Trove is an amazing treasury of information for anyone doing research about Australia. It has been created and is maintained by the National Library of Australia and it helps you to find and use resources relating to Australia: about Australia and by Australians. It’s more than just a search engine as it brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations and gives you tools to explore and build more. It also encourages members of the public to contribute to the the collections. For example you are encouraged to correct mistakes in the machine reading of the digitised newspapers or you can add your own lists to the collection. Trove is not just a website; it’s also a platform for building your own tools and resources using Trove’s Application Programming Interface (API). This blog post by Tim Sherratt is a good example of how the API can be used.
I found Trove incredibly useful when I was writing my novel “Lost Souls”. The digitised newspapers in particular provided a snapshot of life during the periods in which the novel was set: The Western Front during WWI, China (as the missionaries knew it) in the 1920’s and radio in Sydney during the early 1950’s. I found everything from radio schedules to descriptions of wedding dresses to war correspondents reports from the Western Front.
I’ve also found it to be an essential tool when I’m researching my family tree. It’s amazing the sort of things that you can find in the newspapers, especially since they seemed to report news stories in such detail. Some of the details I’ve found out about members of my family (which I doubt I would have found out in any other way) include that my Great times 3 Grandfather was almost a murderer and served ten years in gaol for it, my grandfather was chased down by the police at one time for not paying child support. My grandfather (who disappeared for 30 years) was also involved in a range of adventures including stealing another wife’s wedding ring and pawning it, witnessing a massive motor cycle crash and being arrested for fighting with his in-laws – he obviously lived a wild life!. I also found out some very sad information such as In Memoriams for family members who had died. Trove has enabled me to flesh out some of the real lives of the people of the past who would otherwise be nothing but names and dates. Thanks you National Library of Australia.
What can you find in Trove? Here’s a quick overview (copied from the website):
- books and other print materials
- journal articles, theses and data sets to give you an insight into Australia’s research effort
- a growing collection of objects – from a stuffed dog called Peter toLachlan Macquarie’s armchair
- plenty of pictures – including photographsand artworks
- music, both printed and recorded, and videos as well
- interviews and other sound recordings– including many ABC Radio programs
- maps and archives
- the full text of articles from many Australian newspapers– mostly 1803 to 1954, but some, like the Canberra Times go further
- the full text of the Australian Women’s Weeklyfrom 1933 to 1982
- archived copies of selected Australian websitesfrom 1996 to the present
- collected information about people and organisations
- lists of resourcescreated by other Trove users