Bega District News' historic editions find new home at Bega museum

HISTORIC: Peter Rogers examines a bound edition of the Bega District News from 1947 in the Bega museum, which will now house the collection.
HISTORIC: Peter Rogers examines a bound edition of the Bega District News from 1947 in the Bega museum, which will now house the collection.

Important records detailing the tragedies, heartbreak and milestones of Bega Valley’s history have found a new home. 

Hundreds of editions of the Bega District News stretching back to 1945 have been handed over to the care of the Bega Pioneers’ Museum.

It is a move that spells the end of an era, as the Bega District News is moving its office from its current premises on Carp St, Bega later this month.  

But the historic, bound copies of the newspaper that feature thousands of faces and stories of local people will be used to enrich the museum’s records and help its staff answer any questions about the past put to them. 

The BDN, February 1, 1952.

The BDN, February 1, 1952.

“It means a lot to the museum because newspapers are one of the prime sources of research,” Bega Valley Historical Society president Peter Rogers said.

“They are probably the most valuable resource that a town has; a local newspaper.” 

While many newspapers from Australia's past have been digitised onto online archive Trove, he said the Bega District News has not, making the physical copies of the paper incredibly valuable. 

Over the next month, Mr Rogers said the aim was to organse the newspapers in a designated room at the Bega museum as well as put a desk and chair in there for researchers to use. 

The BDN, July 30, 1957.

The BDN, July 30, 1957.

The editions will not be put on display for general visitors to the museum in order to ensure their preservation as the old paper was fragile.

“Sweat from hands can have an accumulative affect and can attack the papers," Mr Rogers said.

“Perspiration has acid which will erode the fibres of the paper." 

But the copies will be available for researchers or those with a good reason to use them under supervision, and special white gloves will be used to protect the paper. 

The BDN, August 16, 1945.

The BDN, August 16, 1945.

Mr Rogers recalled some of the major events from Bega Valley’s history that stuck in his mind; the 1952 bushfire that devastated the region and the 1957 bombing of a police constable’s house.

These events, along with many others, were covered by the BDN. 

With the help of the BDN’s staff, Mr Rogers took the bundles of newspapers to the museum over multiple trips on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

While the other members of the historical society were not aware of the new acquisitions yet, Mr Rogers said they would be excited to learn about the news.

“When [BDN editor] Ben Smyth offered them to me I accepted them on the spot,” he said. 

"It’s the very reason for the museum’s existence, to preserve our history.” 

The Bega District News' office will be located in the Sapphire Marketplace, Bega from September 19.