Read all about your ancestors in newspapers

By Susie der Kinderen from the Queensland Family History Society

Newspapers are an invaluable source of information for family historians.  

They record all kinds of things, events, weddings, deaths, obituaries, crimes, inquests, sports and much more.  Even the advertisements are interesting and give us an idea of costs of items, products and appliances that may have been used.  Newspaper articles also give us an idea of the social, political, and economic triggers that were happening at the time. 

Australia is well and truly spoilt by the newspaper database TROVE that can be found online at https://trove.nla.gov.au/ TROVE is a repository of Australia’s historic newspapers and contains publications from our cities and regional newspapers. These newspapers have been digitized and are searchable. Access to the newspapers ends about the mid 1950’s when the current copyright laws kick in.

My Grandfather died before I was born and it was great to get to read about him from his obituary and tributes from family, friends and clients. The articles I read showed a man who was a very good shot with a rifle and did well in the local shooting club competitions. His remarks from an interview came across as a humble man with a good sense of humour.  

Queensland libraries provide access to newspapers on their websites. They can include newspapers from Australia and overseas. You  can read the Melbourne Age or the London Times in the comfort of your own home or from any country.   The State Library of Queensland provides access to several historic newspaper databases and these are great for family research. I recently found one of my persons of interest participating in a five-mile bicycle race in Cardiff, Wales in 1881. The bicycle was a penny-farthing. It was a lovely surprise to know that his hobby was racing these unusual bikes that apparently were often in races and were considered quite comfortable.  Just fraught with peril on mounting and dismounting.

Queensland Family History Society is hosting an online event on using overseas newspapers on 11 December, more information can be found at www.qfhs.org.au/events/fridays-qfhs/.  Members and non members welcome..  Please give us a call if you have any questions.   

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