National Library of Australia

Australia's most significant 'at risk' newspapers

As part of its Five Year Plan (July 2005-June 2010), NPLAN partners will endeavour to save the following nationally significant 'at risk' newspapers:

  • Advertiser 1923-1959 [SA]
  • Chronicle 1858-1950 [SA]
  • Evening Star (Boulder) 1900-21 [WA]
  • News 1923-1964 [SA]
  • Observer 1843-1931 [SA]
  • Register 1836-1931 [SA]
  • South Bourke and Mornington Journal 1921-1927 [Vic]
  • Sunday Mail 1912-1953 [SA]
  • Wangaratta Chronicle 1938-1960 [Vic]
  • Western Argus 1915-38 [WA]
  • Western Mail July 1926-1940 [WA]
  • Winner (Melbourne) 1914-1918 [Vic]

Chronicle [SLSA] - initially titled the South Australian Weekly Chronicle.

First issue Vol. 1, no. 1 (17 July 1858)
Last issue Vol. 118, no. 5593 (26 September 1975)

The Chronicle was founded by John Barrow at the time he established his daily Advertiser, in direct competition to the Observer newspaper, and with the same function of summarising news from its daily newspaper.

From the 1880s there was strong competition between the two newspaper syndicates, so that each copied any innovation introduced by the other. In October 1895 the Chronicle was the first major South Australian newspaper to print a photographic supplement - a single sheet of photographs, which the following week became an irregularly produced feature. From February 1902 a four-page photographic supplement covering a variety of local and overseas subjects appeared in every issue. These ceased in May 1944.

From 1914 the Chronicle focussed increasingly on country readers, becoming a primarily rural newspaper after the Second World War. It was much-loved by farmers across the State. The Chronicle women's pages under writers such as Eleanor Barbour and Mary Broughton were extremely popular for their mixture of domestic and historical articles.

Between January 1957 and July 1969 a separate 'South East' edition of the newspaper was published.

Observer [SLSA] - also titled the Adelaide Observer.

First issue Vol. 1, no. 1 (1 July 1843)
Last issue Vol. 87, pt. 1, no. 4574 (19 Feb. 1931)

Early newspaper proprietor, John Stephens, sent John Dickins to walk around the country districts of South Australia canvassing whether a weekly newspaper for the farmers would be popularly received. The response was an overwhelming yes, and the Adelaide Observer was founded. George Dehane, a well-known early printer, produced the newspaper from a mud hut in Morphett Street. Later Henry Hussey, another well-known early printer (and evangelical Christian) was the publisher. Hussey's published reminiscences provide an insight into early South Australia and the history of printing in the State.

By 1846 the Observer had a print run of 600 issues per week. Between 1852 and 1853 the newspaper was being delivered to the hundreds of South Australians living on the goldfields of Victoria during the great gold rush. A regular 'Messages to the diggings' column was printed in these years, containing such items as "Tobias Pearce - Your infant son died Oct 22nd …" (30 October 1852 p. 5a) Early issues of the newspaper give a particularly good coverage to South Australia's fledgling industries.

Although aimed at country readers, the newspaper did not initially contain more than brief snippets of country news, but aimed rather to provide summaries of Adelaide news for country readers - as covered in the daily Register. Following the publishing photographic supplements by its major competitor, the Chronicle, in 1895, the Observer began doing the same. From March 1902 these became a weekly feature, following the Observer's founding aims by focusing particularly on rural and agricultural subjects.

The Observer is the only South Australian newspaper in the nineteenth century to publish its own index. The index covers the period 1880-1908.

In 1931 the Observer was subsumed by its main competitor, the Chronicle as part of a take over by the Advertiser syndicate.

Register [SLSA] - title varies, original title: South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register; final title: Register News Pictorial.

First issue, vol. 1, no. 1 (June 1836)
Last issue, vol. 96, no. 27930 (20 Feb. 1931)

The Register was South Australia's first newspaper. The first issue was printed in London in June 1836, and a year later the second issue was printed in a rush hut in Hindley Street in what is now called Register Place.

Initially the newspaper was printed erratically, but became weekly in June 1838, and twice-weekly from February 1843. From 1 January 1850, it became a daily. (The newspaper had previously trialled daily printing between 22 December 1844 and 12 February 1845, before returning to twice-weekly.)

Although various competitors came and went, it was not until the 1870s that the Advertiser (founded in 1858) was to become a serious challenge to the monopoly of the Register. In 1857 the Register became South Australia's first newspaper syndicate, when a group of Adelaide gentlemen purchased the newspaper together with its weekly Observer. In 1869 the Journal was founded as the company's evening newspaper. (This later became the News.)

The Register is the primary source of information relating to every facet of the history of the establishment of South Australia as a British colony. It is the earliest and most complete source of shipping information for a period when, at its peak, 250 immigrants per week were arriving at Port Adelaide. (The Register shipping lists are indexed for 1846-1887. The newspaper pre-dates incomplete official lists, which do not begin until 1847.) It is also the only source of early South Australian legal history and court records. One hundred years of births, deaths, marriages, crime, building history, the establishment of towns and businesses, political and social comment are all contained within its pages.

The advent of the Great Depression in 1929 caused many newspapers to fold. At this time the Register became a largely pictorial paper. Finally the company was bought out by the Advertiser and closed down in February 1931.

Western Mail [SLWA]

The Western Mail (1885-1955) was the most important of several weekly papers and an important source of country news with an emphasis on comment. The paper is particularly important because the extensive illustrations and photographs provide a rich visual history of Western Australia. The paper also included regular literary features, from gossip to short stories. Microfilming to current standards is required for this newspaper to be properly preserved.

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