 1,948,881
  3. Articles in Archive: 19,110,240
  4. Word count in Archive: 4,558,183,649

Key Statistics at a glance

Circulation: 65,708

Before adding the Archive:

  1. Unique number of visitors per month: 350,000
  2. Page views per month: 3,000,000
  3. Average number of page views per visit: 3

After adding the Archive:

  1. Unique number of visitors per month: 600,000
  2. Page views per month: 7,500,000
  3. Average number of page views per visit: 9

The addition of the archive nearly doubled the number of page views for the Leeuwarder Courant.

Project Summary

X-CAGO, a media intelligence solutions, and technology company headquartered in Roermond, The Netherlands is the exclusive digital and archival service provider to the publisher of De Leeuwarder Courant. The brief includes ensuring the latest edition is available on the internet as well as digitising and making available online almost 1 million pages of news spanning the paper’s 265 years of publication. The first issue of the newspaper was printed in July 1752.

As today’s news is tomorrow’s history, the cultural heritage contained in the archives of De Leeuwarder Courant is considered to be one of the most important sources of historical reference in The Netherlands. The paper’s archive spans the French Revolution, Napoleon, the Titanic, Hitler, Stalin, the World Championship of Soccer, as well as obituaries and local news.

Digitising the Archive

The initiator of this project is the Digital Archive Leeuwarder Courant Foundation, which is a cooperative effort of De Leeuwarder Courant (;Tresoar ( and The Frisian Historical and Literary Centre. Digitising the vault of the Leeuwarder Courant has been on the agenda of all project partners for a long time and X-CAGO’s superior technologies have been the key to making available the rich content of this exceptional newspaper archive.

X-CAGO’s approach, which is different from many other vendors, is to scan directly from bound books and other hard copy instead of digitising from microfilm. Microfilm has numerous disadvantages – lack of colour, lack of authenticity and inferior Optical Character Recognition. The Foundation heeded X-CAGO’s advice and reputation, opting for digitisation from the original sources.

Why digitise the Archives?

By digitising the almost one million newspaper pages, a rich source of Dutch and Frisian culture and heritage is revealed and made available to the general public via the internet. Furthermore, this content is preserved for future generations making it accessible to journalists, scientists, politicians, and bankers to students and parents alike irrespective of whether it’s today’s news or an article from 250 years ago.

What makes this project unique?

265 years of continuous journalism

From a single, important, influential source, providing an abundance of Dutch and Frisian cultural heritage that will stimulate and impact scientific research in many disciplines. - Diversity: the content contains multiple languages including Dutch, Frisian and French as well as dealing with differing word usage during the past 265 years.


All constituent items (editorial and advertising) are accessible on an individual basis, resulting in millions of articles and advertisements.


The complete text can be accessed despite variations in spelling or usage.<br />


The archives are updated and include current editions.


X-CAGO is executing this project with an end-to-end turnkey solution using the most advanced video scanners available on the market today. This includes:

  • Scanning the newspaper pages;
  • Segmenting the pages into articles and advertisements;
  • Tagging the headlines, bylines, captions, and pictures;
  • Keeping track of the reading order and publishing on the internet.

Spelling & Quality Control

A recurring issue with the digitisation of historical content is often changes to spelling over time. In addition, sometimes completely different words may have been used with different connotations. Without updating both spelling and usage, significant problems can arise in trying to find the information one is looking for. To address these issues X-CAGO developed a proprietary web-based solution called “Archive Express”. As a result of this project, X-CAGO is adding Frisian to its list of supported languages. “Archive Express” also has the ability to eliminate typical OCR mistakes.