President of the Clarence River Historical Society Pat James with one of the many bound edition volumes of The Daily Examiner held in the museum's archives.
President of the Clarence River Historical Society Pat James with one of the many bound edition volumes of The Daily Examiner held in the museum's archives.

Why the first Daily Examiner never made it to Grafton

WITH the final print edition of the 161-year-old Daily Examiner masthead set for next Saturday, June 27, the fact there is a complete collection of those print editions has become salient to those who have been caretakers of such a valuable resource.

Clarence River Historical Society holds every Daily Examiner printed since its launch by Clark Irving in 1859, when it then was initially known as the Clarence and Richmond Examiner. Every edition bar one annoyingly absent copy - its first issue.

But, there was a pretty encouraging reason there is no No. 1 in the collection. It never made it up to Grafton because it sold out on its way up the coast.

Society president Pat James said the first Examiner came up by ship and by the time it reached the valley there were none left.

"Maybe someone in Port Macquarie might have a copy hidden away somewhere, you never know," Ms James said.

With the finality of the print edition looming she said it "was an emotional time" for the crew at the museum and research room.

"The history of the Clarence has come to us mainly through copies of The Daily Examiner which has been publishing history and information since 1859," she said.

"Information from its pages has been gathered here and turned into books, people have come in every day to find information from The Daily Examiner, family and local area information."

Ms James said the historical society, which was established in 1931 and the oldest in NSW, has also been clipping extra copies of the Examiner and filing articles into different topics and categories across many decades.

"We have family files too so if you were in the paper there's probably a folder about yours somewhere in our archives," she said.

Ms James said society members were finding it hard to get their heads around the pending end of print edition because of the routines to which they were so accustomed.

"Going from preserving six copies a week to none will be hard," she said.

However, Ms James understood times were changing and the historical society also needed to look to the future.

"Thanks to a state grant we now have access to a purpose-built storage facility at Koolkhan that is actually named after Schaeffer House, so a lot of the items we have been storing here will be relocated out there in the coming months," she said.

"That will free up space so we can display items in a much better way."

 

 

Clark Irving founded The Clarence and Richmond Examiner in 1859. This portrait is on display at Schaeffer House in Grafton.
Clark Irving founded The Clarence and Richmond Examiner in 1859. This portrait is on display at Schaeffer House in Grafton.

 

Former senior archive officer for Clarence Valley Council, Steve Tranter is helping the society transition from old to new and said making sure historical items such as old copies of the Examiner were stored in the right conditions was crucial to preserving them for future generations to learn from.

"I'm not sure how many newspaper (organisations) would have a complete set like The Daily Examiner, so it's quite a valuable entity and highly important collection," Mr Tranter said.

He said the new repository at Koolkhan had optimum conditions for the storage of long-term valuable and fragile records.

Access to The Daily Examiner archives is still available through inquiry at the historical society but that will eventually change to digital-only access.

"You can't really allow people to continue to handle them manually; some copies are extremely fragile," Mr Tranter said.

He said there were already other avenues available online to access old Examiners including Trove which has copies from 1915 to 1954.

"The society also have microfilm that goes from 1915 to 1995 and I think the Examiner itself has a digital record of its pages that goes back to 1988 to now," he said.

Mr Tranter said eventually all of the papers would be digitised but it took time and money.

"There's never going to be a point where we say to people no we can't provide access to the Daily Examiner pages," he said.

"We just have to regulate that and be careful about how we look after the original copies."

The final week of print copies of The Daily Examiner go on sale from Monday until the last edition on Saturday, June 27.