Climate History newspaper tagging project

What we need:

  • NLA text correction volunteers who are interested in exploring early newspaper accounts of our climate history.
  • These articles are available via the NLA’s Trove newspaper database, accessible either from the library, or from home.

Volunteers will:

  • Examine publications from Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia between 1803 and 1880.
  • Tag any articles covering significant weather events, according to the keywords:

climate drought relief heavy rain high seas evaporation
weather blazing sun frost swells meteorology
temperature cattle in distress flood violent storm Charles Todd
thermometer losses of stock hail gale Clement Wragge
barometer starving stock cyclone squall Thomas Brisbane
heat dry period hurricane frost Robert L.J. Ellery
fire shortage of water tornado sleet William Dawes
bushfire poor harvest snow icebergs William Stanley Jevons
drought loss of maize blizzard thunder W.S. Scott
failed crops hot wind thunder storm lake level G.R. Smalley
dust storm excessive heat cold weather river level H.C. Russell
hot wind praying for rain landslide flood George Neumayer
heatwave Days of Humiliation rain fog Robert Brough Smyth
abundant harvest failed crops deluge Lake George Sir George Kingston
dry wells sunstroke caterpillar plague Lake Bathurst Francis Abbott
thirst plague locust plague Murray River Edmund O’Donnell
arid dry ground lightening Darling River observatories

What we’re trying to find out

We want to know more about significant weather events recorded in our early newspapers, and how fledgling settlements coped with these extremes, eg:

  • How did drought affect early settlements in Australia?
  • What were settlers’ experiences of floods?
  • How did weather extremes impact on stock and crops?

How you can help our project:

  • Your work will enable our research team and other volunteers to access a feed of documentary accounts of weather events during early European settlement.
  • Researchers will combine these accounts with early weather station data and information from palaeoclimate records (eg. tree rings, coral and cave formations).
  • This information will help us reconstruct South Eastern Australia’s climate history, so we can establish how current changes can be viewed in the context of long-term natural variability.
  • This climate history tagging project will complement the excellent work of the NLA’s Trove text correction volunteers and will showcase the historical newspaper collection and its importance to our understanding of climate history.

Further information

If volunteers have any queries, or would like to provide voluntary library research assistance to the project in other areas, they can direct questions to the project team.