First 20 years of The Dominion now online
When visiting George & George on Cuba St, don't forget the "fancy department" with its "beautiful laces, ribbons, gloves, sunshades, etc".
That was front-page news in the first edition of The Dominion on September 26, 1907 - or rather front-page advertising, as the news didn't start until page 2.
As was standard practice in newspapers of the day, the front page was almost entirely single-column adverts.
In addition to the prominent George & George advert, there were items for sale, shipping timetables, investment opportunities, and personal ads.
"A respectable young man, age 28, desires to meet young lady between 20 and 25, brunette preferred, with view to matrimony," one read. It is not known whether Patrick of Lower Hutt ever met his love.
The launch of The Dominion was timed to coincide with the day New Zealand became a dominion, formally ending its status as a British colony.
It began a daily rivalry with The Evening Post that lasted until the pair joined forces to create The Dominion Post in July 2002.
But as Karl du Fresne points out in his history of the newspaper, The Dom - A Century of News, the timing of the launch was to some extent coincidental and opportunistic.
"The founders of the paper were motivated not so much by nationalistic pride as by politics: they wanted to bring down what they saw as a socialist Liberal Party government."
For the next 95 years The Dominion would be regarded as the right-leaning counter to the more liberal and urban Evening Post - even if its first editorial ended with a pledge to stay unbiased.
"The Dominion will speedily come to be recognised as a journal which, when right ideas are advocated, is not concerned as to the quarter they originate."
A roundup of national and world news reported seventy ships lost in a Newfoundland storm and that Mr Marconi would soon be sending wireless telegrams from Nova Scotia to Europe at 20 words a minute. And, as for too much of the 20th century, there was unrest in Ireland.
In New Zealand, work started on the Raurimu spiral, meaning the end was in sight for the main trunk line between Wellington and Auckland.
And Governor William Plunket was scheduled to read the king's proclamation that New Zealand was a dominion from the steps of Parliament at 11am that day.
On Tuesday this week, the National Library of New Zealand website Papers Past launches the first 20 years of The Dominion online.
Newspapers and serials assistant curator Graeme Shaw said people were attracted to the old newspapers, partly for their quirky information about daily life. But historians used them regularly, as did genealogists, focusing on birth, death, and court notices. "[They find] things about relations they might not expect to find in court reports."
One wonders, for example, whatever became of Henry Thomas who, in 1907, was "charged with drunkenness and with having been found on the premises of the Grosvenor Hotel whilst a prohibition order was in force against him". Did his descendants ever know?
- © Fairfax NZ News
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