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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

May Records Management Network event wrap-up

  • Photo of a microphone
    Records Management Network, May 2016.

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) hosted the latest installment of the Records Management Network (RMN) on Friday 6th May 2016. The event featured presentations from across Victorian Government and the private sector, focusing on records management innovations and improvements, predominately in the digital sphere.

From the City of Casey, Sally Curtain, Tim Brown and Sheena Frost presented ‘Recordkeeping by Stealth, our Journey to Digital’. It outlined how the largest municipality in Victoria transformed their information management regime from predominately paper-based to a digital environment. With a clear digitisation plan and road map, the City of Casey demonstrated that they have greatly increased the uptake of records managements users in their organisation, as well as the quantity of documents on, and storage volumes within, enterprise content management (ECM). Along the way City of Casey have been able to gradually move closer to the PROV standard for records compliance. A key challenge has been reducing paper usage and related physical storage, while maintaining a customer first, digital first philosophy.

Linda Tolson from Monash Health presented, ‘Migration of Records from Legacy System – Managing the Change’, outlining how the organisation has been able to create better information management efficiencies. As the largest health provider in the state, it manages a vast array of records covering patients, clinical health, and business administration, including significant quantities of contracts and student practitioner records. Recordkeeping issues and challenges were identified, with the aim to have 70% of electronic documents stored in their EDRMS. This involved a TRIM and network drive migration and file mapping; here Monash Health swept out the DIRT – documents which were Duplicates, Irrelevant, Redundant and/or Trivial.

Iron Mountain’s Daniel Warren-Smith presented on ‘Digitisation Trends in the Private Sector’. The company’s three main scanning solutions are pre-process, post-process, and legacy conversion. From here, five ‘lessons’ from digitisation with examples were shared with the audience. One such lesson was ‘The business case is never in the paper’, implying that paper based recordkeeping attracts high storage and access costs, and carries a degree of risk while potentially hindering the desired level of customer service. Another key lesson was ‘Simple solutions are best’. Daniel gave the example of a document conversion that Iron Mountain carried out involving 30,000 files, where the client had an overly onerous document classification in place; this had to be simplified for efficiency. Along with simplicity, another take home message was the advice to look at the process, rather than focusing on the technology to be used.

Lyn Morgan’s presentation (from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC)) ‘Resilience – the key to successfully rolling out a records management project’ highlighted how the TAC audited their information management practices, and overcame barriers to eventually implement an EDRMS. This was facilitated by an appointed project team, which was assigned after a retention and disposal authority (RDA; PROS 14/01) was issued in August 2014, for use by TAC, as well as a BCS being created. Lyn highlighted that it was difficult process, emphasising that good recordkeeping has benefits for the user, but that staff need to understand how the EDRMS will help them in their work. Each TAC workgroup’s records access requirements were sought to be met through the configuration of the EDRMS. Resilience and ‘a bit of mongrel’ were vital ingredients during the implementation process.

Finally, Michelle Tolliday from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) presented ‘Access to Public Sector Information’, which described the 2009 Economic Development & Infrastructure (EDIC) Parliamentary Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data (PSI Inquiry) and the subsequent 2015 VAGO report Access to Public Sector Information. VAGO’s role is to provide assurance to parliament on accountability and performance of the Victorian public sector. The extensive VAGO 2015 recommendations included the development of whole-of-government information management framework; the use of PROV’s IM3 tool; and maintaining the PSI asset register.

Stay tuned for copies of each of the presentations. To sign up for notifications about future RMN events, email standards@prov.vic.gov.au

Bendigo Library Heritage Discovery Week

advertiser_letter_rate_booksThe Bendigo Regional Archives Centre is planning a week of talks, tours and workshops as part of Bendigo Library’s Heritage Discovery Week

The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre is a grassroots historical archives centre, where visitors can view and use original historical records in person.

Take a tour of the archives, discover what secrets lie amongst the local council’s 19th century correspondence or learn what mattered most to Bendigo citizens through a rich archive of petitions. 

 

The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre will also be open on Saturday 14 May from 10-2pm, along with Bendigo Library, for a special Heritage Discovery Day event. There will be research staff on hand to answer questions, volunteers from local genealogical groups and City of Greater Bendigo Heritage staff. 

Bookings are essential.

Learn more about the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre here. 

View the full Bendigo Heritage Week program here.

Hazel Edwards’ 13 tips for historians marketing a memoir

NEW hazeledwardshires4jpegHazel Edwards is coming back to the Victorian Archives Centre this June to teach us all how to write a ‘non-boring’ memoir. Here she’s given us a sneak preview into some of her tips for what to do once your memoir is published. 

13 Tips for Family Historians Marketing a Memoir:

Family historians or ‘genis’ have special challenges. How should they shape their stories? And how can they share them?

A ‘memoir’ is a slice of life, not a whole history. It may be autobiographical (about you) or biographical (about a relative) or it may be a special period or place. But generally your prospective readers will already be interested, because it’s about THEM even if the link is tenuous.

Unless your subject has broad interest, you’ll be self-publishing for a family reader rather than submitting to a  traditional publisher.

The ‘indie’ world of self-publishing is full of memoirs which are shorter versions of autobiographies. What will make yours stand out? Assuming you’ve written it as well as possible, why might the media give your book any attention? Often the ‘indie’ author has to be the publicist too. With only 24 hours in a day, time and energy management matters.

  1. Have a generic description of less than 100 words which you can attach to any media. Could be the BCB (back cover blurb) like this but needs to be written in the style (and tone) of the book.

Not Just a Piece of Cake – Being an Author

Hazel Edwards has a cake-eating hippo on her roof, an OAM for Literature and thousands of book-children, as well as a real family, plus the Hazelnuts she has mentored and a readership in thirteen languages.

Using ‘anecdultery’, Hazel explains why writing, longterm, is mentally risky but vital culturally and contributes to a non-boring life. The hippocampus is where memories are kept, even those of Antarctica, where Hazel was an expeditioner. She shares her author quest and the quandary of how much to reveal. (OAM is not for Hippo as an Outsized, Awesome Myth.)

  1. Put a hi-res magazine quality author photo ( & cover) on your website under Media Resources for easy download. Saves time, looks professional and controls the quality of the visuals. For example: http://www.hazeledwards.com/page/media_resources.html
  1. Have a marketing strategy and tick off which worked and why the others didn’t. Bad timing? Wrong sort of place?

  2. A Media Release is a significant single page used in many ways. Tight, informative writing. No gush. Make sure it is not too hi-res for emailing, especially the cover. Needs information such as ISBN, price, where available, format, tiny bio, blurb and cover with your phone contact details for interviews.
  1. Compile an up-to-date list of your PR contacts and offer each a slightly different angle. What is the local interest?

  2. Don’t overlap. For example, the ABC radio will only interview you once. Which is the most appropriate audience area with the greater impact for your subject matter? Regional? National? Community radio? Drive-time? Middle of the night? With limited print review possibilities, online or radio is faster.

  3. Prepare and aptly label so you can find PR material quickly. E.g. How long ? 400 words? 1000 words?  50 or 100 word bio?   Lo or Hi res photo? Where used before?  Don’t have 10 different ones labelled Final Version.

  4. Drop box is useful especially for hi-res photos or long manuscripts. You can email the link to the file on dropbox which saves you printing out or separately e-mailing the big attachment.

  5. Prepare a sheet of points or one-liners useful for when interviewed. Use humour. Link to title. Tell an anecdote against yourself related to researching the memoir.

  6. Describe what your book is about in one sentence. Use the title. Hint at the conflict. e.g.  Via anecdultery, ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ shares the risks of being an author longterm when you also have a family.
  1. Don’t agonise over what you HAVEN’T written about. Save that for the next project.

  2. Expect a 10% return on PR initiatives.

  3. Enjoy the process of sharing the significant ideas you’ve discovered in your research and writing. But use humour and be succinct.

Hazel Edwards OAM has published 200 books in various genres but is best known for the classic picture book series, ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’ touring as a theatrical production ‘Hippo! Hippo! – the Musical’. She runs workshops on ‘Writing a Non Boring Family History’ and ‘Authorpreneurship;The Business of Creativity’.  Her memoir is ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ (Brolga). Co-written ‘Hijabi Girl’ is just out. 

 

Citizens build Bendigo in the 1870s

You may think of gravel on roads, kerbs, and the establishment of footpaths as menial tasks and not exciting to research as historical subject matter. However, examining petitions on such issues can take your research far beyond the construction of a simple footbridge. You can map the establishment of a town, question the path of its citizens, and even find you ancestor’s name among the petitioners to learn what they saw as important issues in their community.

The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre’s (BRAC) online petitions from residents between 1870 and 1874 provide fascinating insight into infrastructure concerns of the people and the impacts on local life.

A handwritten petition from the residents of Golden Gully

Petition – Footbridge for Golden Gully 18710900

September 1871

To his Worship the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Sandhurst

Gentlemen,

The undersigned residents of Golden Gully beg to draw your attention to the great want of a crossing for foot passengers between the Royal Oak Hotel on the West and the Eastern Side of the Gully. There is a private track which with a small foot bridge might be available at a small cost. There is no crossing between the road which leads to the Belle Vue Hotel and Mr Murcotts, which is a distance of about a mile, many miners who go to work on night shifts are most seriously inconvenienced by the present state of things. Trusting you will give the subject your earliest attention.

We are Gentlemen
Your obedient Servants

Robt. Balmers, Golden Gully
Michael Devereux, Poor Mans Gully
William Tulip, Golden Gully
Richard Alcock, Irons Reef
Thomas Atkin, Sheeps Reef
Edward Howe, Golden Gully
Charles Mumford, Poor Mans Gully
Robert Leach, Poor Mans Gully
John Lowery, Golden Gully
George Bastow, Golden Gully
William Andrews, Golden Gully
Charles Hunt, Golden Gully
James Tingey, Golden Gully
John McNab, Golden Gully
Job Bye, Golden Gully
John Nicolas, Golden Gully, Manager of Union Jack Co.
King Hoey, Golden Gully
Patrick Hayes, Bridge Street
William Tiplady, Golden Gully
Richard Roots, Golden Gully
George Young, Golden Gully
Abraham Chapman, Golden Gully
Wm. Long, Golden Gully
Robert Nicholls, Golden Gully
George Brown, Golden Gully
Peter Hateen, Golden Gully
John Browell, Golden Gully
James Waite, Golden Gully

Robt. J. Scott, Golden Gully
Edwd. Hickey, Golden Gully
James Jamieson, Golden Gully
Thomas Trahair, Golden Gully
Thomas Carbines, Golden Gully
John Carbines, Golden Gully
Michael Donovan, Golden Gully
Reuben Hare, Golden Gully
Simon Shore, Golden Gully
James Hunter, Golden Gully
Harry Farmer, Golden Gully
T. Young, Golden Gully
W.H. Holland, Golden Gully
Wm. H. Dillon, Golden Gully
W.B. Jackson, Golden Gully
Geo. Wildbone, Golden Gully
Robert Rose, Golden Gully
Thomas Laverick, Golden Gully
Jase Pree, Golden Gully
Isaac Forster, Golden Gully
B Snell, Golden Gully
John Wildbone, Golden Gully
William Jones, Golden Gully
Henry Bell, Golden Gully
E. L. Marks, Golden Gully
Thomas Rickard, Golden Gully
Edwd. Martin, Golden Gully
Samuel Murcott, Golden Gully

 

A handwritten petition rwgarding Harrison Street

Petitions For – reduction in width of Harrison Street 18720914

To the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Sandhurst

We the undersigned ratepayers residing in and about Harrison Street, petition, that the breadth of that Street be altered from one chain and a half to one chain in breadth. We beg to submit, that should you deem it expedient to grant the alteration the public would be benefitted by the additional land that would thereby be utilised for residences on the south side of the street, and that no injury would be done to owners of property nor vested interests interfered with in any way.

George Lawson
Edward Gray
James Rule
John Lomasney
Richard Lobb
 J Rouse
W Stterulye (?)
Frederick Webb
Thomas Doxford
Thomas Grigg
John Bowman
Edward Bolam
Foster Stephenson
George H Patrick
David Glass
George H James
Simon Glanville

Thomas Lamb
Henry Martin
Matthew Wall
Thos. M Busst
James Fouls (?)
Michal Chill
George Phillips
Thomas Tuck
James Davies
John Buchanan
Thomas Duffy
W Teague
William Park
Thomas Devine
Thomas Evans
John Derbridge
A. Tawse

Petition against the previous one

Petition Against – reduction in width of Harrison Street 18720914

To the Worshipful the Mayor and Councilors of the City of Sandhurst

Gentlemen

We are quite surprised to find that their is a movement being made by four residents, of Harrisen

Stt., to try and get the said Stt, reduced in width; Lomasney and Rouse do not live in Harrison Stt, theirfore they have no interest in the same, these four residents knew when they built that the Stt was 99 feet in width, the residents on the north side of said stt having lived their most of them for 9 years and some having spent from one to over two thousand pounds in improvements strongly object to said st being made a lane, and we the undersigned hope, should your Honourable Council be inclined to assist these four, in gaining their wish, that you will give us time to lay our case before the Minister of lands, and we beg to be allowed to draw your attention, that should you accede to or in any way assist in reducing the width of said st, that it will be taken as a precedent, by any that feel inclined to suit their own ends, we feel assured that you will not act unjustly, to the first residents and property owners, neither will your [Hon?] Council destroy the Harmony of the laying off, of the different st and we the undersigned will ever pray

Your obedient servants,

Signed by the residents in Harrisson St proper.

John F. H. Cartwright
Francis M. Cartwright
John Watson
Thomas Watson
John T. Burns
John Burns
Hy. Hubbard
John Hampel
James Liddel
Joseph Hawkins
Wm. Gilbert
Henry Norwood

To discover more petitions related to Infrastructure visit the BRAC website.

BRAC is running a workshop about these petitions in conjunction with the National Trust Heritage Festival in May. For information can be found here.

Find our collection through Trove

trove 2

We’re thrilled to announce that our collection is now searchable through the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.

Trove helps you find and use resources relating to Australia. It brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations and includes over 475 million online resources – such as books, images, newspapers, maps, music and documents.

In Trove’s Diaries, Letters, Archives zone you can now find 15,313 of our records by searching for nuc:VPRO.

Once you land on the record you’re interested in, you simply click on the ‘related resource’ link which will take you directly to the record in our collection.

Happy researching!

Updated RDA for Records of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Shredded paperPROV has recently developed a new Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) to cover records created by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

VCAT began operations on 1 July 1998, amalgamating 15 boards and tribunals to deal with a range of civil and administrative disputes. VCAT members have a broad range of skills and qualifications that enables the tribunal to hear and determine cases of varying complexity and subject matter.

The new RDA, PROS 16/03 Retention and Disposal Authority for Records of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal completely replaces the PROS 05/03 RDA. It also covers a broader range of record classes and aims to clarify the ambiguity of the record class descriptions and disposal actions that were in PROS 05/03.

The new RDA will not authorise the disposal of records of predecessor bodies to VCAT. However, it may be used as an appraisal guide for the records of the predecessor bodies. There is also scope for future extension of the RDA to include other boards and tribunals in the Victorian jurisdiction post a formal appraisal process.

The purpose of a Retention and Disposal Authority is to identify those records created and maintained by Victorian public offices which are required as State archives and to provide approval for the destruction of records not required after minimum retention periods have been met.

Crossing State Borders : Archives Sharing & Reusing Disposal Authorities

Melbourne Olympic 2

Working together for the archives

Recently Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) was tasked with developing new Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) to provide coverage for legacy Victorian gas and electricity agency records.

PROV identified that State Records NSW had already produced two general authorities (GA40 Provision of Energy Transmission and Distribution Network Services and GA37 Retailing of Energy and Associated Products and Services) which were comprehensive and general enough to be applied to the Victorian jurisdiction. We requested permission to adopt the general authorities as standards for use in Victoria and in generous spirit State Records NSW agreed.

PROV produces and stores RDAs in Online Retention and Disposal Application (ORDA). ORDA is a RDA development workflow system and database that stores and exports RDAs in various formats including XML. Because State Records NSW could provide the retention and disposal authorities in an XML format, PROV was able to easily import the authorities directly into ORDA and issue them in a timely manner.

Collaborating with our counterpart in NSW meant that we did not need to expend resources on developing a Retention and Disposal Authority for a defunct function. It also identified the technical compatibility of PROV and State Records NSW RDA systems and set a precedence for the two archival jurisdictions to work more closely together and share valuable resources in the future.

See also State Records NSW blog: Sharing is caring – how developing retention and disposal authorities in xml facilitates cross jurisdictional reuse of valuable information

WWI in the archives

  • A photo of a soldier settler campsite including tents, soldier settlers, their dogs and horses
    A photo from the archives featured in the Soldier On exhibition: PROV VPRS 14517 P1 Unit 34 L533

Following the end of the First World War, more than 250,000 soldiers returned to Australia; almost 78,000 to the state of Victoria alone.

The Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme was developed to provide these returned soldiers with a livelihood and as a reward for the service they had given their country on the battlefield.

Between 1918 and 1934, the Scheme helped settle around 11,000 of these returned soldiers on farming land across Victoria. Most settled in the Mallee, South Gippsland, the Western District and the irrigation areas of the North West, Central Gippsland near Maffra and Sale and in the Goulburn Valley.

 

View the soldier settler archives

The original records of the soldier settlers are now on display at Old Treasury Building as part of the Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories exhibition. You can also access these records online via our Battle to Farm website – simply search your ancestor’s name and all of their files will appear.

Search for your ancestors' records on the Battle to Farm website.

Search for your ancestors’ records on the Battle to Farm website.

“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 an increasingly difficult economic climate as the world descended into the depression. Through these resources, we can see not only the land allocated to each settler, but the hardships they faced,” said Public Record Office Victoria Director and Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood.

Over 50 per cent of the soldiers allocated blocks left the scheme. Many were unable to cover their debts when food prices plummeted during the depression, while others accused the government of leasing blocks that were too small.

Shirley Boyle’s family, daughter of Beaufort soldier settler James Henderson, was an exception. Their records can be found on the Battle to Farm website, and she says life was hard for everybody during the depression, but her family never felt deprived.

“When you lived on a farm you had your butter, your milk and your vegetables – you didn’t realise there were shortages,” Shirley said.

The returned soldiers lived close to one another and developed new regional communities.

“We lived like a village, only we lived further apart then you do in a village, and we would meet at weekends on ponies or on bikes…and so we were sort of known as the soldier settlers and we had a lot of fun, we grew up well.”

Download the WWI Resource Kit

The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre has developed a WW1 Resource Kits for researchers interested in the responses to the war from the Bendigo, Eaglehawk, Huntly, Marong, Strathfieldsaye, McIvor and Raywood Councils.

Derived from council minutes, the kits include:

  • School Children’s contributions to Patriotic and War Savings funds’ collections
  • The formation and activities of local voluntary fundraising groups
  • Enlistment figures
  • The plans to construct the Soldiers’ War Memorial in Pall Mall.

Correspondence related to the soldier settler scheme can also be found in the records, such as this one:

This is a photo of a letter contained within the WW1 kit that says that a land application has been rejected.

A file contained within the WW1 kit.

Download the kit here.

New to the archives: records of geographic place names

  • This is a photo of a folder with the title 'Land Management Place Names, Geographic Place Names, Naming Proposals, Wayaperri House' it also includes the logo for the Department of Sustainability and Environment
    The geographic place name proposal for Wayaperri House, VPRS 17888 P1 Unit 6

If you’re the inquisitive type you may have wondered how a place, park or building got its name or even what it means. As part of the Land Management, Place Names record series (VPRS) 17888 recently transferred to our archives, you will be able to uncover how and why many Victorian geographic places got their names between 1998 and 2010.

The practice of naming or renaming a public place is often a lengthy process driven by consultation between local councils, communities and stakeholders. The proposed name then goes before the regulatory body, the Office of Geographic Names, for approval. The records created as part of this process often include council minutes, maps or plans of the place under consideration and official correspondence with stakeholders that detail the significance of the proposed name.

These records, now available to order and view at the Victorian Archives Centre, document the cultural significance of a place name including places named to reflect the local Aboriginal community or original title, for example:

This is a photo of a plaque that says 'Kirrip Wurrung Biik denots the link between the five clans of the Kulin Nation of South Central Victoria, the common language spoken by them and their strong relationship to country.'

Image courtesy of Wyndham City Council

Kirrip Warrung Biik Park, Werribee

Adjacent to the Wyndham Cultural Centre, this parkland was the site of a commissioned artwork that brought together creative ideas from members of all five Kulin Nations.

To promote the artwork’s themes, particularly friendship between the Kulin Nations, the park underwent a name change to ‘Kirrip Warrung Biik’, literally meaning ‘friend mouth country’. Kirrip denotes friendship, Warrung is the common language spoken, and Biik represents their strong connection to country, creating an appropriate name for the park.

Galada Tamboore Pathway, Craigieburn Bypass bicycle-pedestrian path

Constructed alongside the Craigieburn bypass, this shared pathway was named through a community nomination process held by VicRoads. The nominated ‘Galada Tamboore’ was then investigated by VicRoads in consultation with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council. Galada Tamboore is derived from the nearby 93-hectare floodplain, which is of great archaeological, geological and historical significance. More can be read and discovered about Galada Tamboore and the VicRoads’ naming nominations by ordering this file.

Wayaperri House, Werribee

In 2004, the Wyndham City Council purchased the former St Phillip’s Lutheran Church Hall so it could be used as a community meeting facility by the Werribee Community Centre. The hall is now known as Wayaperri House. ‘Wayaperri’ meaning ‘to meet’ is an Indigenous name that is locally relevant and is an appropriate reflection of the current use of the hall.

By viewing the records, one learns that the Werribee Community Centre had originally proposed calling the hall ‘Milpara Place’, but having consulted the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, found that the closest word to ‘Milpara’ in the Boon Wurrun language was ‘Milpala’ meaning ‘crooked’, as in a bend in the river.

These records are now available to order and view at the Victorian Archives Centre Reading Room. Search the collection now.

Note, place name records created prior to 1998 are currently in the custody of Land Victoria. 

Victoria’s early history revealed through ‘Letters to La Trobe’ now available online

  • A handwritten letter detailing the number of servants in employ in black ink.
    Letters to La Trobe: number of servants in employment.

Delicate hand written 19th century letters sent to Charles Joseph La Trobe are now available online for the very first time, providing a snapshot into the lives of early Victorians.

Director and Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood, said it took 18 passionate volunteers six years to digitise the 170 year old documents which are now online in time for the 215th anniversary of La Trobe’s birthday.

“While Charles La Trobe served as Superintendent of Port Phillip District from 1839 to 1851, and Lieutenant-Governor of the colony of Victoria from 1851 to 1854, he helped create the city of Melbourne and oversaw Victoria’s separation from NSW – the letters he received during this time paint a portrait of the people and their concerns of the day.”

The letters to La Trobe range from suggestions for the establishment of Melbourne’s streets, gardens and markets to the personal appeals and complaints of citizens.

In this letter, the Colonial Secretary sends approval for the establishment of the Melbourne Supreme Court:

“I am directed by the Governor to inform you, that a Bill will very shortly be laid before the Legislative Council, one of the Provisions of which will be to establish Courts of Justice at Melbourne.”

While in a more personal letter, a woman pleads for the release of her son from jail having been convicted for selling ginger beer:

“The son of your petitioner is now confined in the gaol of this town for an offence committed in utter ignorance that any law was infringed by the act for which he is punished, he being only nineteen years of age and having been brought up in a simple and retired manner, so that his knowledge of the world is ever below his years.”

In a humorous exchange, this letter writer seeks reprimand for an incompetent lighthouse watcher:

“I beg leave to inform your Honor that the man attended to the light house, Daniel Hickey, has been frequently found asleep during his watch at night, and indeed very impertinent to both Mr McNaughton and myself.”

Diane Gardiner AM, President of the C.J. La Trobe Society, says that these records are significant to Victoria’s memory.

“The digitised letters of Lt Governor Charles La Trobe show new details about his administration and give researchers an idea of the issues and difficulties he was dealing with. In this day of instant messaging, Twitter and telephones, imagine La Trobe’s frustrations in waiting a month or more for answers and instructions regarding urgent matters.”

Listen to this letter from C Lewis, 12 August 1840:

Listen to this letter from James Woodman, 19 September 1840:

Listen to more.

According to Dianne Reilly of the C.J. La Trobe Society, and previously La Trobe Librarian of the State Library of Victoria, most citizens didn’t know that La Trobe had very little power in many of these matters.

“What most settlers did not realise was that La Trobe, at least in the early years, had very little power to make decisions about the territory under his management. Most matters had to be referred to the Governor in Sydney. An example of this was that La Trobe even had to ask for an allowance to provide forage for his horse.”

“The most significant impact of this project is that, with all the documents in the series online, there will be no need to handle these fragile letters again – researchers anywhere in the world will have easy access to this important material whenever and wherever it suits them.”

To research the letters, search through series VPRS 19 of the PROV catalogue here.

Or view this interactive sample of the letters that helped shape Melbourne (click here to view it in full screen and read the transcriptions):

‘Letters to La Trobe’ is a Public Record Office Victoria initiative supported by the CJ La Trobe Society with funding from the R E Ross Trust.

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