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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

We will be closing the Reading Room at 1:00pm on Fri 19 Dec, reopening Mon 22nd at 10:00 am

What’s new in our Collection – October 2013

New PROV logo BLACKThe below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 3727 City of Yarra
VA 2494 Richmond City

VPRS 9984 P0003 Various Committees and Conference Minutes [1963 to 1979]

VPRS 12889 P0004 Reports to Council and Council Committees [1901 to 1981]


VA 2493 Queenscliffe (Municipal District 1863; Borough 1863-ct)

VPRS 16248 / P0003 Contract Files [2007-2009]

VPRS 17038 / P0001 Building Permit Files [1955-1997]


VA 4944 Wannon Region Water Authority

VA 2096 Hamilton Waterworks Trust

VPRS 17085 P0001 Waterworks Trust Meeting Minutes [1899 to 1983]

VPRS 17086 P0001 (Finance and Works Committee) Committee Minutes [1901 to 1953]


VA 2215 Hamilton Water Board

VPRS 17087 P0001 Board Meeting Minutes [1983 to 1994]


VA 1982 Hamilton Sewerage Authority

VPRS 17088 P0001 Meeting Minutes [1935 to 1983]

VPRS 17089 P0001 (Finance Committee) Committee Minutes [1935 to 1953]


VA 4241 Glenelg Region Water Authority

VPRS 17090 P0001 Agendas, Reports and (Minutes from 1994 to 1996) [ 1994 to 2005]

VPRS 17091 P0001 Meeting Minutes [1996 to 2005]


VA 3686 Gannawarra (Shire 1995-ct)

VPRS 16763 / P0001 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1996-1999]

VPRS 16765 / P0001 Rate and Valuation Register, Computer Printouts [1995-1999]


VA 2447 Kerang I (Shire 1898-1995)

VPRS 16764 / P0001 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1983-1995]

VRPS 16767 / P0001 Rate and Valuation Register, Computer Printouts [1985-1990]


VA 2446 Kerang II (Borough 1966-1995)

VPRS 16762 / P0001 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1989-1994]

VPRS 16808 / P0001 Rate and Valuation Register, Computer Printouts [1994-1995]


VA 2407 Cohuna (Shire 1922-1995)

VPRS 16761 / P0001 Rate Records, Computer Printouts [1984-1991]

VPRS 16766 / P0001 Rate and Valuation Register, Computer Printouts [1982-1995]


VA 3706 Monash (City Council 1994-ct)

VA 2532 Waverley (City 1961-1994) and VA 2706 Monash (City 1994-ct)

VPRS 17274 / P0001 Contract Registers [1961-1995]

VA 4848 Mulgrave (Shire 1897-1961) and VA 2532 Waverley (City 1961-1994)

VPRS 17275 / P0001 Contract Registers [1914-1965]

VA 871 Oakleigh II (Borough 1891-1924); Town 1924-1927; City 1927-1994)

VPRS 17276 / P0001 Contract Registers [1924-1957]

Irish Famine Orphans

Lady Kennaway Nominal Disposal List page 1

Lady Kennaway Nominal Disposal List page 1

My obsession with the Irish Famine Orphan Immigration began as a result of being asked to present an Information Session at the Immigration Museum in October 2012 as part of their “Leaving Dublin” Exhibition”.  After a great deal of research, my session, titled “Irish Immigration to Victoria using the Resources of Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)” was born.

Not a very catchy title, I’ll admit, but the stories that I discovered had me caught …. hook, line and sinker!! There were stories of good girls who went bad, those who went mad, those whose lives were filled with an almost inevitable tragedy, those who vanished and those who made good lives for themselves and the children who followed them.

These (mainly illiterate) girls – and a few from England and Scotland – are the stuff that the pioneers of Australia were made of – in fact, they were pioneers who explored a frightening land, totally alien to anything that they had ever previously experienced in their short lives before reaching Australian soil.  Many of them married within a very short time of arriving here and life, for many of them, was very hard – as it was for many of the working-class people of the time.

I began my research with perhaps fifteen stories of girls whose lives told the story of Australia – the most memorable for me are the tragic ones like Alice Ball, Mary Coghlan, Margaret Gorman,

There are websites and memorials dedicated to these brave girls who traveled half-way around the world to make a life for themselves in Australia – Irish Famine Memorial Sydney and the Memorial Rock at Williamstown. An invaluable resource is “Barefoot and Pregnant?” by Trevor McLaughlin.

What I have commenced doing is to list all the girls who arrived in Victoria on the six vessels and to research their stories through the official records held by Public Record Office Victoria – records such as Nominal Passenger Lists, Disposal Lists, Prison records, Criminal Trial Briefs, Inquests, Wills and Probates, Licensing Registers, Land Records, Inward and Outward Correspondence, Rate Books and Asylum Records. It is a very ambitious task – especially seeing that I do it in my spare time. The website is

Through this blog, I plan to share the stories that I am currently researching with all the highs and frustrations of the search.

Written by: Christine O’Donnell, Access Services Officer

Showcase Record – October 2013

Crawford Pasco (1818-1898)

Sketches by Crawford Pasco VPRS 5488

Highland on Wilson's Promontary

Born in Plymouth, England in 1818, Crawford Atchison Denman Pasco established his long career on the seas with the Royal Navy at the age of 12. By 1837 Pasco had been involved in the Portuguese Civil War, the Battle of the Scheldt, the siege of Oporto and had been witness to the repercussions of revolutions and earthquakes in Peru and Chile. By 1839 Crawford was serving on the Beagle, which had been engaged to survey parts of Australia’s northern and western coasts, which had been integral in the discovery of the Adelaide River, the future port of Darwin and the Victoria River. From 1842 he had been involved in survey work in Bass Strait, sailed via America to the Far East, South Africa, Van Diemen’s Land, Canton, Singapore, Penang, Borneo and the Philippines, where he carried repatriation money from the Opium War and is said to have ‘subdued a rebellious rajah’.

In 1852 Crawford Pasco set sail for Australia as a passenger on the P. & O. Co. steamship Chusan. It was Pasco who navigated the way through Port Phillip Heads. Once in Victoria he retired from the navy and was appointed as a police magistrate and helped to organise the expanding Williamstown water police force. Dealing primarily with deserting crews, he was instrumental in convicting sailors imprisoned in hulks instead of a Melbourne gaol.

[5] View from Cement Hill Stockyard Creek Corner Inlet 18 Sept 1873

Retiring for the second time at the age of 60 Crawford Pasco became a founding member of the Victorian Branch of the Geographical Society in 1884 as well as the chairman for the first Antarctic Exploration Committee, which was heavily involved in encouraging support in Australia, Scandinavia and Great Britain from politicians, scientists, whalers, explorers and philanthropists.

In 1878 Crawford Pasco became the owner of ‘Mt Edgecombe’, one of the first buildings of substance and scale in the west end of Queenscliff. The Pasco’s summer residence still stands today.

Donated to PROV in 1983 were seven sketches varying in content and size by Crawford Pasco. These sketches were all produced in 1873 by the retired naval officer and include ‘Queenscliff from Life Boat pier’, ‘View of Port Albert August 1873’ and ‘Original Homestead of Stevens, Willis and Swanston at Queenscliff’.

Original Homestead of Stevens, Willis & Swanston 26 July 1873

To find out further about Crawford Pasco you can consult the following PROV resources:

Passenger Lists – available online

Wills and Probate Records 1841-1925 – available online

Inward Registered Correspondence VPRS 937

Land Records VPRS 624

Phoebe Wilkens – Access Services Officer


New Records Transfers

New PROV logo BLACKThe below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 3723 Wellington (Shire 1994-ct)
VPRS 17327 / P1 Council Minutes [1994-2012]

VA 2372 Alberton (Road District 1855-1864; Shire 1864-1994)
VPRS 16775 / P1 Council Minutes [1856-1994]VPRS 16776 / P1 Rate Books [1863-1959]

VA 2377 Avon (Road District 1864-1865; Shire 1865-1994]
VPRS 16774 / P1 Council Minutes [1864-1994]VPRS 570 / P1 Rate and Valuation Books [1942-1981]

VA 2461 Maffra (Shire 1875-1994)
VPRS 16777 / P1 Council Minutes [1875-1994]VPRS 16778 / P1 Rate Books [1875-1965]VPRS 16779 / P1 Council Committees Minutes [1985-1992]

VA 2500 Rosedale (Road District 1869-1871; Shire 1871-1994)
VPRS 16780 / P1 Council Minutes [1869-1994]VPRS 16781 / P1 Rate Books [1894-1938]

VA 2504 Sale (Municipal District 1863; Borough 1863-1924; Town 1924-1950; City 1950-1994)
VPRS 16782 / P1 Council Minutes [1966-1994]VPRS 16783 / P1 Rate Books [1950-1963]

The below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our Ballarat reading room.

VA 3805 Horsham I (Road District 1862-1864), and
VA 2536 Wimmera (Shire 1864-1995)
VPRS 17331 / P0001 Notices of Motion and Proceedings of the Council [1862-1885]VPRS 17332 / P0001 Engineer’s Outward Letter Book [1862-1885]

VA 2536 Wimmera (Shire 1864-1995)
VPRS 17333 / P0001 Council Minutes [1915-1995]VPRS 17335 / P0001 Notices of Motion [1975-1994]VPRS 17336 / P0001 Council Summons to Council Meetings [1978-1995]VPRS 17337 / P0001 Reports to Council (Engineer’s Reports) [1983-1994]VPRS 17337 / P0002 Reports to Council (Shire President’s Reports) [1949-1980]VPRS 17337 / P0003 Reports to Council (Shire Secretary’s Reports) [1983-1994]VPRS 17338 / P0001 Outward Letter Books [1989-1995]

Records can be ordered online via Access the Collection

Storage Management – Safety First

162-378-IMG_2383Accidents happen. We all know that, but how do we go about providing a safe work environment in an Archive housing close to 100 linear kilometres of records – an estimated 15 million individual records in various shapes and sizes – covering 12,000 square metres of repository floor space over two floors?

It’s simple: lots of hard work, relevant information, sound processes and committed staff – and PROV has all of these.

Since 2006 there has been a renewed commitment from PROV’s Executive to support a safe work environment. We have undertaken two major ergonomic assessments, in 2006 and again in 2012, in which over 150 recommendations were made. To assist in the retrieval process, we have installed new shelving, and purchased numerous hydraulic lifters and over 100 spring-loaded ladders of all sizes, We’ve improved our storage management by ensuring we follow the recommended manual retrieval processes (what we at PROV also call “picking”), as defined by WorkSafe.

The provision of effective and timely training and advice is critical. Every year manual handling training is provided, and staff must receive manual handling before they can commence work within the PROV repository. OH&S risk assessments are regularly undertaken, and equipment and fittings are regularly inspected to ensure they are operating as required. We have developed or are developing standard operating practice (SOP) and safe work practice (SWP) documentation for all manual handling activities.

Sometimes the best OH&S measure is simply to make sure that the safer thing to do is also the easier thing to do. Repository staff walk several kilometres each day whilst picking items – so what do they do when confronted with an item that is too heavy or awkward to move alone? The problem is solved before it is created – codes for heavier items let staff know exactly what they’re going to find at the end of their walk. Code VH2E, for example, means that a volume is heavy, will require two people and equipment to retrieve.

Accidents will happen regardless of how much work we do. As a result of a recent minor accident, WorkSafe undertook an inspection of our repository and could not attribute any blame to our system, processes, equipment or training. In fact they complimented PROV on our safety management within the repository.

PROV has recently hosted a project undertaken by another Government department in which manual handling was provided to their staff. Their staff where so impressed by the high level of training their departments Chief Training Officer attended PROV to learn from our training and how it could be incorporated into theirs.

We at PROV are proud of our OH&S record and the work we do to ensure our staff can do their jobs safely.

For further information, please contact Merrick Morris, Senior Manager Collection Services at or on (03) 9348 5683.

PROV Storage Management – Meeting the Standard

RepositoryPhotoThe ability to store a collection in state of the art facilities goes a long way in ensuring that all of the collection’s items will be available for use and or display well into the future.

“State of the art” is an easy phrase to write; establishing and managing a state of the art repository is a real challenge.  There are a number of factors that can contribute to  making a repository “state of the art”, including the facility which houses it, its environmental systems, security, preservation and conservation resources, the training provided for its staff, steps taken to ensure a safe work environment, management of any risks and disaster prevention and management.

To assist organisations like PROV, standards have been produced both locally and internationally that set out requirements for high quality collection storage and management.

PROV has produced its own Storage Standard, “PROS11/01”, which has two specifications supporting it: Specification 1 is for Agency and Approved Public Record Office Storage Supplier (APROSS) and Specification 2 is for Places of Deposit Storing State Archives.

During 2012-13 PROV undertook a project to assess its own storage management against Specification 2. An independent assessment panel was established to review evidence, undertake inspections and to discuss the merits of PROV’s storage management.

The results of the assessment are very pleasing: we rated an impressive 96.7% against the specification.

This is not a perfect score and that is to be expected. (For example, the Specification requires all collection storage containers to be acid-free. On that basis alone, PROV can’t score perfectly, as we have an ongoing project to move out of non-archival containers which were in use in the 1980s and earlier.) However, there were no areas identified within the assessment that required any significant remedial attention, or changes to our current practices.

PROV will continue to seek ways to improve our storage and collection management, ensuring the collection is available for all users now and into the future.

Well done PROV!





 New PROV logo BLACK

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The fees that the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) charges for providing copies of public records are set under the Public Records Regulations 2003.

These Regulations need to be renewed every 10 years, and are next due for renewal in November 2013.

During May and June, PROV conducted consultation with its stakeholders on the renewal of the Public Records Regulations. We received valuable feedback and undertook to report back once the process was completed. We can now report that as a result of further internal and external review, PROV has made a number of revisions to our Regulations.

Changes to conditions of use

The conditions of use have been revised to better reflect current expectations. Regular users of the Reading Room at the Victorian Archives Centre or the Ballarat Archives Centre will note that the proposed conditions are in line with existing practices which are available in a number of fact sheets.

Changes to fees

As the fees are set by the Regulations, PROV has not been able to increase its photocopying or digitising charges in 10 years. This has resulted in fee levels being charged at a lower rate than the cost of recovery. PROV’s renewed Regulations include a relatively small increase in fees to address this.

We believe that this small increase will help us to continue to deliver quality reproduction services to our users across the next decade. Fees will be increased in four phases over the ten year life of the Regulations. This approach is designed to account for inflation, so that a major overhaul is not needed in 2023.

Please note: PROV welcomes and encourages all users to make their own digital representations of public records using their own digital cameras or digital cameras provided in the Reading Rooms.

Some services have been removed from the Regulations:

  • Microfilm services will no longer be listed in the Regulations, however, material from microfilm can still be obtained in a number of forms:
    • A researcher can make a copy from a computer or a microform reader onto their own USB free of charge.
    • Printing from microform readers will be phased out as the toner becomes unavailable. In the meantime, there will be no charge for self-service printing.
  • Fees for inspection of records will no longer apply. PROV inspects all records on their admission to the archive.

A comparison of the changes to Conditions of Use and the Fees can be downloaded here (

A copy of the proposed Public Records Regulations 2013 can be downloaded here (

We’d like your feedback

PROV wants to hear from Reading Room and remote users of the archive about our proposed fee changes. All feedback, ideas and suggestions are welcome.

  • You can send us your thoughts in an email to
  • You can send us a submission in writing to:
    Manager, Standards and Policy
    Public Record Office Victoria
    PO Box 2100 North Melbourne Vic 3051.
  • You can talk to any of our friendly Access Services Officers on your next visit to our Reading Rooms

Written and verbal feedback needs to be received by 23 September 2013 to be considered.

You’ll be kept informed

Each person or group that provides us with input will be acknowledged and will receive a response.

Showcase Record – September 2013

Bound Circulated Photographs & Criminal Offences of Convicted Persons – VPRS 7856

This is a fascinating series comprising of 67 of 68 bound volumes transferred into the custody of Public Record Office of Victoria by the Public Record Office of South Australia.  The series includes original photographs of convicted persons, listed offences and prior convictions, place and date of birth, details of arrival in Australia (if applicable), education details, distinguishing physical features, “VR” number reference and docket reference.

The series spans 1924-1954.  Currently volumes 1-36 (covering 1925-1927) are on Open Access and available to order for viewing in our Reading Room.

Units 37 – 68 are closed Under Section 9, Sub-Section (2) of the Public Records Act  – Containing personal information on the data subject and will not be released during the prospective lifetime of the data subject. This is 75 years after creation of the records regarding adults and 99 years after the creation of the record relating to children.

Further volumes are opened as the 75 year closure period elapses.

The series provides and interesting glimpse into the changing punishments in the criminal justice system. One example is the case of a prisoner who committed Manslaughter in 1925. He was sentenced to15 years hard labour and to be “thrice whipped with the cat-o-nine-tails, each whipping to consist of 15 lashes”.  Application of leave of appeal was granted four days later, the Governor General decreed the whippings were omitted, but otherwise the sentence was to stand.  In 2013, this punishment is shocking for us to contemplate.

37470 Francis Perkins v2

7535 Irene Brownv2

Creating Agency:

1924-1954 – South Australian Police Department        VA 2967

Agency currently responsible:

1989-continued – Public Record Office Victoria           VA 683

Kerry Harding – Access Services Officer


Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor – From the Archives (Pt5)

Episode five of Underbelly: Squizzy started off as a sombre affair, with Les and Lorna visiting the grave site of their young daughter June.  As Senior Detective John Brophy said, this is “not the natural order of events”.  At Public Record Office Victoria, we hold a selection of records about cemeteries, including some records created by cemetery trusts.  To search our collection, start with our cemeteries tab on our researcher landing page –

With violence peaking in the early 1920’s, we saw the robbery of the Commercial Bank on Smith Street by Squizzy and his gang.  During Squizzy’s get away he knocks over a mother and her pram only to carefully pick up the baby and hand it back to its mother.  Sadly for Squizzy, this couple were able to provide police with details of his appearance which enabled a sketch artist to make a composite sketch of his face.  Squizzy was arrested for this robbery however he was not convicted.  We have found the Court of Petty Sessions Register at Northcote which contains details of his arrest:


VPRS 338/P0 Unit 17, Page 225 – Court of Petty Sessions/Magistrates’ Court Registers

Episode five also saw the arrival of two new characters in the life of Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor.  The first was the beautiful young Ida Pender who Squizzy met in the Women of Paris Apparel shop while buying his wife Lorna a gift.

The second was a potential new member of Squizzy’s gang.  Joseph Lennox Cotter was introduced to Squizzy by Tank, however he didn’t leave a very good impression on Squizzy and was rejected.  Public Record Office Victoria has Joseph Lennox Cotter’s prison record digitised and available online for you to view.  You can also search for other male prison records online now – VPRS 515/P1 Central Register of Male Prisoners (search for your prisoner surname within series 515)


VPRS 515/P1 #35288 – Central Register of Male Prisoners

And finally, in this episode it looks as though Squizzy’s luck may have just about run out when he was caught red handed in the Scales Warehouse Fine Furs.  He was charged with burglary and committed to stand trial however when his trial date arrived, he failed to appear at court and the bail money was forfeited.  Squizzy spent the next 14 months on the run.  We will see more of this in the next episode next Sunday night at 9pm on Channel 9.

VPRS 30 P0 Unit 1985 File 517 of 1922

VPRS 30/P0 Unit 1985 File 517 of 1922 – Criminal Trial Brief


Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor – From the Archives (Pt4)

The fourth episode of Underbelly: Squizzy was an eventful one!  We were to assume Squizzy had married Lorna and witnessed the birth and tragic death of their daughter June who at only eight months fell victim to the Spanish Flu epidemic.

If you are looking to do some research in this area, certificates of Victorian births, deaths and marriages can be obtained from the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, for a fee.  The Registry’s contact details are:

Street Address: 595 Collins Street, Melbourne

Postal Address: PO Box 4332, Melbourne, VIC 3001

Telephone (Australia) 1300 369 367

Telephone (Overseas) +61 3 9613 5111


For further information, please consult our PROVguide number 18 –

If Channel 9 were to show the wedding of Leslie Taylor and his first wife Lorna Kelly, they would have showed it in the St James’s Congregational Church in Fitzroy.  Public Record Office Victoria’s Public Building Files contain correspondence, plans and other material (see below an example for the Congregational Church in Victoria Parade Fitzroy)

You can kick start your own research in this area by searching our online index and ordering to view the original record within our reading room at North Melbourne.

VPRS 7882 P1 Unit 664 Item 4988 pg1

VPRS 7882 P1 Unit 664 Item 4988 – Public Building FilesVPRS 7882 P1 Unit 664 Item 4988 pg2

VPRS 7882 P1 Unit 664 Item 4988 – Public Building Files

This episode also took us back to 1919 when lucky Squizzy took over Henry Stokes’ fine establishment while Henry and Annie Stokes sailed back to Tasmania.  We at Public Record Office Victoria have done some sleuthing and a search of our outward passenger index does not have Henry and Annie Stokes listed as sailing to Tasmania.   However, there are entries of a Miss A Stokes sailing to Sydney in February 1920.  Was this our Annie Stokes of the Squizzy era?

Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1923


Search for passengers who travelled on ships leaving Victoria between 1852 and 1923.

Family Name Given Name Age Ship Name Month Year Destination Film_Mth Film_Yr Page

Search for your ancestors coming into Victoria or leaving Victoria using out passenger lists –

Stay tuned for episode 5 of Underbelly: Squizzy on Channel 9 this Sunday night at 9pm and the following day for our blog post highlighting original records from the archives.

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