Friday, June 4, 2010

Exemplary Australian scholarship

I've always known that, when my compatriots decide to tackle seriously various cutting-edge challenges of an intellectual or scientific nature, they are capable of producing world-class results. A typical example of Australian excellence concerns the domain of the computer processing of our journalistic heritage.

Click the banner to discover a fabulous website that offers us access to our nation's newspapers from 1803 to 1954. Needless to say, my praise of this kind of historical and technological effort is unbounded, since it enables every one of us to explore freely the events of our past.

My grandfather Ernest William Skyvington [1891-1985] once told me of his arrival in Sydney on Christmas Day, 1908. He described the thrill of seeing excited crowds at the Rushcutter Bay stadium, the following day (known traditionally as Boxing Day), awaiting the monumental match (which would go down in history) between the white man Tommy Burns and the Negro Jack Johnson. What a fabulous symbol for a young lad who has just arrived in the Antipodes. The website offers us a short article concerning this match:

I'll surely be spending many long hours in front of this wonderful Australian website, which can reveal so many secrets about our past. As you might imagine, I jumped immediately onto the issue of The Sydney Morning Herald dated 24 September 1940… when my peephole opened at the Runnymede maternity clinic in Grafton. Well, I'll let you share my joy (if you're interested in this kind of archaic stuff) by discovering that the king of England himself made a celebrated wartime speech on that very day. Personally, alas, I was far too young to hear him. Indeed, I'm not sure that anybody did.

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