When I was 10 I kept a newspaper recording a leap in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Australia to 1.7%! This newspaper also reported on the first days of President Ford in office. However, increasingly old newspapers are freely available online.
We all know where to go to access Australia’s historic newspapers online – the National Library of Australia’s Trove website. This site has deservedly received heaps of praise. It has a good search facility, there is no charge for use of the website and it has an effective means of correcting errors in the optical character recognition (OCR) reading of the newspaper text – crowd-sourced transcription. The list of newspapers available on this website is impressive and growing.
Digitising Australia’s newspapers is a herculean task. For the size of the population Australia had a large number of newspapers – just take a look at the list of newspapers published in the central goldfields region of Victoria between 1851 and 1901 (Hughes, 2003, pp. 18-48). Elizabeth Morrison notes that a directory of newspapers published in 1888 recorded nearly 600 newspapers being published in Australia at the time (Morrison, 2001), p. 471). Many issues of old Australian newspapers have not been kept, but even so the libraries in Australia face a time-consuming and expensive task to digitise those that have remained. While the Trove database is wonderful, historians need to be ever-conscious that not all newspapers have been digitised and some significant newspapers in Australia’s history such as Queensland’s Worker, and Melbourne’s, The Age, are not available on the Trove website.
Google News Archive
Yesterday through Twitter we discovered that some old copies of The Age are available online through the Google News Archive. There were mutterings of disappointment earlier this year when Google announced that it would no longer be adding new material to this project, but the digitised newspapers that have already been placed online through this project are still available. A list of newspapers on this site is available but it does not include the places where the newspapers were published and it is very difficult to tell from the titles. I thought I would trawl through the titles and try to identify the Australian papers that are on the list. I have probably missed some – please write a comment to let me know of others and I will add them to this list. I have not listed those newspapers that are also available on Trove because you will want to access them on Trove as it has better facilities for users. Continue reading