First 50 years of The Press on Papers Past

Press Release – National Library Of New Zealand

From the very first issue in 1861 to the grim reports from the front lines of the First World War, the first 54 years of Christchurch’s iconic Press newspaper are now available on the National Library’s Papers Past website (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz).Media Release from the National Library of New Zealand
15 February 2012

Rescued from the rubble: read the first 50 years of The Press on Papers Past

From the very first issue in 1861 to the grim reports from the front lines of the First World War, the first 54 years of Christchurch’s iconic Press newspaper are now available on the National Library’s Papers Past website (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz).

The project – a collaborative effort between Christchurch City Libraries (CCL) and the National Library of New Zealand – was almost derailed by the February 2011 earthquake.

“We had begun discussing this initiative with CCL prior to the initial September earthquake. Shortly after that, when things had begun to get back on track, the February quake struck and reminded us that life is a fragile thing,” said Bill Macnaught, the National Librarian.

The Christchurch City Library building holding the public access microfilm was in the red-zone, leaving that historical archive inaccessible to the public. As the city got on with the clean-up from the catastrophe, efforts to provide access to the early issues of The Press came back up the list of priorities, and the material was prepared for digitisation from a copy held in Wellington.

“It was very important to us that we were able to do this for the people of Canterbury, and for all New Zealanders with history and interest in the province. Good access to information is critical for the development of communities, and this is one of the key things that the library sector can do to help Canterbury in its recovery,” said Bill Macnaught.

“We are delighted that this collection can now be readily accessed by Christchurch and Canterbury residents, researchers and those in the wider community with an interest in Christchurch, Lyttelton and Canterbury history,” said Carolyn Robertson, Libraries and Information Manager, Christchurch City Libraries.

“Bringing the record of the early years of Christchurch and Canterbury settlement into a fully searchable online collection is such a worthwhile collaboration between The Press, the National Library and ourselves. The Press is an invaluable resource for local history, including commentary and public comment on the events of the day, as well as the detail beloved by social and family historians. The newspaper contains notices of births, deaths and marriages, shipping notices, court reports, and the record of day to day events in the establishment of the Canterbury province. The newly digitised collection covers the early war years, and adds the Canterbury perspective to national events, such as the women’s suffrage campaign led by Kate Sheppard.”

The editions of The Press being placed on Papers Past run from 1861 to 1915, and will be brought up to 1920 later in the year.
ENDS

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