BRUCE SCATES: We’re in the heritage collections reading room of the State Library of Victoria, and this is a newspaper account of the storming of the Dardanelles. It reports firsthand, so we’re led to believe, Australia’s first great engagement of the Great War. In fact, the author of this account, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, stayed well away from the actual fighting. This report was written well behind the lines, from a warship out at sea. And in fact, only one journalist, the intrepid Charles Bean, actually stepped ashore that day. Many newspaper accounts written during the war were anything but factual. This one’s a potent combination of make believe, propaganda, hear say, and the formidable powers of a journalist’s imagination.
And can I add that the citizen soldiers of Australia and New Zealand seldom looked or acted like Greek gods. But newspapers like this were the way that families back home first heard about the war. This particular account was pinned to the walls of railway stations, post offices, and public buildings. It was serialised by dozens of country newspapers. It was read out aloud to eager audiences in pubs, in churches, in schools. And still today, newspapers like this are an incredibly important source for historians. Read critically between the lines, they provide an insight not just into what happened, but also, the values and the attitudes of the day.
In a remarkable initiative spearheaded by the National Library and involving the State Library of Victoria, all of Australia’s newspaper collections from 1914 to 1918 are being digitised. And now, Bec and Laura are going to show us how to use them.
REBECCA WHEATLEY: Trove means valuable collection, and that is exactly what the National Library of Australia’s Trove Website is. Trove serves as a focal point, centralising content from libraries, museums, archives, and other cultural organisations from around Australia. Trove is many things, and it’s definitely worth exploring the site to see how you can use it in your own research. There is often full text digital resources. But otherwise, Trove helps you narrow down your searches to make sure you know the available locations to access your chosen resource. Begin searching at www.trove.nla.gov.au. In the search box, you can type anything– a person, a place, a subject– anything. I’m going to search for Hugo Throssell.
Hugo is one of the 100 stories. Captain Throssell received a Victoria Cross, and he was a war hero. But Hugo was damaged by the war, physically and mentally, and he never recovered from his experiences. He became a devout pacifist and socialist. And a week after Remembrance Day, in 1933, Hugo sat on his veranda and shot himself in the head. Throssell’s is a truly tragic war story. There are many resources available to understand Hugo’s war service and the years he tried to negotiate the peace. As you can see, there are a number of books that look at Hugo’s Throssell’s life. Let’s look at The Price of Valour, by John Hamilton.
If I select this option, I can see where I might be able to go to borrow a copy. I live in Victoria, so I will narrow the results to this state. And as you can see, Trove has shown me all the libraries that hold a copy of Price of Valour. It’s an efficient and straightforward way to locate books. Similarly, Trove shows us images that result from the search for Hugo Throssell. We have images of Hugo from the state libraries of South Australia, Western Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the University of Newcastle, The National Library, and the Monument Australia website. We see Hugo as a proud soldier, a sick veteran, his memorials, and his beloved family.
Trove finds results within journals, articles, and data sets, digitised newspapers, music, sound, and video, maps, archived websites, lists, people in organisations, and diaries, letters, and archives. Let’s click there to see what we can find. And what incredible sources. We can see that there are holdings of the papers of Hugo himself, as well as Katharine Susannah Pritchard, Hugo’s wife, and Ric Throssell, Hugo’s son. Trove really is such an expansive resource. It can take you all around the country, lead you to incredible collections, and open up research avenues you might otherwise never find.