The National Library of Australia has recently announced that it will soon be digitalising the Dungog Chronicle onto its world beating Trove website (http://trove.nla.gov.au). ‘Trove’, for those who may be unfamiliar with this great site, is a collection of online resources, including an increasing number of newspapers dating back to the beginnings of Australia’s written history. The Dungog Chronicle was selected as part of the NSW State Library’s Digital Excellence project and its inclusion means that all the issues of this great newspaper from its foundation in 1888 up until the early 1950s will be fully searchable by anyone with access to the Internet.
Trove has revolutionised the research of Australian history just as the digitalisation of information has revolutionised so many other fields of knowledge. The Maitland Mercury has been on Trove for many years and as one of Australia’s oldest newspapers it has long been a great source of information on the early years of the Dungog district before the Dungog Chronicle itself was established.
However, for those of us interested in learning more about the fascinating history of Dungog and the Williams River valley after 1888, the slow process of skimming through the newspaper page after page has been the only option. Once the Dungog Chronicle is on Trove a whole new world of searchable Dungog will open up on anyone’s computer screen. For Trove does not just mean that you can more easily find that article on when Grandfather’s cow won the ribbon at the Dungog Show. It means you can find out all the Dungog Show winners if you wish, or any and every mention of Grandpa – including those he never told you about.
The digitalisation of the Dungog Chronicle, as with other newspapers, means that data can be mined and information gathered, in ways that historians, family researchers and others could only dream about. Decade by decade, year by year and month by month, the pages of the Dungog Chronicle can be searched by anyone, from those with a casual interest in when their house was built, to those wishing to trace the rise and fall of the CWA as a power in the land. If the Dungog Chronicle wrote about it, then you can read about it.
Another feature of Trove worth mentioning is that it is very much a product of a combination of new technology and human effort. What this means is that the digital scans often can’t read faded or burry print accurately and so Trove users themselves contribute many hours editing and improving the text using low tech human eyeball power.
Once the Dungog Chronicle starts appearing on Trove many more articles on Dungog history will be possible, some of which will appear in the pages of todays Dungog Chronicle or keep an eye out on the History in the Williams Valley website.