Yass Valley Times and the stories of the people of Yass Valley within those pages are now a part of a physical archive of professionally bound newspapers which are safely stored for future generations thanks to the dedicated work of local library staff and their passion for recording history.
In the year 2020, Yass Valley Times as the newest local newspaper is in formidable company, joining the oldest items recorded in the archive; 1858 editions of the first newspaper in the region, the Yass Courier along with volumes of the late Yass Tribune.
Yass Library coordinator and archivist Kimberley Hughes revealed Yass Library is one of the few institutions which still does this. Yesterday, the State Library in Sydney also made arrangements with Yass Library to secure copies of Yass Valley Times for state historical records and micro-filming.
“Strictly because they are very fragile. That’s why we’re keeping every copy of the Yass Tribune and now the Yass Valley Times and we bind them up so that they’re preserved going forward into the future, so we have that physical copy,” Ms Hughes explained.
Due to mutilation of the original newspapers by previous visitors interested in various snippets, the original papers are off-limits to the public; however, they can still access copies.
“We have every single copy available on microfilm dating all the way back to the 1850’s so anyone can access them and print off the copies they need.
It was a humbling experience as your editor to watch and listen as the fragile pages crinkled open, revealing the stories of residents long since dead; knowing I am likewise entrusted with recording the events of our time accurately and faithfully.
“In 1858 the paper was a two-page document, and it had advertising, court matters and letters. It’s a fascinating and amazing thing, especially going back to when Yass was developed as a town and gazetted,” Ms Hughes enthused.
In 2020, amid a heated federal by-election campaign, it was an uncanny turn of the page which found my eyes drawn to the 1858 January 23 petition to secure the candidacy of Peter Faucett for the NSW Legislative assembly; headed up by none other than Hamilton Hume.
On Saturday evening as many of us watched the start of the live television coverage of the hotly contested federal by-election, it was our village of Bowning with just 164 votes recorded which lead the count dissection by ABC Political Analyst Antony.
Flashing back to an election 162 years ago it was a pastoralist from Binalong, John Paterson (also the Uncle of famous poet Banjo Paterson) who wrote a letter to constituents in the 1858 local newspaper and who would go on to gain the NSW seat uncontested (source Antony Green 2007 www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/resources/nswelectionsanalysis/1858/LachlanandLowerDarling.htm citing sources SMH 2 February 1858 p.3 and Yass Courier 30 January 1858 p2 col.2-6).
Library staff consider the bound volumes the most prized part of the archive.
“We really take pride in having it, but we do have a backlog to do, about three years’ worth, but we keep looking out for preservation grants that pop up and we can send another batch off to get bound. We are right up to date with the microfilm, but there is nothing quite like the physical newspaper,” Kimberley Hughes Yass Valley Council Library Coordinator.