Introducing Trove 1

My new blog series focuses on some of my favourite free Australasian family history research websites, and this month's focus is on Trove which is a portal site maintained by the National Library of Australia. Trove is a one stop shop for resources held by Australian libraries and other research institutions, especially photographs and newspapers. Researchers should still use the online catalogues of archives and museums as not all resources are in Trove. Remember too that it is added to on a regular basis.

What is in Trove?

As at the end of June 2018 Trove provided easy access to almost 585,000,000 Australian and online resources including books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music archived websites and other resources.
The main zones (categories) include:

  • Archived websites (1996-now)
  • Books
  • Diaries, letters, archives
  • Digitised newspapers and more
  • Government Gazettes (Commonwealth and New South Wales)
  • Journals, articles and datasets
  • Lists
  • Maps
  • Music, sound and video
  • People and organisations
  • Pictures, photos, objects

A highlight and a treasure for social history is The Australian Women’s Weekly from 1933 to 1982. What were our mothers and grandmothers reading, cooking or wearing during the 20th century? One of my enduring memories from the 1950s is Mum cooking tripe for dinner every week. Even today I cannot bear to think about tripe without feeling queasy. Yet if you asked me what was in it, I could not really say. But a quick search in Trove returned numerous recipes for making tripe which were wholesome, nutritious and supposedly appetising and delicious. On 4 July 1936 The Weekly (as it was fondly called) published recipes for tripe rissoles, tripe cutlets, curried tripe, stuffed tripe, tripe pie, tripe fritters and lots more variations. Maybe Mum was just revisiting her own childhood when she served those meals.

Early kitchen, Fairfield City Museum, Sydney, 2011. Photo Credit: Shuana Hicks

But there is more to Trove than just looking for childhood food memories. With Books you can search for publications in libraries across Australia, and historic newspapers have been digitised from the earliest newspapers to about 1953. Digitisation is an ongoing project with new titles added from time to time. Maps is another area useful for family history research and many have been digitised and are free to access. A popular area is Pictures, photos and objects and you can search for images of people, ships, places and other subject areas. Many have been digitised and it is wonderful to see where an ancestor lived at a point in time. My Trevaskis family lived in Copperfield, Queensland during the 1870s. Back then it was a mining town but today it no longer exists. Thanks to Trove and the State Library of Queensland there are numerous images that I can easily search for and view in the comfort of my own home for free. Armchair genealogy at its best.

Buildings in Christoe Street, Copperfield, Queensland, 1876, accession no. 6812, image courtesy State Library Queensland

Searching Trove

A simple keyword can be used and there are numerous filters for each zone that help you narrow down the results. For example, in Historic Newspapers you can limit by a state or territory, a decade or even a specific year and month plus other filters. As well as the filters, there are other tips and tricks that are outlined in the [help zone] ( Trove also has special features such as correcting text, tagging, comments and creating lists. Some of these features can only be done if you have a Trove account which is free and quick to establish.

Sometimes the OCR (optical character recognition) is poor due to the quality or fragility of the digitised newspaper. Many people correct the text in the articles they discover, and this helps everyone to find what they are looking for over time. At the time of writing this blog post (late afternoon) there had already been over 15,000 newspaper text corrections today. A fantastic volunteer effort and one that is very quick and easy to do.

Why Have a Trove Account?

You can use Trove without registering, but there are advantages to setting up a Trove account. Some of those most useful for family history research include:

  • Search within your libraries
  • Have a profile page to track your comments, tags and corrections
  • Organise content with your own tags

Create lists of useful items you have discovered.

Bus owned by the Courier Mail, Brisbane, negative no. 79021, image courtesy State Library of Queensland

There is also a Trove Forum where you can post questions about using Trove, discuss digitised newspapers or photographs, ask questions about your own family research and other topic areas.

There is one warning – Trove is addictive, and it is very easy to spend hours researching in the digitised newspapers, especially if you start reading other articles that catch your attention.

As you can see, Trove is a wonderful free, online resource that can assist anyone with Australian genealogy research. Good luck!

Shauna Hicks

About Shauna Hicks

Shauna Hicks has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and worked in government for over 35 years in libraries and archives in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. Since retiring, she has written a number of family history guides and is a regular speaker at genealogy cruises, conferences and seminars. She now operates her own business at and is the author of the blog, Diary of an Australian Genealogist.

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