The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has placed editions from the first two decades of its Orange Standard newspaper online for digital viewing.
Founded in 1973, The Orange Standard is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and as part of events to mark that milestone it was agreed to begin a project to digitise the paper copies held in Schomberg House.
As part of the events for Orange Heritage Week 2023, the project which has been carried out through the Museum of Orange Heritage has gone live.
Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr. Jonathan Mattison, described the launch of the Orange Standard archive as a significant boost to the museum’s online presence.
“This first part of The Orange Standard archive will be available for viewing through the Museum of Orange Heritage website and complements the historical material we already have available online,” he said.
“The Orange Standard archives have been available to view at Schomberg House in paper form, however this project to digitise the back editions will mean researchers, academics or those simply looking back for nostalgia purposes can do so with ease.
“Each year from January 1973 to December 1989 is in place, and it hoped further decades will be ready for release in the coming months.”
He added: “The digitisation of The Orange Standard archives is part of a much wider project to digitise much of the Museum of Orange Heritage’s archive material, which includes a vast range of historical items and written documents.
“This project will greatly enhance the accessibility of the Museum of Orange Heritage archived material to a wider audience.”
The project was undertaken by Digitisation Officer Carly Wallace, who joined the museum team in a new role funded by the Covid Recovery Employment and Skills Initiative for Heritage in 2022. The Covid Recovery Programme is funded by the Department for Communities and administered by The Heritage Fund in Northern Ireland.
Carly said: “As part of my role I aim to help the museum increase the accessibility of their archives. This allows us to share more information with the public and helps facilitate their own independent research.
“The new digitised material, such as this with the Orange Standard, will help to build upon the pre-existing catalogue of information and give users a more thorough insight into the material held at the museum.
“Digitisation has many benefits within the museum sector, particularly as it allows us to improve the conservation of valuable materials which would otherwise be lost over time.
Carly added: “Digitally preserving our history is extremely important and will allow for a wider audience to connect with the Museum of Orange Heritage and all those associated to it from its beginnings.”
Wor. Bro. Tom Haire, chair of the Orange Standard Committee, praised the work that has been done to digitise the archives.
“The digitisation of the Orange Standard archives is a great piece of work, one which I and my committee are very much in favour of, “ he said.
“The Orange Standard has been the official publication of the Orange Institution for 50 years now and bringing those earliest editions into a digital format – and available to a much wider audience - is a very welcome development.
“Since 2020, the Orange Standard has been available digitally and I am delighted to report we have been seeing a strong uptake in the number of subscribers who receive the paper by email each month.”
The Orange Standard archive can be viewed by visiting www.orangeheritage.co.uk/orangestandardarchives