Preserving South Australia’s Most Fragile Newspapers
Newspapers and SA Memory
The history of newspapers in South Australia, like the history of the State Library, begins before the colony’s founding. In June 1836 partners Robert Thomas and George Stevenson printed the first issue of the South Australian gazette and colonial register (later just The Register) before setting sail to the new colony. It took them a little over a year to print the second issue from a hut off Hindley Street. In 1838 their first competitor, the Southern Australian, was established, and by 1846, just ten years after the Europeans’ arrival, there were five newspapers serving South Australia.
The State Library and its forerunner the Mechanics Institution have been collecting all varieties of the State’s newspapers since 1838. Today it is estimated that the South Australian newspaper collection is 95 % complete, with in-excess of 400 individual titles; a truly unique achievement among Australian libraries. The majority of these titles, especially the more current titles, have been microfilmed for use by the public. However, many of the oldest titles have not.
The Project to Preserve South Australia’s Most Fragile Newspapers
Of the 190 South Australian titles yet to be preserved, 13 are what are known as ‘oversize broadsheets’. The enormous size of the pages together with the brittleness of the ageing newsprint means that these newspapers are at high risk of disintegration during normal use by researchers. In March of 2010, the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation donated $140,000 to preserve and microfilm the first 12 of these titles. The Library estimates that it will over half a million more to digitise these 12 and microfilm and digitise the final broadsheet, The Evening Star and Journal which had a print run of 54 years.
The titles at risk are:
|Newspaper Title||Print Run|
|Jamestown Star and Farmers’ Journal||1903-1946|
|South Australian Times||1883-1885|
|West Suburban Echo||1923-1924|
|West Torrens Gazette||1913-1914|
|The Evening Star and Journal||1869-1923|