The following was written by the folks at the Church of Ireland RCB Library in Dublin:
Modern readers of the Church of Ireland Gazette are well aware of its availability in electronic format (as well as hardcopy) since 2005 at this link: http://www.coigazette.net/?page_id=18. Written and read by lay and clerical members of the Church of Ireland, the Gazette which has always been editorially independent, provides the longest-running public commentary on its affairs, and as such is a recognised resource for understanding the complexities and nuances of Church of Ireland identity, both north and south, as well as the Church’s contribution to political and cultural life throughout the island.
Less well know may be that the RCB Library in Dublin holds the only complete run of ‘Gazettes’ - from the first issue in March 1856 and up to the present date which are bound up in hard copy volumes for each year where they remain an invaluable resource. Long considered to be the Church of Ireland’s weekly newspaper and the first port of call for researchers wishing to obtain an insight into the opinions and attitudes of members of the Church of Ireland through changing times, the Gazette is consulted on a daily basis by a wide range of people and for many diverse research interests.
To date, as far as the older volumes are concerned, this research has had to be done using the cumbersome hardcopies available in the RCB Library. An extensive run is also available at Armagh Public Library, which may be useful for readers in Northern Ireland, but this is not complete.
To demonstrate the potential of the Gazette as a research resource, and continuing its commitment to mark the Decade of Commemorations, the RCB Library is pleased to present all 52 editions of The Church of Ireland Gazette for the year 1913, in a fully searchable format online as the Archive of the Month for August, in collaboration with the Editor and Board of the Gazette.
All 52 issues of the Gazette for 1913 have been professionally scanned using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) by the service provider Informa, and via a sophisticated information platform are fully searchable online. Browsers may simply enter any key word or phrase of interest in the search box on the platform, and then view the list of relevant entries as they appear in chronological order, viewing each either as a single page, or in the wider context of the particular issue of the newspaper in which it appears.
Burning issues of the day such as Home Rule, the rise of the trade union movement and efforts to control it, women’s suffrage, educational change, children, the impact of the Ulster Covenant and formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force, as well as the darkening political situation on mainland Europe on the eve of the First World War and events further away, are all well covered and commented upon in 1913.
The ‘1913 pilot’ provides a valuable snapshot view of the Church of Ireland community 100 years ago. It is intended to demonstrate how technological advances offer radical alternatives to unlock hidden knowledge from all the other years in the 149-year run of weekly Gazettes from 1856 to 2005 (when it became available electronically). To complete the project, and cover all the years of publication, the RCB Library, in conjunction with the Gazette Board, is now investigating appropriate sources to digitize the entire collection, making an invaluable contribution to historical knowledge and enabling multiple readers to engage on-screen.