Read all about it!

We have added two new online newspaper archives to our collection, The International Herald Tribune and The 17th and 18th Nichols Newspaper Collection. You can search them individually or alongside our other collections of newspaper archives using Gale Primary Sources. Use these resources at a library or enter your library card & password/PIN.

International Herald Tribune Historical Archive 1887-2013


The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive, 1887-2013 features the complete archive of the International Herald Tribune from its origins as the European edition of The New York Herald and later the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. The archive ends with the last issue of the International Herald Tribune before its relaunch as the International New York Times. The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive, 1887-2013 charts the history of the 20th century from luxury travel and opulent entertainment, to international conflicts, the spread of American culture abroad and globalisation.

The 17th and 18th Century Nichols Newspaper Collection


The 17th and 18th Century Nichols Newspapers Collection features the newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets and broadsheets that form the Nichols newspaper collection held at the Bodleian library in Oxford, UK. All 296 volumes of bound material, covering the period 1672-1737 are presented in digitised format here.
This collection charts the history of the development of the press in England and provides invaluable insight into 17th-18th century England.

More newspapers information

Social media 1860s style – The logbooks of Joseph Munnings

You might have heard of people who keep a diary of their daily lives, recording their thoughts and special occasions. Some of us still do, and have little interest in using social media to share our most intimate thoughts and what we had for dinner with friends, workmates, friends of a friends, and that random stranger who you talked to once and ‘friended’.

I’m fairly certain that when Joseph Munnings wrote an account of his daily life he couldn’t foresee that it would be available for public scrutiny 150 years later – or that it would be of interest to anyone else. But it is. We are very fortunate to have the digitised copies of his ‘Log Books’ that date from May 1862 to November 1866 available for us to have a sneak peek into his world.

Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002
Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002

Joseph’s Log Books served to answer some questions that I didn’t know that I had. Like how did people of the time spend Christmas and New Years? Strangely he didn’t mention that he liked one particular gift over another and there were no plans to return unwanted pressies on Boxing Day! Maybe it was because he had to work – his shop was open six days a week and he was busy on Sunday teaching Sunday School before he went to evening services. He did however mention that he spent Christmas day with the Harringtons and some time at the Lunatic Asylum and there was preaching involved – his words not mine! Okay so that poses more questions than it answers.

I particularly enjoyed his account of the post-Christmas 1865 Bazaar that he both worked at and patronised in a paddock at Governors Bay. There was casual mention of his soon-to-be-betrothed being in attendance and a marquee was erected to house the food, refreshments and Christmas tree. Some 400 people were brought out to the event via Cobb and Co. coach or cart as well as numerous trips from Lyttelton by the steamer Betsy Douglas. They ate well – fowls, ducks, pigeon pie, ham, beef, mutton, lamb and spiced beef. Well, that kept all the carnivores happy but they also had salads, cucumbers, cakes, fruits of all kinds – and it was all washed down with ginger beer, lemonade, tea or coffee. “Sixpence if you please” for your cup of tea. Sounds divine – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Amusements were provided, balloons sent up, quoits were played and “kissing in the ring – a favourite with the young”. No doubt!

My romantic side has read between the lines on this occasion and decided that as his ‘beloved’ was also in attendance. I think it’s possible he proposed marriage to her as he was asking for her father’s consent to marry her by the 4th of January 1866. Next question: A Saturday wedding in spring with a honeymoon to Kaikoura or Akaroa? Time to put aside such romantic notions … how about a midweek ceremony in late July instead – and they were by all accounts still entertaining guests past midnight. Well, at least there was the honeymoon to look forward to … except Joseph was back working in his shop by Friday. However, I think we can rest assured that there was romance between them because his wife featured quite regularly in his log and they had 11 children over the years.

Maybe this is where we get the impression that they lived a simpler life back then. Joseph was simply grateful to have made it to the year’s conclusion and then wondered if he would see the new year through to its end. A noble aspiration methinks.

You can read more about Joseph in the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] available on NZETC.

Joseph Munnings
Joseph Munnings The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], NZETC
So, if you’re like me and would prefer to read about historical life events rather than how someone else had a better weekend than you, then make sure you have a look at:

For those of us that like pictures because it makes it brings it alive on a different level – Geoffrey W. Rice has some amazing books to take a look at.

Mark Twain, the tourist

All people think that New Zealand is close to Australia or Asia, or somewhere, and that you cross to it on a bridge. But that is not so. It is not close to anything, but lies by itself, out in the water.

Newspaper advertisement for Mark Twain's performances [1895]
Advertisement , Star, Issue 5410, 11 November 1895, Page 3 via Papers Past
The talk of the town 120 years ago in Christchurch was the visit of Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, who despite some initial ignorance as to our whereabouts (as illustrated in the above quote), made it safely to the shores of Aotearoa in spring 1895, and would spend 4 days in our own fair city.

It seems that Twain’s visit was on a par with those of pop stars of today. His performances were wildly popular. Originally scheduled to perform 3 shows at the Theatre Royal on Gloucester St, an extra date had to be added due to demand. He was hosted and shown the sights (such as the museum and botanic gardens), and a dinner was given in his honour. And as is still the case with foreign dignitaries, he was thoroughly interrogated by journalists into giving positive reviews of the scenery (some things never change).

Twain had undertaken a world tour due to financial troubles and used his travels as the basis for a “non-fiction” account Following the Equator which was published in 1897. I use the term non-fiction cautiously. Though the book does more or less faithfully document the itinerary of his world tour, Twain was a self-admitted liar and yarn-spinner and some of the stories in the book are of a spurious nature. Take for instance the information he gleans from a fellow traveller about the Moa.

The Moa stood thirteen feet high, and could step over an ordinary man’s head or kick his hat off; and his head, too, for that matter. He said it was wingless, but a swift runner. The natives used to ride it. It could make forty miles an hour, and keep it up for four hundred miles and come out reasonably fresh. It was still in existence when the railway was introduced into New Zealand; still in existence, and carrying the mails. The railroad began with the same schedule it has now: two expresses a week-time, twenty miles an hour. The company exterminated the moa to get the mails.

Oh, really?

This passage is accompanied by an utterly bizarre and grotesque illustration featuring a moa, being ridden by a Māori man, kicking the head off another – while also carrying a bag of mail.

Of course, this tale is related by an unnamed third party so Twain could always just have claimed he’d been misinformed if proved incorrect – which is an old, tale tellers’ trick… and a good one.

In any case, he did get to see his legendary moa (or at least the skeleton of one) at Canterbury Museum. In terms of scenery he thought our riverside weeping willows “the stateliest and most impressive” in the world. He was also struck by the Englishness of Christchurch saying, in his usual sardonic style –

If it had an established Church and social inequality it would be England over again with hardly a lack.

He also applauded the success of women’s suffrage in New Zealand (women had got the vote in 1893), the good sense of which he summed up in the following statement –

In the New Zealand law occurs this: “The word person wherever it occurs throughout the Act includes woman.”

Well, of course.

More about Mark Twain in Christchurch

Cover of Autobiography of Mark TwainSearch our catalogue

Charles Reginald Shaw: Father, surveyor, farmer

We’ve digitised another gem from 19th century Canterbury in the form of a diary kept by Charles Reginald Shaw.

Potrait of Charles Reginald Shaw
Babington, Thomas A, fl 1860s. [Babington, Thomas A] fl 1860s Attributed works :[Portrait of Charles Reginald Shaw 186-?]. Ref: B-132-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23184652
Shaw was born in Cheshire, England in 1829 and spent some time on the Australian goldfields before coming to New Zealand in 1857. Shaw was Surveyor for the Canterbury Provincial Government carrying out surveys on Banks Peninsula.

In 1861 he moved to Timaru and was District Surveyor there until 1877. His diary has daily entries and covers a period during this time, 10 December 1866 – 5 August 1872. It gives details of the sections he surveyed, how much money he paid people for various things (milk, butter, a horse!) as well as comments on social affairs, and family matters. Local tradespeople are mentioned as well as places and events like the opening of a new church.

The diary is full of industry and activity; building fences, laying out roads, plotting out land, and digging up carrots.

Though there are interesting insights into colonial life in Canterbury (the Canterbury anniversary holiday in 1866 is celebrated with, of course, a game of cricket) the most poignant story from the diary details the loss of Shaw’s daughter.

She may have been a sickly baby as there is more than one reference to her being ill in the diary and on Wednesday 20th of February 1867 Shaw reports that his wife Louise (often referred to as “Lou”) and the baby are both “very poorly” with colds and coughs. He stays at home rather than going to work but digs potatoes “most of the day”.

By Friday his wife has improved but the baby is worse. A Dr McLean is sent for. Again Shaw stays home. Over the weekend Shaw is “up all night nursing” the infant.

After a week of sickness the baby fails to rally prompting Shaw to consider administering a rather inadvisable “tonic”.

Thursday 28th: “Up all night again last night with the baby…slept in all morning and sent to the Royal for a bottle of sherry for the poor little baby – but it was all no use for the poor little thing died – about 1/2 past seven in the evening on Mrs Butler’s lap.”

Over the next few days Shaw makes funeral arrangements, registering the death, showing the grave digger which plot in the cemetery will be used and eventually putting “the little Bertha in her coffin”. On the Sunday baby Bertha is laid to rest.

March 3rd: “Buried my little daughter in the cemetery…”

Not everything in the diary is this poignant but the reality of 19th century life was that childhood illnesses did sometimes prove fatal.

After his tenure as Surveyor was over Shaw stayed in the area, farming 500 acres at Totara Valley, to the west of Pleasant Point until 1898. He was married twice and had a large family (five sons and nine daughters). He was active in the local community even in his older years and died in 1906.

He is buried at Timaru Cemetery in a plot he shares with Bertha, his wife Louise, and another of his daughters.

Further reading

The shipboard diary of Henry Bottle

Ship Himalaya
HIMALAYA. [picture] : 1008 tons. Built at Sunderland. Sold to America and renamed Star of Peru. Brodie Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.
In 1879 a young man named Henry Garmston Bottle undertook a great, but not uncommon journey from London to Lyttelton aboard the Himalaya.

He kept a diary while on board, and wrote several letters to his family back in England, to his father (My dear Papa), his sister Nellie and his brother Fred.

His shipboard diary is largely an unsentimental and factual account but it nevertheless conjures up fascinating images and vignettes of life onboard ship for months at a time. The following are some excerpts from his shipboard diary which covers 11 January – 14 April 1879.

21st – Vessel rolled very much when at breakfast the whole table was cleared and some things broken, running down coast of Portugal, pigs got loose had a spree.

24th – Heavy gale during night could not sleep. Off Str of Gibralter, went on deck & got drenched from head to foot by a sea, about 1ft of water in our cabin.

25th – Pig died, thrown overboard, saw a shark eat it

8th – Lat 4 Long 22 N Heat 96. 97 miles killed a rat in our cabin, slept on deck

Unsurprisingly there’s an awful lot of people being sick to start with and a surprising number of animal escapees including one passenger’s canary.

My dear Papa, letter from Henry Bottle to his fatherSimilarly his letters offer a glimpse into the “excitements” of life on board the Himalaya like this description of bad weather in a letter to his father dated 10 February 1879 –

We had a heavy gale yesterday morning it came on all at once & the wind blew & it rained as I never saw it before it came down in streams like pailfulls we all took our shoes & stockings off rolled our trousers up put macktos [mackintoshes] on, no hat & went on deck to catch water we caught a good lot. The gale lasted an hour.

You can read more about Henry Bottle’s journey and his life in Oamaru and Waimate in his digitised papers.

The captive wife – New Zealand e-book month

When Betty Guard steps ashore in Sydney, in 1834, she meets with a heroine’s welcome. Her survival during a four-month kidnapping ordeal amongst Taranaki Maori is hailed as nothing short of a miracle. But questions about what really happened slowly surface within the elite governing circles of the raw new town of Sydney. Jacky Guard, ex-convict turned whaler, had taken Betty as his wife to his New Zealand whaling station when she was fourteen.

After several years and two children, the family is returning from a visit to Sydney when their barque is wrecked near Mount Taranaki. A battle with local Maori follows, and Betty and her children are captured. Her husband goes to seek a ransom, but instead England engages in its first armed conflict with New Zealand Maori when he is persuaded to return with two naval ships. After her violent rescue, Betty’s life amongst the tribe comes under intense scrutiny.

Based on real events, this is the compelling story of a marriage, of love and duty, and the quest for freedom in a pioneering age.

You can read The captive wife as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

The captive wife is also available as a paper book.