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Victorian Archives Centre public opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(excl. public holidays)
The second and last Saturday of every month

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Crowdsourcing Local History


Interior Queen’s Walk with Crowd Circa 1930, PROV VPRS 12800/P1, Unit 68 BOX 046-03

“Crowdsourcing is the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of a specialized few.”
Jeff Howe, contributing editor at Wired Magazine

As part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, Public Record Office Victoria will be holding a workshop where you can find out how you can use online tools to explore, share and contribute your knowledge of history.

Recent years have seen the emergence of websites, such as Trove, Historypin and the PROV Wiki, which invite audiences to be active participants through contributing their time and skills online. Often this is referred to as crowdsourcing, a term devised by Jeff Howe and that Jane McGonical, author of Reality Bites: Why games make us better and how they can change the world, describes as ‘inviting a large group of people, usually over the Internet to tackle a big project’.

Sometimes crowdsourcing involves contributing photographs, such as on Flickr, a photograph sharing website, or Historypin where contributors can pin historic photos to an online map.

On other websites you can transcribe digitised documents or manuscripts. The New York Public Library’s website What’s on the menu, is guaranteed to get your mouth watering whilst you transcribe menus online.

The different ways you can contribute are seemingly endless.

So what can you expect if you come along to the workshop? As well as the main presentation on Crowdsourcing Local History, Genine Riley will be giving a demonstration of PROV’s One Place Many Stories, and Robbie Stockfeld will tell of her adventures contributing to the PROV Wiki.

Because we don’t want you sitting down for long, this will be followed by a practical exploration of crowdsourcing sites set up in our Training Room. We’re also inviting you to bring along photographs of the home you grew up in, which (with your permission) we’ll digitise on the day and demonstrate how easy these tools make it to contribute online.

Book Online

Book online for this free event

Tips for contributing

  • Follow your passions/interest
  • Start with the familiar – Robbie Stockfeld has contributed pages on the PROV Wiki about the history of her own street.
  • Embrace the learning curve – don’t be afraid to jump in. If you get stuck, look for the help pages. Often there will be an online forum which might be worth hanging out in until you get the hang of things.
  • But what if I get it wrong? Whilst you should always ensure the information you contribute is accurate, often the ‘crowd’ can help with spotting errors.

Lisa Fletcher, Online Engagement Officer
Public Record Office Victoria