Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Newspapers: a family album of stories

National Family History Month in Australia

Around the country events are underway once more for National Family History Month.  Noosa Library Service has four events to celebrate NFHM starting today with Newspapers: a family album of stories.

A wealth of family related material is available through newspapers of the past and the rapid digitisation undertaken by organisations, libraries and other authorities provides unprecedented access online. Here's a limited list and some search tips for investigating those resources.

Today's presentation is available to view from this link.

In newspapers of the times one can expect to find family notices, obituaries, details of social occasions, sports teams, memberships of organisations and churches, advertisements, businesses, awards, letters, shipping news, real estate, wills and probate notices, scandal, criminal and divorce proceedings, accidents, photos and more. These pictures of everyday life and situations enrich our family history.


At the top of my list is Trove the National Library of Australia's fabulous free compilation. Use the free login to keep track of your research.

  • Make Lists - public or private, public lists are searchable, allow you to connect with others, share URL Lists for families, people, places, interests – can add related web pages to lists e.g. blog post or other research
  • Check for lists when searching
  • Add tags –  these can be public or private, single or multiple word

PapersPast provides an excellent starting point for New Zealand  and related areas research.
Ryerson index -  index to death notices appearing in current Australian newspapers and includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries

A variety of other top sites

If you are an Australian resident be sure to obtain your free National Library card to gain access to the National Library of Australia eresources –   then browse by Category>Newspapers and Media>Newspapers (O’seas) for these collections
  • British Library newspapers - 17-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers and British Library Newspapers (parts I - V). The time period covered by these combined collections is 1600-1950.
  • Times digital archive – 1785-2011 
  • The Telegraph Historical Archive 1855-2000  over 1 million pages of content and includes the Sunday edition from its inception in 1961.
  • The Sunday Times Digital archive 1822-2006 - Early issues contained colourful information on murders, mysteries, theatre, sport and politics
  • The Illustrated London News Historical Archive - complete access to every issue of this illustrated newspaper for a period of 160 years
  • Irish newspaper archive  -Dates from 1763 to the present and includes a mix of out of print titles and current titles, providing word-searchable access to articles or full pages
With  your State Library of Queensland login visit the eresources
At Search databases choose News>Australia and New Zealand
  • The SMH archives - 820,000 pages  Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald,  1955 - February 2nd, 1995  All articles, captions and advertisements are fully keyword searchable  Search birth, death and marriage notices
  • The Age 2006 -2017 toggle for current issues of SMH 2006 - 2017
British Newspaper Archives $ site – also available through FindMyPast 
List of titles available  Register for 3 free views
The London Gazette, Edinburgh Gazette and Belfast Gazette  - Free 350 years good for appointments, obituaries
No longer being updated but still useful to find free Historical European newspapers 
Wikipedia List of Online newspaper archives
Family Search Wiki Digital historical newspapers
Library of Congress - Chronicling America  free site 

Learn more

Shelley at Twigs of Yore has published a useful Trove helper.
Barbara Kernos has published a free ebook Getting the most out of Trove
Kenneth Marks at Ancestor Hunter has written extensively  and provided tutorials about searching newspapers.

YouTube channels

View a variety of channels to pick up the best tips from the experts.
Enjoy National Family History month and search those newspapers for your families

Book for the next three sessions detailed below

A Brief Introduction to Family History Research

Learn what’s online, useful books to read, the benefits of joining genealogy and family history societies, and how to record and organise your research. Presented by Shauna Hicks.

Noosaville 10-11am Tuesday 15 August. Free. Bookings required. Book here.

Court Records for Family and Local History

Discover the treasures that family and local historians can find in court records including those created by the Supreme Court, Court of Petty Sessions, Licensing Court, Small Debts Court, Coroner’s Court, District Court, Circuit Court, Children’s Court. Presented by Judy Webster.

Cooroy 1-3pm Thursday 24 August Free. Bookings required. Book here

Writing Your Family History

Do you want to share the family stories you’ve found in researching your family tree? This presenatation will help with what to consider before you start developing a plan. Presented by Pauleen Cass.

Noosaville 1-3pm Wednesday 30 August Free. Bookings required. Book here.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

How to find and manipulate Google news archive information

As a family historian I aim to find as many records as possible for individuals. It is not always possible to visit repositories where copies of required articles are held or indeed to find them online.

I had located a death date for a Thomas Joseph Horgan on 8 December 1975 through the Ryerson Index. I searched in the Sydney Morning Herald archives narrowing by date for the notice but without success.  However I am aware that there a quite a few editions of this paper in the Google News Archive as I have used it several times to obtain information about other relatives.

Here’s the process I follow to locate and then transform an image into something useful. The Google news archive search function is usually not specific enough to locate particular information needed.

1. Select Sydney Morning Herald from the list of newspapers.

2. Enter the the month and year, this seems to be the most efficient method of getting to the required edition. An exact date sometimes only takes one to a near month.
The search bars in Google News Archive

3. Select the edition required – in this case I was interested in December 9

Individual editions detail - Google news archive

I then scrolled through the pages until I came to the page with the Death Notices. Oh no! the scanning had been done as a mirror image! No quality control applied....

Several pages in this issue had been scanned in reverse

4. I clipped the two notices and saved the image. [N.B. in most cases one can click on the headline to get a link to the section where the notice is published but this was not possible with the reversed image]

5. Open photo editing software. I used Photoshop but this can be done in most robust photo editors such as the free IrfanView or free online Pixlr editor Use Flip Image then rotate to make the text legible. I added some pixels to the canvas size and included the citation on the bottom of the image obtained.

6. The final product – blurry but legible

Clipped notices with citation added

7. Before adding this to my family history database I opened the image in Google Keep and used Grab the image text. This minimises the amount of typing I need to do but gives me plenty of exposure to analysing the text as as I look for the errors that may need correction.

Image in Google Keep - Grab image text
Transcription of notices – with Google’s help.

HORGAN Thomas Joseph.
December 8, 1975 at hospital of Glebe, dearly loved brother of Agnes (Mrs Daly)
and Mary, dear friend of Rheta. Requiescat in pace.
See Wednesday's Herald for funeral announcement.
HORGAN. Thomas Joseph.
December 8. 1975 devoted friend of all at Mount St. Margaret's
Little Sisters of the Poor, Randwick.

1975 Deaths, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December, p.30 online in Google news archive,
viewed 15 June 2017.

This post first appeared on

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Picture this

Noosa river at sunset
A view of Noosa river at sunset

Each day in April I posted a picture along with my short recollection for the day over on Earlier Years. Many of those pictures I had sourced throughout the year from my own files and some from Pixabay. I created the daily graphics in Canva, Pixlr, Over, WordSwag or Haiku Deck. Some of these are available as apps on both iOS and Android, some have a web interface and all require minimal skill to output an acceptable graphic.

Now as the cooler weather of winter bids me spend more time indoors, I’ve sorted many digital snaps taken on my daily walks around the local area along with some photos from trips we’ve taken. I’ve  added some generic text that may focus my thoughts on a particular area of family history.

Dead palm frond
Dead palm frond
So far I’ve uploaded 35 of these pictures to Flickr in this album Images for family history blogposts. They are in a variety of sizes and shapes and will load quickly on any page. Some of these may prove useful for my readers, so I’ve made them public and set the date on all of these as June 2017, not the original date these photos were taken. If you have suggestions for further graphics along these lines, please add your ideas in a comment.

For those who will be attending Congress 2018 in Sydney next March be sure to get along to Jill’s session on Beaut Blogs: Ideas for Tarting up your Geneablogs. She will have lots more, ideas galore, for you to explore.