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Historic Newspaper Tips: An Insider’s Guide to Searching and Editing Trove

Smart Strategies for Using and Correcting Trove

  • A HOLISTIC APPROACH:
    Because of the way I edit whole papers at a time, I don’t use many tricks. The benefit though of this approach is that you soon get to know the place names and many of the family names, so editing badly scanned articles become much easier as you can quite often fill in missing text.
  • CONSIDER NAME VARIANTS:
    I suppose one important thing I have learned is that quite often the spelling of names in Trove is not so accurate (and this applies to Ancestry, too). Also, the papers so often only refer to a person by their nickname, and sometimes a married woman is only referred to by the initials or name of her husband.
  • USE QUOTE MARKS:
    The searching can be difficult unless you can try and restrict it by enclosing the words in quotes.
  • OPEN VS RESTRICTED SEARCHES:
    My maternal grandmother was a Martyr, which is difficult name to search for as there are so many articles that are about “the martyr to such and such ailment”, or include references to church and street names. This is when I found it necessary to restrict the search to “Mr. G. Martyr”, for example, and maybe also restrict the search to say New South Wales papers, but generally I do an open search to begin with covering all newspapers.
  • KNOW YOUR ARTICLE TYPE:
    Many historic newspapers have an article titled “Personal”, and this covers all the news about people, whether it be illness, death, births or weddings. One of these articles might cover 20 to 30 of these topics, and be between 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. If you’re looking for a specific birth, death or marriage, you can restrict the search to just “Family Notices” or also to include “Articles”.
  • DON’T FORGET ADVERTISEMENTS:
    Be aware that in many cases relevant entries can be found under “Advertisements” because they were missed by the people setting up the categories. This particularly applies to Funeral Notices.
  • SYMBOLS AND SPECIAL CHARACTERS:
    Note that special characters are available, like ½ and ¼, and the “em” or long dash by clicking on ‘Insert Symbol’, which drops down a list of symbols to choose from.
  • A TIP ON NUMBERS:
    Another tip is to be careful of dates, as a 0 can be often really a six or a nine, a 1 can be a 4, and so on.
  • SAVE OFTEN!
    When correcting articles, every few lines you should click “Save Text” as it is very frustrating to have to cancel and start over again.

After more nifty Trove tips? Click here to read the National Library of Australia’s insightful blog post on Trove for family historians.

This is an extended version of an article that originally appeared in issue 29 of Inside History magazine. 

 

 

 

 

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