Biography: Unsung people

Searching Newspapers

If you are searching for someone who is less well-known, you can search newspapers and other contemporary sources to find information.

  • Trove Digitised Newspapers provides access to digitised copies of major daily and some regional newspapers from first publication to 1954. Try searching on variations of the person's name or including a description of what they are known for, for example, Alvin Higgs.
  • Factiva allows you to search Australian and international newspapers from the 1980s until present. Registered Library users can access this resource from home.
  • Google News Archive provides coverage of the Melbourne Age from 1854 to current and the Sydney Morning Herald from 1831 to 1989. 
  • Sydney Morning Herald Archive covers the newspaper from 1955-1995. This database is only available from within the National Library building. 
  • Biographical cuttings files: from the late 1960s until June 2000, the Library maintained biographical newspaper clippings files. These contain cuttings, e.g. articles and obituaries, from Australian newspapers and journals. For example, see Canon Arthur Reginald Mace, former clergyman

Searching for people and organisations

The Trove People and Organisations zone allows you to search across library collections and databases. The zone includes:

  • Short biographies of famous people, a list of related people and related resources. See the entry for Lachlan Macquarie
  • Information on organisations related to Australia, such as the Ballets Russes, which lists resources published by and about the organisation.

You can also find information on organisations by searching the Catalogue. Begin by searching for the name of the organisation.

For example, a search for the 'Australian Conservation Foundation' can be narrowed to include only manuscript or audio material. Use the 'Narrow Search' options on the right to limit your search.

By selecting these formats, you can find organisational records and papers or recorded interviews with key conservationists involved in the Foundation.

 

Case Study

Searching for information about an organisation

I think my great grandfather belonged to the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows. He was a member of Lodge No. 71 at Illawarra (New South Wales) in around 1909. How can I find information about his involvement in the organisation?

We can start by searching the Library catalogue for items relating to this organisation.

The Library has only one published work for the organisation in this period: Manchester Unity Magazine of New South Wales (1909-1910). This is a collection of monthly issues, which include reports of Lodge meetings, elections, community activities and member news.

Although not every member of a Lodge is mentioned, we can get an idea of how members contributed to the organisation.     

For example, a member from the Illarwarra Lodge sent a photograph to the Magazine to share news of their members' involvement in a  community event; it can be found in The Manchester Unity magazine of New South Wales, vol.1, no.1, 1909: 1.

Case Study

Searching for information on a school principal

I would like some biographical details about W.J.Rooney sometime principal of Claremont Teachers College Perth

We first need to search the catalogue for material related to Rooney. A search of his name was unsucessful, but a search for "Claremont Teachers' College" found some published material

A brochure in the ephemera collection includes details on the dates when Rooney was principal of the College (1904-1927). These dates are useful for conducting further searches

We could try searching Trove to find historical newspaper articles about Rooney. As we know his rough dates and location (Perth), we can do an advanced search to limit our search results to Western Australian newspapers between 1904 and 1927