During August, Trove is celebrating National Family History Month. Two weeks ago we brought you some wonderful stories shared by family historians who have found pieces of their family puzzle in Trove. In this post we’re sharing some tips you may find helpful as you do your own research. These suggestions come from practising family historians: some are suggestions specifically about Trove, some are just ‘good practice’ research methods, or ways of thinking a bit outside the box as you venture into your past. We hope you find them useful.
- View Trove’s YouTube channel. Here you’ll find short videos which demonstrate what’s in Trove and how best to search. How to use Trove: an overview is the place to start.
- A first time user of Trove’s digitised newspapers needs to be mindful of what they may find and how they will share it with other family members in particular. There may be aspects of an ancestor’s life which are surprising, unsavoury or shocking. These aspects may have been reported in the newspapers and include subjects such as crime, bankruptcy and illegitimacy.
- Make Trove your home page.
Trove is not all newspapers
- The Pictures zone does not just include historical images; it also includes contemporary images thanks to the good people who contribute via the Flickr community. This may allow you to see how the area your family came from has changed, or not, over time. For instance, this search for the Goulburn Post Office has images from as early as the late nineteenth century to 2007. Before using any image in Trove you will need to check its copyright status.
- The Music Sound and Video zone includes the Hazel De Berg oral histories collection, which consists of 1290 recordings of interviews and readings dating from the 1950s. These records include prominent Australian poets, artists, writers, composers, actors, academics, publishers, librarians, scientists, anthropologists, public servants and politicians.
- After you’ve done a general search in Trove, use the small arrows at the top of the zone box to ‘maximise’ and / or ‘minimise’ the box to highlight the sort of records you’re most interested in. This can make your screen appear less cluttered and distracting. This is not to say that you should ignore the other Trove zones.
- Create a Trove account. You can tell Trove which libraries you are a member of and when searching in the books zone, Trove will tell you if the book is held by one of your libraries.
Making use of Trove's engagement features
- Tagging, commenting or creating lists are ways of ‘bookmarking’ or ‘favouriting’ your most liked finds on Trove and makes them easier to find again.
- Lists can also include links to external websites. There’s more information about how to create lists in Trove’s help centre.
Getting the best out of the digitised newspapers
- When searching for a surname, add a placename to your search. For example, if your surname was Drake and your family came from the Goulburn, searching for both at once may help you get more relevant results.
- When you’ve found articles relevant to you, where possible take the time to correct the electronically translated text. It’s a great way to give back to the family history community.
- Do not limit your searches to known local newspaper titles. Local news may have been reported more widely than you may think.
- When searching for women, be mindful of your search strategy and think “Mrs G. Stevens”~2. This is also useful for names which are common words like White or County.
- You can learn more about your selected newspaper title by reading the entry for it in Wikipedia. If there is a Wikipedia entry for the newspaper you’ll find it on the newspaper’s homepage in Trove. For instance, here is the homepage for the Argus. On the left-hand side of the screen you’ll see an extract from Wikipedia and a link to the full entry.
- When researching a favourite place try the search “[place name] reminscences”. Newspapers often would publish potted histories or one person’s memories.
- There is useful advice about using and viewing the digitised newspapers in Trove’s help. You can make the text bigger or smaller, and there are tips on printing and saving the newspapers for use in your research.
General research suggestions
- Save the PDF and JPG newspaper articles to your desktop. You can then upload these to your family history software program or your online family tree.
- Newspaper images should be saved as JPG. You may be able to edit the image (for better clarity for example) in a desktop photo editing software program.
- Also consider emailing PDFs or snail mail hard copies of ‘finds’ in the newspapers to older members of your family who are not internet savvy or do not have the inclination to search Trove themselves.
- Add ‘finds’ to your notes or to your family history software program
- Find clues for your research outside Trove. For example, search electoral rolls on Ancestry first and then use that information for a search on Trove.
- Use Trove to research the historical context in which your ancestors lived. This can be useful for when you come to write the story of your family. For example, my ancestor died in the Spanish Influenza epidemic.
- Be mindful of your local history: sometimes place names change. For example Belfast became Port Fairy in Victoria.
- Do not cite your source as Trove. Similarly, never cite your source as ‘Ancestry’ or ‘FamilySearch’. Use the 'cite' button which will include all the information you need including date you found it. Guidance for citing newspapers can be found in Trove’s Help.
Trove thanks Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s Family History Librarian, Liz Pidgeon, for the brainstorming session which produced these suggestions. May your research uncover new information and wonderful stories which enrich your family history.