Thursday, 11 December 2008

December 11th, 1858 saw the launch of Victoria's newspaper The British Colonist. It became the leading paper in the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia until the emergence of Vancouver and competitors in the 1890s. The successor paper, still publishing, is The Victoria Times Colonist.

150 years later digitized and OCRd archives of the paper, from 1858 to June 1910, are online. Another year will be added soon. You can browse by date or use the search feature to mine the contents of the paper.

Dave Obee, who along with University of Victoria history professor John Lutz, was a driving forces behind the initiative to get this facility online, cautions that the search feature is only as good as the 60 year old microfilm. Even the best software had a hard time reading this old paper. Searching any given term will certainly miss some instances and insert others, so you may also want to refer to the index to the paper on Victoria’s Victoria.

A basic search strategy is to click on the link to show a bit of info before clicking on the page. A glance will indicate whether the page will be of interest. There is an advanced search option.

Further background is here and here.

Congratulations to the sponsors of this initiative, Victoria Times Colonist, University of Victoria Libraries, University of British Columbia Library, Greater Victoria Public Library, BC Electronic Library Network, Public Library Services Branch.

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