Having your story and data too

the Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism Database

Willa McDonald, Bunty Avieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research institutions are increasingly interested in creative digital dissemination strategies to target audiences for exploring, interrogating and communicating new knowledges both within and beyond academia. At the same time, the focus of archival theory, in acknowledgement of the political framework behind archiving, has moved from evidence to memory with the online archivist transformed from a passive curator to a community facilitator. With those factors in mind, this paper details the establishment of the Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism (ACNJ) database (17880-1901), a digital archive of colonial literary journalism and its transfer from an experimental Wordpress site to its hosting by AustLit, the online national literary research resource. This paper introduces the database as an expression of cultural memory using examples of some of the writers and their featured works--from the journalists who captured the bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang to those who sailed undercover to expose the “blackbirding” slave trade in northern Australia to the women who first wrote and published Australian profiles, including the earliest known written portraits of Aboriginal Australians. It explores the issues involved in the creation of the database, ranging from attempts to define the form as it evolved in Australia’s colonial history, to its potential role as a cultural narrator, a creator and facilitator of cultural memory, and a creative dissemination strategy rendering social historical themes in a democratised online form that can be delivered to a broad constituency of users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-55
Number of pages23
JournalLiterary journalism studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Literary journalism
  • Journalism History
  • Digital Archives
  • Australian Journalism History
  • digital history

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