Trove Tuesday – one of my fav articles

I love Trove! I would be surprised to hear anyone say anything other than that.

I have found many wonderful articles and images on Trove that have helped add layers to my family history research. One of my favourite articles so far is one about my great grandfather George Thomas Smede who I have previously posted about in Wealth for Toil and The Butcher and the Policeman.

GT Smede takes a starring role as he, “dressed as a cricketer”, (one assumes that means he had just finished playing a game of cricket rather than being dressed up for a fancy dress party!), comes upon a group of people on a picnic. Must have looked like an ordinary group of people enjoying the sunshine and views at Broken Head until….the water exploded in front of them! They were dynamiting fish, as you do – not!

1929 ‘DYNAMITING FISH. PICNICKERS FINED.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 25 February, p. 14, viewed 28 August, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21379510

This may explain why it is very hard to catch any fish down there these days.

Do as I say, not as I do

As a reference librarian in a University library one of my main responsibilities is to teach students how to conduct research and correctly cite what they find.

Well I think I should listen to myself a little more often! Two weeks ago I fell into the trap of getting excited about finding a piece of information and not recording the citation details. And guess what?? I couldn’t find it again!

I blogged about a discovery I made on Trove in The Northern Star that has been recently added to the digitised newspapers database. In my excitement I failed to tag and correct the article within Trove, which I am usually careful to do, or make a note of the citation details. A few days later when I discovered what I had done I went searching for it again and of course I couldn’t find it, no matter how I looked for it. (I asked one of my colleagues at work to have a try at looking for it and she found it quickly, using the age-old technique of “not getting too complicated with your search keywords” – another piece of advice I like to give but apparently don’t listen to myself!!)

Anyway, my lesson for today is to record your citations no matter how excited you are, otherwise that excitement will quickly turn to disappointment and dismay.

BTW, I have tagged and corrected the article on Trove and added the citation to my original blog entry.

The treasure in Trove

I discovered two nights ago that Trove had started to load digitised versions of my local newspaper The Northern Star onto its website. I am very excited to see this because many of my father’s ancestors have lived in the area covered by this newspaper since the 1870s and 1880s when they moved from Kangaloon and Marshall Mount in Southern NSW.

I have inherited a few copies of marriage notices and the like from my Nan who either collected them herself or inherited them over the years, but there are many events that I have to discover for myself and this task has now become so much easier.

To be honest, I was so excited to see The Northern Star appear that I really didn’t know where to start and just threw names in almost randomly to see what results appeared. (Not really what an efficient reference librarian should do). Tonight I have been trying to be more efficient and have already found something unexpected.

I did a search for my 2x great grandfather Hugh KIRKLAND and found an article from 1911 regarding the death of someone described as one of his employees.

SUDDEN DEATH. (1911, September 11). Northern Star
(Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November
9, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72431616

The employee unfortunately passed away very quickly one day over just a couple of hours. I am particularly interested in this article because the employee is described as “an Indian”.My husband’s parents are both from India, (we tend to describe him as Anglo-Indian with quite a bit of Portugeuse ancestry), and although we have neighbours who are of Indian descent and have been here for many years, I did not expect to find my farming 2x great grandfather employing men from India. I obviously have a lot to learn!

The article is very brief and warrants further research to discover the results of the autopsy. I would also like to find out more about Maffra and where he came from if possible. As this newspaper has not been completely uploaded to Trove yet I may have to be patient for a little longer. I will be though, because a great deal of it is already there.

I was at work a couple of weeks ago…

and the phone rang. I answered and an elderly gentleman, he was very polite, introduced himself and explained that he wanted to look at old copies of the local newspaper.

I work in a library, not a local library which you would expect would have copies of the local paper on microfilm, but happily for him one that did have copies of the newspaper he was looking for. The gentleman explained, after a little questioning, that he was looking into an accident that occurred in the area in the 1930s that resulted in 2 deaths. I suggested that he could come into our library and use our resources, however he said he had tried and this proved physically impossible for him – there is a very steep hill to climb and he found he could not do it. I offered a couple of alternatives, including contacting his local library for assistance, however by this time I was completely hooked and wanted to help, so took down all the details and said I would ring if I thought of anything else.

First I used Trove to search their collection of digitised newspapers and found a few brief articles about the accident. The gentleman’s main aim was to find out where one of the deceased persons had been buried though, and these articles did not mention those details. It was clear I would have to scroll through the microfilm – shudder. As I set myself up to use the ancient microfilm reader, (knowing my kids would have to wait to be picked up from kindy because their mama was dealing with some sort of genealogy obsession), people I worked with walked past exclaiming at the fact I was using this dreadful old machine.

It didn’t take long though to find articles about the accident. There were a few reasons for this: it was, and still is, a small country area where events such as this occur very rarely; the deceased came from well known local families and they were both young men in their early 20s; and most usefully, there was an inquest into the accident that therefore included a lot of details.

The one particular piece of information I was looking for eluded me though, until I had nearly given up hope – a hint of where one of the men had been buried. I had found a burial notice that mentioned where the other man was to be interred, but not where the second man was to be – which was what the gentleman caller was looking for. I had looked in what I thought was all the likely places, personal notices, death notices, obituaries etc., but had failed the first time to look at the large article about the accident itself, that contained a few paragraphs about the young man’s funeral that had been held the day before and where he had been buried. I very easily nearly overlooked this because I was in a huge hurry, (picking up tired, hungry kids from kindy was clouding my mind), so was extremely excited when I spotted it. This taught me to always look more widely than just those areas you would normally expect a death/funeral notice to be.

I quickly copied everything I had found to my flashdrive and took it home to print and label with sources etc, then rang the gentleman to ask if I could post it to him. He didn’t answer, but returned my call nearly a week later. His mobile had been giving him trouble but he was very happy to hear that I had an answer to his question. I said I would post the information to him, but failed to ask what I really wanted to know – who were these people he was researching and was he related to one of them?

I posted the articles and had almost forgotten about them when my mobile rang last week and I heard the elderly fellow’s voice. He was calling to say he was extremely grateful for the information and that it had answered a lot of questions for him.

I did end up asking him why he was looking, (after about 5 minutes of trying to work out the most polite way of doing so), and he told me that one of the young men had been his birth father. His mother was unaware at the time of the accident that she was pregnant, also unmarried, and at the time this occurred this was not socially acceptable, so he was adopted. He was happy to now know where both men had been buried, but also many more details of the accident as reported in the newspaper due to the inquest.

I enjoyed being able to help this gentleman, particularly because he was so grateful and this is what I would love to be doing all the time – but also because it turns out he knows my father from fishing on the beach!

Happy searching!