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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

PROV the magic time machine

A photo of the Victorian Archives Centre building

This blog post was written by Marilyn Kenny, Public Record Office Victoria volunteer, and was originally given as a speech at the December 2015 PROV Volunteer Event. 

What a great intimate gathering this is. Just the place to share a few secrets.

The first is that my friends don’t understand me. “You go where?” they say. “You do what??” they add. “Why???” they question. “You should get out more, travel, have adventures, relax, meet new people, explore.”

They then proceed to tell me about all the wonderful folk they met in that New York Hospital whence they were taken after experiencing those chest pains on the plane over. How tranquil and delightful the Whitsundays are when viewed from their hotel room hence they were confined for a week with that bad bout of gastro. About the cute and interesting little bars, cafes, taverns, hotels, wayside stops, restaurants and eateries they visited as they hobbled their way across Spain – forced to sit and rest every 30 minutes after injuring their ankle in Turkey. And of course there is always that life affirming experience of being robbed at knife point in Rio.

I sigh and want to say “but I do travel, experience new cultures immerse myself in the moment, meet a hundred new people a day.” But, to say more would be to reveal my – our – second secret. 

We travel, but in time, for we have a time machine. 

Down in North Melbourne in a bland, unremarkable building is “THE ARCHIVAL REPOSITORY DEPOT INFORMATION SERVICE ©.”

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Like all good time machines it is bigger on the inside. 

Every week I descend to the depths, greet my fellow travelers, settle myself in my chair, adjust my equipment and take off.

I learn how to govern an embryonic colonial settlement, experience life and death in a Chinese camp on the outskirts of a goldfield. I see the first visions on paper of grand buildings. I stand behind the counter of a pawn shop and enumerate the possessions of the poor and desperate. I peep behind the scenes at the double dealings of the land boomers and look into the faces of some of their victims, men building the Spotswood pumping station, digging out a square yard of clay for ninepence. Their sons and daughters will be our ANZACs and in another life I will have travelled with them across the seas to Egypt, Palestine, the Dardanelles, France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and back home. Our time machine takes me, with them, to our Victorian hinterlands as they battles for their farms.

I share in their many troubles, tragedies and triumphs. My fellow travelers tell harrowing tales of what happened to those who fell by the wayside into the jaws of the great kraken, the Repatriation.

I don’t only travel backwards in time but forward. I see the future being made. Those paper plans translated into great buildings that we enjoy today. The infrastructure on which we depend being constructed – the extension of the railways; the underground, the great dams; the O’Shannassy, the Silvan, the Maroondah; the sewerage system.

During my off duty moments I get a free cup of tea and a biscuit; bright conversation from my multi-talented travelling companions, a glimpse at yesterday’s newspaper and a chance to recycle old batteries.

We appreciate the pioneering of those first generation volunteers who undertook epic journeys and explored the galaxies of the Shipping Indices, the La Trobe correspondence and Land Records. We learn from them the lessons that all good time travel teaches. Order will emerge from chaos, persistence pays off, water will wear away a stone…We who are undertaking shorter journeys through Bills of Sale, Inquests and Land Records take heart from this. This wisdom is a lifeline for those still voyaging through Project Albany, Historic Plans and of course Land Records.

Ours is a rare and privileged volunteering opportunity.

And we thank the staff for plotting our course across the time space continuum, fueling up the machines with records and protecting us from feral files and alien handwriting systems.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one half of the world does not understand the pleasures of the other. I – we – are very grateful to have a place in this  our half of the world, protecting and preserving the collective memories of our Victorian community. 

Learn more about our volunteer program here.

 

Request for Feedback – Retention and Disposal Authority for Records of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

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PROV invites stakeholders to review a new draft Retention and Disposal Authority for records of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The aim of the RDA, once issued as a Standard, is to specify records required as State Archives and to provide for the lawful disposal of records not required permanently after specified periods.

The draft RDA is available below, along with a brief report outlining the background, scope and appraisal recommendations.

 

 

 

We would appreciate feedback on the following:

  • Are the retention periods reasonable?
  • Is the language used in the RDA clear enough?
  • Can you identify any gaps in the RDA coverage?

 

Please provide any feedback to agency.queries@prov.vic.gov.au by COB Friday 12 February 2016.

 

Personal Victorian histories revealed in newly opened archives

  • A page from the Bound Circulated Photographs and Criminal Offences book including a black and white photo of a man and his physical description
    Bound Circulated Photographs and Criminal Offences of Convicted Persons PROV VPRS 07856 P1 Unit 41

As of the 1st of January, hundreds of records relating to Victoria’s history have been made public as part of Public Record Office Victoria’s annual opening of officially closed records. The records are of particular interest to family historians waiting on files that mention members of their family tree.

Under Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 files of a personal or private nature are closed for up to 99 years to prevent the violation of personal privacy. Director and Keeper of Public Records, Justine Heazlewood, said this year’s openings provide us with an insight into parts of Victorian history which have been obscured for many years.

“These newly opened records provide a snapshot into our history previously unseen. From 1915 Children’s Court and ward registers to 1940 asylum records, criminal trial briefs and capital case files – through these annual openings we can find out more about ourselves and our past,” said Ms Heazlewood.

Included in this year’s openings is the capital case file of murderer Morris Ansell whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on the 10th of April 1940. According to the transcripts within this file, the jury requested mercy for Ansell on account of his youth – he was only 20 years old when he shot and killed his lady love’s husband.

The Head Nurse’s Daily Report Book from Kew Mental Hospital’s Female Wards is also an interesting record detailing activities within the mental hospital from the year 1940. Her daily report included notes such as who was injured, ill, violent, or out on trial with further remarks about patient conditions.

“We encourage Victorians to explore their past through our archives, whether that be tracing your family roots, researching your home or community, or simply discovering a particular time in Victoria’s history to better understand the present,” said Ms Heazlewood.

A broad guide to time periods for closure under Section 9 is as follows:

  • Records primarily concerning adults may be closed for 75 years from the year in which the records were created.
  • Records concerning children as the primary subject of the record may be closed for 99 years from the year in which the records were created.
  • Records such as staff records where the individuals concerned may still be in the workforce may be closed for a lesser period such as 30, 40, or 50 years as appropriate.

See below for a full list of opened records: 

Get to know our volunteers

A colour photo of 5 volunteers standing behind records from the archives

Gail Thornthwaite and Leone Marshall with fellow volunteers Barbara Minchinton, Anna Maree Malmgren, and Margaret Wright.

We are lucky at Public Record Office Victoria to work with an amazing team of volunteers. Our volunteers work closely with historic records from our collection. Our volunteers are currently working on approximately 10 projects, focusing on areas of the collection such as inquest depositions, land selection documents and public works plans. All our projects have the aim of preserving our collection and making its contents accessible to researchers.  

Here, two of our longest serving volunteers share their experiences of volunteering with us:

Leonie Marshall

1. Why did you start volunteering at PROV?

I was co-opted into volunteering on my first visit to the research room at PROV. One of the members of our family history society was also working there and suggested that I might like to join her and two others on the 7.40am train from Frankston. They were transcribing the Passenger Lists, and, as I had used these to find my grandparents’ arrival in Melbourne, I thought I could repay this discovery, and perhaps help some other family history researcher. It wasn’t long before I realised what a terrific group of people I was working with, and that the friendship of those volunteers was equally as important as the work that we were doing.

2. What’s the most exciting record you’ve discovered?

It was also terrific to lay a family myth to rest by finding just when my grandparents arrived: six months separated their arrival, not the two years that the myth suggested.

3. What project are you working on now / what’s the last project you worked on?

Currently, I am working with the land selection records, which are also important to researchers, giving a history of the land worked from early selection days. The records are often dusty and crumbling, but the information they reveal is anything but. Prior to this, I worked on the Inquest records, which were quite gruesome, but most interesting from a social history point of view. It’s hard to recognise now, the Victoria that some of those victims of all kinds of illnesses lived in. And the depression that led some to take their own life.

4. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

The friendship of the volunteers I work with has been really important. Some of our members have suffered illness and grief, but the support of the group has been visibly helpful to them. It doesn’t seem to matter what you want to know, there is always someone in the group who has the answer. The variety of backgrounds that has brought Wednesday’s group together is remarkable. Who could not enjoy getting up at 5.30am to take the train from Frankston to join them?

Gail Thornthwaite

1. Why did you start volunteering at PROV?

I started volunteering at PROV in March 2006, having visited a few weeks earlier with the Fitzroy History Society. My interest in history and my learning that PROV runs a volunteer program attracted me to the organisation.

2. What’s the most exciting record you’ve discovered?

While working on the outward passenger shipping lists I came across the names of an Australian cricket team on their way to England.  There were other interesting passengers, including Dame Nellie Melba.

3. What project are you working on now / what’s the last project you worked on?

For the last year or so I have been working on the Albany Project.  Prior to that I worked on ‘Battle to Farm’, the KIN Project, and the outward passenger index.

4. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy working in a most congenial environment with like-minded colleagues who are interested in all facets of history.  I also enjoy the social moments – the camaraderie experienced at morning tea and lunch times!

Interested in volunteering? Find out more about our program here.

Discover more of our long-standing volunteers on our online Volunteer Honour Board. 

Introducing the latest IM3 tool

A black and white image that says 'IM3' in building blocks with the words 'Information Management Maturity Measurement' underneithPublic Record Office Victoria has just released the latest version of IM3 (v.1.5).

What is the IM3?

Public Record Office Victoria developed the Information Management Maturity Measurement Tool (IM3) in 2013.

Made up of a questionnaire and support documents, IM3 helps measure compliance with whole of Victorian Government Information Management (IM) standards and assess an organisation’s ability to meet IM best practice.

What’s changed?

The latest version of IM3 includes more consistent language and up-to-date links to Victorian Government IM policies, standards, guidelines and legislation. Content regarding information privacy and security has also been updated to reflect requirements of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014

Why use IM3?

Results from this assessment can be used to:

  • Better identify areas of IM in the organisation that need attention
  • Assist in setting goals for IM capability and skills development
  • Support a case for resources or initiatives to improve information and records management.

How to access IM3?

To access IM3, simply download the tool from the PROV website.

If you would like more information about using the IM3 please email agency.queries@prov.vic.gov.au.

 

Family life on Victorian soldier settlement blocks

The Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme was heralded as a new beginning. Servicemen and women returning from fighting in World War 1 were offered blocks of farm land to help rebuild their lives.

The Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories exhibition, now showing at Old Treasury Building, uncovers the fascinating stories of these soldier settlers. Here is just a taste of one of the themes of the exhibition – family life…

Family life on the farms

On many soldier settler blocks, the work of the youngest family members was vital. Children contributed regularly to the day-to-day functioning of the farm, allowing settlers to save on labour costs. Leslie Kirby, a Mallee settler, attributed his block’s success to ‘the labour of my wife and two sons’.

Compulsory schooling was a burden for many families, taking the children away from the fields. Organisations such as the Victorian Farmers’ Union and the Australian Housewives Association protested the ‘slavery of little children’ on farms. At the same time, the Closer Settlement Board urged settlers to use the cost-saving labour of their wives and children.

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Farming was a family affair. On dairy farms, milking was often the work of the women and children; even toddlers accompanied their mothers to the cowsheds, learning from an early age how to help. This photograph was taken on the Chocolyn Soldier Settler Estate, in the Western District, Victoria. Photograph courtesy Shirley Russell, daughter of soldier settler James Murrie Fleming.

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Feeding the calves, Chocolyn Soldier Settler Estate, Western District, Victoria, c.1930. Photograph courtesy Les Anderson.

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Daughter of soldier settler Arthur T. Drinkwater sleeping on the verandah at their home in Annuello, Victoria, c.1950. Courtesy George Drinkwater, son of soldier settler Arthur T. Drinkwater.

Living conditions

Some soldier settler families were able to build a home with their own savings, or by using money loaned to them by the Closer Settlement Board. For these families, life was relatively comfortable. Other families were not so lucky.

The burden of loan repayments, poor crop yields or a lack of savings forced many settlers to live in tents, or in homes made of canvas or hessian bags, scrap tin, or wattle and daub. These ‘bag humpies’ were far from weatherproof, and a difficult setting in which to rear children.

The back of a farm house showing two water tanks.

Photograph of a soldier settler’s ‘bag humpy’ at Nandaly, in 1921. Courtesy Museum Victoria.

Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories is presented by Old Treasury Building in partnership with Public Record Office Victoria, and is supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund.

Christmas Closures

12903-P0001-000865-040Visitors please note the following Christmas closures:

Victorian Archives Centre
Closing early 12 noon Fri 18 December
Closing for Christmas 3pm Thurs 24 December
Reopening 10am Mon 4 January 2016 

Cafe 99 will be closed from 3pm Fri 18 December to Tues 19 January at 8am. 

Ballarat Archives Centre
Closing for Chistmas 4.30pm Tues 22 December
Reopening 9.30am Mon 4 January 2016

Bendigo Regional Archives Centre
Closed on Wed 2 December
Closing for Christmas 3pm Thurs 24 December
Reopening 10am Weds 6 January 2016

Geelong Heritage Centre
Closed on Fri 25, Sat 26 & Mon 28 December
Closed on Fri 1 January 2016

 

Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition Anniversary

 

Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition Entries vol, complete with gold lettering and leather trim.

Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition Entries vol, complete with gold lettering and leather trim.

This month marks the 114th anniversary of the commencement of the Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition, held at Bendigo from 13 November 1901 to 14 May 1902.

Here, Dr. Michele Matthews from the Bendigo Regional Archives shares the story of the two volumes created to record the details of this exhibition, available to order and view at the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre:

The volume of greater interest has the sub-heading “Entries” on its front leather cover. The hundreds of exhibits displayed in the exhibition were itemised in detail.

The name and address of each exhibitor, a description of each exhibit, its value in pound and which display court it was allocated to are all listed. The courts were numbered from one, or had titles like “Machinery”, “Agricultural”, “Naval & Military Court” and “Art”.

The female visitors to the Exhibition were able to view exhibits deemed suitable for the fairer sex and located within their own “Women’s Court”. There were exhibits such as “Parasols & Umbrellas”, cotton and haberdashery from Manchester and Staffordshire, “Corsets & Embroideries” from Paris.

The most valuable exhibits were mining machinery such as Taylor Horsfield’s £850 “Air Compressor & Rock Borer”. “Bohemian Glassware” brought down from Sydney was valued at £600.

The profits from this Exhibition were used to fund the sculpture known as the Gold Monument, which still gazes along Pall Mall (from the McCrae Street end). The Exhibition’s Cash Book shows payments, which totalled £1160, were made to then up and coming sculptor C.D.Richardson. Recently a City of Greater Bendigo staff member used both these volumes to write a detailed report about this monument, for Heritage Victoria.

VA 2389, Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition-Bendigo Cash Book, 1 vol.

VA 2389, Victorian Gold Jubilee Exhibition-Bendigo Cash Book, 1 vol.

 

Request for Feedback – Accredited and Non-Accredited Training Retention and Disposal Authorities

iStock_000019659642_LargeThe PROV Appraisal and Documentation Team invites stakeholders to review two new draft Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) for records related to Accredited Training functions, and Non-Accredited Training functions.

The aim of the RDAs, once they are issued as Standards, is to provide for the lawful disposal of records not required permanently after specified time periods.

Please find copies of the two draft RDAs below, along with a brief report outlining the background, scope, format and appraisal justifications for the RDAs.

We would appreciate feedback on any of the following:

  • Is the language used in the RDAs clear enough?
  • Can you identify any gaps in the RDA coverage?
  • Are the retention periods reasonable?

Please provide any feedback to agency.queries@prov.vic.gov.au by COB Friday 11 December 2015.

 

 

Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories now open

  • 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

A new exhibition about the Victorian soldier settler experience is now showing at Old Treasury Building.

Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories features records from the state archives of Public Record Office Victoria revealing previously untold stories of the Victorian soldier settler experience.

Between 1918 and 1934 the Soldier Settlement Scheme helped settle some 11,000 returned soldiers on farming land across the state through government leases.

Through original archival records, as well as first-hand video and photos, the exhibition will take visitors through the establishment of the WW1 Soldier Settlement Scheme in Victoria and the harsh realities of life on a soldier settlement farm. 

Here we’ve collated a snapshot of some of the archival photos to be found in the exhibition:

Image courtesy of the Victorian Government for Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories

Handbooks circulated in the 1920s providing cheerful and optimistic advice to immigrants and returned soldiers. A ‘land fit for heroes’ was the promise: propserous farms, contented families and thriving regional development. Image courtesy of the Victorian Government.

 

The families and soldiers that moved onto the blocks had to rebuild their lives from scratch: building houses, erecting fences and looking after crops and stock. Life on a Victorian soldier settlement block, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 14517 P1 Unit 34 L536.

The families and soldiers that moved onto the blocks had to rebuild their lives from scratch: building houses, erecting fences and looking after crops and stock. Life on a Victorian soldier settlement block, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 14517 P1 Unit 34 L536.

 

In the lottery for land, some soldier settlers were lucky enough to secure a good block. Some farms remained free from the ravages of pests and disease – others were not so lucky. Image of the mice plagues courtesy of the Victorian Government.

In the lottery for land, some soldier settlers were lucky enough to secure a good block. Some farms remained free from the ravages of pests and disease – others were not so lucky. Image of the mice plagues courtesy of the Victorian Government.

 

Settler women were helped by initiatives such as the ‘Better Farming Train’, which featured demonstrations on household affairs. Image of the Better Farming Train courtesy of the Victorian Government.

Settler women were helped by initiatives such as the ‘Better Farming Train’, which featured demonstrations on household affairs. Image of the Better Farming Train courtesy of the Victorian Government.

 

Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories is presented by Old Treasury Building in partnership with Public Record Office Victoria, and is supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund.

Visit oldtreasurybuilding.org.au for more information or discover your WW1 soldier settler ancestors at soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au

 

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Calendar


« September 2016 »
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
      1 2 3 4
5* Tour of the Archive at 11:00 am
6 7 8 9 10* Saturday opening at 10:00 am
11
12 13 14* The History of Your Home at 9:30 am
15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24* Saturday opening at 10:00 am
25
26 27* The History of Your Home at 6:00 pm
28 29 30    
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