Adjust Font Size [ + ] [ – ] [ o ]

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

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.

Great White Fleet – 105 years on

Record of the Month – August 2013

Great White Fleet – 105 years on

Souvenir and Official Programme

On the morning of 29 August 1908, sixteen white-hulled battleships carrying fourteen thousand sailors and marines of the United States’ Atlantic Fleet steamed through the Rip and into Port Phillip Bay.

The ‘Great White Fleet’, as this flotilla became known, had been launched on its circumnavigation of the globe by President Theodore Roosevelt. The cruise was a propaganda campaign of extraordinary proportions – a showcase of naval power beyond anything ever before attempted during peacetime. It was also a practical and strategic exercise, at once testing the battle-readiness of the US navy and demonstrating its ability to patrol and protect the US west coast and Pacific interests.

Despite the fact that several ships were antiquated, their arrival had a powerful impact on Australia, politically independent for seven years but still reliant on British military muscle to guarantee its independence.

Concern about this reliance was exacerbated by Britain’s decision to withdraw its Pacific naval presence, and the destruction of the Russian navy by the Japanese during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904–05. The symbolic victory of an Asian navy over a ‘European’ power, coupled with the fact that there was still no formal Australian navy, would have made the presence of the US battleships even more significant.

Victoria pulled out all the stops for ‘Fleet Week’, and records held at PROV show the scale and scope of the welcome: newspaper reporters waxing lyrical about the ‘Turner-esque’ picture of the ships steaming past Dromana; sixteen thousand copies of maps, guide books, railway schedules and souvenir programs printed and distributed to the ships’ crews to guide them around Australia’s biggest city; hundreds of thousands of extra train travellers swarming into Williamstown to see the Fleet, and into Melbourne to meet the sailors; young cadets marching five days from Ballarat to take part in the welcome parade; and of course sailors ‘with a girl on each arm’.

Melburnians laid out the red, white and blue welcome mat for the new Pacific sea power. The records describe months of preparations by state and city officials to celebrate the visit. Suppliers of bunting and decorations rushed to offer their wares, and scores of Victorian town councils, as well as public and private clubs and societies, wrote to beg the State Cabinet American Fleet Reception Committee to consider them when scheduling the official program of events. The Victorian Railways offered cheap excursion trains from country centres, and free travel to the sailors, and carried record numbers of passengers during Fleet Week. Victorians and Americans mingled, as thousands visited the Royal Agricultural Show, where they saw dumbbell and wand exercises by state school students, and flocked to the racing at Flemington, where the Washington Steeplechase and Fleet Trotting Cup were run. The Zoo, the Aquarium and ‘Glacarium’ all offered free entry to visiting sailors.

While country Victoria travelled into the city to meet the sailors, the sailors journeyed out to see the country. At the invitation of a local American citizen, some sailors made the long trip to Mirboo North in East Gippsland, where they saw wood chopping and ‘Aboriginal boomerang throwing’ and took part in foot races (a handsome silver-mounted emu-egg trophy was carried home by the victor) and a tug-of-war. Others travelled to Bendigo and to Ballarat, watching Australian Rules Football and visiting the mines.

In such a flurry of welcome and activity, there were problems, both comic and tragic. The failure of an American officer to pass on an invitation meant that only seven sailors turned up to a reception and dinner at the Exhibition Buildings, where catering had been laid on for 2,800. Two sailors died in train-related accidents, with newspapers quoting a comrade as saying ‘we lose a few in every port’.

Spruiking of the state’s liveability was also in evidence. Visitors were proudly told that, in Victoria, ‘All railways … and supplies of water are state-owned’ and that we had ‘Factories Acts and Wage Boards, Pure Food Laws, Compulsory Vaccinations’ and ‘Manhood Suffrage’ – the Fleet had arrived just three months shy of Victoria awarding the vote to women.

This combination of attractions no doubt contributed to the sailors’ view that Melbourne was the ‘best port of call’ in their 14-month, 20-port call, round-the-world voyage. So convinced were the visitors of Victoria’s, and Australia’s, attractions that 221 deserters jumped ship in Melbourne. The USS Kansas stayed on for a number of days after the rest of the Fleet departed for Albany, Western Australia, in part to wait for a mail steamer, but also to collect stragglers. A reward of $10 was advertised for the successful return of each deserter to his ship, but the conditions of the reward were so difficult to meet that no money was ever paid. By the time the Kansas finally weighed anchor and bade farewell to Melbourne, more than half the deserters had been recovered, but about a hundred men remained behind to start a new life.

Flamboyant press descriptions, bureaucratic reports, orderly minutes, colourful programs, boastful guidebooks, and stacks of correspondence – including telegram upon telegram organising, confirming, rearranging and renegotiating functions, are the records left in the wake of the Great White Fleet’s visit to Victoria. These and more are part of Victoria’s state archives – call in to PROV and have a look at them some time soon.

Welcome to the Australian Fleet Poem

VPRS 10370/P0 Unit 7 – Welcome to the Australian Fleet Poem

Railway Dept - Transport of State School Cadets

VPRS 10370/P0 Unit 7 – Letter regarding the transport of State School Cadets


PROV, VPRS 1163/P0 Inward Correspondence Files (Premier’s Office), unit 483, file P/08/4476 Papers re visit of American Fleet in 1908

VPRS 10370/P0 Records Regarding the American Fleet Visit, units 1–7

(unit 7 contains newspaper clippings, programs and guidebooks)

Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor – From the Archives (Pt3)

In episode 3 of Underbelly: Squizzy last night we were taken on a roller coaster ride with Squizzy and his gang in Squizzy’s quest to rule Fitzroy.

And didnt the shootout at the Railway Hotel where both Henry Stokes and Harry Slater were arrested have Squizzy crouching in a corner like a scared teenager?  This was part of his plan though.  And did you know the Railway Hotel still stands today in West Melbourne?  Take a look at an image from our online Public Transport Corporation photographs that we found with the Railway Hotel in the background in the 1960s.  A truly amazing building.  Search our PTC collection now – Photographic Collection of Railway Negatives index



And didn’t Lorna Kelly make an entrance into Squizzy’s life.  And what was that Women’s Temperance Movement?  When we searched our catalogue we found a couple of references to this group.  Known as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Victoria Inc, organised in May 1891, they quote “re-affirm our total abstinence stand and our opposition to the use of beverage alcohol, tobacco and all other harmful drugs, as well as all immoral and degrading practices”.  This is interesting given Squizzy’s background.  View a letter to the Resolutions National Convention in 1977 below. (VPRS 12549/P3 Unit 14, File 01/05/0007).

VPRS 12549_Page_1 VPRS 12549_Page_3 VPRS 12549_Page_2


In a small quiet town of Fitzroy, in the Jika Jika Parish, in Melbourne, Victoria, a vendetta known as the “Fitzroy Vendetta” often resulted in many shootings in Napier Lane in Fitzroy.  Within our collection, we hold a number of online Parish and Township Plans.  Look what we found – one for the Parish of Jika Jika (VPRS 16171/P1 Plans Ne-R – North Fitzroy in Parish of Jika Jika, Imperial measure M17).   Available to those seeking information on land records is access to the online Parish and Township working plans in VPRS 16171.  The series contains digitised copies of parish and township working plans, as well as closer settlement, land settlement, soldier settlement, county and other miscellaneous working plans.

North Fitzroy M17

Stay tuned for episode 4 of Underbelly: Squizzy next Sunday night on Channel 9.  To start your research using the PROV collection, please visit

Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor – From the Archives

With the series premiere of Underbelly: Squizzy last night, Public Record Office Victoria records featured heavily throughout episode 1 and are sure to continue throughout the rest of the series given that Squizzy and his gang were located in Melbourne, Victoria.

Let us share some of these records with you from last nights show.

Born Joseph Leslie Theodore “Squizzy” Taylor on 29 June 1888, originally lived with his parents, Benjamin Isaiah Taylor and Rosina Taylor (nee Jones) in Brighton however moved to Bridge Road, Richmond after the family coachmaking business was sold by creditors in 1893. 

Take a look at the rate book entry below for number 506 in 1893.  The owner of the property is listed as Pat Toole, a gentleman from Richmond with the “Persons Rated” being crossed out and no name being replaced in this space.

VPRS 9990 P1 Unit 63 pg1VPRS 9990 P1 Unit 63 pg2















Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor.  In last night’s episode, it was eluded to that Leslie’s crime spree really began with the arrest for the murder of the taxi driver William Haines in 1916.  (See the criminal trial brief cover page below)

VPRS 30 P0 Unit 1764 Item179     VPRS 30 P0 Unit 1764 Item 179 – Criminal Trial Brief

In fact, at the age of 16, he was arrested for insulting behaviour.  Although discharged without conviction, this would not be the last time he would meet with the authorities.

VPRS 1931 P0 Unit 14 Pg 158

VPRS 1931 P0 Unit 14 Page 158 – Petty Sessions Register

 In 1906, he was given his first criminal conviction at the age of 17 for theft.

VPRS 1931 P0 Unit 15 Pg 29

VPRS 1931 P0 Unit 15 Page 29 – Petty Sessions Register

With Squizzy’s prisoner records kicked off, he appeared many times in court and was found not guilty for crimes from robbery to theft and loitering with intent to commit a felony.  You can check out all of these criminal trial briefs and petty sessions registers available for ordering and viewing at Public Record Office Victoria.  Visit to start your research.

And then there are the crimes he was convicted from 1906 to 1927.  These are all listed in his prison record below.


VPRS 515/P0, Central Register of Male Prisoner, Unit 60, Folio 43

Stay tuned for episode 2 of Underbelly: Squizzy on Sunday night at 8:30pm on Channel 9 as well as another blog post on Monday from PROV highlighting more original records from our collection.

Hamer Awards: Part Six: Small Agency Category

Ian McCauley and Melissa Jeal of Agriculture Victoria Services receiving the Award for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Ian McCauley and Melissa Jeal of Agriculture Victoria Services receiving the Award for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records


The purpose of this category is to encourage and support records management excellence in agencies that have up to 500 employees.

We would like to congratulate Agriculture Victoria Services on winning the award for their project ‘AVS Technology Transfer Management System Implementation’.

This project was conceived in 2010 by AVS, in response to concerns expressed by its Board that risks associated with the growing complexity of its technology transfer business were not adequately managed by the existing record management systems. The most important of these risks was ensuring that a technology was not “double licensed”, where identical exploitation rights were licensed to more than a single licensee.

The existing system consisted of two entirely separate databases – one for licence agreements, and one for technologies. Thus, “double licensing” risks had to be managed outside of the records management system.

A new TTMS “Inteum” was selected and procured in 2010. Installation, training and integration into AVS business activities was conducted largely during 2011-12 and met or exceeded all expectations with regards to deficiencies in the old system particularly in reducing the risk of double licensing. It has also produced significant gains in productivity and capability across the range of technology transfer management and commercialisation activities within AVS. Perhaps most significantly, it has provided a new focus and framework around which to build and improve our business processes, including, but far wider than just records management.

The AVS Inteum TTMS has significantly strengthened the compliance with fundamental principles of good records management, supported with effective capture, control, storage, access and disposal capabilities underpinned by a system for operational management that has become a vehicle for business improvement.

Andrew Nickson of Regional Rail Link Authority receiving the Certificate of Commendation for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Andrew Nickson of Regional Rail Link Authority receiving the Certificate of Commendation for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records


We would like to congratulate Regional Rail Link Authority on being awarded a certificate of commendation in the small agency category for their Implementation of a Project Wide Web-based Collaboration Tool for the Regional Rail Link Project.

As the single largest rail investment in Victoria’s history, the Regional Rail Link project will deliver a new rail line from the west of Werribee to Deer Park via the existing rail corridor through to Southern Cross Station. The project aims to accommodate the increased growth in rail usage in the west of Melbourne and enable direct access for regional rail services into Melbourne. Due to the large scale of works, delivery of the Regional Rail Link project has been split across six distinctive work packages, involving numerous organisations and contractors with an Authority put in place to oversee the process. 

It was recognised early on that for this project to be a success, there would be significant interface and coordination requirements between the packages and the Authority, as well as the many other various statutory authorities including local councils, and the Accredited Rail Operators. This would require a constant exchange of information that would need to be timely and accurate. The best way to streamline that exchange would be to implement one collaboration tool to be utilised by all project partners to ensure all program related information is appropriately managed and accessible. The correct tool would mean the right information could always be provided to those who need it, when they need it.

Effective project collaboration starts with managing information well. After a lengthy and detailed tender process, the Authority implemented Aconex as the platform for a web-based collaboration system to be utilised across the project to capture all project related information in a secure and traceable manner. This would simplify the formal exchange of information exchange between all parties, and mitigate risks associated with inadequate information management processes.

The project was delivered within the allocated budget, and continues to be managed and operated within the operational budget originally determined. A significant challenge for the Regional Rail Link Authority’s Records & Information Management team was to migrate the backlog of initial design and tender documentation into the system to ensure that the system would be ready to be fully utilised when each contract was signed off. This effort was rewarded when each rollout was met with successful take up by the Work Package teams.


Copyright reform and archives

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released a discussion paper on Copyright reform. It is available here: This discussion paper makes concrete recommendations as to how Australian copyright law should be reformed. 

In this blog post we describe how the changes proposed are likely to affect the services delivered by archives.

Copyright primarily affects two services provided by archives: that of providing access to material in their collection, and preserving material. An extremely useful innovation by the ALRC is to separate the non controversial function of preservation from the controversial function of providing access.

The ALRC proposes repealing the current, unworkable, preservation provisions. Instead, archives (and libraries) would get a general exemption to make as many copies as is reasonably necessary to preserve material. This exemption would be subject to a test based on whether the material was commercially available at a reasonable price – a situation that would hardly ever apply to an archive. Note that the proposed preservation exemption is based around making copies. It is not clear if this change would support preservation processes, such as migration of content from obsolete formats.

Providing access to material in archives is a lot more complex than preservation. Four types of access need to be considered: publishing material on the web, providing digital copies to researchers, allowing researchers to make their own copies, and the old fashion provision of paper copies.

The ALRC suggests four approaches that an archive could take in dealing with copyright for access: fair use, providing restricted on-line access, restricted damages for publishing orphan works, and extended collective licensing. The last two options are problematic for archives. Each of these will be dealt with in turn.

Provision of access (including publication on the web) may be fair use in some circumstances for some archives. For a discussion on the concept of fair use, see our previous blog post on copyright reform and government agencies. Characteristics that might suggest fair use would be: a statutory requirement to provide access (e.g. for government archives under their Act), that the material is provided to specific individuals upon request (and not published), and that there is little or no commercial impact on a (real or potential) market for the material.

For digital copies of material, the ALRC suggests allowing archives (and libraries) to provide digital copies, but restrict what researchers can do with it. The archive must take measures to prevent the researcher from recopying the material, ensure they cannot alter the material, and to limit the time they can access the material. In essence, this would mimic the ability of being able to attend the reading room, view a record, and take notes. A challenge for an archive is that any access to a record is likely to involve access to third party copyright material. The only way this would be feasible is if it was automated – metadata in archival systems would flag third party material and automatically apply the restricted access.

A whole chapter in the discussion paper is devoted to the vexed subject of providing copies of orphan works. An orphan work is one in which the current copyright holder is not known, and hence cannot be contacted for a license to reproduce. Orphans are a particular problem for an archive for the following reasons:

  • Fundamental archival principles require archives to publish the full record. To publish the portion where copyright is clear, but omit the ‘other side of the story’, would be to destroy the integrity of the record.
  • Copyright never expires on unpublished works, hence there is no easy date before which material could assumed to be out of copyright. Even a letter penned in 1856 is in copyright and might have a copyright owner.
  • A significant portion of an archive are orphans. The copyright of anything received by an agency is owned by the creator, and once in an archive is likely to be an orphan. This is partially because of the age of the material – the creator is likely to be dead, or the organisation ceased. But it is also because the creators are ordinary people and organisations. These  are much harder to track down than the relatively small number of published authors or publishers.
  • Archival material is unique. This limits the effectiveness of databases of copyright searches. If one library has conducted a diligent search for the copyright holder of a book, then other libraries with a copy of that book could use the results of that search. If one archive conducts a search for the copyright holder of a letter, however, this is of little use to other archives because no other archive will hold that letter. 

Where providing access is not clearly fair use, but an archive wishes to publish orphan works, the ALRC proposes restricting damages where the archive has conducted a ‘reasonably diligent’ search for the copyright holder.  What would be a ‘reasonably diligent’ search is deliberately not defined in the discussion paper – the ALRC considers that this would vary depending on industry practice, and would change as tools and technologies change. For example, the ALRC envisages the development of databases where the results of copyright searches would be recorded, thus making it easier for subsequent searches by other libraries and archives. Unfortunately, the nature of archival collections (the age, the pervasive nature of orphans in the collection, and the uniqueness of each individual document) suggests that archives would have difficulty in attaining the protection of conducting a ‘reasonably diligent’ search, particularly where conducting a mass digitisation program.

 As an alternative to conducting ‘reasonably diligent’ searches for copyright holders of orphan works, the ALRC proposes the use of ‘extended collective licensing’. In this approach, an archive would negotiate a general license to reproduce material with a collecting society. Unlike today, the collecting society would be able to license reproductions even though the copyright holder was not a member of the society, and, in fact the holder would not even need to be known. A difficulty with extended collective licensing is equity. The collecting societies receive money for distribution to their members, but this is a problem if the actual copyright holders are not members of the collecting society. For this reason, proposed extended collective licensing schemes normally include a requirement that the collecting society be representative of the copyright holders.

Unfortunately, there is no collecting society that is representative of the copyright holders of archival material, which would mean that archives could not make such deals with current collecting societies. Again, this is because the creators of archival material are ordinary people and organisations, and the age of the material means that copyright will have devolved to their descendants.  This would make it very difficult for collecting societies to be representative of the copyright holders.  Current surveyors, for example, are not representative of the current copyright holders of the material of long dead surveyors. In general, living published authors are not representative of the descendants of ordinary people.

One positive feature of extended collective licensing, however, is that under this model making copies on the web would be a licensed publication. Hence, it should start the copyright clock ticking on unpublished material. The material would consequently eventually fall out of copyright and be free to be redistributed.

In summary, the proposed ALRC copyright reforms are a mixed bag when considering archival material. The proposed general exemption for making preservation copies will be a significant step forward, but it would be preferable for the exemption to deal with preservation processes. Unfortunately, the solutions for access are unlikely to be useful for archives. In practice, the only real option for an archive would be to rely on the ‘fair use’ provisions.

Of course, this is just a discussion paper. The eventual ALRC recommendations may be considerably different, and any changes to the law may differ yet further.

However, there is the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper. The comment period closes on 31st July.

Copyright reform and government agencies

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a discussion paper on Copyright reform. It is available here:

This discussion paper makes concrete recommendations as to how Copyright should be reformed. In this blog post we describe how the changes proposed are intended to affect recordkeeping in government agencies.

All government exceptions for the use of copyright material would be abolished. Instead, government use would be judged under a general ‘fair use’ provision. The ALRC proposes four non-exclusive fairness factors that are to be used to judge if a use is ‘fair use’. These are:

  • Purpose and character of use
  • The nature of the copyright material used
  • The amount of the material used
  • The effect on a potential market for (or value of) the material

The ALRC then defines a set of illustrative uses or purposes that may (or may not) be fair use (these are broadly equivalent to the exemptions in the current Copyright act). Two that are specifically relevant to government use are:

  • Research or study
  • Public administration

The paper states that ‘uses essential for the proper conduct of administration […] should be fair use’, and that the purpose and character of the use would be most relevant when determining if a specific government use was fair use. Uses that contribute to efficient and open government are more likely to be fair, while those that engaged in for commercial purposes or have a significant impact on the market for a commercial purpose are less likely to be fair.

The public administration use would apply to all three tiers of government (Commonwealth, State, and local), unlike the present situation where local government is not protected by the Crown exemption, and State and local governments are not protected for FoI purposes or for other situations where they are required to publish information.

It is also proposed that the government would be able to use other fair use illustrative purposes. Notably it may be fair use to use copyright material for research or study, as it would be for an individual or a corporation. Under the current copyright law, it is not clear if the government can use the other copyright exemptions.

For uses that are not ‘fair use’, the ALRC proposes that ‘extended collective licensing’ would be available. Under this model, the government would be able to license copyright material from a collecting agency even if the copyright holder was not a member of the collecting agency. However, copyright holders would be able to exclude themselves from this extended collective license.

To come down to tin-tacks, the following recordkeeping/governance uses are likely to be fair use under the proposed changes:

  • Normal recordkeeping/administration actions (e.g. digitising incoming correspondence and electronically filing it)
  • Copying a reasonable amount of material for the purposes of researching or developing policy
  • Publishing material required by statute (or good governance) provided there was a public good, the use was non-commercial, and the market for the material was not affected.
  • Releasing information under FoI, again provided the market for the material was not affected.

Of course, this is just a discussion paper. The eventual ALRC recommendations may be considerably different, and any changes to the law may differ yet further.

However, there is the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper. The comment period closes on 31st July.

Who Do You Think You Are? – John Howard

In last nights episode of Who Do You Think You Are? John Howard was taken on a journey which identified significant events of his ancestors over many years including those of his great-great-grandfather John Crane Nottage, an architect who built churches in Castlemaine during the gold rush days including the Tarnagulla Church of England and the Methodist Churches.

John Crane Nottage and his wife Harriet Nottage (nee Astlet) arrived in Melbourne with their two children Catherine and Robert aboard the “Luconia” on December 30 1853.  Within the Public Record Office Victoria collection, we located this family via the online shipping index and then viewed the copy of the shipping list on microfiche.

VPRS 947 P0 Unit 4 pg1 - Luconia pg1VPRS 947 P0 Unit 4 pg3 - Luconia p3

VPRS 947/P0 Unit 4 – Unassisted Inward Passenger List

As it was uncovered in the episode, John Nottage of Newbridge, a publican, was made insolvent on 6 March 1866 due to losses in business and family illness over the preceding 9 months.  Insolvency files can be found within the PROV collection – VPRS 759 Proceedings in Insolvent Estates.

VPRS 759 P0 Unit 106 Item 9701 - John Crane Nottage

VPRS 759/P0 Unit 106, Item 9701 – Insolvency John Nottage

John Crane Nottage sadly passed away at the age of 49 on 13 Oct 1870.  John did not leave a will however probate was granted. See below link:

Public Record Office Victoria holds Wills and probate records created between 1841 and 2007.  Wills and probate records created 1841 and 1925 have been indexed and most are digitised and available online free of charge.  Please visit our online search index – 

Probate is the process of proving to the court the validity of a will. The grant of probate is the official document issued to the executor of the estate to pay all debts, collect any monies due and to distribute any remaining assets in accordance with the wishes of the deceased as expressed in the will.  Letters of administration are issued when a person dies without a valid will.  This is the alternate grant to granting of probate.  A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator or testatrix, to make decisions on how their estate will be managed and distributed after death.   The will usually names one or more persons, the executor or executrix, to carry out the wishes and directions in relation to the estate.  If a person does not leave a will, or the will is declared invalid, the person will have died ‘intestate’, resulting in the distribution of the estate according to the legislation of the state in which the person resided.

A fantastic episode of Who Do You Think You Are? last night on SBS.  Well done to John Howard and also to the team including Linda Emmery for piecing together John’s family history.

For all family history research, visit our researcher landing page at to get you started.

Page 10 of 17« First...89101112...Last »