‘We need to take more care in preserving our history’
IF YOU are wanting to find out something about the history of the South Burnett Times, your second point of call should be Dr Judy Grimes.
But the local historian, author and Order of Australia Medal recipient says when it comes to researching the region’s past, the first source she always turns to is the trusty newspaper.
Dr Grimes has written several books about the history of the South Burnett including Pioneering Into The Future: A History of Nanango Shire, Jacob Goode and His Burnett Inn, Squatters in the South Burnett: Their Life and Times 1840-1860 and is currently working on a new project depicting the history of the Burrandowan Races.
“As a historian, when you start looking at a period in history the first thing you tend to look at is the local newspaper,” Dr Grimes said.
“I like to go back and look at events and photographs as it gives you a great sense of what was happening at the time.
“Even though the owners and name of the mastheads may have changed over the years and different publications have absorbed others, the South Burnett Times has been an excellent source for my research and writing.
Dr Grimes says papers play an important role in informing residents of significant parts of history they may otherwise come to forget.
“You can look back on old editions in archives and online, but the Times has done an excellent job of republishing historical exposés and special editions and past articles about the pioneering years and significant events throughout the years that would otherwise be lost as time goes by,” she said.
“These have been invaluable tools for me in my studies for the several books I’ve written and I much admit I am going to be a little lost without the publication of a printed newspaper.
“There are two ways to write about history, you can just focus on the big wigs from the times, the mayors, principals, businessmen and what have you.
“But I really enjoy telling the histories of the everyday residents who lived ordinary lives and did ordinary things – a sort of more social look at history if you like.
“This is where newspaper clippings from town parades, school award ceremonies, Anzac days, peanut festivals and the like are so valuable. They tell the tales of what it was like to live in the South Burnett all those years ago.”
Dr Grimes says while she’s not against using the internet for research, it just doesn’t always measure up to hard copy books and papers.
“The internet era isn’t always as helpful as books and newspapers because a website can be easily removed with the click of a button whereas it’s not as easy to lose hard copies,” she said.
“I’ve gotten very used to encountering the dreaded 404 web page messages over the years, and it’s always a shame when a source you’ve stumbled upon is no longer available several years later when you need it again.
“You don’t have these problems with print, so long as they are preserved correctly.”
Dr Grimes said she hopes the South Burnett will take the casement of the printed editions of the South Burnett Times as an opportunity to work together to better preserve the region’s history.
“Newspapers and historical papers and articles have to be stored correctly in order for them to survive moisture and changes in temperature.
“Since the archives in Nanango were dismantled many years ago we haven’t really got the right set up to properly preserve these precious newspapers.
“It is my hope we can collectively take more care in preserving our history so that future generations can come to learn about what the South Burnett was like in the past.
“It’s our responsibility to keep these newspapers safe and sound so they will be around for another 99 years.”
As for one of the most memorable papers or articles she’s ever come across in her many, many hours of research Dr Grimes says she found the coverage of the devastating 1951 peanut silo fires fascinating as well as an article commemorating the death of Thomas Clapperton, son of George Clapperton who was one of the original owners of Tarong, Barambah and Nanango Stations.
“Both events marked a significant era in our history in many ways and played a large role in shaping the South Burnett we know today.”