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The National Library of Australia is conducting an Australia wide program whereby they are digitising surviving newspapers from 1840 to 1954.  They are expected to finish the project by the end of 2011, and are currently roughly half way thru (so far over 20 million pages have been digitised with another 20 million + to come).

Main South Australian newspapers are :

It should be noted that the smaller local newspapers as far as has been ascertained, have either sent their archived papers to the local libraries or into the Mortlock Library in Adelaide.

Online indexes to births and deaths

The newspaper is the sole primary source for almost all information about the settlement and early history of South Australia. It documented shipping schedules, legal history and court records at a time when official records were not kept. According to the National Library of Australia, its pages contain "one hundred years of births, deaths, marriages, crime, building history, the establishment of towns and businesses, political and social comment"

South Australia Newspaper index

•Newspaper Birth Notices Index from 1960 onwards
•Newspaper Death Notices Index from 1972 onwards

Short Biographical on Newspapers of South Australia

South Australia's very first journalists, editors, and newspaper owners, were two men: George Stevenson and Robert Thomas. The pair met in London and decided to throw in their lot (and that of their families) with the group who were to be the nucleus of the new experimental British colony of South Australia. They planned to establish a newspaper in the colony. Stevenson had worked on the Globe, a newspaper owned by Colonization Commissioner Robert Torrens, and was married the previous editor's daughter. Thomas was a seller of law books in Fleet Street. Together they established the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (the Register)in 1836.

The South Australian Gazette can be located in the Petherick Reading Room at the National Library of Australia – Online reference -

There was major dissension over newspaper matters from early in the history of the South Australian press, with some consternation being expressed over the fact that Stevenson was not only editor of the colony's only newspaper, but also private secretary to the governor, Sir John Hindmarsh. The Register, it was felt, was therefore biased in its reporting. Charles Mann and others organised for the Tasmanian printer, Archibald MacDougall, to come to South Australia with a printing press, and South Australia's second newspaper, the Southern Australian, was established in 1838. In 1839 George Milner Stephen, the crown solicitor, founded a third newspaper, the Adelaide guardian.

The Register, originally the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, was the first South Australian newspaper. It was first published in London in June 1836 and folded almost a century later in February 1931.

There was much healthy competition between the 19th century newspapers. The letters of Langdon Bonython, editor and owner of the Advertiser for 35 years, are full of references to his attempts to outdo his rivals at the Register. The cartoon and poem from Quiz (17 December 1896, p. 9) depicting JH Finlayson and JL Bonython is typical of how the satirical press for many years sent up the open rivalry between the editors of Adelaide's two dailies.

Nineteenth century columnists such as 'Geoffrey Crabthorne', 'Lady Kitty', 'Ab-Original', 'Rufus' and 'Vox' gave way from the 1920s to the use of actual names, with journalists such as Des Colquhoun, Jeff Pash, Max Fatchen, Des Ryan and Bill King becoming household names. Today only the shadowy 'Ray Light' of the City messenger carries on the tradition of anonymity.

Despite the early work of Mary Hindmarsh with her news sheet, as in many spheres, women had little involvement in the world of newspaper production until the end of the 19th century. Despite this, the earliest known female published cartoonist in Australia was Margaret Little in the pages of the amateur Ephemera newsletter in 1876. There were early literary contributions by Maude Jean Franc and Catherine Helen Spence in the South Australian press, and Harriet Davidson, Lucy Webb and Agnes Grant Hay are amongst early women newspaper contributors - outside of ladies' fashion and social columns. From 1901 until her death in 1953 Lucy Webb contributed articles on church and historical matters to several city newspapers, while from 1898 Agnes Hay wrote travel articles for the Advertiser and the Chronicle. Later came women such as Jeanne Young, Elizabeth George, Barbara Polkinghorne, and Samela Harris. Currently the editor-in-chief of the Messenger newspaper group is also a woman, Megan Lloyd.

The Thomas family were to have an association with the Register which spanned three generations, the Elliott family at Strathalbyn ran the Southern Argus for several generations, as did the Barnets of the Gawler Bunyip, the Lauries and Jones families of the Mount Gambier Border Watch, and the Milnes family of the Victor Harbor Times. Although the Taylor family at Renmark have been running the Murray Pioneer since 1905, local newspaper ownership is now increasingly rare. Not only are the majority of South Australia's current 50 or so newspapers owned by major corporations based outside the state, but local reporters are at the present time faced with a new trend for off-shore reporting. Mindworks Global Media Services, based in India, is a journalism outsource operation working to provide services to newspapers in the UK, Australia and South East Asia, which may come to see a lessening local journalistic contribution (Australian, 29 March 2007, Media section, p. 15).

Marquis, Len. South Australian newspapers: a selection of material from the extensive research notes gathered for a proposed history of the press in South Australia by Leonard Stanley Marquis/ prepared by Ronald Parsons, Lobethal, S. Aust.: R. Parsons, 1998
Sexton, Robert. H.M.S. Buffalo: an account of His Majesty's Ship Buffalo, naval storeship and timber carrier, quarantine ship, transport, emigrant ship bringing the first governor to South Australia, Magill, S. Aust.: Australasian Maritime Historical Society, 1984.


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  • This page was last modified on 3 August 2012, at 15:13.
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