What is trove

The National Library has a website called Trove.  As it says on the website you can –

  • ‘Search Trove to explore amazing collections from Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries and archives. It’s free and available online all day, every day.’
  • ‘Search for digital copies of newspapers, Government Gazettes, maps, magazines and newsletters. Or books, pictures, photographs, archived websites, music and interviews. Even information about famous Australians, including copies of letters, diaries and personal archives.’

The process used is to scan the old newspapers to create images (or photos).  Then character recognition software is used to produce a text version of the letters in the images.  This makes the newspaper accessible as though the text had been typed in on a keyboard.  Then searches can be made on the words in the old newspapers.

The issue with this process is that newspapers are printed on cheap paper and some were done long ago so there are inaccuracies in identifying the letters.  For example, it often confuses similar shaped letters such as ‘o’ and ‘e’, ‘i’ and ‘l’, ‘0’ and ‘O’.  For this reason volunteers are asked to manually correct the content.  People can usually identify whole words from the context and hence make corrections.

The benefit is that we can do searches, like using Google, Bing or other search engines.  Thus, it is possible to find mentions of Davis at Orara between 1880 and 1900.

You just need to be persistent and prepared for plenty of trial and error to get worthwhile results.  These results are then displayed as the interpreted text alongside the image, or picture, of the page of the old newspaper.

What content is available

The portion of particular interest to us is digitised newspapers dating as far back to the 1800’s. It existed in 2013, when we were researching at the time of the reunion but is now more extensive.

The newspapers include, amongst many others, the Coffs Harbour Advocate (from 1907 to 1955), the Don Dorrigo Gazette and Daily Examiner – Grafton from the 1800s.  The more recent issues are not included as copyright restrictions may apply).  The search results have both the text and an image of the newspaper.

How to access and Basic searching

The website is trove.nla.gov.au or just search for TROVE.  The first screen follows –

I suggest you click on ‘All categories’ and select ‘Newspapers and Gazettes’.  Then where is has ‘Search Trove…’ type some words and click on the search symbol which has the green background.  If you try ‘Orara Davis’ you will get over 22,000 results, currently, but they are in order of relevance so this may be okay.  Note the results can also be sorted by date .

Next click on the heading of the result, in blue writing, that you are interested in to see the details which looks like –

Note that there is a scroll bar for the text but you click, hold and drag for the image of the newspaper.  Use the browser return control (left arrow) to get back to the search list.

Tips and advanced search

Most likely you will want to go to the ‘Advanced Search’ (in the purple area on right hand side) and select ‘Newspapers and Gazettes’.  Then, there further options for refining the search.  For example, in ‘All of these words’ put ‘Orara’, in ‘The phrase’ put ‘Ada Davis’ so you get the first and last name together and in ‘Data Range’ it is easiest to put years and it will default to January 1 of that year. In this example 1902 and 1931 were used.

This returned seven results.

Note that searching for the name ‘Ide’ requires it to be entered as ‘fulltext:ide’.  The fulltext bit is needed as so many words include the sequence of letters ‘ide’ (such as divide, collide and ideal) that the search results could be huge and useless.

The top RHS of the first screen has a ‘login’ but you do not need to create an account unless you want to save results and/or do corrections.  If you need help send an email hoschkefamilyreunion@gmail.com and we may be able to help.