Tag: newspapers

Tung Wah Newspaper Index

Over a decade ago one of the most useful tools for Chinese Australian history research was developed as part of the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation project – an English-language index to two of Australia’s early Chinese-language newspapers, the Tung Wah Times and the Tung Wah News. For someone like me, whose Chinese reading comprehension skills were rudimentary at best, the index meant there was some practical way to find relevant material in the newspapers. Articles I located, for example, provided evidence of Chinese Australian attitudes towards intermarriage between Chinese men and non-Chinese women, something that was difficult to ascertain from other sources.

My best find was an article that related to a story I was told during fieldwork in Taishan in 2003. The story told of how foreign wives of Chinese men would give their husbands doses of poison before they made a return visit to China, a poison that could be reversed only if the man returned overseas to his foreign wife within a particular time for the antidote. My informant stated that this was the cause of the death of his uncle, who had been a laundryman in Cuba in the 1920s and was known to have had a Cuban wife. The article in the Tung Wah News provided a second example of this same story, suggesting that it was an urban myth of sorts among the qiaoxiang villages.

Unfortunately, with time the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website, and the Tung Wah index with it, could no longer be maintained and it was archived by La Trobe University. The index lost functionality in this process, meaning that searches no longer worked and only a certain number of items in the index were browsable.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Thanks to the hard work of Sophie Couchman and Tim Sherratt, the Tung Wah Newspaper Index has been redeveloped and a sparkly new version is now up and running. The index can be searched or browsed, as you’d expect. But Tim has also made sure the index includes Linked Open Data and a basic API and has made the code and data available on Github.

Happy hunting, everyone!

A lost newspaper?

On Saturday, 17 July 1869, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an advertisement (p. 9) for a newly released issue of the Illustrated Police News:

I’m intrigued by the prospect of an illustration showing ‘Australian Ladies and their Mongolian Husbands enjoying themselves in a Camp on the Gold-fields’ – but have not been able to locate it.

The ad appears among those advertising other newspapers published in Sydney at the time – Bell’s Life in Sydney, the Protestant Standard, the Protestant Banner – all of which I can find extant copies of. But I haven’t been able to locate any reference to a newspaper called the Illustrated Police News published in Sydney at this time.

There is, of course, the infamous London newspaper of the same name and a Melbourne Police News, illustrations from which are held by the State Library of Victoria. I’ve had some trouble accessing the British Library’s digitised newspapers site, which includes copies of the London Illustrated Police News, to check, but I’m pretty sure the Herald reference is to a different paper.

Clues anyone?