2 December 1997

A Salvation Army officer's fascination with newspapers, dating from when he was a paperboy in Sydney in the mid-1950s, has led to the donation of a priceless collection of historic issues to the University of Queensland.

Department of Journalism senior lecturer Dr Rod Kirkpatrick said the collection of 1600 newspapers was a valuable teaching and research resource for the University.

He thanked Major Ken Sanz, administrator of the Salvation Army's social services in New South Wales and Queensland, for his generous donation.

'After collecting newspapers for two decades, and shifting them from home to home during his peripatetic existence as a Salvation Army officer, Major Sanz has donated the newspapers. The collection is enhanced by the fact that he has bound the newspapers individually and indexed them in a card system, complete with additional notes where appropriate,' Dr Kirkpatrick said.

Major Sanz and Dr Kirkpatrick have corresponded about newspaper history for 13 years and have become good friends.

'Ken first wrote to me in January 1985 after reading Sworn to No Master, my history of the Queensland provincial press to 1930, published only a few months earlier. He was piecing together a biography of Robert Burgess, a journalist who worked in New South Wales at places such as Bega, Bombala, Singleton, Murrurundi and Tenterfield, as well as Queensland at Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Allora and Normanton,' Dr Kirkpatrick said.

'We have corresponded over the years and Ken always has fascinating insights or observations to offer on newspapers, and who owns them, how they are being produced and what may lie ahead.'

Major Sanz grew up at Marrickville in the 1940s and 1950s, the son of a native Catalonian from Barcelona and his Australian wife.

After his stint as a paperboy, he became a messenger on the Sydney Morning Herald at the age of 15. At 16, he began a five-year composing apprenticeship, later working as a photo-compositor. He retains a fascination with printing technology.

In 1966, when Major Sanz left newspapers to begin two years training to become a Salvation Army officer, he retained his interest in newspapers through gathering special issues of newspapers: centenary supplements, first issues, final issues, final letterpress issues, first offset issues.

Among the centenary issues are those of the Queensland Times, Ipswich (1959), the Richmond River Express, Casino (1970), the Cootamundra Herald (1977), the Charlton Tribune, Victoria. (1976), the West Australian (1979), the Queanbeyan Age (1960), and the Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga (1968).

'He would check the newspaper directories and write to newspapers about to celebrate a significant anniversary, seeking a copy of any special issues to mark the occasion,' Dr Kirkpatrick said.

'Some of the replies he received are significant primary-source documents for the history of the newspapers concerned.

'An example is a letter from Terry Ramsey, editor of the Gympie Times from 1952-1976 and a member of a family that had been involved in the control of the paper for a century. Ramsey typed his letter, packed with incisive observations, on five sheets of copy paper (complete with overtypes and subbed inserts) even though he had retired a month earlier.'

He said Major Sanz would also call at country newspaper offices while on holiday and collect specimen issues of the papers and engage the proprietor or printer in historical or technological chat.

Dr Kirkpatrick said the Kenneth Sanz Collection had inspired him to add his own historic issues of newspapers. Also part of the collection are newspapers given by journalist John Hamilton and publication editor Greg Chamberlin.

'Mr Hamilton donated Australian and overseas newspapers reporting major national and world events, such as the resignation of Menzies, the death of Sir Winston Churchill, the drowning of Harold Holt, the moon landing, the Whitlam era, the death of Menzies, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, the Falklands war, the Gulf war, and so on,' Dr Kirkpatrick said.

'Mr Chamberlin has provided first and final issues of various Gold Coast and other publications.'

For more information, contact Dr Kirkpatrick (telephone 07 3365 3231).