Sunday, 24 March 2013


It is a great advantage for a family historian to be curious and open to new directions because that enables you to find unexpected nuggets of information about the lives of your ancestors.

It is a terrible handicap for a family historian to be curious and open to new directions because that leads you into fascinating and unproductive by-ways that take time away from studying your ancestors.

When a researcher has one of the second type of days, he should just try to hide the shameful secret and promise to focus on the main task tomorrow.

But sometimes the thing you stumble across is so cool that you have to tell other people about it.

In the course of compiling a list of references in Trove to the Brisbane Band, I came across a most intriguing tool developed by Wragge Labs called querypic. This creates "a quick snapshot of your search query, displaying the total number of articles your query matches over a span of years". In fact it gives the choice of either absolute or relative frequency of matching articles; and it was the differences between these that led me astray.

Could there be a clearer indication of the effect of increasing size of each issue and increasing frequency of publication over a century than in these two plots. The real growth in the absolute number of matching references is swamped by the much greater increase in the total pool as the industry grows.

I did manage to justify some of time spent on this new toy by noting the strong peaks between 1857 and 1875 just as I expected. But, even in the relative frequency plot, the spike at 1929-30 demands further investigation. Except that I promised to focus ...

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