Photographic resource for Queensland-enlisted WWI soldiers

I have been doing some research into a WWI soldier for the 2015 Trans-Tasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge put together by Auckland Libraries and the Kintalk blog.

My research on this soldier is not complete, need to get a wriggle on, but I had to share a (new to me) resource on WWI soldiers from Queensland.

None of my military ancestors are actually from Queensland, however, because many of them lived in Northern NSW near the Queensland border a number of them enlisted in Queensland. One of those was Milton Simmons who I have blogged about before for the inaugural ANZAC challenge.

I have been researching a soldier who is unrelated to me, but one who went to the school my grandmother went to and the one my children now attend, and as I was searching for photographs of him in TROVE I found one of him and the source is as follows, ‘one of the soldiers photographed in The Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 1914.’

So in my true fashion, I went off on a tangent searching for a photograph of Milton Simmons – yes, I need to be more focused! But, I found him. Well at least I think I did. I need to look more carefully at the fuzzy image I already have of him and see how they compare. The photo does mention his Battalion, the 26th, so I think it really could be him.

The Queenslander, State Library of Queensland

The Queenslander, State Library of Queensland

The real purpose of this blog though is to note this fantastic resource for anyone who might be trying to find photographs of their WWI soldiers who enlisted in Queensland. You  may find them via TROVE, but you should also search directly in the State Library of Queensland’s catalogue One Search for these photographs from The Queenslander.  When searching, enter the surname of the person you are searching for, not their given names, and also enter the word soldiers, this should give you a good change of finding your soldier if there is a photo of him.

I have tried searching before on TROVE for photos of Milton Simmons but had no luck, mainly due to the commonality of his surname and I would also have used his given name. These photographs do not include given names so there is very little chance I would have found him without being able to search the State Library of QLD’s collection. Always great to have more than one place to search.

They are still digitising these photos, so if you don’t find your soldier the first time, don’t give up. Try again!


Local historical societies – Richmond River Historical Society

Today I visited one of my local historical societies, the Richmond River Historical Society in Lismore in Northern NSW. I have only been there once before and was amazed then at the records and information they had, and I was amazed again today.

I wasn’t quite as excited this time to visit though as I was the last time. Today I was doing some research for a Uni assignment. It is for a great unit called Local and Community Histories and the assignment requires you to locate and critique 4 primary sources and 2 secondary sources that you may use if you were writing a history on a local area.

I decided to try to find sources on the early settlement of the town I live in, Bangalow. So I set off for Lismore today hoping to find some of the following primary sources:

  • photographs
  • newspaper articles
  • diaries or letters by pioneer settlers
  • old maps, either Parish or others

I left feeling very happy because with the help of the wonderful volunteers I was able to find:

  • a pre-1910 photo of the main street of Bangalow on a postcard
  • numerous newspaper articles from local papers, The Northern Star and Bangalow Herald, as well as city papers such as the Brisbane Courier
  • a cloth map of the Parish of Byron that includes the early pioneers, Thomas Robinson and Robert Campbell
  • various memoirs by the children of the early pioneers

Main Street of Bangalow circa 1910

I still have to visit the Historical Society here in Bangalow. I am particularly interested to see what they have in the way of photos, and if there are any early ones that they have been able to date. RRHS has some wonderful photos of Bangalow, but without dates I did not like to use them for my assignment.


Visiting the RRHS made me even more aware of the great work local historical and family societies do. Without the work of these fantastic volunteers it would be extremely hard to gain access to most of the information I was able to find today.

Section of an early map of the Parish of Byron that includes the land that pioneer settlers Robinson and Campbell selected.

One day, most likely when I finish this round of study, I will offer to volunteer at a local historical society to return the favour.

PS I took some great photos of the Parish map with my iPad by standing on a chair. I was asked to take my shoes off, which I did, and was also requested not to fall off the chair. You’ll be happy to know I managed to take the photos without causing an OH&S incident!

Looking ahead – my goals for 2012

I have been reading the goals of a number of other geneabloggers over the last few days and it seems like a good idea to put them down in writing – then I might remember what they were!

I only have 3 goals and think it may be a small miracle if I achieve all of them because I am also going to start studying again this year. Anyhow, here they are:

1. Spend more time with my Nan, who at 92 is doing well to still be here in such good health. I would like to be able to record more of her stories and ancedotes so I can save and share them with the rest of the family. I would also like to find out more details about the people in her photos because many of the names, stories of those people will be lost once she is gone.

2.  I would love to be better organised. I have played around with many different forms and ways of saving my research progress but until recently had not found anything that worked efficiently for me. After reading a post by Aillin at Australian Genelogy Journeys blog on Research logs I think I have put together 2 forms and a system using Google docs that will work for me – I hope. It needs testing!

3. I have one great great grandparent who is missing a surname and I would like to discover what that is. I have many other brick walls, however I feel that this is one that I might be able to break down more easily than the others. (You know the type: did they swim here??, died somewhere but can’t find out where etc.)

Hopefully I will be able to report positively on these goals this time next year.

Happy Goal Achieving!