N is for Newspapers (and Navy Records Society and Nancy Dawson)
Regular readers of my blog will know how much my family history research has benefited from digitised newspapers on Trove and overseas newspapers accessed through my National Library of Australia card (free to Australian residents) using their e-resources such as the 19th Century British Newspapers - one of the British Library Newspapers collections - or The Times Digital Archive. I have been able to trace ship movements and find fascinating stories about my naval ancestors' families.
I visited the National Library of Australia this week in Canberra. It was a fleeting visit but, as always, the staff never failed to impress me with their professionalism and above all, care.
From the security guard who approached me diplomatically about my enormous handbag and giving me thoughtful instructions on how to best access the lockers downstairs, to the staff who handled our enquiry about donating personal papers, we were made to feel welcome. I decided to put my money where my mouth was this morning and made a modest donation to the NLA.
Whilst looking for inspiration in my father's Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea last night, I discovered reference to the Navy Records Society. It was founded in 1893 and publishes annually materials relating to British Naval History. There are two sorts of membership - one gets you the online magazine, the other gives you access to 150 digital volumes plus a copy of every volume published during membership (about 1 volume per year and they retail from anywhere between £25 and £40 so it's probably pretty good value). I haven't joined yet but I have signed up to their mailing list, am following them on Twitter and have liked their Facebook page. Various libraries in Australia hold their publications according to WorldCat e.g. the Vaughan Evans Library at the Australian National Maritime Museum, State Library of NSW, University of Queensland and the National Library to name a few. Naval Songs and Ballads selected and edited by CH Firth in 1908 could be an amusing reference for example.
Speaking of songs Nancy Dawson was a popular ditty in the 18th century apparently and was sung/played when the daily ration of grog was distributed in the British Navy (Oxford Companion to Ships and Sailing, 1976, p. 571) I liked this instrumental version the best from those I found on YouTube. I thought it sounded the most authentic. There is this very interesting post too with the music and lyrics and a bit of history about Nancy Dawson.
All the best with your A-Z challenge if you are participating. If not, I hope you have found something of use in today's post - particularly if you are researching naval ancestors.