I love the Internet. I love that you can find practically everything you want, get answers to any question. I love that you can research family history, see the contents of old files in government archives, read newspapers that were published a hundred years ago, look at photos of buildings long reduced to gravel in the name of urban renewal.
Let me share my most treasured Internet ‘discoveries’ and also give thanks to various friends who’ve told me about these amazing websites.
First all-time favourite for doing historical research and family history is National Archives of Australia. It’s free to use, easy to search and navigate, and many of the files have been digitised, which means they can be opened on the spot. If you want to see a file that hasn’t been digitised, you can request it by contacting them. Try entering your family name or town of birth and see what pops up.
Second favourite is Trove. This website is part of the National Library of Australia website. It has digitised Australian newspapers from 1803 to 1954, including all the capital cities and major regional newspapers. If you’re writing historical fiction, how better to find out the weather in Perth in October 1924, or the price of a one-way steamer ticket from Sydney to Southampton in 1880? As well, there are digitised photos of people and places and events. And a picture, so they say, can paint a thousand words, especially if you’re looking to recreate a world that is past.
Third favourite (and most recent discovery) is a website for lovers of the classics in literature, Project Gutenberg Australia. Think Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, George Orwell. Because all of these wonderful authors are long-departed, their work is now in the public domain. It can be downloaded for free. I just read an excerpt from ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, written in 1928 by DH Lawrence, which was banned in Australia for decades. Puts some of our modern-day erotic literature to shame.
For reference, there are links to all these websites on the right-hand side of my home page.