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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

Try our new website and search

new-websiteA new PROV website is now available to provide you with a faster search experience and simpler navigation options, making finding what you’re looking for a lot easier. You’ll also be able to search directly through topic pages making our most popular collections much easier to access.

The new website features include:

  1. Searchable topic pages for our most popular collections
  2. A handy list of common questions new and experienced researchers often ask us
  3. A photographic page listing both our digitised and non-digitised collections
  4. A page featuring online exhibitions about Victorian state history
  5. Get a sense of what we hold using our data visualisation tool

The test (beta) version of the site will be available for everyone to have a look at until November. To provide feedback simply email it to, including the Subject heading Beta Site please.


From Mos to Mullets: now showing at the Victorian Archives Centre

Black and white photo of a woman with very long straight hair

“Hippy Hair” Victorian Railways Board 1973-1983, Photographic Negatives: Railways, Sante Fe Railway’s First Woman Engineer Christine Gonzales, 1976. VPRS 12903 P1/ Box 703-51. 

Your hair is your own. At the same time, hair forms part of our shared experiences as diverse communities. When brought under the gaze of others, hair becomes a marker of identity, gender and culture. In archival photography, hair also functions as a kind of visual time stamp. Wondering when a photo was taken? Well, take a look at the hair!

New photographic exhibition now showing at the Victorian Archives Centre

A new photographic exhibition about the history of hair is showing at the Victorian Archives Centre North Melbourne from 26 September to February 2017, Monday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm and second and last Saturday of every month.

In the exhibition, photos featuring historic hairstyles from Public Record Office Victoria’s state archives are displayed alongside photos from community street photographers.

“Hippy Hair”

This photo of Christine Gonzales from the state archives is one of the photos featured in the exhibition. 

Young people involved in the protest movements of the 1960s used head hair, body hair and facial hair as a symbol of their political and ideological beliefs. Un-styled hair became a powerful symbol of the ‘hippy’ counter-culture and a sharp contrast to the shorter, controlled styles of the previous generation. Feminism inspired women to grow their body hair as a symbol of the equality and freedom they hoped to achieve.

Many in the anti-Vietnam war movement grew their hair long as a visible rejection of the short Buzz Cut style sported by soldiers. Some Vietnam veterans – many of whom were conscripted – grew their hair long when they returned in an effort to disassociate themselves from the unpopular war. Their long hair sometimes resulted in them being shunned from RSLs. By the late 1970s the fashion for long hair had crossed into mainstream fashion and was not indicative of political beliefs, but a matter of personal style.

Government photography

By the 1860s Governments began to include photographers within their teams, and the timing for Melbourne couldn’t have been better. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne’s foundational development was captured in photographs – many of which are preserved here at the Victorian Archives Centre.

Although family portrait photography was popular with the middle class, government photographers were tasked with recording major developments like railroads, ports and new schools. The consequence of these early street landscapes is the inclusion of the average person: the newspaper seller, women rushing to work, or men on the docks. Usually nameless, government photographers were focussed on the task of capturing public projects rather than individuals. 

The camera also served a practical purpose for police departments in the late 1800s, with the emergence of forensic photography and mug shot (rogue) galleries. Today, these police photographs are significant as a time machine into the underclass of early Melbourne or, in the case of Ned Kelly, the plight of the Irish poor, or even early Chinese immigration. 

By the 20th Century the power of photos to influence behaviour began to creep into government collections. Although government photographers continued to document public works, agencies were also commissioned to shoot staged models for advertising or social campaigns, promoting anything from milk to train travel.

Today, they’re fashionable. These black and white images of early Melbourne decorate expensive note pads and tote bags. They appeal to our need for connection, bringing us together over a shared love of the place we live and a fascination with its history. 

From Mos to Mullets

When: Now showing until February 2017, Mon-Fri 10am to 4.30pm and every second and last Saturday of the month. 
Where: Victorian Archives Centre, 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne
No bookings required, free entry. 

The next RMN to be held mid October

Basic CMYKThe next Records Management Network forum will be held at the Victorian Archives Centre, 99 Shiel St, North Melbourne on the 14th October 2016.

This RMN program will feature some of the distinguished Sir Rupert Hamer Award public offices including Department of Education and Training, Agriculture Victoria and Wannon Water.

Please RSVP by clicking on this link by 10 October 2016.

If you have further questions, please email

The full program is outlined below:

9:30am Registration

10:00am Introduction

10:10am Kieran Murphy and Richard Vines from Agriculture Victoria

Kieran Murphy leads a small Knowledge Management team within Agriculture Victoria at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Richard Vines has, for over 20 years, been leading and brokering knowledge related programs, projects and consultancies, spanning industry, government, academia and the community services sector. Kieran and Richard will unpack the challenges of integrating approaches to records and knowledge management, from the perspective of a client facing business unit.

10:45am Jacinta Jubb and Alison Toohey from Wannon Water

Alison Toohey is the Records Team leader at Wannon Water and has worked in records and information management within the water industry for nine years. Jacinta Jubb is the Plans Database Administrator and has worked with Wannon Water plans for eight years. Alison and Jacinta will talk about their project to identify the best solution for Wannon Water’s outdated system, allowing the organisation to access quality information, maximise business efficiency and deliver better value for customers. Wannon Water Managing Director Andrew Jeffers said the Plans Database Project was part of the corporation’s commitment to streamline processes and become more efficient.

11:20am Morning tea

11:35am Juliette Cox from DET

Juliette Cox is the Manager, Information Strategy, Policy and Governance at the Department of Education and Training. Juliette has the responsibility for developing and implementing information strategy and related projects across the Department. Juliette will present the Department’s Enabling Collaboration and Compliance program, which was designed to enhance organisational awareness of document and records management and build a set of information tools that would make managing information easier for users.

12:10pm Alan Kong from PROV on the new PROV website 

12:15pm Justine Heazlewood, Keeper of Public Records, closing

12:20pm END


Updated Capture Standard and Specification Released

Rear view of sitting financial analyst. A huge digital screen with the range of graphs, charts, and arrow. Forex trading concept.In December 2015, Public Record Office Victoria commenced a review of the Capture Standard suite of documents

Following consultation with voluntary stakeholders, we developed a staged approach for reviewing the documents. 

As a result of the first stage, we’re pleased to release the updated PROS 11/07 Capture Standard and PROS 11/07 S3 Capture Specification. The revised documents are intended to reduce overlap and respond to new developments in the government recordkeeping environment since the previous documents were created.

We would like to thank all stakeholders who contributed to the review process.

What’s next?

The Capture Standard Refresh team have commenced the second stage of reviewing and updating the remaining capture products, which will focus on aspects of digitisation. It is anticipated that this next phase will be completed by mid-2017. 

PROV is committed to supporting best practice records management through the PROV standards continuous improvement program. If you would like any further information about the Capture Standard refresh, please contact Carly Godden, Senior Officer Legislation and Policy on 9384 5659 or email


Discover new stories of Victoria’s bushrangers at the Old Treasury Building

160811 Foyer Poster cropped again

If you thought you knew all about Victoria’s bushrangers, think again. There’s far more to it than the story of Ned Kelly.

Were they Colonial ‘Robin Hoods’ or murderous thugs?

From the 19th of September, a new exhibition at the Old Treasury Building will reveal the long history of bushranging in Victoria, with some new and little-known characters from our frontier past.

Meet the first bushrangers convicted in 1842 who were tried and executed publicly as an example to others. And the audacious gang who held up travelers on St Kilda Road in the 1850s of which William Strutt’s famous work, Bushrangers (pictured below Courtesy of the Ian Potter Museum of Art), was inspired.

Painting by William Strutt of bushrangers

At the time it was reported:

“They found themselves surrounded; guns were placed at each of their heads, and that of the horse… The attack was so outrageous, that they thought it was a joke; but as they were addressed in the most abusive language and told that their brains would be blown out if they delayed, they got out of their dray…”

Who was the Wild Colonial Boy?

the mugshot of a young James DoolanVisitors can also meet the youngest bushranger, Jack Doolan (pictured), who inspired part of the well-known bushranging song The Wild Colonial Boy

“It’s of a wild colonial boy Jack Doolan was his name
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine
He was his father’s only hope his mother’s pride and joy
And so dearly did the parents love their wild colonial boy…
He’d rob the largest squatters, their stock he would destroy, a terror to Australia was the wild colonial boy.

Wild Colonial Boys is presented by the Old Treasury Building in partnership with Public Record Office Victoria. It features records from the state’s archives and other intriguing artefacts, including Mad Dan Morgan’s death mask from the collection of the Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at the University of Melbourne and Dan Kelly’s armour, on loan from the Police Museum.

And it asks us to think about how we see the bushrangers today. Were they indeed nineteenth century ‘Robin Hoods’ – or just common criminals? We’ll leave you to judge.

What: Wild Colonial Boys: Bushrangers in Victoria
Where: Old Treasury Building, 20 Spring Street, Melbourne.
When: From 19 September 2016 to August 2017. Open Sunday through Friday 10am-4pm (closed Saturdays).
Bookings: This is a FREE exhibition. Bookings not required. 

An exciting public program accompanies the exhibition, see for details. Visitors can also access additional digital content by downloading the ‘Layar’ app and scanning codes hidden throughout the displays.

Ned Kelly

By far the most famous of them all! Get a taste of Ned Kelly’s story (below) before you see the exhibition. Click here to open the gallery in a new window.

What do you think of our Standards and Specifications for government?

iStock_000075065811_MediumSome years ago, archives and records management professionals from across the Victorian public sector worked with PROV to develop a set of Standards and Specifications. These were then established by the Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood, as mandatory Standards under the Public Record Act (Vic) 1973.

Since then PROV has been progressively reviewing the Standards and Specifications, with valuable input from stakeholders across government, to provide appropriate guidance to agencies.

The feedback we receive in conversation with agency staff is that the Standards and Specifications are comprehensive and most of the Principles set out in the 7 Standards remain current and meaningful.

But we are also told:

  • there are a few Requirements which are repetitive, inconsistent, redundant or focus too heavily on EDRMS;
  • some of the Requirements need to vary based on the value and criticality of the records;
  • PROV should make the requirements easier to find and use by developing multiple pathways and demonstrating how they can be used in different scenarios; and
  • PROV should develop a Records Management Assessment Tool which agencies can use.

We are planning to address these issues and would like some more feedback to ensure we have a full understanding of agency perspectives and priorities.

To provide your feedback, please fill in this short survey by Friday 7 October.

Attention street snappers!

Picture 058

Would you like to see your photographs displayed alongside images from the state’s archival collection? 

The Victorian Archives Centre’s Archives Gallery is a community gallery space welcoming street photographers interested in exhibiting their photographs.

Every four months, the gallery will display a new selection of Government archival photographs based on a theme, dating back to late 1800s right through to the 1980s. Public photographic archives were traditionally kept because they reflected a cross section of public activities, and life, from the perspective of government photographers.

We welcome street photographers who would like to submit photos inspired by each theme.  

Ten photos will be exhibited complementing 10 archival photos from Victoria’s past. Here is a Flickr sample album for the upcoming exhibition, the theme for September is Hair: from Mos to FrosUse this album to inspire your submissions! 

How to enter

Download the Submission Form here and email it to by the 5th of September for your chance to exhibit in the upcoming Hair exhibition. 


  • In honouring archival photography the gallery would expect community contributors to submit works that remained true to the original image (no manipulation allowed).
  • The image should pay homage to the theme. 
  • The works must be published (at low res) online for selection and the url link included in the submission form.
  • The original image must be 300 dpi and able to be printed at a size to fit A1 (8MB+). You do not have to send us original images yet, for submission simply provide the URL links. We will ask for your high-resolution files if you are selected to exhibit. 
  • The exhibited submissions will receive their printed copy back at A1 size.
  • Submissions close at 5pm on the 5th of September. 

The Archives Gallery is at back of lobby at 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne. Open Monday-Friday and every first and last Saturday. For more information please contact the Project Manager, Kate Follington, via email at

Exploring Melbourne style through the archives

“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” Yves Saint Laurent.

With Melbourne Spring Fashion Week right around the corner it’s an opportune time to explore the style and fashion of Melbourne’s past. 

The photographers of these images worked for the Public Transport Corporation and Melbourne Harbour Trust and through their lenses they’ve captured fashions of Melbourne ranging from the 1800s to the 1980s and 90s. From 19th Century gowns to floral 50’s swimwear and 70’s flares, take a look back at Melbourne style through the ages…


This is a black and white photograph of a lady with an old fashioned dress from the 1800s.

Ladies dress of period, date unknown, Public Transport Photographic Collection.


This is a black and white photo of two men dressed in suits and hats leaning out of the train car.

Safety First: How not to stand in a carriage doorway. Tait carriage circa 1934. Public Transport Photographic Collection.


A photo of two women dressed up in 30s dresses looking at an advertisement at South Yarra station

Ladies looking at Berlei framed glazed advertisement, South Yarra, c. 1920s to c.1939. Public Transport Photographic Collection.


A photo of a woman leaning on a white picket fence, she is wearing shorts and a floral short sleeved shirt.

Beach model in casual clothes, 1940s. Public Transport Photographic Collection.


A black and white photo of two women dressed in 1940s floral one piece swimsuits.

Beach models in Speedo swimsuits 1940s. Public Transport Photographic Collection.


A colour photo of two women standing next to a train. They are wearing short blue and purple dresses.

Women stepping onto a vintage train at Spencer Street, 1972. Public Transport Photographic Collection.


A black and white photo of a tall woman with a white shirt and black cardigan standing next to a shorter man with suit and tie.

Port Melbourne 1976, Harbour Trust Negatives Collection.


A photo of two men in blue suits and red ties walking side by side down the middle of busy Bourke Street.

Bourke Street Melbourne 1970s-80s, Public Transport Photographic Collection (Tramways Negatives).


Waiting for public transport to arrive, Melbourne, 1970s/80s. Public Transport Photographic Collection (Tramways Negatives).

Waiting for public transport to arrive, Melbourne, 1970s/80s. Public Transport Photographic Collection (Tramways Negatives).


Older women waiting for the train wearing fancy outfits including bright scarves, pearls, long coats and heels.

Women waiting for the train, Melbourne, 1970s/80s. Public Transport Photographic Collection (Railways Negatives).


Explore more fashion photos by searching through our Public Transport Photographic Collection, or by visiting our fashion gallery on Flickr

Family History Month across Victoria


Discover your family history in the archives this Family History Month:

Victorian Archives Centre

Bendigo Regional Archives Centre

  • 9 August, Discovering your ancestors in the archives, Bendigo Library, bookings required.
  • 17 August, Researching your family history with Public Record Office Victoria, Bendigo Library, bookings required.
  • View more events hosted at Bendigo Library here. 

Geelong Heritage Centre

  • 10 August, Geelong hospital records, Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, bookings required.
  • 23 August, Celebrities and their family history, Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, bookings required. 
  • Find more events hosted at Geelong Library and Heritage Centre here. 

Hackney Cab Drivers 1859-1938, Reputable or Reprobate

Black and White photo of a horse drawn cab waiting on Swanston Street outside Flinders Station

External Flinders Street Station, Horse and Cab, Swanston Street VPRS 12800 P3 ADV/0075


Blog post by Graham Herschell, Access Services Officer:

Origins of “Uber”

In 1883, Nietzsche coined the term “Übermensch” to describe the higher state to which he felt men might aspire. From this first iteration of the term, the Uber ride sharing service, which has become very  popular in Melbourne, has grown [1].

Whether or not the Uber ride service has lived up to this lofty ideal is a matter of opinion, and has led to a lot of discussion about the existing taxi services, the conditions of the cars, as well as the friendliness, knowledge and ability of the drivers. This is nothing new!

I don’t know whether the cab drivers of the late Victorian era were in the habit of reading Nietzsche or whether they aspired to any higher state, however the industry was controlled by a board whose judgements and rules were in some ways harsher and in other ways more lenient than today.

I’m sure that, in the main, the public were conveyed by “Uber” sober, law abiding citizens; however, a perusal of the records in the series entitled: Hackney Carriages (Licensed Vehicles) demonstrates that not all of the drivers were without flaws. 

Hackney Carriages of Melbourne 1859 – 1938

The series consists of 15 Volumes stretching from 1859 – 1938 and documents the activities of a committee overseeing the operation of the taxi industry at that time. 

The committee’s major task appears to have been monitoring the various types of license applications (i.e. Hackney Carriages, Motor Car Drivers, Motor Car Owners, Carters and Motor Omnibus) and dealing with any petitions, complaints or correspondence referred to it.

For instance, this excerpt from Page 143 of Volume 2:

“Petition received from Palmer and O…..  praying that the Cabmen on the Richmond road may be permitted to charge 6 pence in lieu of 3 pence for the journey from Melbourne to Richmond and from Richmond to Melbourne after 11pm. Prayers of the petition granted to commence after the 12th January 1876 and cabmen instructed to have the number of passengers which their vehicles are licensed to carry painted inside their cabs.”

However, amongst the formalities, is a bit of larrikinism, often in the form of drunkenness. In June 1873 Edward Cooper fronted the committee. I imagine the hearing might have gone a little something like this…

Meeting of the Committee (Dramatisation)


Meeting of the Committee VPRS4035 P0 Volume2

14th June 1873
Present: Alderman Story (Chairman), Councillor Anderson, Cab driver Edward Cooper, Constable.
(Names have not been changed to protect the innocent as they are all dead anyway either that or they are over 150 years old and don’t care anymore. )

Alderman Story: And why are you fronting the committee?

Edward Cooper: Well, your honour…

Alderman Story: Alderman Story will do.

Edward Cooper: Yes Alderman Story.

Alderman Story: Well?

Edward Cooper: Well what?

Alderman Story: Why, are you here Sir?

Edward Cooper: Cooper will do.

Alderman Story: I beg your pardon?

Edward Cooper: Sorry sir, a bit nervous.

Alderman Story: Indeed… Constable why is he here?

Constable: He’s here Alderman Story because I brought him here.

Alderman Story: And why did you bring him here?

Constable: Oh, yes… well let me see it’s in my notes here somewhere, ah here it is. He stole a pair of boots….no, that’s not it…he.. er, that’s right ah.. He allowed a woman… it was Pratt sir who stole the boots sir… he, Cooper that is, allowed a woman to fall from his cab sir.

Alderman Story: I see, so did the woman fall from his cab or did he push her?

Constable: Oh no sir, she definitely fell from his cab.

Alderman Story: Was he driving…were you driving unduly roughly Cooper?

Edward Cooper: No more unduly than usual Alderman Story.

Alderman Story: Do people often fall out of your cab?

Edward Cooper: Oh no sir, not unless they’re p****d.

Alderman Story: Then there will be no foul language in this committee room!

Edward Cooper: Yes sir.

Alderman Story: So this woman was…. inebriated?

Edward Cooper: As a parrot sir.

Alderman Story: Quite… So Constable, what is the charge.

Constable: The charge sir is that he allowed the drunken woman to fall from his cab and he left her there and drove off without offering any assistance.

Alderman Story: Is this true Cooper?

Edward Cooper: To the extent that it isn’t a lie sir, yes.

Alderman Story: And what excuse can you offer up?

Edward Cooper: I had another fare arranged sir and I didn’t have time.

Alderman Story: What fare?

Edward Cooper: I had to pick up Pratt sir; he was getting some new boots.

Alderman Story: Licence suspended for seven days. Next!

The above of course is pure speculation but the basic facts are recorded in the pages of VPRS 4035 P0 Volume 2. Edward Cooper had his licence suspended for seven days for allowing a drunken woman to fall out of his cab and for leaving her where she fell.


Complaints VPRS 4035 P0 Unit14

Complaints and Other Grievances

Also in the files, George Harris had just left prison after serving a sentence for stealing boots – presumably so he could drive his cab – and then promptly had his licence cancelled. Walter Pratt was refused a licence because he too had been convicted of stealing a pair of boots.

Then there’s the case of Patrick Neil, Charles Douglas and Lewis Nicholson gambling and leaving their horses unprotected on the street.

There are also a number of drink driving offences; earning the perpetrators, Robert Cane and Humphrey Sugden amongst others, a warning with the threat of suspension should they reoffend.

Although I am highlighting the bad, which is always more interesting, you can see by some of the later volumes in the series that the committee is trying its best to improve the situation for both drivers and the public.

The Cabman’s Shelter

Unit 14 of the series covers the 1920s and is typewritten. In it, there seems to be less concern about drunkenness – although on p.226 an Inspector Montgomery reported Thomas E Lappen for being under the influence of liquor whilst in charge of a motor car. Unfortunately Mr Lappen was in gaol at the time so the Inspector was unable to serve a summons on him. There was more concern about such things as locality tests for the drivers, a debate still being had today, and improving a number of taxi stands in the city.

An interesting entry in this volume talks about the demolition of a cabman’s shelter  in Carpentaria Place Melbourne. Carpentaria Place was originally part of the Parliament House grounds but became detached in 1863. It was demolished during the construction of the City Loop and the area is now known as The Gordon Reserve.

Again, Inspector Montgomery reports that  “…the shelter is almost invariably locked up and that it does not at the present time seem to be of any practical use..”

It would seem that the shelter wasn’t demolished after all, according to a report in The Age Newspaper , on June 11, 2005 it was moved to Yarra Park [2]. 

The above is just a small amount of information that can be gleaned from the Hackney Carriages series. This series provides a valuable insight into some of the history and management of  public transport through the years. I think it’s fair to say that many of the issues that were being tackled are still around today and, thanks to the Uber phenomenon, are being discussed in a new light.



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