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Catholic Vancouver April 23, 2018

Archives office releases rare collection of Catholic newspapers

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

The B.C. Western Catholic was in print from 1909 to 1919. It is among three historic newspapers now available online for free. (RCAV Archives)

VANCOUVER—A diverse collection of documents, photos, film reels, and other artifacts from 155 years of history is filed away in the underground levels of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s offices.

Now, a section previously only available to archivists and researchers – Catholic newspapers dating as far back as 1892 – is being made public, for free, and online for the first time.

“It is our hope that these newspapers will help both researchers and those curious about British Columbia’s Catholic past delve digitally into our archives and explore our stories,” said archdiocesan archivist Jennifer Sargent.

She’s excited to be bringing this little-known history to light. Long before The B.C. Catholic was established in 1931, local Catholics were publishing and reading other local papers: The Month (1892-1916), The B.C. Western Catholic (1909-1919) and The Bulletin (1924-1931).

“Our collection holds only a few precious copies of The B.C. Western Catholic, something that helps give us insight into the news of the day and the topics of interest and concern within the community,” said Sargent. “Luckily, we have a more complete set of The Bulletin.”

Digital copies of Sargent’s entire collection of these three newspapers is now accessible to anyone with an internet connection at www.rcav.org/archives-our-collection.

She asked while people peruse the articles, photos, and advertisements that went to press in the late 1890s and early 1900s, they remember that they are a product of their times.

“It is important to keep in mind when reading these editions that content often represents the attitudes of the time and these newspapers should be read with this in mind.”

The B.C. Catholic, now 87 years in the running, was one of the first Catholic newspapers in North America to offer stories online in 1998 and the first Catholic newspaper in North America to deliver an electronic edition in 2001.