Trove Italiano

More than history: Revealing Italian collections in Trove
Profile picture for user giacomop

Giacomo Paganelli, a business analyst at the National Library of Australia, was recently interviewed by SBS Radio’s Italian program about collections on Trove that might be of interest to Italian Australians.

The interview is available in full on the SBS Radio Italiano website. But for curious readers who don’t speak Italian, Giacomo has created a Q&A in English, covering some of the topics in the radio interview: 

What is Trove and what can we expect to find there?

Trove is a website created by the National Library of Australia. It hosts the online (or digitised) collections of the Library. In addition, over 1000 Australian organisations share records with Trove—libraries, universities, museums, galleries, archives and more. We can say it is a treasure trove of information—instead of going to multiple places, you can search through all these collections in one place. It’s fantastic. 

On the Trove homepage, something that catches the eye is ‘investigate your family history’. Can you tell us more? 

Family history research is something Trove excels at. If you’d like to know more about Italian communities in your local area and how they developed, you can read the newspapers and magazines of the time for more information on Trove. These aren’t just scanned images of pages, but full text you can search. You can look for information about your local area, where you grew up and people in your family. 

Let’s say your grandfather owned a bar in Geelong. You can do a search for mentions of this in the newspapers, filtering by place and year. An example I came across in some quick research was a bar called Cafe Latin opened by an Italian, Mr. Massoni, in 1928. I was surprised to learn there were Italian bars in Australia at that time—I thought they began in the 1950s and 1960s. The culture of good Italian espresso started early! 

Newspaper clipping about Cafe Latin
CAFE LATIN OPENED (1928, January 30). Geelong Advertiser (Vic:1859-1929), p. 3.

I also noticed a growing Italian influence on the Australian recipes of the 1940s. Slowly but surely, you can see the addition of Italian ingredients. Clearly these ingredients were considered very exotic at the time, which is delightful to read about. 

Does Trove have newspapers in Italian? 

Most newspapers are in English, however Trove does have a collection of Italian-language titles, and there’s something particularly fascinating about them. Because these newspapers were mostly produced by members of Italian communities, many newly arrived in Australia at the time, they weren’t all trained as journalists and writers.  

Many were everyday people eager to write about their communities, and the language they use is a perfect snapshot of Italians living in Australia at the time—different ways of speaking and people from many walks of life coming together. It’s fantastic! It's a unique look at the past that can’t be seen from Italy.

Front page of Italian newspaper Il Canguro
(1956, February 1). Il Canguro = The Kangaroo (Perth, WA:1955 - 1957), p. 1.

What other kinds of items can you find in Trove? 

Beyond the digitised collections in Trove that you can access online from home, you can also find out where many other kinds of items are available to borrow. 

Let's say that a mother wants to find Italian nursery rhymes for her child—songs she heard when she was young. You can search for the phrase ‘Italian nursery rhymes’ and filter by language. The records you’ll be looking through don’t just show if there’s an online version—they'll also say if it’s available through other libraries and organisations in Australia. It’s possible you can find a CD with Italian nursery rhymes and request it through your own local library to borrow.

What else is important to know about Trove? 

The most important—and maybe the most obviousthing to note is that Trove is free. It’s a free service for all Australians on Australian material. There’s such a varied collection to explore—newspapers, magazines, books, music, art, objects and much more. And this collection only continues to grow, day by day. New collections are added all the time, so you can keep coming back to see what’s there.

Looking for Italian language newspapers on Trove? Find a list of our current titles here.