Fan tales from the Congress

Fan tales from the Congress
Lessons learned from Trove users in the wild
1 April 2015

It’s not often that the Trove Support Team is given the chance to get out about and speak face-to-face with the lovely people who use Trove. That’s why we were all so excited to hear that Australasia’s biggest family history conference was coming to Canberra this year—it was too good an opportunity to miss!

That’s right, last week we donned our swish Trove t-shirts and headed down to the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry where we shared an exhibitor table with our colleagues from other parts of the National Library of Australia.

It was so wonderful to speak to everyone! As best as we can guess, by the time the Congress was over we had nearly 300 visitors to the table. You asked us questions, told us interesting and touching stories about your ‘finds’ and occasionally just came up to share your love for the service. We never get tired of hearing that—everyone works so hard on Trove and we love that you love it.

But beyond sharing the warm and fuzzy feelings, we learned so much from the people who took the time to speak with us. In particular, we now know more about specific aspects of the service that you like and what you’d like to know more about … and we thought it was the kind of thing that might be useful to others. So here it is, a few interesting things that we learned from the Congress.

You really, really, really love wedding announcements

Of course we are all aware that there are wedding announcements in Trove and that they are popular—all family notices are extremely useful to family historians. In fact, at the Congress we heard a wonderful tale from a person who used a death notice to track down their long lost family. But it became clear last week that wedding notices are in a class of their own. They provide detail that can’t be recaptured and really bring your history to life: the name of the wedding song played, the ostrich plume your grandmother wore in her hair, the gift the groom gave to the bride, which is now yours. It’s clear that we need to do more with wedding announcements in terms of raising awareness and finding ways to use them to tell stories.

 Wedding announcement (1946, The Newcastle Sun)

Wedding... (1946, September 7). The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from

You want to know how to contact other registered Trove users

To be honest, this has been on our radar for a long time but it was interesting to hear it raised again. It’s still clearly something that people are keenly interested in. We know that you want to directly contact people you come across who seem to be visiting the pages of your ancestors—they might be family! We want Trove to connect people but we have to be mindful of the privacy laws and regulations that govern the Commonwealth Public Service. We can’t use a members contact details to let them know someone is looking for them, nor can we pass along someone else’s contact details. These regulations are set up to protect people by ensuring that we only ever use people’s contact details for the reasons which they originally gave them to us.

Our hope is that as more people check out the forum, it will become a place where people who use Trove can go to make contact with each other. You can contact another member of the forum directly by clicking on their username, and selecting the option ‘send private message’. This will send a message to that user’s account. On the default settings, an email will be sent to the member alerting them that someone has sent them a message. However, if you don't want others to be able to contact you this way, you can disable this feature in your profile settings.

Screenshot of the Trove Forum homepage 

Screenshot of the Trove forum homepage:

Also, if you are noticing other people are correcting and tagging articles that are also of interest to you, feel free to add a comment to articles with those tags saying that you are researching ‘x’ family, and request people contact you through the forums if they are researching the same family.

You may also like to add a post to the forums here if you would like other users to contact you about specific topics. Genealogy and Local History can go in the relevant sub-forums.

You want to know the difference between Trove and newspapers in eResources

This is tough to explain succinctly but here’s my best effort:

Trove homepage icon

  • Trove is built and managed by the National Library of Australia and supported by many libraries, universities and collecting agencies and users around Australia.
  • The Library digitises historical newspapers. Coverage is 1803 to 1954 for copyright reasons (with a couple of exceptions). 
  • It is nearly all Australian content.
  • You do not need to register to access the digitised content. It is freely available to everyone.

eResources homepage icon

  • These are online databases that are built by other people that the Library subscribes to on behalf of users.
  • Coverage widely varies from database to database, one might contain eighteenth to twentieth-century newspapers from Ireland. Another will have contemporary Australian titles.
  • You do need to get a Library card from the National Library of Australia to access these resources. To be eligible for a standard library card you must live in Australia and supply an Australian residential address.

If you love Trove newspapers then you should definitely check out eResources for other newspaper sources.

You want to know if there’s a difference between a Trove image and a copy ordered through Copies Direct

The article that you want a copy of might have blurry bits or you might want to print out an original-size cover page for the year of your dad’s birth. There are times when the image option in Trove (jpg) isn’t a high enough quality for what you want to do with it and the Library’s Copies Direct service will be able to help.

Why are Copies Direct images better? The main reason is because the digitized images shown in Trove aren’t print quality files, which are absolutely massive—just too big for the system to handle.The Copies Direct team will photograph the original print version of the newspaper (if available) and can provide you with the high resolution files.

However, if we don’t have the newspaper in print the backup option is to provide a higher resolution version of the scanned copy in Trove. If in doubt, when you place your order there is always the option to ask them to check to see if missing or blurred content is legible.


I hope that these few FAQs from the Congress have been helpful and interesting. Thank you again to everyone who took the time to come and speak with us, we hope we have the chance to speak again soon!