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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

The legacy of wartime propaganda Part 1

  • A recruitment booth in Brisbane circa 1916 covered with posters including the one to the left referencing Germany’s invasion of Belgium. (Source: Australian War Memorial, ARTV01335 & P02141.008).

One hundred years ago, 112,000 Victorians enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 89,000 served overseas and 19,000 would tragically lose their lives. This article takes us back in time through a selection of World War I propaganda materials located in the archive. 

The final year of the war

It is early 1918 – three years since the first Australian troops were sent to Egypt to fight against the Ottoman Empire. While Russia withdrew from the war some months ago, the US has only just entered the conflict. One million German troops who were fighting Russian forces in Eastern Europe have been freed to launch an offensive at the Western front, soon to become a grim setting for unprecedented loss of life. Australian casualty figures stand at 76,836, and losses on both sides have been heavy and the gains very small. Numbers of Australian men volunteering to enlist have continued to fall.

On the home front, social division has grown. Amid continued British pressure, the government is determined to fill shortages in the Australian Imperial Forces as regiments are continuing to disband. Many Australians, however, are disillusioned with the rising casualty rates and stories of battle losses. Conscription referendums in 1916 and 1917 were significantly opposed and both failed. Some are calling for peace terms to be created but Allied leaders want to fight to the finish. They portray this as a war for the good of civilisation, whose existence and well-being is threatened by the malevolent German empire.

With the failure of the government to win the right to conscript soldiers, and the armed forces needing continual reinforcement to retain their strength, the government has decided to embark on a new campaign to mobilise Australians. It will include the release of a series of recruitment posters and pamphlets.

An image of The four recruitment pamphlets found in VPRS 3183/P0 Units 132 & 133.

Four recruitment pamphlets found in VPRS 3183/P0 Units 132 & 133.

 

The Government’s last recruitment efforts

The posters of the last recruiting campaign of 1918 can be found in PROV’s collection, in a series from the Town Clerk’s Office of the City of Melbourne – VPRS 3183/P0 Units 132 & 133. Illustrated by renowned Australian artist Norman Lindsay, many of the posters contain violent propaganda images to incite anger against the Germans, who are depicted as monstrous and bloodstained. The intention is to inspire and shock un-enlisted eligible men to join up. Looking at them, you can get a glimpse of the wartime propaganda that is so indicative of the time.

The recruitment pamphlets were compiled by the Australian government and published by the Director-General of Recruiting, Victoria Barracks. They were designed to be folded for posting to potential recruits. The fastenings of each read “Hurry!” “Join up!” “Quick!” and “Now!” According to the Australian War Memorial, the pamphlets were part of a recruitment kit to promote the little known “Voluntary Ballot Enlistment Scheme” – the Australian government’s final attempt to raise recruitment numbers. Men were to submit cards to a lottery and then agree to serve in the AIF if their names were drawn out. The first draw took place in Sydney on the 7th of October 1918. Most of the pamphlets would never have been distributed – the scheme was shut down with the signing of armistice on the 11th of November 1918, which ended the First World War.

Minister of Recruiting, Mr Orchard, drawing a ballot for voluntary enlistment into the AIF. Letters and pamphlets were posted to eligible men; the government estimated this numbered 838,121 Australians. 100 badges were selected on the day – this would be the only draw conducted for the ballot scheme. (Source: Australian War Memorial, H18783).

Minister of Recruiting, Mr Orchard, drawing a ballot for voluntary enlistment into the AIF. Letters and pamphlets were posted to eligible men; the government estimated this numbered 838,121 Australians. 100 badges were selected on the day – this would be the only draw conducted for the ballot scheme. (Source: Australian War Memorial, H18783).

Imagery found within the pamphlets VPRS 3183/P0 Unit 132.

Imagery found within the pamphlets VPRS 3183/P0 Unit 132.

 

Persuasion, fear and guilt: WWI wartime propaganda motifs – then and now

What can we see in the images? One motif that is referenced is that of the RMS Lusitania attack – one of the most controversial events of the First World War. The English passenger ship, travelling to London from New York, was hit by a German submarine in May 1915,  1,198 passengers and crew were killed. The death toll included 128 US citizens and the event is believed to have swayed American opinion, setting the path for US entry into the war. The sinking was exploited by propagandists as an unprovoked assault on a civilian ship but Germany insisted the Lusitania was carrying illegally stowed explosives. Whether or not there were any explosives on board is still debated today.

American headlines after the sinking of Lusitania 1915 (source: Library of Congress Digital Collection).

American headlines after the sinking of Lusitania 1915 (Source: Library of Congress Digital Collection).

A cartoon on one of the pamphlets from the Australian campaign depicts a German water demon drowning a mother and child – you can see the image of a sinking ship in the background. Innocent civilians are the victims in this imagery as the plight of the defenceless is used to incite outrage.

A pamphlet.

“The gospel that murders children and women” VPRS 3183/P0 Unit 132.

The invasion and occupation of Belgium by German forces in 1914 is also referenced many times in propaganda. Allegations of brutal atrocities committed by German troops promoted an image of the enemy as bloodthirsty and inhumane. One poster, titled “The Peril To Australia”, warns that similar events will happen in Australia, should Germany win the war. It shows a violent conquest of an Australian town by German troops. This was all designed to instil anxiety, panic and hatred for the enemy. It also provided a moral justification to go to war – to defeat a savage aggressor, which threatened the whole of civilization.

A recruitment booth in Brisbane circa 1916 covered with posters including the one to the left referencing Germany’s invasion of Belgium. (Source: Australian War Memorial, ARTV01335 & P02141.008).

A recruitment booth in Brisbane circa 1916 covered with posters including the one to the left referencing Germany’s invasion of Belgium. (Source: Australian War Memorial, ARTV01335 & P02141.008).

A battle between good and evil – peace terms couldn’t be created against an inhuman savage enemy VPRS 3183/P0 Unit 132.

A battle between good and evil – peace terms couldn’t be created against an inhuman savage enemy VPRS 3183/P0 Unit 132.

The pamphlet text: “On the fields of France and Flanders is at present being decided the question whether your home will be polluted and outraged by the Hun, or whether it will be preserved from this unspeakable fate for ever. The men in the trenches are overworked and weary with incessant fighting. The glorious Army to which they belong is being frittered away for lack of the help you and your fellow eligibles can give. Will you not enlist at once and do your “bit” for the men who are risking everything for you?”

(VPRS 3183/P0/133 Australian Army pamphlet).

Check back in the coming weeks for Part 2: The long shadow of atrocity propaganda – a new WWI scholarship emerges.

Jelena Gvozdic, PROV Access Services Officer

 

Are you having problems opening digitised documents?

Image6If you use Firefox or Chrome browsers, you may have noticed that it’s been difficult to open digitised documents from our website. You may have had to wait a lot longer than normal for a file to open, or your files may not have opened at all.

What is going on?
Both the Firefox and Chrome browsers have switched to opening PDF files with their own dedicated PDF viewers. It turns out these viewers do not handle our digitised files very well. 

What can be done about it?
One option is to use Internet Explorer when browsing our catalogue.

You could also make your Firefox or Chrome browsers use the standard Adobe PDF Reader to open PDF files. Instructions on setting the default PDF reader can be found for Firefox here and for Chrome here.

Do I have to use the Adobe PDF Reader?
Other dedicated PDF readers (e.g. Sumatra PDF) should work as well, it’s just the new Chrome and Firefox viewers that are having problems. 

Want a more detailed explanation?
When we digitise paper documents we save them in PDF format, using a specific compression algorithm called ‘JPEG 2000′. This compression makes the files small enough to download easily, and produces a much better quality picture than the more widely used ‘JPEG’ algorithm.

Although ‘JPEG 2000′ is an open-source standard it is not as widely adopted as the older ‘JPEG’ algorithm (which is fine for most purposes, just not as good at compressing pictures of text). The PDF readers that Chrome and Firefox use as plugins do not appear to be as efficient opening ‘JPEG 2000′ encoded files. They can do it, it just takes longer for them to run through the maths that turns the numbers in the downloaded files into a picture on the screen. 

ANZAC Commemorative Talks at Dig the Archives

  • Soldier settlers circa 1920 in a photo taken by John Ellis, a WW1 photographer.


What was life like for the Victorian ANZAC soldiers returned from the war?

The National Archives of Australia and Public Record Office Victoria hold many records relating to defence force personnel who served in World War 1. The upcoming Dig the Archives Open Day, on Saturday 2 May, will provide Victorians with a chance to get up close and learn more about these important records in Victoria’s history. 

In the 1.30pm ANZAC Commemorative Talks, we will explore historical documents such as mental health, medical and land settlement files linked to WW1 returned soldiers. 

The presentation will focus on two major projects related to these returned soldiers’ records, being undertaken by the National Archives of Australia and Public Record Office Victoria.

These projects have uncovered the scale of injuries returned soldiers suffered, as well as the economic impact and farming life the soldier’s faced when settled throughout regional Victoria. They provide an insight into how Australian society and the lives of these soldiers and their families were changed forever.

Speakers:

Gerard Poed is the National Archives of Australia’s Project Support Officer for Project Albany. Gerard assists volunteers who are working on repatriation records which illustrate the impact of WWI on families and communities as well as individual servicemen and women.

Daniel Wilksch is Coordinator, Digital Projects at Public Record Office Victoria and has been involved in many projects putting archival information online, including the Battle to Farm soldier settlement digitisation project- now available via http://soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au

Register now!

Check out the full schedule here.

Register for ANZAC Commemorative Talks here. 

Uncover new treasures at Ballarat Archives Centre

  • A sample of Californian Stink Weed, with a letter from JC Reid, Mt View, Avoca, 23 January 1912, PROV, VPRS 17279/P1 Correspondence and Reports Presented to Council Meetings, unit 1, correspondence for ordinary meeting 27 February 1912.

You may be surprised to learn that the Ballarat Archives Centre collection spans records from Karkarook in the far northwest of the state; Horsham in the Wimmera area; Ararat and Stawell in the Grampians area; and all the way to Daylesford, Trentham and Bacchus Marsh in the Central Highlands.

And the collection continues to grow!

Here are some of the newly released records now accessible for researchers to order and view in the Ballarat Archives Centre Reading Room.

Local Government Records
Rate books, council minutes, correspondence files and letter books are among the municipal records that can be found at Ballarat Archives Centre. They provide a wonderful source for family and property research. Rate books typically contain details such as name, address, occupation of occupier and/or owner, property valuations and brief descriptions of properties. Council minutes record the operations and decisions made by council concerning a municipality that can provide valuable information about its communities, residents and workplaces. Correspondence files and letter books can give insightful information on a huge range of local subjects, from both within and outside a particular municipality.

Series Number

Series Title

Agency

Units available

Date Range

VPRS 7303/P1
VPRS 7303/P2

Voter’s Rolls

VA 478 Ballaarat (Municipal District 1855-1863; Borough 1863-1870; City 1870-1994)

P1 units 1-25
P2 units 1-5

1875-1916

VPRS 8118/P3

Outward Letter Books

VA 478 Ballaarat (Municipal District 1855-1863; Borough 1863-1870; City 1870-1994)

P3 units 1-2

1856-1861

VPRS 17279/P1

Correspondence and Reports Presented to Council Meetings

VA 536 Avoca II (Road District 1861-1864; United Road District 1864; Shire 1864-1994)

Units 1-9

1912-1952

VPRS 17277/P1

Committee Minutes

VA 658 Creswick II (Road District 1859-1863; Shire 1863-1995)

Units 1-4

1979-1994

VPRS 3797/P4

Engineer’s Report Books

VA 658 Creswick II (Road District 1859-1863; Shire 1863-1995)

Unit 1

1904-1919

VPRS 8117/P1

Outward Letter Books

VA 706 Ballaarat East (Municipal District 1857-1863; Borough 1863-1870; Town 1872-1921)

Units 1-16

1860-1921

VPRS 2545/P3
VPRS 2545/P4

Council Minutes

VA 742 Sebastopol (Borough 1864-1994)

P3 units 1-153
P4 unit 1

1975-1994            

VPRS 13356

Rough Council Minutes

VA 742 Sebastopol (Borough 1864-1994)

Units 1-6

1932-1968

VPRS 13492/P2

Council Minutes

VA 2380 Ballarat I (Road District 1856-1863; Shire 1863-1994)

Units 1-2

1860-1863

VPRS 17071/P1

Minute Books

VA 2399 Buninyong I (Road District 1858-1864; Shire 1864-1994)

Units 1-31

1858-1994

VPRS 17072/P1

Committee Minutes

VA 2399 Buninyong I (Road District 1858-1864; Shire 1864-1994)

Units 1-41

1980-1993

VPRS 17563/P1

Council Meeting Minutes

VA 2400 Camperdown (Borough 1952-1959; Town 1959-1994

Units 1-15

1953-1988

VPRS 7221/P1

General Ledgers

VA 2436 Grenville (Shire 1864-1994)

Units 1-6

1891-1941

VPRS 17070/P1

Engineer’s Report Books

VA 2457 Lexton (Road District 1860-1864; Shire 1864-1994)

Units 1-2

1915-1932

VPRS 11153/P1
VPRS 11153/P2

Rate Books

VA 2465 Maryborough (Municipal District 1857-1863; Borough 1863-1961; City 1961-1995)

P1 units 1-66
P2 units 1-4

1857-1940

VPRS 17280/P1

Beaufort Commons’ Ledger

VA 2496 Ripon (Shire 1863-1994)

Unit 1

1866-1977

VPRS 12323/P2

General Correspondence Subject Files

VA 2496 Ripon (Shire 1863-1994)

Units 1-5

1957-1985

VPRS 6914/P1

Minute Books

VA 2670 Brown’s and Scarsdale (Municipal District 1862- 1863; Borough 1863-1915)

Units 1-6

1862-1915

VPRS 7011/P1

Minute Books

VA 2686 Heathcote I (Municipal District 1859-1863; Borough 1863-1892)

Units 1-5

1861-1892

VPRS 16966/P4

Council Agenda

VA 3734 Horsham 111 (Rural City 1995-ct

Units 1-2

2012-2012

VPRS 16967

Council Minutes

VA 3734 Horsham 111 (Rural City 1995-ct

Unit 1

2012-2012

VPRS 17118/P1

General Ledgers

VA 4296 Daylesford (Municipal District 1859-1863; Borough 1863-1966)

Units 1-4

1869-1966

VPRS 17117/P1

Country Roads Board Ledgers

VA 4296 Daylesford (Municipal District 1859-1863; Borough 1863-1966)

Units 1-2

1916-1962

VPRS 17573/P1

Contract Register

VA 4296 Daylesford (Municipal District 1859-1863; Borough 1863-1966)

Unit 1

1933-1936

VPRS 17317/P1

Voter’s Rolls

VA 4296 Daylesford (Municipal District 1859-1863; Borough 1863-1966)

Units 1-2

1868-1940

VPRS 17116/P1

Balance Books

VA 4711 Glenlyon (Road District 1860-1865; Shire 1865-1966)
VA 2414 Daylesford and Glenlyon (Shire 1966-1995)

Units 1-2

1937-1969

VPRS 17278/P1

Minute Books

VA 4712 Mount Franklin (Shire 1871-1915)

Units 1-2

1888-1915

 

Court Records
Ballarat Archives Centre holds court records from many localities in the western district of Victoria. Those records on open access can be ordered and viewed by researchers in the Ballarat Archives Centre Reading Room.

Series Number

Series Title

Agency

Units Available

Date Range

VPRS 3113/P1

Mining Warden’s Register

VA 479 Daylesford Courts 1866-1948

Unit 1

1866-1948

 

VPRS 5459/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Cause List Books (1868-1888): Court of Petty Sessions Registers (1888-1951)

VA 553 Clunes Courts 1868-1968

Unit 1

1951-1968

VPRS 17027/P1

Mining Warden’s Register

VA 527 Blackwood Courts 1871-1911

Unit 1

1871-1911

VPRS 5656/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Police/Arrest Registers

VA 678 Ballarat Courts 1935-1960

Units 1-4

1935-1940

VPRS 5658/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Default Registers

VA 678 Ballarat Courts 1930-1955

Units 1-7

1930-1939

VPRS 6435/P1

Special Complaints Registers

VA 678 Ballarat Courts 1940-1966

Units 1-2

1929-1940

VPRS 17026/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Gold Buyers Register

VA 678 Ballarat Courts 1908-1936

Unit 1

1908-1936

VPRS 3899/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Indexes to Convictions

VA 687 Avoca Courts 1890-1963

Unit 1

1932-1963

VPRS 17024/P1

Licensing Court Registers

VA 728 Gordon Courts 1899-1932

Units 1-13

1899-1932

VPRS 17308/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Indexes to Convictions

VA 728 Gordon Courts 1899-1933

Unit 1

1907-1923

VPRS 1362/P1

County Court Registers

VA 730 Smythesdale Courts 1862-1869

Unit 1

1862-1869

VPRS 10585/P0

Children’s Court Registers

VA 731 Linton Courts 1908-1915

Unit 1

1908-1915

VPRS 10752/P0

Children’s Court Registers

VA 741 Elmhurst Courts 1914-1915

Unit 1

1914-1915

VPRS 17307/P1

Court of Petty Sessions Indexes to Convictions

VA 745 Ballarat East Courts 1888-1921

Units 1-5

1888-1921

VPRS 5025

Children’s Court Registers

VA 917 Stawell Courts 1907-1954

Unit 1

1907-1915

VPRS 17073/P1

Court Of Petty Sessions Special Complaints Register

VA 2292 Birchip Courts 1893-1982

Unit 1

1929-1980

 

Land Records
We hold a comprehensive range of records that document the administration and occupation of Crown land in Victoria some of which are held at the Ballarat Archives Centre.

Series Number

Series Title

Agency

Units Available

Date Range

VPRS 7009/R1

Application Book, Survey Office Heathcote

VA 538 Department of Crown Lands and Survey 1881-1885

Unit 1

1881-1885

VPRS 17025/P1

Register of Lessees, Stawell, Section 19 Land Act 1869

VA 538 Department of Crown Lands and Survey 1879-1891

Unit 1

1879-1891

VPRS 13669/P2

Register of Deeds, Creswick

VA 865 Department of the Treasurer (also known as Treasury and Treasurer’s Office) 1859-1900

Unit 1

1859-1871

 

Mining Records
Ballarat and district is renowned for its gold mining activity since the early 1850s. Ballarat Archives Centre has many mining records relating to Ballarat and its surrounds for researchers to explore.

Series Number

Series Title

Agency

Units Available

Date Range

VPRS 10653

Mining Warden’s Register of Applications for Mining Leases, Avoca Mining Division

VA 3803 Maryborough Mining District 1901-1916

Units 1-2

1901-1916

 

Water Records
Some water records are not unlike municipal records in that they record water usage by people residing in various places. This could be a valuable way of finding people where there may not be access to rate records or any other source of information available.

Series Number

Series Title

Agency

Units Available

Date Range

VPRS 7272/R2

Rates Cash Books

VA 2098 Heathcote Waterworks Trust 1908-1953; VA 3996 Coliban Region Water Authority 1992-

Units 1-2

1908-1953

VPRS 5633/P0

Consumer’s Ledgers

VA 1018 Ballarat Water Commissioners (previously known as The Ballarat and Ballarat East Water Commissioners 1872-1880)

Units 1-99

1922-1946

 

Mythbusting: New privacy laws do not apply

Image courtesy Stratford Historical Society

Image courtesy Stratford Historical Society

New privacy laws do not apply to authorised public records in a Place of Deposit

The Data and Privacy Protection Act 2014 commenced late last year.

Public Record Office Victoria would like to reassure agencies that public records that have been approved for transfer to a Place of Deposit (POD) should not be restricted from public access due to these privacy laws.  

As many agencies are aware, the Information Privacy Principles set requirements for the way private information is collected and stored by government. However, section 12 of the Act stipulates that the Information Privacy Principles do not apply to public records open for public inspection which are under the control of the Keeper of Public Records.

All records authorised for transfer to PODs remain under the control of the Keeper and it is a condition for appointment as a POD that those records be made available to the public.

“So its business as usual in terms of transfer of records from government agencies to Places of Deposit,” said Lauren Bourke, Coordinator Community Archives, Public Record Office Victoria.

Transfers of records from an agency to a POD must be authorised by Public Record Office Victoria.  Agencies wishing to transfer records to a POD should contact the Community Archives team at community.programs@prov.vic.gov.au  

Information about the POD program can be found here.

Any questions on the impact of the Data and Privacy Protection Act 2014 upon PODs can be directed to Carly Godden via email: carly.godden@prov.vic.gov.au.

Release of new Intellectual Property Guidelines for the Victorian Public Sector

Photo by: Horia Varlan

Photo by: Horia Varlan

In March 2015, the Department of Treasury and Finance released the Intellectual Property Guidelines for the Victorian Public Sector (IP Guidelines).

These IP Guidelines replace the working draft guidelines released in November 2013 and are designed to assist with implementation of the Whole of Victorian Government Intellectual Property Policy by providing important information on intellectual property (IP) related issues, including for example:

  • making copyright material publicly accessible
  • commercialisation of IP
  • protecting and enforcing IP rights
  • using third party IP.

All agencies, with the exception of local government, are subject to the IP Guidelines.

What does this mean for Public Records?

Public records contain a wealth of the state government’s IP and this IP must be carefully managed to ensure appropriate use and access.

Although the new IP guidelines contain new provisions to enhance the Government’s objectives of granting rights to the State’s IP as a public asset and managing third party IP responsibly, it also reinforces the obligations of agencies under the Standards issued by Public Record Office Victoria. This is particularly the case when it comes to disposal and procurement.

Disposal of IP

The IP Guidelines advise upon the range of considerations that must be taken into account when determining if it is appropriate to reassign or dispose of IP owned by an agency. However, as noted in the Guidelines, where the disposal concerns IP in public records, this must be done in accordance with PROS 10/13 Disposal Standard and the applicable Retention and Disposal Authority issued under the Public Records Act 1973.

Procurement

Agencies should also be attentive to IP requirements in procurement, especially as applied to outsourcing agreements. Where an outsourcing agreement includes public records, agencies should take steps to ensure record-keeping contract clauses are included in the agreement. PROS 10/10 G2: managing records of outsourced activities guideline prescribes that ownership of IP contained in records that are to be used or transferred to the custody of agencies must remain with the government agency.

For more information about how the new IP Guidelines may impact agencies, email agency.queries@prov.vic.gov.au

Stories of WW1 soldier settlers come to life

  • Soldier settlers circa 1920 in a photo taken by John Ellis, a WW1 photographer.

One of Victoria’s most important military collections is now available to the public for the first time online, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Special Minister of State, Shaun Leane, unveiled an important new website for historical and family research today.

Battle to Farm enables the public access to nearly 10,000 government records on the Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme. The scheme helped settle thousands of returned World War One soldiers on farming land across Victoria through government leases, drastically transforming the landscape of regional Victoria.

The great debate

Over the years there has been great debate as to the success or failure of the settlement scheme as ex-soldiers were entering farming life in a difficult economic climate as the world descended into the Depression.

Over 50 per cent of those allocated blocks left the scheme. Many were unable to cover their debts when food prices plummeted, while others accused the government of leasing blocks that were too small. Through these resources, we can see not only the land allocated to each settler, but the hardships they faced.

Making these records public

Searchable by soldier name and geographic location, the new website developed by Public Record Office Victoria is an extraordinary achievement, making public for the first time one of Victoria’s important military collections.

The website features digitised soldier settlement records, letters from the soldiers about their farming life, video interviews of people who grew up on settlement blocks, photographs, and a guide to understanding the records.

Shedding light on the lives of the settlers

Parliamentary Secretary to the Special Minister of State, Shaun Leane said that Battle to Farm allows us to learn about the experience these soldiers went through and to better understand this important chapter of Victorian history. 

“Between 1918 and 1934, 11,639 returned servicemen were allocated blocks of land under Victoria’s soldier settlement scheme – more than 80 volunteers have spent two years digitising these records to bring us this important resource in time for the ANZAC Centenary.”

Director and Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood said that the goal of the project is to make these records more accessible to all Victorians. 

“We’re thrilled to launch this great resource so the public can access their ancestor’s records easily and the public have an insight into the challenges soldiers faced on their return to Australia.”

For more information visit soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au

Battle to Farm is a Public Record Office Victoria website, funded by the Veterans’ Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet as part of the Centenary of Anzac commemorations. The project was supported by Monash University, the ANZAC Commemorative Committee, Beaufort Historical Society, Stanhope Historical Society, Gippsland Historical Society, and more than 80 volunteers.  

Learn more about this project at our upcoming Victorian Archives Centre Dig the Archives Open Day.   

Hear project manager Daniel Wilksch explain the mental, physical and financial challenges soldier settlers faced as they attempted to rebuild broken spirits on unbroken land.

Also, join Gerard Poed from the National Archives of Australia as he discusses what has been found in the repatriation soldier case files of the returning soldiers who survived from the first convoy of 20 ships to leave Albany Western Australia on the 1st of November 1914.

Register now for this special event. 

The records we preserve

  • This is the hand written letter petition of mercy
    Significant impact on individuals: petition for the court’s mercy, PROV VPRS 1100 P2, unit 7

The Public Records Act 1973 requires Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) to work with Victorian government agencies to select public records for permanent preservation as State Archives.

So, out of all the digital and paper files government creates every day, how do we decide which ones are worth keeping forever?

The selection of State Archives is guided by a set of characteristics, these include:

  1. The authority, establishment and structure of government. Public records which provide concise evidence of the source of authority, establishment and structure of Victorian government. For instance, Acts of Parliament.
  2. Primary functions and programs of government. Public records which provide concise evidence of the government’s primary functions and programs, especially those records that provide evidence of a new or changed policy decision. For instance, Cabinet records, budget statements, planning and management of major infrastructure projects.
  3. Enduring rights and entitlements. Public records which provide concise evidence of the life events, enduring rights and entitlements of individuals and groups. For instance, births, deaths marriage registration records  and divorce records, records of land ownership.
  4. Significant impact on individuals. Public records which provide evidence of the significant impact of Victorian government decisions and actions on individuals and communities, the interaction of people with the government, and the influence of the Victorian community on government decision-making. For instance, criminal court decisions, records of government care of individuals, planning schemes records, petitions seeking government action.  
  5. Environmental management and change. Public records which provide evidence of the Victorian government’s significant actions in relation to environmental management and change, response to the impact of climate change, and the occupation, management and use of the state’s natural resources. For instance, rainfall, temperature and soil feature statistics, management of landfill sites, forestry planning and management..
  6. Significant contribution to community memory. Public records that have a substantial capacity to enrich the memory, knowledge and understanding of aspects of Victoria’s history, society, culture and people. For instance, public records relating to events or that represent the Victorian way of life including work, education, leisure and culture.

Download our full Appraisal Statement for State Archives here.

Enquiries about the records we keep can be made to media@prov.vic.gov.au

The Way We Were Historical Photograph Competition: Dig the Archives 2015

From your attic to our archives

Dig the Archives 2015 will feature explorations into Public Record Office Victoria’s rich photographic collection.

To help celebrate Victoria behind the lenses, you are invited to share a unique moment of Victoria’s past from your personal collection of photographs.

The entry judged to be the rarest, most artistic and historically interesting will receive a $100 Carlton Readings Gift Voucher, framed copy of their photo and presentation of the award at Dig the Archives. To enter simply email a high-quality JPEG (preferably no larger than 5mb) copy of your photograph together with your name, phone number and an accompanying short caption (personal anecdotes also welcome!) of a maximum 150 words to media@prov.vic.gov.au. Please send under the heading ‘The Way We Were Competition’. Closing date for entries is 20 April 2015. See ‘Terms and Conditions’ for further information about the competition .

Dig the Archives, the annual Open Day event for the Victorian Archives Centre, will be held on 2nd May 2015 at 99 Shiel Street North Melbourne. Stay tuned to our facebook page for further information about the range of fascinating talks, tours and workshops on the day.

All sewn up at Walhalla School 957

  • A black and white photo of Walhalla State School
    Walhalla State School, PROV VPRS 1396 P0 Unit 3


The town of Walhalla

Walhalla is a picturesque mountain town nestled into the Baw Baw Ranges of the Gippsland District. Walhalla was the centre of one of the great goldfields of Victoria when it was founded as a gold-mining community in 1862. It was home to 4,000 people and produced some 55 tonnes of gold.

The town itself was small: settled on a small section of the Stringer Creek Valley, buildings were mostly confined to one main street that followed the valley’s creek.

The Walhalla Institute is born

Although conditions were rough and the town was isolated, during its boom years Walhalla was a vibrant town and community. By 1867 the population was more than large enough to support a local school, which opened under the super-intendancy of Mr George Christie. This school, known as the Walhalla Institute, taught 50 students and functioned as a church on weekends.

Within a year, the school’s roll had expanded to 90, and a new teacher was needed to oversee the rapidly expanding school. The role was advertised in Melbourne newspaper The Argus on the 1st of June 1868. Henry Thomas Normanton Tisdall, an Irish immigrant from Melbourne, applied and took the position.

Tisdall was a commanding figure and a central member of the community who taught the school for close to 18 years.

After his departure the school had difficulty finding steady staff due to its remote location, poor road access and cold and damp climate. Tisdall himself was required to assist in the process of hiring a new teacher. One applicant, Miss Mary Anne Dillsworth, was the subject of several letters between Tisdall and the Education Department.

Hiring Miss Dillsworth

On the 28th of January 1886 Tisdall wrote to the department:

“Mary Anne Dillsworth passed in all subjects…excepting needlework. The school does not seem to have examined her in that subject.”

Although Miss Dillsworth had passed all other examinations with a 3rd class order of merit, was able to provide past inspectors reports and a letter of recommendation from her previous school, the absence of needlework certificates proved rather alarming to the Department.

Tisdall, however, provided written support for Miss Dillsworth and a compromise was reached. The Education Department requested:

“Ms Dillsworth should forward specimens of her needlework” from which her aptitude could be judged.

A miniature woollen sock and cuffed cotton sleeve were promptly forwarded to Melbourne, and Miss Dillsworth’s competency was established.

Miss Dillsworth and Mr Tisdall’s communications with the Education Department were in some ways typical of the rural school experience. Staffing and managing schools in rural areas was often about compromise; although the submission of sewing samples was not a typical method to prove qualification, Walhalla’s isolation made compromise necessary.

You can find more rural school stories, records and photos amongst the displays at the School Days: Education in Victoria exhibition at Old Treasury Building.

Written by Amber Evangelista based on records* discovered while undertaking research for School Days: Education in Victoria. With special thanks to Bernard Bolch of the Walhalla Heritage and Development League for assistance.

* VPRS 640 P0 Unit 551: Central Inward Primary Schools Correspondence Series.

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