Have you discovered Trove yet?
It is the National Library’s well-named unified search service, which combs a huge range of Australian collections all at once.
Here at the Dictionary of Sydney we use it every day, especially the Digitised newspapers collection which has revolutionised historical research in newspapers. I usually open a tab at the Newspapers search page first thing in the morning and it stays open all day. It’s better than having a complete run of the Herald at my desk, because it is searchable, even the ads.
Not all Australian newspapers have been digitised yet, but more come online regularly. Our image researcher, Linda Brainwood, is very excited that the Illustrated Sydney News is soon to join the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Gazette and others that we use every day.
The papers are scanned using optical character recognition, and the project relies on readers to help correct the rough transcriptions that this makes possible. I try to correct any article that I use in our research, and I’ve corrected the sorry total of 805 lines. The real star is the legendary annmanley who has corrected 697,162 lines, and there are others up over the half-million mark. Thank goodness for their industry and dedication! (They’ve inspired me now to try harder). If you have a spare minute and an interest in history, you should join in. It’s remarkably absorbing.
This amazing volunteer effort means that every article, advertisement, birth, death and marriage announcement, shipping list, editorial and letter to the editor is now searchable. Some of the articles in the Dictionary of Sydney that have been influenced by this near-miraculous new resource include Joseph Fowles and Edward Flood, as well as a great many of our descriptions and dates for people and organisations in Sydney’s history.
The National Library is a national treasure and Trove is one of its best creations. It relies on the support and cooperation of the State libraries around Australia who have provided the originals and microfilms of newspapers, and of many other institutions and collections who have made their catalogs available. These also deserve national treasure status. We certainly couldn’t do without them.
I’m definitely buying the t-shirt!