Trove – access to primary sources for student research

Recently I was asked to provide Year 6 classes with historical research skills focused on inquiry to investigate primary and secondary sources. The students were at an early stage of a historical inquiry unit involving investigation of stories of groups of people who migrated to Australia and the reasons they migrated. In addition, students will be inquiring into their personal history that has shaped who they are, their community and identity.

By coincidence, I am currently completing the subject – Describing and Analysing Education Resources which involved investigation of Trove as an example of a federated search system managed by the National Library of Australia. Knowledge of Trove’s access to extensive online resources enable me to demonstrate to students a way to search and access digitised primary sources such as photos, journal entries, and newspaper articles from the past. As Trove is comprehensive it was important to provide students with suggestions of what to search, how to search and how to review the search results.

What to search:

Bonegilla from Migration Blake Education, 2014

Start with a nonfiction book at the student’s level. Highlight images and image captions as a source of information and keywords that would be useful to use in a search. For the migration example, I used Bonegilla Migrant as the keywords and then demonstrated a search. We were able to view various images, including the photo of a group of men playing volleyball on Trove which was the same photo in the text. We also accessed a Certificate of identity, for Irena Terkiewicz, relating to her immigration to Australia, 1949 after viewing this in the Migration text. From the book Coming to Australia: post-war immigration by Australian Geographic, 2015, we located important keywords such as displaced persons, refugee camps and the name of the Minister of Immigration in 1945, Arthur Calwell which lead us to newspaper articles from that time frame.

How to search:

Trove has created a video explaining how to search, taking a few minutes to view this and then some time to explore is highly recommended.

How to review the search results:

Understanding the different zones assists with viewing the results. Two important things to refine a search include selecting a time period or decade and clicking the Available online option.

Although we are at an early stage of investigation, Trove provided a platform to guide students to sources of information for their research rather than just using Google. Searching for family names was very stimulating for students, one student searched for the name of an invention by a great-grandparent and came across a newspaper article from 1913.

Trove provides a wealth of opportunities for teaching and learning purposes. Being able to access articles, photographs, and letters from the past is extremely valuable for historical research and inquiry learning.

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