Short on paper

Read all about why some historical newspapers look a little worse for wear

Rationing during World War II wasn’t uncommon. Australians were rationing common household essentials like tea and butter and creating clever recipes to combat this. Clothing and gasoline were also rationed. There was a ration coupon book for consumers to use and heavy fines to discourage any attempts to get around the rules.  

newspaper headline
'To-day's Issue', Goulburn Evening Post, 9 March 1942,

The rationing of common supplies was not just restricted to everyday households. It also affected commercial businesses like the newspaper industry. It might surprise you to hear that paper, including newsprint, was restricted during World War II. There were several reasons for this; lack of people for the labour, a shortage of pulp (the raw material of paper) or a lack of fuel for the mills. Due to these shortages, many newspapers at the time were printing smaller papers, often only 4-pages. They were also printing on lower quality paper and shrinking font sizes to fit more articles into the smaller editions. This decreased the quality of the papers at the time which made them harder to read and harder to preserve.  

The quality of the paper at the time makes preserving and digitising these papers difficult. This in turn affects the readability of these papers on Trove. It’s unfortunate that we can’t improve the quality of these materials, but it’s just another reflection of the time. This is just one of the reasons our text correcting community is so important.