On Friday, 28 August 1914, the Western Mail was sold to West Australians for sixpence and, at 48 pages long, was a rather hefty newspaper for its time. Much to my joy, it was also a paper that was often filled with fabulous photographs.
The start of the newspaper was dedicated to farming information and readers also had the opportunity to write letters to the newspaper requesting help or answers to their questions. Mr Morrell from Waeel (east of Northam) took the opportunity to send samples of diseased wheat from his farm which were then forwarded to Dr Stoward who was the Government Pathologist. Dr Stoward advised that the wheat was suffering from mildew and then provided information as to what caused the problem.
Advertisements were heavily featured throughout the paper and generally matched the subject matter discussed on the page they were found. I.e. in amongst the articles concerning farm life were ads which were for products used on farms.
Farming soon turned to gardening and a myriad of information was provided with respect to the change of seasons and the beginning of a new month. At a time when wildflowers were coming into bloom, the Western Mail focused on and provided a lot of helpful information about wattle.
The Royal Show was just over a month away and (much like today) advertisements were placed in the paper so that everyone knew when it was and when they could begin submitting their entries.
As at this date it was less than a month since war had been declared (on 4 August 1914) and the newspapers worked hard to keep everyone informed on what was going on around the world with respect to it. As this was a weekly paper, the news that occurred throughout the previous week was printed in date order.
The ‘Ladies Page’ towards the end of the Western Mail focused mainly on all matter of things which were stereotypically considered to be of interest to a woman. Beauty tips, the latest fashion, household hints, information about raising children, sewing and recipes were all commonly featured. The page did touch on the war but this mainly extended to the Royal families that would be affected by the war as well as a detailed article reaching out and acknowledging the internal angst a woman would suffer when saying goodbye to a husband or son going to war.
But, as I mentioned at the start, my most favourite part of the Western Mail is the ‘Illustrated Section’ which features wonderful photos of people and places throughout Western Australia, Australia and sometimes, the world. With WWI being the primary focus at this time it’s of no surprise to see that most of the photos in this issue were of the volunteers of the Expeditionary Force at the Helena Vale Encampment (Blackboy Hill). It was still very early days of the war but when their country called, these men volunteered. Their names weren’t printed alongside the photographs but it’s extremely likely that some of them never made it home.
- Western Mail; Friday, 28 August 1914 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page3487732)