Trove Tuesday-Help Save Trove

Today is Valentine’s Day but I’m not writing about that. However, I am writing about one of my great true loves…Trove.

You may have heard the news that the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) website Trove lacks funding beyond July 2023. Without the required funds, services will reduce, and at worse, Trove will cease. That news means different things to different people. This is what it means to me and those who enjoy the history of the Western District.

Trove launched in December 2009 and immediately opened the doors to new information not just for historians, but for all Australians. And it was, and remains, free to use.

Historic newspapers, just one feature of the site, saw my family history research of seventeen years suddenly take new directions. Newspapers were already available, but for the broad range of titles Trove offers, it meant hours in a state library trawling through microfilm, never to reveal the level of information one can find at Trove.

Western District Families (WDF) began in April 2011 to share newfound information about my family, along with interesting stories from the Western District’s past, barely read since the time they were printed. Since then, I’ve not only written about Western District families, but also about events in history they experienced, such as bushfires, floods, and earthquakes.

In 2012, a fellow geneablogger, Amy Houston, came up with the blogging prompt ‘Trove Tuesday’, suggesting each Tuesday, geneabloggers share their findings from Trove. Quickly embraced, geneabloggers still publish ‘Trove Tuesday’ posts today. This is my 107th Trove Tuesday post. At one stage, I wrote a TT post for eighty-one consecutive weeks.

I started Passing of the Pioneers in 2012 which led to the addition of the WDF Obituary Index to this site. Today the index has the names of around 1000 Western District people who had an obituary in historic newspapers at Trove. It is still a work in progress and is not possible without Trove.

In 2014, Inside History magazine, with the NLA, ran a poll to select a newspaper from six candidates to be digitsed for inclusion at Trove. The Hamilton Spectator was among them. Past and present Hamiltonians from as far away as Texas and The Hague, who were members of the ‘I’ve Lived in Hamilton‘ Facebook group, got behind the poll. Through the group, they’d seen the value of the already digitised Specs from 1914 to 1918, for learning about the town’s past.

The Hamilton Spectator won. Next was a Pozible campaign run by Inside History to fund the digitisation. Again, Hamiltonians stepped up with the $10,000 goal quickly met. The result was Spec-tacular.

I’ve written about my love for Trove and its benefits many times. For example:

Trove Tuesday was my first Trove Tuesday post and included the discovery my grandfather appeared as a witness in a murder trial, something his sons never knew.

I wrote One Stop Shop before I found the names of Hamilton men memorialized in a now-lost avenue of honour, Anzac Avenue. Hamilton’s WW1 grew from that with the stories of 160 Hamilton WW1 volunteers, and more to come. Having access to the Hamilton Spectator gives each story a heart. Letters written from the front and published in the paper are invaluable, plus the everyday happenings in Hamilton provide an insight into the feeling of the town during that time.

Written at the time of the Trove upgrade in 2016, Troveitis ends with a postscript with news of funding cuts to the NLA, the beginning of what could be the end.

The Western District Families Facebook page with over 11,000 followers is primarily about photos found at Trove. Even the smallest of clues can draw a story out of a photo. Trove newspapers are vital for turning those clues into something more. The story of Daystar and his owner John Ross, below, is an example.

Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

In 2015, the State Library of Victoria approached me to digitise Western District Families for the NLA’s digital archive. It’s updated annually to include my most recent posts. If my site were to end tomorrow, I should feel reassured the 458 posts and 205 pages, rich with Western District history, will remain in perpetuity for others to learn from and enjoy. If I tell others my site is in the archives “forever”, I add, “…or until the funding runs out.” That’s not my dry humour. It’s the unfortunate truth.

If you would like to know more about Trove’s future, follow the link to the Genealogical Society of Victoria blog, or The Guardian from 6 January 2023.

There are currently several parliamentary petitions set up to support Trove by calling for the full funding of the NLA. The link below will take you to one of those petitions. It closes on 22 February 2023, so please consider signing before then. You may not use Trove yourself, but if you enjoy Western District Families, it’s all thanks to Trove. Please show your support.

Trove Tuesday – Troveitis

As I write, it is seventeen hours and twenty-one minutes since Trove went offline to prepare for the launch of Trove 7 on Thursday 25 February.  And yes, I’m already missing it.  Not a day goes by when I don’t turn to Trove to find a photo, a parish map, information on events in Australian history or book details.   But I’m reassured knowing in two days this wonderful free resource we are so lucky to have will be back new and improved.

Of course, the online newspapers are my favourite Trove feature especially little gems such as the following article my “Electronic Friend” from Trove sent on Friday.  The article from The Ballarat Star of 18 July 1881 is about my ggg grandfather James Harman.  At age fifty-one in 1881. James and his old horses, pulling a Lennon plough, were a great team, often winning local ploughing matches.  James lived another thirty-five summers but I’m guessing not too many more summers passed after the article before James laid the horses to rest on his Byaduk property Mt Pleasant.



"BREVIA." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 18 Jul 1881

“BREVIA.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 18 Jul 1881


**Postscript – Since writing this post I’ve become aware of funding cuts to the National Library of Australia, the home of Trove.  It would be terrible if it meant Trove’s digitisation program was restricted or worse, the introduction of a paywall.  You can read more about the funding cuts here.

Trove Tuesday – What a Newspaper is…

In a week when I have celebrated Trove and the Western District newspapers we can look forward to in the new financial year, I will take you back to 1886 when the Colac Herald defined a newspaper.

What a Newspaper Is. (1886, June 11). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918), p. 1 Supplement: Supplement to the Colac Herald. Retrieved June 22, 2013, from

What a Newspaper Is. (1886, June 11). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 1 Supplement: Supplement to the Colac Herald. Retrieved June 22, 2013, from

This article, from almost 130 years ago, defines our reason to post for Trove Tuesday.  As researchers, reading  newspapers from a time when our ancestors relied on their existence for the characteristics listed by the Colac Herald, we gain an insight into life at another time, or “a bird’s-eye view of all the magnanimity and meanness, the joys and the griefs, one births and deaths, the pride and the poverty of the world…”


I was casually searching at Trove last night, as you do, and a “coming soon” result came up for the Koroit Sentinel & Tower Hill Advocate (1914-1918).  Very surprising as the paper is not on the 2012-13 list of titles coming.  Could this be one of the new titles for 2013-14?  If only the Hamilton Spectator would come up in a search result.   I did another search and there it was, almost glowing on the screen     ***”The Hamilton Spectator” (1914-1918)***.   Happy dance time.

Maybe I could find some more.  I searched “Byaduk” and checked the list of newspapers in the sidebar.  I found the Coleraine Albion & Western Advertiser (1914-1918) and the Penshurst Free Press (1914-1918).  More dancing.

Recently I read in The Warrnambool Standard (a modern day edition) that the Hamilton History Centre had received a Local History grant to digitise the Hamilton Spectator (1860-1878).  That was exciting but I didn’t expect to be reading articles from the Hamilton Spectator on the Trove site in the coming months.

The time period 1914-1918 is of particular interest to me as both James and Susan Harman died in 1916 and I’ve been holding out for a decent obituary for James.  The Spec was my last hope.  I had a false alarm when the Port Fairy Gazette came online, so I have my fingers crossed.  As I will be researching the Harmans more extensively in the next 12 months for my Diploma thesis, this may save some time at the Hamilton History Centre looking through microfilm for his obituary.

Of course I’ve already done a search and had results for each of my family names and I’ve sent requests to my Electronic Friend to email me when the articles are available.  I’m off now to check the other three papers. Think of all the obituaries I can find for Passing of the Pioneers.

If you would like to have a preliminary search too, click on the newspapers above and you will go to the full list of articles already digitised.  You can search from there and if successful,  request a notification when the articles are available.  Happy searching.

Trove Tuesday – The Huntress

This week’s Trove Tuesday article from the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser is not an enjoyable read, but it is a reminder of the changes in attitude towards our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. In 1867, a bird hunting cat was a thing to celebrate but remember this was a time when sparrow matches and other bird shooting was popular, so please think no less of Mrs Simpson of Bridgewater.  The poor bird involved was a “land rail bird”, most likely the endangered Lewin’s Rail, a small native water bird found in the south-west of Victoria.

AN EXPERT BIRD-CATCHER. (1867, September 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved September 9, 2012, from

Trove Tuesday

What a great success Trove Tuesday was.  If you would like to see all the posts from last week, go to Amy Houston’s blog  Branches, Leaves, and Pollen.

For the purpose of Trove Tuesday, I have decided to work through some of the “tags” I have at Trove.   I tag a lot of articles for no other reason than I find them interesting.  As a result, I have a lot of tags.  It is a type of online hoarding.  I can’t get rid of them because you never know when I might need them.

So, along with posting them here, I have created a list at Trove entitled “Miscellaneous“.  Like I need another list, but I do find them useful for certain types of information gathering. Tags are great for others such as collecting obituaries for the monthly Passing of the Pioneers.   Importantly, I am going to put a note on each list entry about the subject of the article so I can easily find them again when I view the list.  That is a tip from my upcoming book “Learning the Hard Way”.

As I have used Trove pretty much from the beginning, I have forgotten a lot of the articles such as the one I have chosen this week.  I had tagged it with “Bochara sleepwalking shearer 1876”.  Understand why I need to do some work on my tags? Bochara is just out of Hamilton.

COUNTRY NEWS. (1876, December 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved August 30, 2012, from

False Alarm

Reading the list of newspapers waiting to be released by the NLA’s  Trove,  I noticed the Port Fairy Gazette would not be far away.  Out of interest, I ran a search for “Port Fairy” and bingo many “coming soon” articles came up.  As my Harman and Bishop families lived in Port Fairy at various times, I went straight for a search on “Harman”.  Eleven matches came up with nine  relevant to my Harmans.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw one of the article previews:

Mr James Harman, Byaduk, aged 85, died last week. He landed in Port Fairy in 1853 and…..

It looked like it could be my ggg grandfather’s obituary.  I search for his obituary every time Trove releases a new paper.  To date all I have found is the following snippet from The Argus:

COUNTRY NEWS. (1916, August 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Brothers Walt, George, and Jonathan all had lengthy obituaries why not my ggg grandfather.  Even the shadow dweller, brother Alfred had a Family Notice when he died!.  It did seem that my only chance was to search the microfilmed Hamilton Spectators at the Hamilton History Centre.  The hard part about that is getting to Hamilton.

Trove’s release of the Port Fairy Gazette (1914-1918) happened today and yes, the much-anticipated article was available.  I clicked on the link.  This is it, I thought.  What did I find?

Personal. (1916, August 24). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Twelve more words than the preview.  Only 12 words.  How can I expect any more in The Hamilton Spectator?  How I can ever expect to find any mention of the death of my ggg grandmother Susan Read, wife of James, who died in the same year?

On the bright side, I found a couple of good Bishop related articles and a nice article about my gg uncle Charles James Harman prior to his departure for Egypt during WW1. So far, only 1916 is available but based on the results so far, I think I’m bound to find more when the other years become available.

It was a big day for Trove today with 13Victorian titles released and another Western District paper,  the Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (1914-1918) was among them.

Also of interest to me are the Flemington Spectator (1914-1918) and the Wangaratta Chronicle (1914-1918)Sarah Harman and her husband George Adams lived in Flemington and so far I have found plenty of “Adams” matches in the Spectator but none for Sarah or George yet.  Herbert George Harman, nephew of James Harman was a reporter for the Wangaratta Chronicle for over 50 years and I have found matches for both him and his father George, mostly to do with their Masonic activities.

Trove Tuesday

a collection or store of valuable or delightful things

(Oxford Dictionary)

No better words could be used to describe the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.  If you have read a few of my posts, you would know I’m a big Trove fan.    A recent post by Jill Ball at her blog Geniaus, mentioned an initiative by Amy Houston which interested me.  Amy on her blog Branches, Leaves, and Pollen, told how she too is a fan of Trove and invited Australian bloggers to join her on Tuesdays each week to blog about the treasures we have found at Trove.

I have many Trove treasures and a lot of my blog posts are about those.  At first, I thought I would not take part merely because I didn’t think I could choose just one a week.    Where would I start?  That is much like asking me to name my favourite book or film of all time.  I just can’t do it.  But, as Amy suggests the treasure doesn’t always have to be about a family member it could be anything of interest.

I can do that.  How often have you found a newspaper article about a family member, only to find the article, above, below, or beside just as interesting?  I’m into advertisements too and I always read them.  There are some absolute gems, so expect to see some of those on Tuesdays.

Due to time constraints this week, I thought I would begin with a recap of some of my posts that highlight the benefits of Trove to family historians, particularly the digitised newspapers.   Without the newspapers, there is much that I wouldn’t know about my ancestors. Even hours of record searching couldn’t unearth what I have found.

In fact, the papers lead me to the records.  Whether it is records from courts or cemeteries, sporting clubs or churches, Trove has led me there.  Not only is it a time-saver, many of the leads I have found come from places I would never have thought of searching.

These are some of my treasures to date:

Witness for the Prosecution – The story of three of my relatives who were witnesses in murder trials.  I believe two of those stories, that of my ggg grandmother Margaret Diwell and my grandfather Percy Riddiford, would have remained hidden if it wasn’t for Trove.

Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping out of the Shadows – I knew little about Alfred Harman before I starting an intensive search for him in the Trove digitized newspapers.  Now I know so much more.

Nina’s Royal Inspiration – The story of Nina Harman and her carpet really is delightful.  As Nina is not a close family member, I possibly would not have known this story without finding her direct descendants.  Instead, I found it in a Women’s Weekly at Trove!

To Catch a Thief – Ordinarily,  to find Jim Bishop’s brush with the law, I would have had to search the Branxholme Court Registers held at PROV‘s Ballarat Archives Centre.  Not too hard, but with so many people to research and so many towns on the Victorian court circuit, it may have been a long time before I found it.  Thanks to an article in the Border Watch, that time in Jim’s life is now known to me.

All Quiet By the Wannon – The Mortimer family of Cavendish kept to themselves.  Articles I found at Trove finally gave my ggg James Mortimer a voice.

Mr Mortimer’s Daughters Another Mortimer puzzle solved thanks to Trove.  From Henry Mortimer’s death notice in the Portland Guardian, I was able to establish the married name of one daughter and the second marriage of another daughter.

There is a list of Western Victorian newspapers available at Trove on my Links page.

Don’t forget there are other great treasures that can be found while searching at Trove.  Look beyond the newspaper matches as you never know what might come up in the other categories.  I have found photos of family members and some great early photos of Western Victorian towns while searching.  Trove is also great for tracking down books.

I will try to post something each Tuesday.  Thank you to Amy for the idea and I hope other Australian geneabloggers get involved too.

Show us your treasure and celebrate Trove!

In the News – May 9, 1910

Recently the National Library of Australia released digital copies of The Portland Guardian onto their Trove website.  This is very exciting for those researching family links in the Western District and along with the Camperdown Chronicle, Trove users have an opportunity to find out more about their families.

I thought it right that today’s In the News should feature articles that appeared in The Portland Guardian on May 9, 1910.

On page 2, the lead story is an Obituary for a long-time Heywood resident Malcolm Cameron.  I have some interest in Malcolm Cameron as he is the father in law of my first cousin four times removed, Emily Harman.

Obituary of Malcolm Cameron First Issue, August 20, 1842. The Portland Guardian. (1910, May 9). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from

Malcolm was born in Perthshire, Scotland in around 1823.  There is a record for a Malcolm Douglas arriving on the “Glen Roy” in 1854.  Malcolm married fellow Scot Elizabeth Douglas in Victoria in 1860 and they had their first child, Fanny in 1861 at Heywood.  They had a further nine children over the subsequent 21 years.

From the obituary, it can be seen that Malcolm Cameron was active in the community as a JP and Councillor.  It mentions Malcolm was lost in the bush a few months earlier.  An article about this appeared in The Portland Guardian and other papers including The Argus on December 8, 1909

Malcolm’s son Malcolm Douglas Cameron was born in 1864 at “Cave Hill” near Heywood and married Emily Harman in 1900.  They had two sons, Oliver and Alan.


An article on page 2 gives a hint on some major international news of the time.  The Portland Post office would be closed the afternoon of May 9 out of recognition of a day of mourning which had been announced throughout the Commonwealth on the passing of King Edward VII on May 7, 1910.

Death of King Death of the King. (1910, May 9). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from

On page 3, the headlines proclaim, “Death of the King” with details of the king’s death and further on, the reaction of the Portland residents.

The people of Portland were sent into deep mourning according to this article with flags at half-mast and church bells tolling. Miss Allnutt, the organist who is mentioned in the article was a daughter of the minister of St Stephens Church at the time. Arch Deacon Allnutt was Minister for over 30 years.


Skating appears to be a popular pastime of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.  Two articles about skating appear on page 2, one announcing the opening of the Portland Skating rink and the second demonstrating the dangers of the sport.

The advertisement on the same page reveals skating was being held at the Free Library Hall and entry was sixpence.  Unless of course one was an expert and wished to try the more advanced ball-bearing skates!

The second article relates to a skating accident at Casterton which resulted in a nasty concussion for Mr Allan Rowlands.  If one considers the size of the average country hall, the thought of skaters hurtling around is rather hair-raising.  No wonder women and children were only allowed to skate in the afternoon when hopefully it would have been a more refined pastime.

Skating Accident at Casterton First Issue, August 20, 1842. The Portland Guardian. (1910, May 9). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from



Relief for all…

I can hear a collective sigh of relief from my family, friends and work colleagues.  Why?  Because now I have someone else to share my family history discoveries with.  Well, I hope so anyway.

Over the last 15 years or so researching my family history, I have come across so many wonderful stories and characters, that I feel the need to share them.  These stories are not  just from own family. I often find myself sidetracked researching  families that marry into my own and as a result, I have gathered information on many other families from the district.   I also some favourite Western District resources that may help others with their research.

I intend to share some of my favourite newspaper articles about the Western District I have found at the National Library of Australia’s Trove Digitised Newspapers site.   These articles  reveal stories of my family and offer an understanding of the times of my pioneering ancestors from fires and floods to ploughing competitions and disease.  I have learnt so much about Western District life in the late 1800s from reading The Argus or The Camperdown Chronicle and often myself lost in their pages before snapping back to reality…oh no, its school pick up time!

My research centres on the areas around Hamilton and includes towns such as Glenthompson to the west, Balmoral to the north, Casterton to the West and Port Fairy to the south any many in between.   But I also have family links further afield in Colac, Geelong, and Ballarat.

So now when I get that genealogy itch and I need to scratch it,  I will be here and from what I’ve heard, that itch is fairly contagious, so maybe I will find you here too.