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Citing the records featured in Behind Closed Doors feature in this month’s The Age Melbourne Magazine

Public Record Office Victoria or rather, some famous items from our Collection were proudly featured in The Age Melbourne Magazine’s Behind Closed Doors section which was published today. This posting provides you with some additional information, including citations, in case you are interested in viewing some of these items.

Two of the larger items featured are popular stops on the tours that are regularly run by our volunteers of the storage area.  One of these is the Monster Half Mile Petition, one of the larger petitions found within VPRS 3253 Original Papers Tabled in the Legislative Assembly.  The postal stamp display was created by the Victorian Government Printer as a means to showcase Victoria’s printing skills during the 1899 Greater Britain Exhibition in Earl’s Court, London. Refer to our website for details of these tours.

A digital image of the Ned Kelly record featured is easily accessible in our online catalogue.  It is a prisoner information sheet created by prison authorities about Ned Kelly for Victoria Police detectives that was subsequently included in the Kelly criminal trial brief.  It was provided by the Police to the prosecution in responses to a request conveyed in a document known as a query sheet.  This is a means whereby the prosecution can obtain pieces of evidence after the committal hearing whilst the prosecution’s case is in development.  The query sheet including the prisoner information sheet is available on line as VPRS 4966/P0 Kelly Historical Collection – Part II Crown Law Department, unit 1, item 1.  (It is a couple of images into the digitised document.)

Also available online are a number of the volumes which make up VPRS 515 Central Register of Male Prisoners and represented by the image captioned “The Naughty List”.  VPRS 515 was arguably the single most damaged series in our entire collection.  Over the last few years, most of these volumes have been the subject of conservation action under the steady hands of Nick Selenitsch who also features in The Age article.  Another image, captioned “Rough Justice”, appears to show the spine from one of the volumes of this series that had become detached.  Rebinding is prohibitively expensive and, in any case, much conservation action is aimed at restoring records to the point so that these can be imaged for access purposes.  The calico cover seen in the background of this particular image would have originally been put over the volume to prevent the migration of red rot (i.e the degration of leather that leaves a red stain) to the clothing of users rather than to hold the volume together. 

Among the most striking images is the poster of the “Too Risque” lady.  The poster is part of Chief Secretary’s inwards correspondence file [19]18/Y4199 in VPRS 3992/P0 Inward Registered Correspondence III, unit 1453.  The poster was provided as evidence in an attempt to have it banned, the Chief Secretary’s Department at the time being responsible for censorship.

The file number for the “Too Risque” poster file was originally allocated by records staff of the Department from volumes which we refer to as registers of inwards correspondence.  The image captioned “Spine-tingling” shows registers from VPRS 3994.  This is one of three series of registers created by the Chief Secretary’s Department to record the receipt and subsequent management of correspondence received that collectively spans the period 1851 –  ?1963.  (VPRS 3994 spans the period 1884 – 1963.)

The image of the box captioned “Box of Tricks” is the box which today holds the “Too Risque” poster.  The poster was originally found folded and attached to its file in a standard PROV box along with a number of other files.  The box shown was primarily created to enable the poster to be stored in its flat unfolded state but in the same box in which it was originally located.  The segments visible in the box are there to prevent the contents of the box (i.e. the files) from unnecessarily moving around should the box be ordered.

The image captioned “Hoddle’s Notes” highlights one of our more recent accessions.  It is VPRS 16685/P1 Surveyors’ Field Books, Black Sequence, unit 12, bundle 79. There are two field

books in this bundle from 1837, number 1151 and 1154.  These contain Hoddle’s first surveys of the Melbourne area.  VPRS 16685 is one of a number of survey field book series received from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.  For details of other field books series received in the same accession refer in the online catalogue to VPRS 16686 and VPRS 16687.

Finally, the article shows other records that do not require additional comment.  All of the Olympic records featured are all from VPRS 10743 /P0 Correspondence – Subject Series, unit 1.  The images captioned “Grim log” and “Gruesome Details are both from the same record.  This is VPRS 14526/P1, unit 1 Particulars of Execution Book. 

If you were to create a feature highlighting records from our Collection, what would you choose?  If you have an opinion, we’d love to hear from you.

Charlie Farrugia
Senior Collections Advisor


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