Koorie Heritage – Aboriginal Records at PROV
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds records relating to the administration of Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria. Its main holdings are records created by the office of the Chief Protector of Aborigines (VA 512) and its successor, the Guardian of Aborigines (VA 513), which administered Aboriginal Affairs in the early years of the colony.
Most of the records date from 1839 to 1946, with more extensive holdings from the period 1839 to 1859. The records were created by government agencies managing Victorian Aboriginal people residing on Aboriginal mission stations. These records contain a wide range of information about Aboriginal people, such as medical and education reports, correspondence, employment details, meeting minutes, annual reports, police reports, and the issuing of provisions, clothing and rations, and records of the movement of Aboriginal people across Victoria.
As well as being a valuable resource for historical and genealogical research, the records also provide an insight into an era of surveillance and control of Aboriginal people by Victorian government agencies.
Signatories were residents of Lake Tyers mission station seeking to prevent the removal of station manager Captain Newman. The petition was unsuccessful.
PROV, VPRS 1694/P0 Correspondence Files, Unit 11, file May 1931 – June 1931
In 1975 the Victorian State Government transferred responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria to the Commonwealth. As a result, records were transferred to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) by the Victorian Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
Researchers seeking records from the 1860s through to the 1960s will most likely need to access them through both PROV and NAA at their shared reading room at the Victorian Archives Centre (99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne). Opening hours are 10.00 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday (except for public holidays).
Starting your research
Records can be ordered through PROV’s online catalogue for viewing in one of PROV’s reading rooms. PROV holds a range of records relating to Aboriginal Affairs on microfiche and microfilm. These records are available in PROV reading rooms and do not have to be ordered. See PROV’s guides to Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Victorian Archives Centre, and Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Ballarat Archives Centre for more information.
The following online resources will assist you with starting your research at PROV:
The Aboriginal Protectorate and its successors
VA 512 Chief Protector of Aborigines 1838–1849
VA 513 Guardian of Aborigines 1850–1860
VA 514 Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines 1860–1869
VA 515 Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1869–1957
VA 4371 Aborigines Welfare Board 1957–1968
See also VF 175 Aboriginal Affairs on PROV’s online catalogue for more detailed information about the administration of Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria.
Aboriginal records available at PROV: a select list
VPRS 1694 Correspondence Files [Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1889–1931]
See also: National Archives of Australia series B313 for other files in this series.
VPRS 10768 Register and Index of Inward Correspondence [Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1909–1941] For an earlier register consult National Archives of Australia series B328.
VPRS 926 Letter Book Coranderrk [Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1898–1924]
VPRS 90 Daybook of the Native Police Corps, Narre Warren [1845–1853]
VPRS 11 Inward Unregistered Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines – Reports and Returns [1847–1851]
VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs [1839–1851]
Viewing digitised records online
PROV is digitising records relating to Aboriginal Affairs, beginning with its early holdings. Once digitised, records can be viewed online by navigating to the item details pages in the relevant series and clicking on the View digitised Item button.
Koorie Records Unit
PROV’s Koorie Records Unit (KRU) has been established to foster awareness of records about Aboriginal people held by PROV, and aims to improve the accessibility of these records to Koorie people and the wider community. The KRU collaborates with Koorie community organisations such as Connecting Home Ltd, in its outreach, education and training projects.
Koorie Index of Names (KIN) database project
PROV is indexing records about Aboriginal people in its collection to produce a database index of Aboriginal names. The index itself will not contain information about the people named in it but will assist researchers to locate records (files, papers and photographs) relating to people in the index. See our website for updates on the KIN indexing project www.prov.vic.gov.au/about/kru
The KRU can provide advice and assistance to researchers wishing to access records about Aboriginal people in PROV’s collection. Phone: 03 9348 5600 or tollfree 1800 657 452, Monday to Friday except public holidays. Email: email@example.com
My Heart Is Breaking
My Heart is Breaking: A joint guide to records about Aboriginal People in PROV and NAA, Melbourne Office collections. This guide assists people researching Aboriginal family and community history, or the history of interactions between government and Aboriginal people in Victoria. My Heart is Breaking is currently being updated and is due to be republished in 2009.
Orders can be made via our Online Book Store at http://prov.vic.gov.au/products-page/books
Publications available online
Finding Your Story
Finding Your Story is a valuable reference tool for Victorian Indigenous people seeking information on their separation from family and community. Finding Your Story is also a helpful guide for organisations that assist the Stolen Generations retrace family and community connections through records made by government and non-government agencies: http://prov.vic.gov.au/publications/finding-your-story
wilam naling …knowing who you are… report 2006
This report addresses recommendations from the Commonwealth government’s 1997 National Enquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. The wilam naling report contains recommendations for improving access to records by people affected by removal policies: http://prov.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/WilamNalingReportJune2006.pdf.
Tracking the Native Police
PROV’s online exhibition Tracking the Native Police tells the story of the Native Police Corps from 1837 to 1852. It contains records about the Aboriginal men who joined the corps, and also about the many Aboriginal people and communities they encountered throughout Victoria: http://www.prov.vic.gov.au/online-exhibitions/nativepolice/home.html
Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria
PROV publishes its online scholarly journal Provenance every year in September. The journal has featured a number of articles about Aboriginal people and issues, such as
”Unequal Justice’: Colonial Law and the Shooting of Jim Crow’ in issue 5, 2006;
Koorie Heritage Trust’s Koorie Family History Service
295 King Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
(03) 8622 2600
Oral histories, assistance with family history research, and library and education programs
139 Nicholson Street
East Brunswick Vic 3057
(03) 8388 1855
Family tracing, reunion, support and counselling assistance for Aboriginal people removed from their families as children
Connecting Home Ltd
14 Gipps Street
0488 977 222
Supporting and addressing the needs of people affected by practices and policies of removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from family, community, country and culture
Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Family History Unit
GPO Box 553
Canberra ACT 2601
1800 730 129
Free assistance for people with Aboriginal heritage to do family history research
PROV, VPRS 3686/P1, Unit 370, Drawing No. ARF 1.