PLEASE NOTE: PROV is now accepting new volunteers into our popular program.
To express an interest in volunteering, please book into our next volunteer information session.
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has a long-standing volunteer program at the Victorian Archives Centre in North Melbourne. Our volunteers work closely with historic records from our collection. Approximately 15 individual projects are currently underway in 2014, focusing on many areas of our collection, from Prison Registers to Inquest Files, Land Selection documents to Governor La Trobe’s original correspondence. All our projects have the aim of preserving our collection and making its contents accessible to researchers.
We provide training for all new volunteers, including the basic principles of archival methodology (original order and provenance), an introduction to PROV, and worksite training for each volunteer project which can include data processing, digitising, and document handling.
Volunteers work on a range of tasks, including:
- Creating data about collection items, to be published on PROV’s catalogue;
- Transcribing original documents (either to publish searchable data, or for exhibitions);
- Creating digital images of original records;
- Repackaging records, to aid their preservation.
Most projects comprise two or more of the elements above.
Who can volunteer?
While many volunteers are recruited through genealogical and historical societies, we welcome all kinds of volunteers. There is an increasing proportion of younger volunteers, university students and international students. We do not generally accept secondary school work placements as volunteers, however students can apply for our work experience program.
What skills are required to volunteer?
We require volunteers to be proficient in Microsoft applications (especially Excel and Word). Depending on the projects you undertake at PROV you may receive training in document preservation, proofreading, data entry, scanning documents and photograph identification. All volunteers will gain a behind-the-scenes understanding of how archives work. Attention to detail is vital for much of the work, and research experience is welcomed.
What type of work do volunteers do?
Volunteers carry out a range of activities which generally involve creating highly detailed information about records, or transcribing the text from the pages of original records. Tasks also include creating archival data for PROV’s online catalogue, physically processing records into archival containers and storing them in PROV’s repository, indexing portions of the collection, transcribing documents for exhibitions, conducting public tours of the archives, and cataloguing the archive’s library collection. These projects help PROV provide public access to Victoria’s archives.
What do volunteers enjoy about volunteering at PROV?
In a recent survey, volunteers rated the following three factors as the most enjoyable about volunteering at PROV:
- Interesting work and working with historical records;
- Social interaction;
- It fits with existing interest in research / family history.
Can I volunteer on any day or time?
The volunteer program operates from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays). You can decide how much time you devote; however, it’s worth noting that as the program becomes more heavily attended, our flexibility will be reduced. As the program approaches capacity, we’ll be asking volunteers to nominate specific blocks of time when they’ll attend PROV, so we can maximise the use of our available volunteer spaces and the number of people who can become involved in the program.
What happens if I can’t come in for any reason (for instance, if I’m sick or on holidays)?
It is expected that volunteers have other things going on in their life alongside volunteer commitments, and the program is flexible enough to accommodate these needs. If you’re going to be absent for an extended period, please let us know.
Victorian Archives Centre at 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne.
Free off-street parking is available, there is a local bus and trains and trams are just a few minutes walk away. Volunteers have access to staff kitchen and dining facilities.
Ballarat Archives Centre, L1 State Government Offices, cnr Doveton and Mair Sts, Ballarat.
There are currently no vacancies in the Ballarat volunteer program.
Further information about our locations is available on our Visiting Us page.