In 1915, City Librarian Mr W. B. McEwan began calling for donations of magazines published on troopships bound for World War I.
In time, the collection grew to include material published entirely at sea or in military hospitals, in military camps and on active service.
While W. B. McEwan’s intention was to preserve magazines being produced during World War I, this unique collection now includes World War II magazines and even the odd item from the South African War (1899-1902).
The Troopship Collection numbers 379 items, including bound sets of magazines. There are also magazines produced by other forces, including Australian, in the collection.
Ranging from the most basic hand-written news-sheets to the pinnacle of professional journalistic and artistic skills, these publications were designed to inform, entertain and improve the morale of the troops so far away from home.
Some are more obviously souvenir magazines to take home. Army, Navy and Air Force are all represented.
It is clear from their survival that the magazines were highly valued by many people from all over New Zealand and beyond, who saved and then donated them to this collection.
This might be the most comprehensive collection of its kind in New Zealand.
Some notable items:
- Four thoughts: Being the Journal of the Fourth New Zealand Infantry Brigade Group, London, Argus Printing Co., (1918). This journal is about the experience of war at the front line and in the trenches.
- The Gymeric Times is a hand-written news-sheet written on board the Gymeric, by A. C. Morton (1900). It is a rare glimpse of life on board a ship bound for the South African War.
- Dial Sights: Being Sketches of Celebrities of the N.Z.F.A. Depot at Ewshott (1918) is a high-quality souvenir which includes many drawings and caricatures of prominent personalities, some in colour, and features the considerable talents of Gunner P. G. Reid.
- Convoice is a mostly cheerful account of life on board H.M.Troopship 24, the Nieuw Amsterdam, in 1941. This magazine includes cartoons by the great New Zealand cartoonist Nevile Lodge (1918-1989), who was on board.
Troopship magazines from World War 1 are available in digital form on our Scattered Seeds digital archive.