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History going digital

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(L-R) BMHS President Bruce Carboon and member Barbara MacMillan look over an old edition of the Bacchus Marsh Express that will soon be digitised. Photo – Meg Kennedy

By Meg Kennedy

A grant of almost $13,000 will allow the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society to bring more editions of the old Bacchus Marsh Express newspaper to the digital forefront.
The Historical Society was granted $12,973 from the Public Records Office Victoria’s ‘Local History Grants Program’ to digitise old copies of the once local publication, up to the 1940s.
The Bacchus Marsh Express, which ran from 1857 to 1983, currently has digitised editions up to 1918 – covering significant events, including the original planting of the Avenue of Honour.
BMDHS President Bruce Carboon said it was an “amazing outcome with the magnitude of funding” for the society.
“[The digitisation of the newspapers] will give a richer picture of how the local community reacted after World War I, throughout the Great Depression and then coming into World War II,” he said.
“The Express was quite a worldly paper…we’re very lucky as a community, it was an interesting and comprehensive newspaper, with social commentary.”
Digitising the Express has been a project year’s in the making, beginning when the newspaper was copied onto microfilm at the State Library of Victoria.
The newspapers will be up on database website Trove, which is free and open to the public, and currently features editions from the Bacchus Marsh Express up to the ending of World War I.
Although the BMDHS hold physical copies of the Express, the digitisation of the newspaper will allow for easier and more accessible research by anyone – from historians, genealogists, academics to enthusiasts alike.
“[The digitisations] allow an opening to the community, which is really important no matter where you live,” said Mr Carboon.
“They are a great resource for different areas such as military, dairy and family history.”
Member for Melton and society member Steve McGhie said he was “elated that the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society will have the additional support they require to preserve our local history.
“By digitalising The Bacchus Marsh Express to the 1920s, the ’30s and ’40s will ensure future generations have access to this significant period in our history.”
The project is expected to be completed in January 2020.
Copies of the Bacchus Marsh Express up to 1918 can be found at https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/title/246.
For more information on accessing the Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society archives, contact 03 5367 9336 or email enquiries@bmdhs.org.au.