Trove Tuesday – Trove search tips for military history

As we approach the centenary of World War 1 and our first diggers , more and more people are going into TROVE to research the history of family members who have fought in conflicts. One question that pops up from time to time is how to find things in Trove that include numbers and symbols. For example you may be looking for information about the 2/31st Battalion. Only two newspaper articles come up – nowhere near the number needed to obtain meaningful information.

Unfortunately, as some users have found, it isn’t possible to search for the punctuated version in Trove newspapers. If you try it you’ll see that you don’t get any results! This is because of the challenges presented by all the extra punctuation that appears in the electronically translated text (related to the quality of the original newspaper pages).

To find a broad selection of news articles about this battalion, your best option is to remove the punctuation when you search and run the word together. So the 2/31st becomes 231.

It’s also always a good idea to add an extra important word or two to cut down on the number of unrelated results that you may get. A search for ‘231’ brings up 239,782 results. Too many! Who could look through all of them? But a search for ‘231 Battalion’ brings up a more modest 2,917 results.

And if we wanted to take things a step further, we can search for articles that have ‘231’ and the word ‘Battalion’ close together, say no more than two words apart. To do this we use quote marks and a tilde, as follows:
“231 Battalion”~2

This brings us up just 118 highly relevant results:…Battalion%22~2

This doesn’t include the images, journal articles or books that are retrieved from the National Library.

As a final thought I’d just like to remind users that Trove won’t automatically search for abbreviations or acronyms for the search terms you use. So if you’re searching on ‘Battalion’ you won’t be getting ‘btn’ or ‘bn’ so it would be worth running a search for those as well.

I hope that these hints and tips have helped.

If you have used TROVE and have any hints you’d like to add here to share please do!

Just put them in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section of this post.

3 responses to “Trove Tuesday – Trove search tips for military history”

  1. peter freeman Avatar

    another hint for using TROVE.. I find it very useful to download the TEXT and PDF files of a particular article.. TEXT gives you a copyable text file that can be easily dropped into WORD.. PDF gives you a handy copy of the TROVE article by which you can check your new WORD document

  2. MHSociety Avatar

    Thanks for the great tip! One thing that I also do is save as a PDF. That enables me to ‘save as’ a JPEG if I want to edit the file and use it as an image.

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