Fancy reading about World War I in your local newspaper? How about the Great Strike of 1913 or the Royal coronation of King George V? Now you can.
Te Awamutu Museum has finished a major job, completely digitising all issues of the original Waipā Post newspaper dating back to 1911. More than three thousand papers up to 1936 are now available online on Papers Past, a website administered by National Library.
After 1936 the newspaper became the Te Awamutu Courier which is still in circulation today.
Te Awamutu Museum collections manager Haylee Alderson said the project had significantly changed the way people could access and interact with historical information.
“We have a number of researchers who use the newspapers to look up details like births, deaths and marriages or want details about past events.
“And there are lots of people, including older people in our community, who really enjoy reading about historical events both large and small. It brings back a lot of memories and these newspaper are a really important source of information.”
Last year alone, Te Awamutu Museum staff assisted with 179 research enquiries, 30 of which directly utilised the newspaper collection. The Museum has well-known research capability and regularly hosts historians, authors and academics.
“Digitisation also allows us to better care for the fragile newspapers. They can remain in storage for longer periods of time which will preserve them far better,” Alderson said.
The project was a collaborative effort between Te Awamutu Museum and National Library and was supported by the Te Awamutu Community Board which contributed $7,500 towards the cost.
Community board chair Gary Derbyshire said the project had “a massive amount of merit” and was supported by all community board members “right from the get go”.
“We know digitisation is the way forward. While we do still have the physical newspapers, ultimately the information they contain will be lost if it is not shifted online.”
To view old issues of the Waipā Post online head to paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.