The Sunraysia Daily reveals soldier settlement 100 years on
2022 marks the centenary of soldier settlement in the Mildura area in Victoria. The Mildura Rural City Council Libraries have completed a project to make copies of The Sunraysia Daily Newspaper covering this time from 1925 – 1937 available in Trove, with further pages from 1937 underway. I spoke to Sue Kelly and Rose Connell from the Mildura Rural City Council Libraries about this important period in Mildura’s history and why newspapers from the time remain such a valuable primary source today.
Where did the idea come from to digitise The Sunraysia Daily and make it available in Trove?
Local history is so important for our community to know how their towns and places commenced and to know about more the people in their own communities. Local history needs to be preserved and accessible to all.
We participated in the State Library of Victoria project ‘Digitising Victorian Newspapers’ in 2009. This project showed us how valuable it was to digitise our local newspapers. Our microfilm is also getting brittle from constant use by the public and we wanted to preserve and give greater access to the newspaper for the community.
Why did you choose this period in the newspaper’s history?
We decided to digitise The Sunraysia Daily from 1925 – 1937 from microfilm for ease of
access. This period coincides with the return of soldiers from World War I, and their allocation of land. This injected a large amount of people into our community as farmers to develop the land and the flow on effect was the growth of our towns and region.
It will enable researchers to find information about the soldier settlement scheme, the people who took up those land grants and how the lack of knowledge, drought and depression had a huge bearing on success or failure of their endeavours.
How important is it that these issues of The Sunraysia Daily are preserved and made available digitally to the local community and all researchers Australia-wide?
Digitisation of the local newspaper allows researchers the opportunity to search online for information about events as they happened. Newspapers are a primary source. Reporting on the events of the time and local opinions as they happen make newspapers an invaluable source for information on historical facts and social interactions. Online resources offer an easy to search database, allowing anyone in our community and globally to have access through Trove.
This will save researchers time and money not having to travel to the two access points being Mildura Library or the State Library of Victoria or having a staff member search the microfilms.
Have people started accessing The Sunraysia Daily in Trove?
We have received valuable positive feedback from the public and other organisations expressing how easily the information is to access. They especially like being able to access the paper from anywhere which saves them time and money.
“I’ve noticed you have your Sunraysia Daily newspapers digitised up to 1933. That is so good as I have ancestors from Mildura and can now look them up in the papers.”
“I really like using the digitised Sunraysia Daily. I can use it when it suits me in the comfort of my own home. It is much easier to use than the microfilm reader as I can save things to refer to later on.”
Have people been helping to correct the text in Trove? Has this made it easier for people to find articles and names when searching?
We do have people correcting the text on Trove and promote this through flyers at our Libraries. Some of our staff undertook this as a project during COVID closures. This has helped people enormously as some of our historical digitised papers are hard to read.
Congratulations on a fantastic achievement!
Thank you. We are very happy to have come this far. To digitise our local newspapers is such an important resource for research and knowledge about our community. It is important history that needs to be safely preserved and accessible for everyone.