Historian Dr Ian Willis is presenting a conference paper on the role local newspapers of the Picton, Camden and Campbelltown area during the First World War. He will show how these small provincial newspapers acted as an archive for the stories from the First World War on the homefront. Community wartime activities will be placed in the context of the international setting of the war.
The conference is organised by the International Society for First World Studies and is called Recording, Narrating and Archiving the First World War. The conference is being held in Melbourne at the Deakin Downtown Melbourne CBD University Campus between 9-11 July 2018.
The abstract for Dr Willis’s paper is:
Small rural communities are an often overlooked part of the wartime landscape of the First World War at home. Local newspapers, or community newspapers, recorded ‘the doings’ of their communities in inordinate detail. Their reportage extended from the local to the provincial and the international by owner/editors who were local identities.
Country newspapers provide an archive record of the First World War that is identifiably different from the large metropolitan daily newspapers of the war period. The local newspaper has a number of differences that are related to their localness and parochialism, their relationship to their readership, their promotion of the community and their approach to the news of the war.
The local newspaper recorded the subtleties of local patriotism and wartime voluntarism and fundraising, the personal in soldier’s letters, the progress of the war and a host of other issues. For the astute researcher country newspapers provide glimpses into wartime issues around gender, class, sectarianism, and other aspects of rural life. All coloured by local sensibilities and personalities. The local newspaper was a mirror to its community and central to the construction of place making and community identity in small towns, villages and hamlets.
These characteristics are not unique to rural Australia and are shared by rural and regional newspapers of other English speaking countries. Recent developments in archival research like Trove provide invaluable access to these resources across Australia. Country newspapers provide a different story of the war at home from an often forgotten sector of society.
The local newspapers that will be used as a case study for this conference paper include:
- The Camden News
- The Picton Post
- The Campbelltown Herald
Local and provincial newspapers are an understudied area of the First World War and this conference paper will address this gap in the historical literature.
Learn more about local newspapers in the Macarthur region and elsewhere:
- Goulburn Evening Penny Post
- Macarthur Region Local newspapers
- The local ‘rag’, the future of local newspapers
- Nepean News at Camden Produce Market
- Camden: launch of a new regional newspaper
- Active Citizens and Loyal Patriots: the Role of Two Local Newspapers on the Australian Homefront, 1939-1945
- Westies, Bogans and Yobbos. What’s in a name?