School magazines provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.
What was high school like from 1915 through to the 1950s? What issues interested teenagers? How did they react to current events including two world wars? In what ways did they express themselves differently from today’s teens? What sort of jokes did they find amusing? (Hint: there are many of what we would call “dad jokes”.)
The State Library holds an extensive collection of school magazines from both public and private schools. Most don’t start until after 1954 which, as with newspapers, is our cut-off date for digitising, but we have digitised some early issues from public schools.
Bunbury High School (Kingia) Dec. 1927
Albany High School (Boronia) Dec. 1931
In the first part of the 19th Century they were generally produced by the students, with minimal input from school staff – and it shows. The quality of individual issues varies widely, depending, most probably, on the level of talent, interest and time invested by the responsible students.
Cricket cartoon Northam High School (The Avon) Sept. 1930
These magazines may include named photographs of prefects and staff, sporting teams and academic prize winners. Photographs from early editions tend to be of much higher quality, possibly because they were taken using glass negatives.
Essay competition. The subject: “A letter from Mr Collins congratulating Elizabeth on her engagement to Mr Darcy” Phyllis Hand and Jean McIntyre were the prize winners. Perth Girls’ School Magazine Nov. 1922
You will find poetry and essays, sketches by and of students, amateur cartooning, and many puns, jokes and limericks.
Some issues include ex-student notes with news about the careers, marriages and movements of past students. There is an occasional obituary.
Northam High School (The Avon) June 1943
Does anyone know these twins from Meckering? Northam High School (The Avon) May 1925
Issues from the war years are particularly interesting and touching. You may also find rolls of honour naming ex-students serving in the forces.
There is also often advertising for local businesses.
Girls’ A Hockey Team Albany High School (Boronia) Dec. 1925
These magazines reflect the attitudes of their tight-knit local community of the time. Expect to hear the same exhortations to strive for academic, moral and sporting excellence that we hear in schools today – while observing the (in retrospect) somewhat naïve patriotism and call to Empire and the occasional casual racism.
The following high school magazines for various dates are either available now online or will appear in the coming weeks: Perth Boys’ School Magazine; Perth Girls’ School Magazine (later The Magpie); Fremantle Boys’ School; Northam High School (The Avon); Girdlestone High School (Coolibah); Eastern Goldfields Senior High School (The Golden Mile – later Pegasus); Bunbury High School (Kingia); Albany High School (Boronia) and Perth Modern (The Sphinx). None are complete and we would welcome donations of missing volumes to add to our Western Australian collections.
If you would like to browse our digitised high school magazines search the State Library catalogue using the term: SCHOOL MAGAZINES
*Some issues of The Magpie are too tightly bound for digitising so they are currently being disbound. They will then be digitised and rebound. Issues should appear in the catalogue in the near future.