So many of us grew up reading The Sun News-Pictorial, the Melbourne tabloid for the whole family. Through a recent donation of the microfilm masters from Grace Management Information Systems, the Library is now able to pursue digitising The Sun, and making it freely available via Trove.

A child places an egg in the Eggs for the Sick box for the Queen Victoria Hospital.
The Sun News Pictorial, September 17, 1924, p12. The annual egg appeal asked people to donate eggs to their local hospital – in this case the Queen Victoria Hospital. The hospital would in turn use the eggs to help feed the patients throughout the year.

The Sun News-Pictorial began in 1922 and ran until 1990 when it merged with The Herald to form the Herald Sun. The Sun’s most obvious point of difference was firstly, its size; it was much smaller than the other Melbourne dailies The Age, The Argus and The Herald. This made it ideal for reading when commuting to and from work and great for the kitchen table or the comfortable chair alike. The other major difference was The Sun contained many photographs in each issue, hence its full name: The Sun News-Pictorial. Those photos were often of local people, places and activities; images which resonated with Victorians.

This difference is illustrated in The Sun’s first edition. The front page of The Age and The Argus for September 11, 1922 consisted of several columns of dense advertisements and notices. Whilst The Herald had news reports on its cover, it was very busy, with over a dozen articles. The Sun‘s first front page (below) consisted of 8 black and white photographs with captions only.

The Sun News Pictorial; first issue; September 22 1911, p. 1

The Sun also included plenty of content for the whole family. Readers might be familiar with regular columns which ran for years such as 50-50; A place in the Sun and Here there and Everywhere. There was plenty of content for the kids with the Corinella page featuring competitions and cartoons in the Sunbeams supplement.

Sunbeams Insert from The Sun News Pictorial, December 15 1925

The Sun also published a variety of articles devoted to topics they deemed of interest to women, such as The Way of Women, Women’s Varied Interests, Mothers Wives & Maids and Women in the Home. These columns reported on social outings, bridge parties, dances, children’s activities and social gossip- reflecting the common household divisions and society norms of the day(s).

The above columns appear regularly in The Sun News Pictorial.

The Sun was also regularly publishing snap shots of athletes playing sport. In fact The Sun often carried a detailed sports report on page 2- a bold change so early in the paper which usually saw advertisements and classifieds.

Women’s Cricket at Albert Park taken from The Sun News Pictorial; November 23, 1925, p. 1. Ladies Day at Metropolitan; The Sun News Pictorial September 27,1924, p. 14.

The abundance of birth, death and marriage notices, photographs of weddings, law and shipping lists provide a wealth of information for researchers. One great avenue for family research was the publication of exam results (below). Digitisation of all these names will make research so much easier.

Examination results were often published in The Sun.
The Sun News Pictorial, November 24 1925, p.14. Published exam results can be a great find for researchers with students names listed- thereby placing them at a certain time in their life- with the added detail of how they went!

Often the middle section of The Sun contained a variety of photos from around the state, crucially including the names of the people (and making it likely they would in turn buy the paper). This is great detail for family historians.

The Sun also devoted a regular section on finance, titled Money and Markets– perhaps the first version of Barefoot Investor? Another regular feature was on regional Victoria, such as the one on Horsham, below.

Horsham is the featured country town in The Sun.
The Sun News Pictorial, October 7 1924

One of my favourite images I’ve come across is a photo of Mrs H. Bullock sitting on her pet donkey. This is a great example of what The Sun has to offer- an unfamous person doing an unfamous thing in an unfamous place, which seems to have appealed to many as The Sun became Australian largest selling newspaper.

The Sun News Pictorial, Nov 25 1926, p. 14

Currently to access The Sun, patrons need to the view the microfilm at State Library Victoria in Melbourne. We’re hoping we raise enough funds to digitize from 1922 to 1954 (after 1955, newspapers are still in copyright). Digitisation will allow so many to access details of their histories, and Victoria’s past, from anywhere, saving time and effort (trying to find a parking spot!), as well as helping to preserve the original hardcopy holdings.

If you’d like to support the appeal- you can donate online.

Beach goers on the front page of The Sun summer in 1925.
The Sun December 15, 1925, p.1

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