Delving through digitised newspapers

AUSTRALIA’S FIRST SHOT. (1914, August 7). Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle (Vic. : 1882 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: MORNING.

You know the montage. The scene where the protagonist has finished ‘defining their task’, has ‘located information’, and is now ‘selecting their resources’. Surrounded by old newspapers, microfilm and microfiche, our fearless researcher pores over endless streams of words with a furrowed brow, furiously twiddling knobs and making notes as they jump from one newspaper clue to the next.

Well, modern digitisation has rendered this cliché (almost) endangered. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like the State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia, Public Libraries Victoria Network, local councils and historical societies, accessing Victorian WWI newspapers has never been easier. Microfilm, be gone! (Just kidding- we love you Microfilm).

For those keen to explore the impact of World War One on the home front and on the battlefields, the State Library has assisted in the digitisation of Victorian community newspapers printed during the war period. Available online via Trove, 216 newspaper titles shine a light on the war experiences of Victorians, featuring news and public debate; letters from soldiers, sailors and nurses; death notices, images and more. This content is free and accessible to you and your students.

So, have a look and see what you can find… Head to trove and try a simple search for casualties from your hometown.  Refine by place: Victoria. Refine further by date: 1914-1919.

How about searching for soldier letters?  Or finding out about the state schools war work. Beware: you may find hours have slipped away unnoticed when reading through the historic newspapers. Australia’s First Shot, is just one of many articles that sparked our curiosity. It reports on the first shot fired by Australia in WWI, taking place in our very own Port Philip Bay on the 5th August, 1914.

So, how can you use this fantastic archive in your classroom? How can newspaper articles, documenting life on the front-line and home-front, help your students unpack the significance of WWI?

To find out more about using newspapers in your classroom visit ergo.

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