History comes alive through pages of ST

History comes alive through pages of ST

Printed using a hand-operated press, the first issue of The Straits Times on July 15, 1845, was peppered with notices about shipping activity, warehouses for rent and foreign goods for sale.

International market reports also appeared at the back of the then weekly paper - an indication of how thriving an entrepot Singapore was at the time.

This reprinted edition of the broadsheet's cover will be on display alongside hundreds of its front pages, headlines and photographs as part of a new exhibition called Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow, to celebrate the paper's 170th anniversary.

The exhibition's aim is to share significant moments from the country's history through the pages of Singapore's oldest English- language daily. The stories unfold across six themes: Business, World, Home, Sport, Life and Forum - the paper's core segments.

The free showcase will run from July 17 till Oct 4 at the ArtScience Museum - its co-curator.

Other notable front pages include the first post-war edition on Sept 7, 1945, which captured Singapore's jubilant mood after it was liberated from the Japanese.

Organisers said the paper's rich archives have been unlocked to unveil rarely seen photographs.

These include shots of everyday life in early Singapore such as a 1956 photo of snake charmers performing for tourists outside the defunct Sea View Hotel in Tanjong Katong.

Some images also remind us of how some old habits die hard.

A 1970 shot shows bags, stones and chairs being used by parents to "chope" or reserve spots for the Primary 1 registration exercise at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (Kellock).

There are heart-warming images too. Some chronicle Singapore's contribution to disaster-hit areas such as Meulaboh, Indonesia, which was hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. A January 2005 photo shows Singapore Armed Forces Staff Sergeant Muhammad Azam Aziz, then 25, giving simple English lessons to enraptured children displaced by the disaster.

The Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said the exhibition will bring history alive for Singaporeans of today "to help us remember where we have been, how we got here, and where we might be heading".

He said The Straits Times has strived to tell the big stories of the day right from the start.

"From the early colonial years, through wars, change of regime and national allegiance... it has chronicled these highs and lows in Singapore's history through the decades," he said.

ArtScience Museum executive director Honor Harger said it is proud to partner the paper to celebrate two milestones - the daily's 170th anniversary and Singapore's golden jubilee.

"This is a unique exhibition as it showcases historical events from the framework of the present and with an eye firmly on the future, creating a dialogue between past and present," she said.

The paper, established by Armenian pioneer Catchick Moses, started out as an eight-page weekly. Today, the daily's combined print and digital readership is 1.34 million people.

The exhibition's presenting sponsor is CapitaLand with Standard Chartered Bank on board as the second sponsor.


This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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