120,000 cartoons free through internet

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The Independent Culture

The largest collection of British social and political cartoons will go live on the internet today.

The project, carried out by the British Cartoon Archive (BCA) based at the University of Kent, will enable free access to more than 120,000 images from 250 leading cartoonists including Ralph Steadman, Martin Rowson and Steve Bell.

A key part of the archive comprises the Carl Giles Collection, including original cartoons, sketches, letters and documents from the much-loved cartoonist and creator of the Giles Family.

Its launch coincides with the Giles, One of the Family exhibition, which runs at the London Cartoon Museum from today.

The online database contains cartoons from the eighteenth century to the present day and was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which supports further and higher education in the use of IT.

The head of the BCA, Dr Nicholas Hiley, said: "Whether you are a cartoon fan or an academic interested in using the archive content for teaching and research purposes, the new website provides the widest possible access to the most important collection of British newspaper cartooning.

"The development of the site, catalogue and services over the coming months will extend the use of the resource to a far larger number of academics, specialists and enthusiasts and build a considerable international community around these important works."

Sarah Porter, head of innovation at JISC, said: "The BCA team has been working tirelessly since January 2007 to digitise this extensive collection.

"The new online archive provides a unique resource, rich in content and fully accessible for everyone to enjoy and benefit from the work of Britain's most influential cartoonists."