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National Library of Australia preserving wartime newsmaps

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I’m Martin Woods. I’m the Curator of Maps here at the National
Library. I’ve been the Curator since 2005. It’s my job to acquire maps and ensure with
other people here at the Library that they are cared for and made available online and
in our Reading Rooms. When the Anniversary of the First World War
was becoming close I started to think about how maps were used during the War Newspapers in the early 20th century were
big business. There were 800 newspaper titles around Australia
and several editions a day in many metropolitan dailies So, I really saw how newsmaps started to
appear in newspapers and I wanted to understand how this could happen. So, eventually that led to me creating a book
“Where are our boys? How news maps won the Great War” and that’s
the story that I’m telling. They’re there to tell you a story, sometimes
even convince you of a story. They’ll have multiple projections on the
same page. They’ll have features that are almost life
like, ships and battles and armies and so on. They really do bring you close to the action
and if a newsmap can engage you really well, it’s probably the most powerful map that
there is. News maps often added to the narrative by
widening straits and reducing the height of mountains and shortening distances and smoothing
roads. The project that I’ve recently completed
“Where are our boys?” wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago,
or even perhaps five years ago because of the amount of content that’s now online. It’s great that we’ve got a resource like
Trove that the National Library and state libraries and others are contributing to. It’s built a huge resource and the support
of the Australian Government to make that kind of cultural resource available to everybody
means that projects like this are possible. Hopefully, in looking at these resources it
will allow people to look at the maps and other collection materials that we have from
those times and reflect on what contributions their ancestors and others have made to Australia
and to see how important it is to continue to build and preserve Australia’s cultural
materials.

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