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The top 25 of 2014

The top 25 of 2014
What were people reading in Trove's digitised newspapers in 2014?
11 February 2015

The internet is for cats. It’s also for the weird, wacky and grotesque stories that take people’s fancy. Welcome to this year’s summary of the top 25 most read newspaper clippings for 2014. We have some repeat offenders from last year’s list (the fault of last year’s blog post perhaps?), some interesting human/animal interactions and articles about the tragedy of war. There are also quite a number of deaths. Draw what conclusions you will.

Picture of man and boys reading a newspaper

 Cumming, Lindsay G (1910). [Man and two boys reading 'Australasian' newspaper, country edition]. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/167153545

1. Three dead after dog falls 13 floors (254,154 views)

24 October 1988, The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 1. 

A poodle falls from a thirteenth floor balcony in Buenos Aires in 1988 and kills three people. This was the most viewed article in Trove in 2014 thanks to Reddit, a news and entertainment social networking service. The story of poor, unlucky Cachi was notable not just because 254,154 people viewed it but because it also caused the single biggest spike in Trove usage on 13 May with 180,260 visiting Trove to read it.

2. Sleepless for 15 years (128,213 views)

14 January 1930, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 13. 

This article about the man shot in the head who never slept again is the article which never sleeps. Its popularity remains constant—it was in twelfth position last year.

3. Mr. Pethybridge's skill as mechanic (13,357 views)

11 November 1935, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9.

Mr Thomas Pethybridge was a colleague and friend of Charles Kingsford Smith. He was the only mechanic Kingsford Smith trusted with his aircraft.

4. Motor cyclist guillotined (12,085 views)

14 July 1952, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), p. 1.

Another unfortunate accident leading to two deaths is reported in this article. A man on a motorcycle overtakes a truck carrying sheet metal. A roll of the metal falls off the truck, beheads the motorcyclist who then knocks down a woman with her child. The lorry driver dies from shock after seeing a headless body drive a motorcycle. It’s reported in the Townsville Daily Bulletin (and quite a few other papers) so it must be true.

5. Advertising (10,813 views)

6 June 1885, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 3. 

Our fifth most visited newspaper page is the advertising section on page three of the South Australian Register. There are ads for timber merchants, furniture, fish globes, nerve and brain treatment, and chemists. Nearly 11,000 people viewed this page. I’d really like to know why.

Advertisement for a bicycle

6. Cat kills giant stingray (9,632 views)

15 September 1948, Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 2. 

Contributing to the ‘internet is about cats’ cliché, here we have an article from the Durham and Gloucester Advertiser which tells the story of a Darwin cat who fought and won against a 200lb stingray. It should be pointed out that the cat’s owner helped by catching the stingray in the first place.

7. The biggest baby (9,541 views)

10 February 1935, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 1.

At two years old this child weighed 44 kilos. At birth he was just over three. ‘Leslie is as strong as a lion and can push anybody over. He can stand, but he cannot walk. He is always singing.’

8. Aboriginal house names and their meanings (9,450 views)

20 December 1961, The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 28. 

Last year’s number five, this is an Australian Women’s Weekly article that tries to help householders find suitable Indigenous names for their dwellings.

9. Man bites snake (9,178 views)

25 October 1946, Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA : 1905 - 1952), p. 3.

As the article says, ‘Cobras don’t always win against men.’

Extract of newspaper article

10. Drifting sand hills (7,996 views)

28 September 1905, The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 10. 

This article by Allerdale Grainger discusses methods used internationally to combat sand dune erosion. It’s part two of a series of two articles. In the first article he discusses his concern at the degradation of farming land by the erosion of sand dunes at the mouth of the Murray River.

11. The woman-cat (7,360 views)

20 August 1889, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , p. 8. 

Thanks to this article I now know that galeanthropy, the ‘mental condition of thinking that one has become a cat’, is a thing. I don’t think I need to say any more. 

 12. Boy's revenge ( 6,179 views)

9 June 1911, Cootamundra Herald (NSW : 1877 - 1954), p. 2.

I feel we are not seeing the best of humanity in this year’s list. In this article a 13 year old boy murders a baby and a five year old after being accused of theft.

13. Strange death (5,815 views)

30 May 1908, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 22.

A woman dies after she’s found with her head through the palings of a fence.

14. Autobiography of a parrot (5,270 views)

7 September 1928, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), p. 14

And coming in, again, at number 14, is the diary of a parrot. I’ll say it again. Why Trove users, why?

15. Nazi bestiality. Concentration camp horrors (4,362)

31 January 1946, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 7. 

Last year’s number 24. It’s a World War II article about the horrors of the newly liberated concentration camps.

16. Law notices (for Monday) (4,089 views)

14 April 1934, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 20. 

When researching your past, newspaper sections like law notices can provide vital clues for you to follow.

17. Women flogged in German prisons (4,089 views)

14 January 1900, West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1897 - 1902), p. 2. 

This article was eighteenth in last year’s list.

18. Stole £1 note (3,726 views)

11 November 1937, The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), p. 7.

Extract of newspaper article

19. Darwin bombed heavily in 2 raids (3,362 views)

20 February 1942,The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. 

Last year’s number ten.

20. Elegant elephant (3,180 views)

25 November 1959, The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 63

Our elegant elephant is still a popular article in Trove. Last year he came in at number 13.

21. Sir Henry Parkes at Tenterfield (3,089 views)

25 October 1889, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. 

Sir Henry visited last year’s list too; this was the seventh most viewed article in 2014.

Picture of Henry Parkes display

McDougall, Wendy (2001). The great man on display, 27th October 2001, Tenterfield. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/31974391

22. A husband's death (2,908 views)

15 January 1909, Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 2.

This article reminds us that domestic violence is not a new social evil.

23. Chess at Wollah (2,908 views)

4 October 1873, Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 20.

The results of this chess match excited ‘much interest in Australian chess circles’. It clearly excited enough interest in 2014 for 2,908 to read it.

24. Virus diseases (2,635 views)

16 July 1929, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9.

This 1929 article is about viruses in animals and plants. It’s interesting to read in light of modern scientific understandings.

25. Soldier's grim story of Kokoda Track (2,544 views)

9 November 1942, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. 

This is an account of the ‘sheer physical and mental agony’ experienced by Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track.


So there you have it. A lot of death. A little history. Some science and bizarre medical conditions. These were what interested people most. What will 2015 bring?


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