Finding newspaper articles, images and more using databases and indexes
The State Library of Victoria has an extensive newspaper collection. This includes print newspapers; newspapers on microfilm and newspapers online. Finding a newspaper article, or a personal notice, without knowing the specific date can be time consuming process. If an index is available it will save you a lot of time. This guide identifies a range of indexes available at the State Library, and some online indexes.
A newspaper index is an alphabetical list of news articles - classified by subject, names, personal notices, advertising, illustrations, or other items, found in a newspaper, or group of newspapers. Some indexes list all the content of a newspaper but most list only part, usually the news articles or the personal notices, or names.
|Sample index page from Newscan|
General subject indexes cover all the main news content of a newspaper. They usually list articles under subject headings such as, ‘Accidents', 'Floods', 'Roads', 'Schools', 'Football' etc. If a person was regularly in the news they will often be listed by name, e.g. Hawke, Robert; Bradman, Don etc. Many general subject indexes have been 'tagged' on our catalogue as Newspapers Indexes. See User Tags for a list of other newspaper indexes.
Newspaper indexes come in a range of formats. Older indexes are often on cards or microfiche, or sometimes in bound volumes. More recent indexes may be online or in other electronic formats such as CD-ROMs which are available in the Library. Indexes may be published and widely available. Others can be unpublished, sometimes hand written, and only available in particular libraries.
Melbourne Herald Index sample card entry
Family history indexes list any content useful for genealogists. The most common type of family history indexes are birth, death and marriage notices (BDMs), and other types of personal notices such as memoriams, anniversaries, engagements, etc. There are other types of family history indexes such as ships passengers lists, arrivals and departures of ships, missing friends notices, wills, inquests and probate notices.
Some useful online family history newspaper indexes are:
See Newspapers Indexes Genealogy for an extensive list of newspaper indexes useful for family history researchers.
Many general subject indexes will contain a names sequence. These are usually the names of people appearing regularly in the news such as politicians, entertainers and sports stars.
Names of people who were in the newspaper because something newsworthy happened to them, such as having a pet rescued by the Fire Brigade, or giving birth to a baby on the way to hospital are generally not included in name indexes. So if you are looking for a picture of a relative taken at an event like the Melbourne Show, you probably won't find the name in the names index section for a major newspaper like the Melbourne Sun or the Melbourne Herald.
Newspaper indexes use headings such as 'Accidents', 'Floods', 'Fires', 'Murders', 'Hospitals' etc. to group similar stories together. They are usually arranged in date order.
Different indexes can use different headings. For example one may use 'Motor Accidents', another 'Automobile Accidents', and another, 'Accidents - Vehicular'. Some older indexes may use words no longer in popular use. For example 'Casualties', instead of 'Accidents', or 'Handicapped' or 'Crippled' for stories about disability issues. Check under a range of headings for your topic.
Available in the Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms. They index articles by subject, personal name and by-line (article author).
Newscan arranges articles by subject, A to Z (see the sample page in the middle of this page). Newspapers indexed are The Age, The Australian, The Herald Sun, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, Business Review Weekly, Time Magazine. Also includes magazines.