A Closer Look at Newspaper Items via the Trove API

A simple search is quick and easy using the Trove API but these are often too broad to provide the information we need. Any insights to be made are lost in the sludge of irrelevant results. In this post I will explain how to narrow the search down so that you can close in on the data that is more helpful for your research. If you have not used the Trove API before and need to learn how to do a simple search using this tool you should first read ‘An Introduction to the Trove API’.

Trove is a huge database of information contributed by over two thousand libraries in Australia as well as other organisations. It is an ever increasing data mine. Today the Trove website says that it holds 389,961,760 items. The Trove API gives access to items in several zones: book, picture, article, music, map, collection, newspaper, list. This series of posts focuses on the article zone which allows access to digitised newspapers.

This post is designed to be used as a reference when you need to find answers for particular types of searches that you are most likely to be conducting. Keep in mind that there is a lot more that you can do in the newspaper zone via the Trove API, and that there is also a large amount of data to explore in the other zones. If the answer to your question is not here then you should consult the Trove API Technical Guide. The other essential document you will need to consult regularly is the URL Encoding Reference so you can translate non-ASCII characters into a code that will be recognised on the Web. Continue reading

Using the Trove API with Excel Spreadsheets

In the last post I explained the basics of using the Trove API by importing the results into the browser window. A more powerful way to use the results returned from the API is to import the results into an Excel spreadsheet. Excel has its limitations but it is one way that people who don’t have any programming skills can store and analyse results gained through the API.

There are two methods of importing the data into Excel:

  1. In a blank workbook in Excel go to the Data tab. Click on the ‘From Web’ button in the ‘Get External Data’ section of the ribbon on the left hand side. Copy and paste your API call into the ‘Address’ window and click ‘Go’. You will see the same results that you saw in your browser window. Click the ‘Import’ button at the bottom of the window. A message will dome up saying “[t]he specified XML source does not refer to a schema…” Click ‘OK’. Specify which cell your table should start from and the data will load into your spreadsheet. Continue reading

An Introduction to the Trove API

Are you tired of downloading items one by one after doing a successful search in Trove? Do you want to get an overview of what the entire search looks like? Do you want to connect items which are stored in Trove with like items from another archive?

The Trove API (Application Programming Interface) helps you to do these things and more. People who can program can program can use this in an imaginative way and explore its limits. Yet despite its technical sounding name this is also a tool which people who have no programming skills can use. This introduction to the Trove API is written for those with no background in programming. Continue reading

Delving Deeper into Trove

In my spare time over the last few weeks, I have been experimenting with the tools developed by Tim Sherratt to extract data from Australian digitised newspapers available through Trove. In a previous post I discussed how we can produce graphs showing the frequency of the use of particular words in Australian newspapers over time using Sherratt’s tools.  In this post I will look at other methods of text analysis and explain how I used Sherratt’s tools to extract a large number of articles from the Trove database and used a text analysis tool to further analyse the articles. This post is about possibilities, not conclusions.  It is a work-in-progress, so I am keen to hear your suggestions and experiences. Continue reading

Know Your Database

First published on my other blog www.stumblingpast.wordpress.com 17/4/2011

Over the last week I finally got a chance to try out the tools that Wragge (aka Tim Sherratt) has devised to mine digitised historic Australian newspapers accessed through Trove. This post is about the results of applying his tools.  If you want to do this yourself check out Wragge’s posts, Mining the Treasures of Trove (Part 1) and (Part 2). Firstly let’s look at Wragge’s graph of a topic that I have been writing about this year – floods.

Graph of the occurrence of the word "flood" in Australian newspapers, from the early 19th century to the late 1950s

Wragge has produced the graph above  showing the occurrence of the word “floods” in Australian newspapers digitised and accessible on the Trove website.  As we would expect the word is mentioned more in years when there was severe flooding such as 1893. Continue reading

Digital History

First published on my other blog www.stumblingpast.wordpress.com 19/11/2010
Person looking at Trove Australian Newspapers online on laptop

Digitisation of Australian Newspapers

During this year I have become increasingly interested in how technology and new media can assist historical research.  As I said in my acknowledgements for my thesis, I owe a great debt to the digitisation of Australian newspapers currently being conducted by the National Library of Australia (NLA).  While I was researching the NLA was digitising The Brisbane Courier, an important source for my thesis. Each week I logged in to find more issues had been digitised for the period I was researching, 1906-1910.  None of the researchers who had explored my topic before me had this resource available to them.  Most of them did not even have the advantages of a word processor.  They were working with pen, paper, and if they were lucky, microfilm. Continue reading