Trove is a real treasure for a genealogist

Trove screenshot provided by Wikipedia under fair use license

Trove screenshot provided by Wikipedia under fair use license

Trove is one of my favourite places to go when doing genealogy. I love the Australian focus and the amount of different gems of information I have gotten from it. When I started doing genealogy I found a publication and the contact details to another fellow Warren researcher. I was amazed that there was a book listed in the National Library and some State Libraries that had my family’s history in it. It was wonderful. I have also found my own grandfathers listing in the newspaper of him passing his final exit pharmacy exam in 1931. This bought back memories of waiting for the newspaper to arrive to see my own name in print when I finished high school and when OP scores were still printed. I imagined him waking up early to be at the newsagents to see that he had passed his exams and the relief and joy that day for him.

Trove is a free database of resources that is run by the National Library of Australia and is found at The site allows you to search a number of resources at the same time. This includes books, newspapers, pictures, maps, music, journals, diaries, archived websites, biographies of people and organisations. Trove doesn’t store all the information they categorise a lot of it. So this means that they may not hold the book that your great great grandfather wrote, but they may certainly know who does hold it. However in their newspaper section they are certainly amassing actual data that you can read directly. Millions of pages of newspapers ready to view. Another wonderful thing about the Trove newspaper section is the text translation on the side, sometimes it’s a struggle to read some of the text so this is a great help. The National Library uses a Optical Character Recognition software, however if the font is too small or the print uneven, the results aren’t that great. So Trove gives you the option of correcting the text, some people are so dedicated that they spend up to 45 hours a week helping out Trove by correcting the newspaper text.

When searching in Trove you can do a search of all the resources or chose the type of resource you want by clicking on a category from the home page, for example books. Just put your search term into the search box and you can leave the search word in the bar and click on the different categories to see other resources; it will stay there until you change it. There are three ways of refining your search using Trove. 1) using phrase searching techniques from the simple search box 2)using the left hand facets bar 3) using the advanced search function.


I generally start from the simple search box first and put in a general term or person’s name and see what comes up. Then I use phrase searching techniques such as putting the name in quotation marks. Then I move on to what area that my ancestor comes from and narrow it down to Australian content only. For example I put in an ancestor Henry Goddard and heaps of searches came up but not my Henry Goddard. So I had to put in the quotation marks and the area he was Mayor in to find a death notice from 1942. When searching for surname that could come up with thousands of unrelated articles use quotation marks and a tilde with a 2, for example “Mrs White”~2. This should make sure that mostly only people come up. If you put ~0 then you allow nothing but exact terms to come up.

If you want to refine your search, the left hand side facets bar will help you narrow down the options. The most helpful options when looking through the newspapers are State, Title and the Decade. This really helps when your looking for your family in a particular town and era.

The advanced search function is good, but you need to make sure that you have gone to the digital newspaper category and use the advanced search there for better newspaper searches. The advanced search is fairly explanatory and allows for you to do things like searching for a certain formats also. For example if you were only looking at artwork within the pictures section.

There is no need to sign up with Trove however there is many advantages to doing it. You may find that the same user name is coming up for tagging and correcting the same wedding and funeral notices that you are interested in. It may occur that they are related to you and through using the forums you can private message that person. Also Trove has a few informational videos on how to use their website, however I find that sometimes you come across an annoying problem that isn’t addressed by the how to videos or you just want to get some advice on the best way to do stuff and forums become very useful.  To use the forums, tag and do corrections you need to sign up and it’s for free.

Trove is an excellent resource and generally fairly easy to navigate. I have spent a lot of time on that website and generally try as many variations of searches that I can think of to bring ancestors up on my screen. I have been well rewarded and certainly amazed at what I have found. If you haven’t been before get ready to be a kid in a candy store or Aladdin in his treasure trove.

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