Digitising ‘The Reporter’ at the National Library

The Reporter Office, Box Hill
The Reporter Office, Box Hill

The Box Hill Reporter was the first and for many years the only local newspaper in the district. Founded by Samuel Clumpston and under the management of Thomas Clubb Bright and his brother George, its first edition appeared on 26 June 1889. It covered a broader area than just Box Hill, regularly publishing material relating to Hawthorn, Camberwell, Doncaster, Blackburn, Burwood, Nunawading, Mitcham and Vermont. Issues of the paper from its beginning to 1918 have been digitised by the National Library and are available for viewing on the Trove website.

The Box Hill Historical Society has a collection of original issues of the Reporter covering the period 1919–1930. They are large, in very poor condition, extremely fragile and some have developed mould. Mould spores can be distributed through an air conditioning system and can cause serious illness, so we must dispose of the papers. The only other known copies are in the State Library, and must be viewed on microfilm, which is not easy to use, given the size of the pages.

The Society asked the National Library to digitise the Reporter from 1919 to 1930, but was informed that funding was not available and that we would need to raise funds ourselves. The Library provided a quote for the digitisation based on the number of pages involved. The cost to scan 1919–1925 is $4851; from 1919–1930 is $9471. Whitehorse Council has agreed to fund part of the cost through their community grant program, leaving the Society to raise around $4500 through its own efforts.

To that end, we held a second-hand and collectable book sale in July, as part of Open House Weekend, and are holding a Trivia Night as part of the Whitehorse Heritage Festival in September.

Newspapers are an integral tool of historical research and are used extensively by a wide range of people, so making them available to a wider audience through the Trove website is the best step to take. We welcome donations to assist with our cause, and can be reached on boxhillhistory@gmail.com

The Box Hill Historical Society was established in 1963 and is currently based in the community hub at the rear of the Box Hill Town Hall. The Society collects and preserves mainly paper-based material relating to the history of the old City of Box Hill – the areas of Box Hill, Mont Albert, Surrey Hills and Burwood. The Society’s extensive archives are used to research a diverse range of topics, including family history, history of a school, club or organisation, and the heritage of individual buildings. Our catalogue and a number of our indexes are available online.

Helen Harris OAM