I my inbox this morning was a request to fill out a user survey for Trove. Often I come across such requests and delete them. Why should I help Sainsbury’s or Tesco become more efficient at selling me stuff, when I’m wanting to cut down on spending? Trove is different, Trove is magnificent, Trove is a wonder.

What on earth is it I hear you ask? Well, if you are not interested in Australian history, I doubt you will know. Let me go back a few years, to 2010, before my first trip to Australia. I was still working as a university librarian and as a hobby was tracing family history. Of my husband’s Australian family little was known. All we really knew was that a large sheep station had been owned and all the money had disappeared. I had been searching for the family in New South Wales but found little to help in births, marriages and deaths. Eventually I found an uncle’s war record in the Australian National Archives and saw that his enlistment had been signed by his father in Adelaide. I had never searched for records in South Australia.  I began my search and somehow it took me to Trove Newspaper Articles Bingo! What I discovered was the history of the father laid out in thousands of newspaper articles – free of charge – and with the option to correct the scanned records, in a simple to use side bar. I think I spent the next year correcting and tagging,  becoming one of Trove’s top users.

Contrast this with the British Newspaper archives where you either have to take out a subscription or pay per view. What you get is access to an uncorrected scanned image of the broadsheet which is difficult both to read or locate what you are searching for.

Trove also brings together other resources such as photos and articles, again free to access as are the war records. Why is it that in the UK we limit access and make people pay for research?

After that first year of searching, I had built up an amazing picture of the family and constructed an itinerary for our first trip which took us to West Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria – all with family connections. We have still yet to visit the sheep station area on the Darling River but at least now I know where it is and found a review of the book which will help me write that chapter – where? On Trove of course.

If you use Trove, please do the survey.

About Rosemary Noble

Writer, author, amateur historian and traveller
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