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The venerable Pacific Islands Monthly gets new digitised life

PIM No 1JULIE WHITING | National Library of Australia | Edited extracts

Read the complete, lavishly illustrated article here

Browse the full Pacific Islands Monthly catalogue in Trove here

THE National Library of Australia has recently completed the digitisation of the entire run of the Pacific Islands Monthly magazine and all of the issues can be browsed or the text fully searched in its Trove archive.

Pacific Islands Monthly (PIM) was founded in Sydney by New Zealand born journalist Robert William (Robbie) Robson, who had moved to Australia during World War I. The first issue was published August 1930 and it ran until June 2000.

PIM was originally published by Pacific Publications in Sydney, with the company being officially registered in 1931 with a nominal capital of £1,000 in £1 shares. It was later purchased by the Herald and Weekly Times and after News Ltd acquired the Herald and Weekly Times in 1987, PIM was published from Suva, Fiji. The first issue of PIM was in newspaper format and consisted of 12 pages.

The number of pages gradually increased and by the 17th issue (December 1931) PIM had changed to a magazine style format. In later life it evolved into a glossier coloured magazine.

The idea for a magazine covering the Pacific had been percolating in Robson’s mind for some time. He was one of the journalists attached to a New Zealand vice-regal party that made an official tour around the islands in 1914 and he was struck by the lack of a means for islanders to communicate with each other about what was happening in the region.

Robson was also aware that many Australian expats were working in the Pacific, or had connections or business interests there, or were interested in Pacific affairs. Robson was keen to promote the region and assist its development.

PIM staff travelled throughout the Pacific seeking stories and building a network of contacts in business and politics. They were highly regarded by both expats and locals. The early volumes of PIM have a rather colonial perspective, with many of the articles about the administration and governance of the islands, the activities and people involved with this administration, and their views on the society, culture and economic future of the region.

However, this in itself is very revealing and provides a unique glimpse into the attitudes of these Westerners, their governments, and the interactions with the local populations and indigenous political and tribal leaders.

It is interesting to chart the change of focus of PIM during the later period of the magazine’s existence, particularly following the independence of various states, which shifted much more to general news, politics, business and investigative journalism.

PIM finalPIM is an unrivalled source of information about current affairs, agriculture, transport, communications, local people and their life and customs, commodities, geography, climate, mining, sport and much more. PIM is also a wonderful means of tracking down elusive names, or seeing the emergence of particular people as they became important in island politics, business or society.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of PIM is that it brings together information from all of the Pacific islands into a single publication. This makes it a highly valuable tool for researchers wanting to track particular issues or topics over the whole region and to compare and contrast the situation in various locations.

The long run of PIM provides an insight into how issues and topics emerge over time and change in importance.

Take the opportunity to explore this magnificent resource by either browsing through the issues looking for unexpected gems, or searching for particular people, places or topics. Endless hours of pleasure and edification await you.


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