Thursday, January 31, 2013

Expert Q&A :: Getting the best from the State Library of NSW

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, December 6 we had Tracy Bradford and Elise Edmonds from the State Library of New South Wales answering questions on how to get the best from the State Library of New South Wales collection. Thanks again to Tracy and Elise for their time and responses.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Don't forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page.

When: NSW - ACT - VIC - TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm

Top tips from Tracy Bradford on using the SLNSW collections:
  1. Our website is a great starting point for information about the Library and our collections. From the home page you can directly access the printed books catalogue and the Manuscripts, Pictures and Oral History catalogue. The Library’s askalibrarian service is also a great starting point, and this service can also be accessed directly from our home page. This is a free Information Request Service. 
  2. Sometimes cataloguing terms don’t always align with the way we might describe something, so think laterally when devising your catalogue search. Also look out in the catalogue record for subject headings and ‘see also’ references which might lead you to other records related to your research interests.
  3. Sometimes you may need to broaden or narrow your search terms to find more information. For example, if you are researching WWI, a broad search terms might be ‘World War (1914-1918)’. Narrowing the search to particular campaigns (e.g. ‘Gallipoli Campaign (1915)’ or ‘Western Campaign (1914-1918)’ will help refine the search.
Summary of links from the Q&A:

From the SLNSW Holtermann collection: the view of Circular Quay from Dawes Battery


Transcript of Expert Q&A - Getting the best from SLNSW: 

Our Expert Q&A with the State Library of New South Wales team starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT. Tonight we’ll be discussing how to get the best from the SLNSW collection. Please ask your questions in a comment below and Tracy and Elise will answer in a comment.

Q. From Linda: Thanks to the link from Inside History, I had a look by searching for Gippsland in the image catalogue, and there is quite a bit there. In Victoria, local history collections around the state are increasingly returning items to their most appropriate area, if they do not fit their own collection policy - often in the hope someone will some day give them something they consider more suited to them. Do the state libraries have a similar exchange/repatriation policy? In other words, if there were no other considerations (such as part of larger collection), if the SLNSW had a diary written totally in Victoria, by a Victorian, would it offer it to the State Library of Victoria? What sorts of considerations would come to bear on making a decision such as that?
A. Elise: Hi, @ Linda, that's a very interesting question... We don't really have this type of policy... Particularly with our WW1 diary collections, we purchased many of these directly after the War from all around the country. We wouldn't necessarily return these back to the original state... however these days, if we are offered material from Victoria, or another state, we would refer people to the State Library in that state.
A. Tracy: @Linda, increasingly digitisation will allow us to 'virtually repatriate' collection material, as it will be available for researchers not just interstate but internationally as well.
A. Linda: Thank you for that - I probably wasn't thinking WWI diaries, which were mainly written outside the country anyway, and are of national significance. Probably I was thinking more of things such as domestic diaries. I am trying hard to think what else fits - possibly manuscript material. So thank you - I think you have answered the question, and I appreciate that that happens.
A. Elise: @Linda, yes, it's a really interesting question. It's certainly not something that we do regularly here at SLNSW...

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us tonight. Please welcome Tracy and Elise from the State Library of New South Wales to tonight's Q&A.
Comment: IHM: Remember to keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear. 
A. Linda: Hello Tracy and Elsie - so glad you have come to talk with us. Thanks IH for the opportunity.
A. Leonie: Welcome Tracy and Elise!
A. Elise: Thanks! Hi.
A. Tracy: Hi everyone. It's great to be here and I'm looking forward to an interesting discussion.

Q. From Leanne: I would like to know if or when the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney for 1940 to 1945 are going to be put on trove. If not, what would be the easiest way of being able to get copies of a article that was in five of the 1940 Sunday paper and one article for each other year... In Feb 1940 the headline of the article was - 'He is two months old this week. The 1940 Baby.' Although I have all of the original photos that the newspaper took. I only have two of the actual articles. The rest were too damaged, beyond repair... the baby in the articles, is my dad.
A. Elise: Hi, @Leanne Ferguson, it doesn't look like the Sunday Telegraph is currently available to be searched on Trove... There is a list of upcoming newspapers listed here on the National Library's website:
A. Elise: however @Leanne, you could check the microfilm version of the newspaper. Here is our catalogue record for the newspaper: You could also always request an inter-library loan of the specific microfilm reel, via your local public library.

Comment: Sharon: Hello all, sorry I'm a bit late... just about to catch up on the posts and then will think up some Q's!
Q. From Sharon: Can you give some tips for searching for a particular person? Are there special unknown things that often bring up results?
A. Elise: Hi @Sharon, you can always try typing in the persons last name into our catalogue - to see whether we hold diaries/letters/photographs by or about them...
Q (b): From Sharon: Thanks Elise. Sadly nothing for my relative. Would you be interested in WW1 postcards? I'm not the holder of the collection.
A. Elise: @Sharon, we can always get the person to send a couple of photographs of the material to us - that's usually the first step for us in appraising material... They can send the photos and information to us here:
A. Sharon: Thanks Elise.

Q. From Margaret: I have my father's WW1 war diaries and I would like to see them preserved. Does the state library take them? I'm a Mosman local. Thank you.
A. Tracy: The State Library of NSW has been collecting WWI diaries and personal papers since 1918, thanks to the foresight of the Principal Librarian of the time, WH Ifould. We have one of the most significant collections of its type in Australia, and still actively collect this material. We are always very interested in discussing acquisitions with people who are looking for a 'forever home' for their treasured papers. There is a donations page on our website:

Q. From Joan: What newspapers are online for counties such as Devon or Lincolnshire?
A. Elise: @Joan, here at the State Library we do subscribe to many online databases, which include British newspapers from the 18th and 19th century. Here is the list of databases that might help you...
Q (b): From Joan: Thank you. I presume we just use our card number to access them?
A. Elise: @Joan, yes, you'll need a Library card to login to these at home, or you can come into the Library to search them.

Q. From IHM: Q. from twitter. Will you have your entire WW1 war diaries collection digitised for 2014?
A. Tracy: The State Library has launched two multi-million dollar projects which will provide unprecedented, world-wide access to our state and nation’s most iconic and historically significant documents and objects, including our WWI collection of diaries, personal letters, pictorial material, posters and ephemera. The WWI collection will be digitised, and the diaires and letters transcribed, in time for the Centenary of the outbreak of the war.
A. Elise: @Inside History Magazine... here is a diary that has recently been digitised. Thomas Ray Crook's and the transcript for the whole diary is also accessible under each thumbnail image.... and is linked here:

Q. From IHM: Following on from Sharon's Q. What would be your top tips for using the SLNSW collections? What would be your top tips for using the SLNSW collections?
A. Tracy's top tips: 
  1. Our website is a great starting point for information about the Library and our collections. From the home page you can directly access the printed books catalogue and the Manuscripts, Pictures and Oral History catalogue. The Library’s askalibrarian service is also a great starting point, and this service can also be accessed directly from our home page. This is a free Information Request Service. 
  2. Sometimes cataloguing terms don’t always align with the way we might describe something, so think laterally when devising your catalogue search. Also look out in the catalogue record for subject headings and ‘see also’ references which might lead you to other records related to your research interests.
  3. Sometimes you may need to broaden or narrow your search terms to find more information. For example, if you are researching WWI, a broad search terms might be ‘World War (1914-1918)’. Narrowing the search to particular campaigns (e.g. ‘Gallipoli Campaign (1915)’ or ‘Western Campaign (1914-1918)’ will help refine the search.

Q. From Linda: Speaking of cataloguing terms - do you have your own thesaurus, with specific terms tailored to Australia/NSW. If you do, it wouldn't be online, would it?
A. Elise: @Linda, we use the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus to describe our Pictures material and the Library of Congress subject headings (Pictures and manuscripts material)
Q (b): From Linda: Thank you for that - I just went searching for one of my interests at the minute, which is a snake oil salesman by the name of Joseph Shires. I couldn't pick up anything in the picture thesaurus that covers snake oil salesmen, and I don't know if it is uniquely Australian term. I have trouble finding Mr Shires, as he has one of those surnames such as Black, Green, White, Shingles, Little and Wood, where the word turns up in everything. Any search tips for him?
A. Elise: @Linda that is a very tricky term... I'm not sure if it is uniquely Australian, but it may require a bit more investigation...
A. Linda: Thanks Elise - always interested in the perspective of others. Not that I was really hoping to find any snake oil salesmen in your catalogue. But you never know.
A. Elise: @Linda, the only other term I can think of is con man... but that's not coming up...
A. Linda: Neither is Quackery - one reference in 1970. Strange there is no Quackery in your records.
A. Wendy: Linda, would 'travelling salesman' perhaps be a term used for a snake oil salesman?
A. Linda: @Wendy - not sure - the vast majority of travelling salesmen were not quacks. Must talk to you about this bloke - think he was through your way in the 1860s.
A. Linda: The other thing is this bloke was not so much as salesman as an entertainer - using the "experiments" he put on to sell his remedy. Really hard to define him with a subject term - or find similar people using a subject term. He was actually referred to at the time as a "snake charmer" - but that's not in there either. Oh, the fun you can have with subject headings!

Q. From IHM: Elise, Tracy, what is your favourite story you’ve found in the SLNSW collections?
A. Tracy: Favourite story? So many to choose from! One of my favourites is a WWI digger called Arthur Hall, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at Peronne in September 1918. His diary was donated to the Library in October 2011 by his son. Arthur was from a tiny place called Coolabah in north-west NSW, and following the war was a very active member of his local community. He was a man of few words, as his diary attests, very humble and modest about the bravery which lead to him receiving the VC. Arthur's is our only VC winner's diary to date.
A. Elise: One of my favourite collections is a collection of photographs by a Sydney doctor who served at Gallipoli: Herschel Harris. His photographs have all been digitised and you can browse them all via the catalogue record:
A. Tracy: There's a great photo in our collection of Arthur Hall VC on the day of his investiture at Buckingham Palace:
A. Elise: Another nice little collection that has recently been digitised includes a sock knitting pattern from WW1 - produced by the Australian Comforts fund and called The Grey Sock...
A. Linda: Sock pattern sounds interesting - one collection I work with has the published kitting book from the Comforts Fund in WWII. Probably the same one, reissued - good to think a little more about its beginnings.
A. Elise: @Linda, yes, probably quite similar. We had a Library volunteer follow the pattern and she made a pair of very comfortable woollen socks...
A. Sharon: Love the Grey Sock book, patterns and photos! Great collections!
A. Linda: We have an interest in those socks. We had a woman who for the duration of WWI knitted two pairs of socks a week, and made two singlets and two shirts, for the entire war, while three of her brothers and her fiancee were killed in action. She just kept knitting and sewing, and did the same in WWII. She never married, and willed the sewing machine that she used in WWI to the museum. I guess she would have worn out the knitting needles.

Q. From Leonie: My question is... How would I trace his lineage? I have a John/James Castle-convict arrived aboard the Scarborough-First Fleet b abt 1759 d 1803. He is mentioned in Capt Tenches diary of being an industrious person - classified as a Husbandman. He was classed as Independant, and off the Gov. supplies by 1790s. The only mention of his death is via the Sydney Gazette in 1803. Simeon Lord advertises his goods and chattels for sale stating that he had died. I have also been to State Records to try and glean more information from his very early probate-nothing there about his lineage. I have also searched the Old Bailey Records, and also the Hawkesbury Historical Society, and every other one within the region to find out more about him. He was noted as working at Puddle Dock in London at the time of his arrest. I'm hoping you may be able to help?
A. Elise: @Leonie a starting point might be our research guide - how to search for NSW convicts, which is accessible here:, however it sounds as though you have already done a lot of research... You can always send us a query through our Ask a Librarian page:
A. Sharon: @Leonie, you might also be interested in a course at UNE called Convicts run by Dr David Roberts. It is on now but I'm not sure when it will be on next.
A. Christine: @Leonie, you could ask for help regards his birth on the UK ancestry Facebook page - there are some terrific people who go out of their way to help there.
A. IHM: Nice suggestion Sharon, here are the UNE details Leonie :: |
A. Tracy: Hi @Leonie. Coincidently I have a First Fleeter who also came on the Scarborough - Matthew Everingham. He was an attorney's clerk who was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing two books belonging to his employer. Ironic, perhaps, that I now work in a Library!

Q. From IHM: What do you have in the pipeline that we should be excited about?
A. Elise: We are continuing to digitise our original materials: diaries, letters, pictures and related material, so that more and more of our collections can be accessible online, along with providing transcriptions to manuscript collections, such as our WW1 diaries...
A. Elise: @Inside History Magazine, something to get really excited about that's coming in February is an exhibition on the internationally significant Holtermann photograph collection:
A. Tracy: Keep an eye out for our new AMAZE Gallery, which will open in March 2013 with an exhibition to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Sir William Dixson's bequest to the Library.

Comment: IHM: Thanks again to Tracy and Elise for joining us tonight! We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week.
A. Linda: Thank you for the Q&A - all very interesting!
A. Sharon: Thanks for a wonderful Q&A session again. I do really love these sessions.
A. Elise: You're welcome! Thanks for having us.
A. Tracy: Thanks everyone for a really interesting conversation; it's been fun.

A shop owned by the Moses Brothers in the goldfield town of Gulgong, NSW, in 1872. From SLNSW's Holtermann collection

Next Week: Who's joining us for next Thursday's Expert Q&A? Find out how to get best from the Australian National Maritime Museum collection with Nicole Cama and Penny Hyde. Join us here with your questions next Thursday.

When: NSW-ACT-VIC-TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm.

See you next Thursday, December 13 for more on the Australian National Maritime Museum collection.


Read the previous Expert Q&A transcripts:
[1]  Thursday, July 26 :: How to get the best from Trove Australia
[2]  Thursday, August 16 :: How to get the best from BDM Certificates
[3]  Thursday, August 23 :: Getting the most from NAA
[4]  Thursday, August 30 :: Interpreting photographs for family history
[5]  Thursday, September 6 :: How to get the best from
[6]  Thursday, September 13 :: Using Trove for research
[7]  Thursday, September 20 :: Today's toolkit for the digital historian
[8]  Thursday, September 27 :: Preserving your artefacts with NAA
[9]  Thursday, October 4 :: Studying and doing research at UNE
[10] Thursday, October 11 :: How to research war graves and Anzac ancestors
[11] Thursday, October 25 :: What's new at
[12] Thursday, November 1 :: How to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW
[13] Thursday, Nov 8 :: Australian War Memorial - Lost Diggers
[14] Thursday, Nov 15 :: Getting even more from Trove
[15] Thursday, Nov 22 :: Getting the most from findmypast AU & NZ
[16] Thursday, Nov 29 :: Using NAA defence records
[17] Thursday, Dec 06 :: Getting the best from the State Library of NSW
[18] Thursday, Dec 13 :: Using the Australian National Maritime Museum
[19] Thursday, Dec 20 :: What's new at

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Issue 14: Jan-Feb 2013 is now available!

Outlaws and legends: the January-February edition (issue 14), our crime special, has arrived!
  • Ned Kelly’s secret love? A descendant of the iconic bushranger’s alleged flame puts forward his case
  • Discover your family history to trace lawbreaking ancestors with Shauna Hicks’s guide to criminal records
  • Delve into 1930s murder mysteries with award-winning crime authors Stephen Orr and Sulari Gentill
  • We introduce the early Australian convict indents that have been digitised in colour for the first time
  • Was your ancestor a Remittance Man? Helen Leggatt shows you how to find out
  • Inside History readers share tips for deciphering tricky handwriting on historical documents
  • Plus there's much more, including opportunities to network with other genealogists, giveaways, and book and app reviews!

And much more – in fact, 76 pages of terrific features, practical information on genealogy, chances to network with other family historians, and book and app reviews. On sale now online - click here to buy!

 Issue 14 is available in newsagents nationally - click here to see where. If your local newsagent doesn't stock us though, then they should be able to put a standing order in for you from Gordon & Gotch [G&G] - our title number is 11904 and G&G is on 1300 650 66, if your agent asks.  Once your newsagent sends in your request, we'll make sure that our next Issue 15: Mar-Apr 2013 is sent there for you!


From Australia’s most iconic bushranger through to First Fleet convicts and 1930s murder mysteries, Issue 14 of Inside History takes a walk through the dark alleyways and shady backstreets of our nation’s past.

Of the many outlaws and legends in Issue 14, Ned Kelly — our cover boy — is one of the most famous, divisive and intriguing. In an exclusive interview, we hear from a descendant of Ned’s alleged secret love, who puts forward his case and reveals his spine-tingling discoveries about the Kelly gang.

Delve into your own family history mysteries with our report of Inside History readers’ best tips for deciphering historical documents: they should help you crack the code. Along with our investigation into the scandals of remittance men, our guide to criminal records by renowned genealogist Shauna Hicks will see you snooping through the archives to uncover your ancestors’ dastardly deeds.

The chilling crime fiction story idea that inspired grisly real life murders in the 1930s West Australian outback is recounted by author Stephen Orr. Meanwhile, author Sulari Gentill discusses the importance of historical research to her crime fiction writing, where fact and fiction are interwoven.

Cracking open the case of the Eureka Stockade, we examine a long-standing myth surrounding the uprising using clues and tipoffs from historical sources. And, of course, what crime edition would be complete without an appearance by our convict forebears? We trace early convicts’ attempts to sneak around the colonial justice system, as revealed through records.

Family history sleuths and armchair detectives alike will appreciate the latest edition of Inside History. This issue will set your mind ticking and pulse racing as you examine some of the most famous, and infamous, cases and characters from Australian history — and perhaps uncover outlaws and legends in your own family history.

Packed as always with in-depth family history research advice, the latest news and events, and features on Australia’s social history and heritage, Inside History is a bi-monthly magazine for people who are passionate about the past. It’s available from newsagents nationally, on iPad via Apple Newsstand, and for Android and desktop computers through Zinio. Or subscribe and have it delivered straight to your door.

For more information please contact:
Cassie Mercer, Inside History magazine
phone: 02 9590 9600 | email: cass[at]