SAOA Publishes Sri Lankan Newspaper "Morning Star"

Cover of "Morning Star" issue from 1902

Monday, February 15, 2021
Neel Agrawal -

South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) recently published approximately 600 issues of Morning Star. Founded in 1841 by the American Ceylon Mission, the bilingual Tamil-English newspaper is a valuable tool for the study of modern social, religious, literary, colonial, and scientific histories of South Asia, South India, and Sri Lanka. 

A nearly complete run of Morning Star ("Utayatārakai" in Tamil) survived a thirty-year civil war and was digitized from the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI). The newspaper was a foundational element in nineteenth-century missionary publishing in Sri Lanka and influenced the regional “Hindu Revival” of the 1850s and ‘60s, a movement that swept across South India and paved the way for the development of modern Tamil Dravidian politics. 

The recently published issues (1849-1923) from JDCSI in Jaffna build on SAOA's existing holdings from Harvard (1841-1848). John Rogers, Director of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (AISLS), lauded SAOA's efforts to digitize this important newspaper, stating, "SAOA has produced a publicly-accessible, nearly complete digital run of Morning Star. This critical resource will be extremely useful for researchers worldwide." The newspaper was digitized by Jaffna Protestant Digital Library and the UCLA Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF).

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