Do you know who is in these photographs?

UniNewcastle A5050-072 small

Many libraries and universities in Australia and elsewhere hold the collections of missionaries, researchers and other travellers to the Pacific Islands. This photograph of a gathering in Lambasa was taken by Archdeacon A.N. Williamson of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle during his travels to Fiji some time between 1900 and 1930. He took many other photographs, some depicting individuals, such as this one:

UniNewcastle A5050-138 small

Archdeacon Williamson’s collection is held by the University of Newcastle and has been shared on Flickr and on Trove. Have a look through them and see if there are any people or places that you recognise, and if there are, the University would love to hear from you!

Not just Wikipedia

Wikipedia has become the go-to source for an initial overview of any topic, from American history to episodes of Doctor Who. Historical figures are usually well-represented, and I can look up King Henry VIII or Captain James Cook and get a fairly good idea of his life.

But what if the person you are searching for isn’t there? Wikipedia has aternatives.

Here I am searching for David Whippy, one of my ancestors who settled in Fiji in 1825.

David Whippy Search results

The first result is probably relevant. When I go to the article, however, the link in the article to David Whippy gives me this:

David Whippy on Wikipedia

I am tempted now to write an article for David Whippy myself, and one day I will. In the meantime, Wikipedia offers alternatives in its ‘sister projects’:

David Whippy sister projects

Wikibooks is a collaborative, open-source project to build textbooks, including children’s books and cookbooks. There are currently 2,686 books on computing, languages, history, and much more. Nothing on Fiji, but there is one called A Concise New Zealand History. The book on Australian history is not yet finished.

Wikiquotes is a free compendium of quotes, with sources and links back to Wikipedia for more information. There are quotes from famous people, literary works, films and TV shows, proverbs and much more.

Wikisource is ‘a free library that anyone can improve’, with a current total of 287,335 texts in English. It has everything from out-of-copyright fiction to United States Senate Committee testimony. The portal page for the history of Australia lists many sources for the colonisation and exploration of the country.

Wikiversity aims to ‘set learning free’, creating educational resources for teachers, students and researchers. The current total is 20,467 resources. The page for Australia is part of the Comparative law and justice project and is a good introduction to the court system in the country.

Wikimedia Commons is an exceptional source of images and videos, to which anyone can contribute. There are currently over 17 million files from archives, libraries, and people like us. The copyright restrictions are specified for each file.

There are many other projects:

Wiki projects

The only one of these projects to have a result for David Whippy was Wikisource, which has a book called Forty Years in the Pacific by Frank Coffee, published in 1920. The chapter on Fiji mentions David Whippy as one of the claimants made by the American settlers on Cakobau, the self-proclaimed King of Fiji. It is a book I hadn’t come across before, but as David Whippy died in 1871 Coffee can not be expected to have known Whippy personally.

I did search for pictures of Levuka in Wikimedia Commons and found a couple of beauties from Dumont D’Urville’s 1842 expedition:


The copyright explanation for different countries is helpful for knowing whether you can republish it in your country.

Wikipedia projects won’t replace Google as a source of information, but it’s worth checking to see what they have for those elusive Fijian ancestors.

Picture Australia

Fiji NAtives SLV b49524

State Library of Victoria ‘Fiji Natives’ 1868, SLV accession no. IMP09/11/68/168

Picture Australia is the National Library of Australia website devoted to pictures, also available through Trove, the National Library of Australia’s umbrella site for searching books, journals, newspapers, maps, pictures, diaries and letters, and much more.

Pictures are contributed from all over the country; from libraries, archives, and even from individuals.

If you search for ‘Fiji’ all sorts of pictures are listed, from holiday photographs  and travel posters  to early photographs of people and places, and engravings such as this one on the left. Many are available to view online.

Here is the link to a hand-coloured lithograph depicting the “dreadful situation of Captain Dillon and two other survivors” in the massacre in 1813 at which Charlie Savage lost his life.

Here is a link to another hand-coloured lithograph by a Frenchman, Jacques Arago (1790-1855), showing “Kandabou”, which I am guess is Kandavu, with the French ship (presumably) and a Fijian canoe in the foreground.

Here is a link to an 1846 French lithograph of an interior in Levuka.

Trove is the umbrella site for searching books, journals, newspapers, maps, pictures, diaries and letters, and much more. It incorporates results from Picture Australia and many other sources, and is a great place to start your search for pictures.



As with anything you find on the internet you must be aware of copyright restrictions before you publish it yourself, and you must cite the source.