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Showcase Record – February 2014

The “Gentle Sex” – Women convicted of Murder

VPRS 264 and VPRS 1100 consist of files compiled to assist the Governor in deciding whether the royal prerogative of mercy should be applied to persons convicted of a capital offence and given the mandatory death sentence (although some offenders, notably those under 21 years of age were sentenced to the Governor’s pleasure). VPRS 516 comprises registers created by the Penal and Gaols Branch to record the registration number, name and personal details of female prisoners in custody in Victorian gaols.

Olga Radalyski, Prisoner number 6644

Olga Radalyski, Prisoner number 6644.
VPRS 516/P0, Volume 12, Page 230

These records intrigued me as they show a sadder, seedier and more desperate side of life than the one that most of us experience. They reflect the standards and hardships of life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

What drove these women (and in some cases, girls) to an act of desperation? In some cases, such as infanticide or deaths through abortion, it is a reflection on the social mores of the time – pregnancy outside marriage is a falling from grace and “sinful” – or perhaps an attempt to limit the size of the family. Sometimes, it appears that the acts of infanticide may have occurred as a result of post-natal depression. In other cases, the murderess sees the death of another – usually her husband – as a means to protect her family from drunken rages and physical, verbal and sometimes sexual abuse.  In yet other instances, acts of murder are committed for revenge and, in one very interesting case, I discovered a case of “unrequited love”, stalking, poetry, unbridled rage and insanity culminating in the death of an innocent woman.

Information on this topic is found in VPRS 516 Central Register of Female Prisoners, VPRS 264 Capital Case Files and VPRS 1100 Capital Sentences Files.  Further information can be obtained through research in VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs and VPRS 521 Register of Names, Particulars and Person Description of Prisoners Received.

Creating Agencies:

Christine O’Donnell, Access Services Officer

Learning for fun: Massive Open Online Courses

The concept of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has been around since 2008.  Although certain limitations preclude them from fully replacing formal training and education, these courses have significantly expanded over the years.  

For example, according to one site, Open Colleges, there are at least 50 of such MOOC sites available that provide free online courses to the public.

Without further ado, listed here are 10 courses you may find intriguing related (directly or vaguely) to information management.  

It is important to note, these courses are often not accredited and not recognized as formal education.   

Happy Learning!

 

Strategic Management (Commenced 13 January, so hurry!)

https://www.open2study.com/courses/strategic-management

Emergency Management (Commenced 13 January, so hurry!)

https://www.open2study.com/courses/emergency-management

Big Data and Better Performance (Commenced 13 January, so hurry!)

https://www.open2study.com/courses/big-data-for-better-performance

Principles of Project Management (Commenced 13 January, so hurry!)

https://www.open2study.com/courses/principles-of-project-management?nocache=1

Inter-professional Healthcare Informatics (Commences 10 February)

https://www.coursera.org/course/newwayhealthcare

Building and Information Risk Management Toolkit (Commences 19 February)

https://www.coursera.org/course/inforisk

Information Security and Risk Management in Context (Commences 19 February)

https://www.coursera.org/course/inforiskman

Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection (Commences 2 March)

https://www.edx.org/course/cornellx/cornellx-engri1280x-wiretaps-big-data-1246

Introduction to Cloud Computing

http://alison.com/courses/Introduction-to-Cloud-Computing

Metadata: Organising and Discovering Information (check date for next course)

https://www.coursera.org/course/metadata

Information Management Maturity Measure Tool – IM3

In November 2013, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) proudly launched the Information Management Maturity Measurement Tool – IM3. The tool is designed for users to assess their agency or organisation’s level of Information Maturity (IM).

Since its launch the tool has been very well received and attracted a great deal of positive feedback. Users have commented that the tool is well scoped, useful, interesting, timely and easy to use. In addition we have also received and welcomed some constructive criticism which has resulted in the following enhancements to the tool and its supporting documentation:

• A static Word version of the IM3 Question Set has been developed and loaded onto the PROV website. This is designed to enable users to view questions consider their responses prior to completing the assessment

• Additional instructions have been added to the IM3 Guidelines and Instructions. These advise users that ‘if the tool appears to be ‘unresponsive’ at any stage press [Enter] or click out of the current cell’.

We encourage agencies and organisations to familiarise themselves with the tool, use it to build on their current IM practices and to then share their assessment findings and user experience with PROV. For further information or feedback contact David Brown, Assistant Director, Government Services, PROV david.brown@prov.vic.gov.au Or click to access the IM3 tool prov.vic.gov.au/government/information-management

New Records Transfers

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

Controlling Agency: VA 5001 Department of State Development, Business and Innovation
VPRS 16772 / P2 General Correspondence Files, Annual Single Number System
VPRS 16771 / P2 General Correspondence Files, Single Number System

Reviewing Our Collection

As part of its routine collection management program, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is reviewing its collection of physical records held at the Victorian Archives Centre in North Melbourne. We will be looking at our existing collection to ensure that we are retaining only those records of permanent value to the State and people of Victoria. As part of this review we will be identifying records that do not need to be held in the State’s archive any longer.

The great bulk of our Collection will not be affected or even considered during the course this project. What we will be examining is a relatively small portion of our collection that has never been fully appraised (that is, the worth of the records have not been determined) or that requires a review of the original appraisal decisions. These are predominantly records that were taken into archival custody many years ago without thorough examination or with their archival status uncertain, sometimes in order to assist agencies facing crisis situations.

This project is likely to take several years to complete. It will involve examining the records and the original decisions behind the records being transferred into PROV’s custody. We will be referring to our current appraisal decisions and criteria which provide guidance as to which records need to be retained as part of the state archives. PROV will be working alongside each agency responsible for records that have been identified through this project, to ensure they agree with us when we identify records that can be returned to the agency or immediately disposed of. Our decisions will be rigorously tested, documented and approved prior to any final action being taken.

You may be wondering, what are the benefits of doing this? This project will help ensure that our unique collection continues to hold those records that are of permanent value to the government and people of Victoria. It also provides us with the added benefit of freeing up valuable space in our purpose built archival storage facility to ensure our collection can to continue to grow for years to come. This is also great news for our researchers who will benefit from a richer, more valuable collection.

Charlie Farrugia
Senior Collections Advisor

New Records Transfers

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

Melbourne City Council (MCC) VA 511
(VA 3992) 1996 Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee
VPRS 16623 / P2 General Correspondence Files, Multiple Number System, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1988 to 1990]

VPRS 17294 / P1 Photographs, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1989 to 1990]

VPRS 17295 / P1 Promotional and Ephemeral Material, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1989 to 1990]

VA 511 Melbourne City Council
VPRS 17019 / P1 Corporate Service Correspondence Files, Annual Single Number System [1983 to 1989]

VPRS 17296 / P1 Olympics for Melbourne Committee, Minutes and Related Papers [1988]

VPRS 11200 / P10 Building Application Plans [1918 to 1961]

VPRS 17285 / P1 Register of Building Permit Applications [1916 to 1958]

VPRS 17286 / P1 Building Applications – original applications [1959 to 1985]

VPRS 17287 / P1 Building Register Index [1958 to 1983]

VPRS 17288 / P1 Address Index to Building Permits [1922 to 1983]

VPRS 17289 / P1 Building Applications- Register and Progress Book [1922 to1985]

VPRS 17290 / P1 Factory Building Application Book, F prefix [1965 to 1979]

VPRS 17291 / P1 Verandah Building Application Register [1938 to 1985]

VPRS 17292 / P1 Register and Index of Demolitions [By 1945 to 1975]

VPRS 17293 / P1 Register of Petrol Building Permit Applications (P prefix) [1959 to 1987]

VPRS 17299 / P1 Building Application Card Index (Refer to VPRS 11202-MicroficheCopy) [1916 to 1998]

VPRS 11200 / P9 Building Application Plans [1946 to 1957]

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

VA 2440 Horsham II (Borough 1882-1932; Town 1932-1949; City 1949-1995)
VPRS 17412 / P1 Outward Letter Books [1927-1931]

VPRS 17412 / P2 Outward Letter Books [1932-1948]

VPRS 17412 / P3 Outward Letter Books [1949-1966]

VA 3734 Horsham Rural City Council (1995-ct)
VPRS 16973 / P2 Committee of Management, Minutes and Agenda [1991-2012]

New Recordkeeping Survey

A key aspect of the work undertaken by Standards and Policy team at PROV is the delivery to our stakeholders of key information about best practice recordkeeping.  To this end, we are reviewing the communication mechanisms that we currently use.  You will find below a short survey that focuses primarily around the channels used to convey PROV’s recordkeeping advice and whether these are sufficient.

The information we collect from this survey will assist us to identify ways to better improve our stakeholder engagement and communication strategies.

The survey uses Survey Monkey and is available from the following web page: http://prov.vic.gov.au/government/recordkeeping-standards-project/recordkeeping-survey-communications

The survey closes on 8 February 2014.

We appreciate your time and greatly value your input. 

New Records Transfers

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

VA 4682 Department of Parliamentary Services (1856-ct)
VA 2585 Legislative Assembly (1856-ct)
VPRS 14315 / P3 Hansard [2006-2010]

VA 471 Legislative Council (1851-ct)
VPRS 14316 / P3 Hansard [2006-2010]

VA2549 Supreme Court
VPRS 468 / P3 Barristers and Solicitors Admission Files
VPRS 17376 / P1 Barristers and Solicitors Admission Files, By Admission Date

VA 2620 Registrar of Probates, Supreme Court (c1960-ct)
VPRS 28 / P39 Probate and Administration Files [2008]
VPRS 28 / P40Probate and Administration Files [2009]
VPRS 28 / P41 Probate and Administration Files [Various]

VA 3992 – 1996 Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee
VPRS 16623 / P2 General Correspondence Files, Multiple Number System, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1988 to 1990]
VPRS 17294 / P1 Photographs, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1989 to 1990]
VPRS 17295 / P1 Promotional and Ephemeral Material, Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee [1989 to 1990]

VA 511 Melbourne City Council
VPRS 17019 / P1 Corporate Service Correspondence Files, Annual Single Number System [1983 to 1989]
VPRS 17296 / P1 Olympics for Melbourne Committee, Minutes and Related Papers [1988]
VPRS 11200 / P10 Building Application Plans [1918 to 1961]
VPRS 17285 / P1 Register of Building Permit Applications [1916 to 1958]
VPRS 17286 / P1 Building Applications – original applications [1959 to 1985]
VPRS 17287 / P1 Building Register Index [1958 to 1983]
VPRS 17288 / P1 Address Index to Building Permits [1922 to 1983]
VPRS 17289 / P1 Building Applications- Register and Progress Book [1922 to 1985]
VPRS 17290 / P1 Factory Building Application Book, F prefix [1965 to 1979]
VPRS 17291 / P1 Verandah Building Application Register [1938 to 1985]
VPRS 17292 / P1 Register and Index of Demolitions [By 1945 to 1975]
VPRS 17293 / P1 Register of Petrol Building Permit Applications (P prefix) [1959 to 1987]
VPRS 17299 / P1 Building Application Card Index (Refer to VPRS 11202-MicroficheCopy) [1916 to 1998]
VPRS 11200 / P9 Building Application Plans [1946 to 1957]

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

VA 3734 Horsham III (Rural City 1995-ct)
VPRS 16966 / P3 Council Agenda [2009-2011]
VPRS 16967 / P3 Council Minutes [2009-2011]

VA 2440 Horsham II (Borough 1882-1932; Town 1932-1949; City 1949-1995)
VPRS 16968 / P2 Council Minutes [1994-1995]

VA 3708 Moorabool (Shire 1994-ct)
VPRS 16169 / P3 Council Minutes [2006-2009]

Recordkeeping and the Environment Issues Paper: Now Available for Comment

The Victorian government has a strong focus on building and maintaining a sustainable environment.  The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) strongly supports this ongoing commitment and acknowledges the importance of the move towards achieving environmental sustainability across government.

The new Recordkeeping and the Environment Issues Paper assists public offices with identifying and mitigating the environmental impacts associated with keeping records. 

The following observations about the environmental impacts of recordkeeping are offered:

  • Any means of creating, using, storing and disposing of records will employ resources and have an impact on the environment.
  • Environmental impacts of recordkeeping are cumulative and ongoing. For example, while both the digitised and paper formats co-exist when digitising records, environmental impacts continue to accrue for both formats.
  • There are unique characteristics, risks and environmental costs associated with each record format. Their impacts on the environment are complex, interdependent and scale-dependent.
  • Any assessment of the environmental impact of records will vary depending on how those records are created, used, preserved and disposed.
  • The level of environmental impact on recordkeeping is also dependent on the efficiency of other business processes such as the procurement, training and business improvement strategies adopted within an agency.

In addition, the issues paper highlights that when dealing with environmental impacts associated with keeping records, it is recommended:

  1. To ensure that best practice recordkeeping is used and
  2. Records management should not be conducted in isolation but alongside environmental and business strategies.

This issues paper invites comment from Victorian Government agencies, and local, national or international interested parties, in both public and private enterprise.

The consultation phase will conclude on 6 February 2014.  Please send comments to standards@prov.vic.gov.au.

Showcase Record – January 2014

Showcase Record – January 2014

VPRS 16930: important historical pieces from the Second Boer War, including soldier’s private papers & their family member’s personal records

Records relating to the early Victorian Defence forces are somewhat of a rare finding within Public Record Office Victoria’s collection. The Commonwealth assumed responsibility for all Australian defence forces from 1901, and as a result, many of these records were transferred in to the custody of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). This is not to say that we don’t hold sources relating to the early defence forces, rather that they are hidden away within the records of various government departments, who were responsible for defence prior to federation. Tracing these sources is not for the faint hearted given the complicated cataloguing system of many government department series. Of the records we do have, they often document the central administration of the defence forces. There are also fortunate and surprising instances, where one can view sources of soldier’s private papers, as well as records revealing the impact of the Second Boer War within Australia. VPRS 16930 The Empire’s Patriotic Fund Application is one such series.

Fig 1 – Some images showing the different articles found in the fund applications.

Fig 1 – Some images showing the different articles found in the fund applications.

Several patriotic funds were established across Australia after Britain declared war on the Boers in October 1889. The Victorian Empire’s Patriotic Fund was one which raised almost $65,000 from its beginnings on 9 January 1900. Applications for the fund were mostly made by returned injured soldiers or families of soldiers who were over in South Africa. They often contain supporting documentation – in most cases these are in the form of discharge certificates, doctor’s certificates, marriage certificates or letters of character recommendation. Memos from the Victorian Military Forces, or correspondence between the Defence Department and the fund, are also quite common. At times applicants attached personal mementos; these include letters between soldiers and their loved ones. Surprising and poignant little treasures, no doubt, to their now living families, at the same time they are valuable historical pieces detailing the experience of the Second Boer War from a variety of sources.

In a technical way, the applications show the decision making process of the executive committee, in relation to the disposal of the money raised, and the ways in which they framed or altered bylaws relating to this task. $40,000 of the funds raised was sent to the Patriotic Commission in London in 1900 and the remainder of the monies raised was allocated as grants to Victorian soldiers and their dependents from 1900 to 1918. By 8 November 1918, all monies had been disbursed and the fund was officially disbanded. Although we can be sure that the committee used the utmost consideration for each application that was lodged, there would have been some backlash when grants were refused to applicants. We can see as much in Application 283. Private McNamara wrote a letter complaining that the heads of the Patriotic Fund were granting money to people not by merit of their situation but according to the recommendations attached to their application: “I know myself to be permanently injured, have been removed from your fund, while men who can daily go to work, but who are fortunately more influential than I, are kept on” letter dated 7 October 1904; his daily allowance from the fund had been discontinued after two years.

Fig 2 – Application 206 made by the mother of Peter Davies, Fifth Victorian Contingent (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Fig 2 – Application 206 made by the mother of Peter Davies, Fifth Victorian Contingent (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

The series also provides a unique opportunity for us to learn about the Victorian soldier’s experience in the somewhat forgotten Second Boer War. At least 16,500 Australian troops were committed to fighting the Empire’s war. Of the Australians serving, they were either part of the contingents raised by the six colonies, or after 1901, by the new Australian Commonwealth. Many had also made their own way to South Africa, or were already in the country when the war broke out and joined local or colonial units. Some prolonged their service by joining the other colonial or local units, after their enlistment in an Australian contingent ended. Although support for Britain was unequivocal when the war began, the patriotic feelings eventually faded as more and more people at the front, as well as back home in Australia, became disenchanted with the conflict. We find a letter in Application 206, sent by Peter Davies, part of the Fifth Victorian Contingent, writing to his mother on the 25/7/1901 who had applied for some relief from the fund. He writes of his worry for her as he has been unable to forward money back and describes a narrow escape from death. He wishes the war was over, describing it as a hard life and how he thinks “it will tell on some of us in years to come”. Such sentiments are echoed in other letters found within these applications.   

Fig 3 – Section of the letter Peter Davies sent to his mother while he was serving in South Africa (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Fig 3 – Section of the letter Peter Davies sent to his mother while he was serving in South Africa (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Several historians view the Second Boer War as a military and socio-political debacle. The concentration camp and “scorched earth” policy adopted by the British military forces had certainly brought the British Empire under much disrepute. Many Australian soldiers were fighting during this third phase where military tactics were changed to meet the Boer use of guerrilla warfare. Perhaps this is why the Victorian soldier’s letters illustrate a sense of disillusionment with the war. Conflict was dragging on and an end to the war seemed to be nothing but a distant hope. Accustomed to traditional warfare, the British forces had been ill prepared against the remaining bands of Boers. Although the Boer’s army was fragmented, they had formed into groups of highly mobile commandos. After September 1900 many Australian soldiers, seen better able to fight the Boer guerrillas, were either sweeping the South African countryside, and enforcing the British policy of cutting the Boers off from their support by burning farmhouses and capturing civilians, or pursuing the Boer units themselves and attacking their encampments. As the soldier’s letters confirm, the war essentially involved long rides and regular onslaughts from Boar units. Application 249, made by the wife of Thomas Theobold, a member of the Second Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts, describes just this. In a letter to his wife, dated October 20th 1901, he tells of the 2nd Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts troubles during their travels to Pretoria. They were surrounded and ambushed by the Boers, just as they had camped after travelling a far distance. Thomas says that four of their men were killed, fifteen wounded and twenty four taken as prisoners. He speaks of the harsh conditions, dealing with the changing climate and going days without food. Many soldiers died from exhaustion and starvation on the long treks across the countryside.

Fig 4 – Application 249, Carrie Theobald also attached a letter sent by her husband, Thomas, from Pretoria in 1901 (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Fig 4 – Application 249, Carrie Theobald also attached a letter sent by her husband, Thomas, from Pretoria in 1901 (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

The letters found in Application 261, made by the wife of Charles Nolen who was part of the Imperial Light Horse, unmistakably illustrates the guerrilla war phase. Charles wrote to his wife Frances in January 1901 from Pretoria. He speaks of the Boer’s tactics having himself passed a station with his unit where there were “200 burned trucks, laying on all along the line there is train wreckage (Letter January 20 1901). Charles describes how the soldiers kept their weapons by their sides at all times as “we expect to be attacked at any moment” (Letter January 21 1901). He recounts that a squadron had a narrow escape the day before: “the Boers blew up the line about 3 station(sic) back & the squadron had just passed over it, as the line was blown up there was another train load of goods burned” (ibid). The railway lines were integral for British military strategy, they carried vital supplies and communication; the Boers were essentially disrupting the operational capacity of the British army. Charles believed it would be some time before the war would be over, although some with him were certain it would only be a matter of months.

Fig 5 – Application 261, the letters sent by Charles Nolen clearly illustrate the tactics the Boer’s used to disrupt the operational capacity of the British forces (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Fig 5 – Application 261, the letters sent by Charles Nolen clearly illustrate the tactics the Boer’s used to disrupt the operational capacity of the British forces (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

A letter sent by Alfred Ferne of the Imperial Light Infantry, in Application 269, similarly discusses this doubt regarding the end of the war. Alfred writes at a later date, however, in August 1901. He recounts to his wife how the Boers raided his camp some nights prior, clearly indicating that attacks were still taking place and the enemy wasn’t yet thwarted by the British forces. Just as Thomas Theobold described in his letter, dated later in the same year. Alfred’s letter is particularly interesting given the recollections he provides of his treatment while serving in the war. After arriving in Natal he talks about the poor reception the discharged soldiers received. Instructions were given to get out of their military clothing or else risk getting harassed by others in the town, “I could put up with the hardships but I did not like being treated like a dog… I can tell you it is a fearful thing to go through, it is not the fighting that is so hard but it is the hardships one is to put up with and after all what thanks do you get.” He writes this in response to his wife’s letter, informing him of the poor reception many soldiers received upon their return to Melbourne, and how fearful they looked to her.

Fig 6 – Application 269, Alfred Ferne, of the Imperial Light Infantry, writes to his wife while in Natal. He is clearly troubled and disappointed with the treatment of the soldiers. (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

Fig 6 – Application 269, Alfred Ferne, of the Imperial Light Infantry, writes to his wife while in Natal. He is clearly troubled and disappointed with the treatment of the soldiers. (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 2)

It is true that as the conditions of the camps were becoming public knowledge, there was public outcry both in Britain and Australia. Many women and children were taken to concentration camps and thousands died in these camps from malnutrition and contagious diseases. The reaction and condemnation from the people living in South Africa would have been even more heightened. Britain had essentially sent thousands to fight against an enemy they were convinced they understood, in a war they were certain they could quickly win.   

Most had thought that by September 1900, since the British had been able to regain control of many of the territories in South Africa, after winning major battles and capturing the Boer capitals, the war would come to an end. This was not the case, much of the fighting would continue until early 1902 when a treaty was agreed to. It was only by this time that the forces were finally convinced that only peace would bring the war to a close. The Second Boer War was certainly marked with great protest and back in Australia families were also facing personal and financial hardships. Many of the fund applications recount similar predicaments, forwards of payments sent by the serving soldiers were never received, although arrangements were made with the paymasters in South Africa. Pensions for wives whose husbands had died in the war were still being processed by the government, so they were essentially living with no means. Application 302 indicates such troubles; Mrs Walton’s application is accompanied with the actual letter sent by NSW officials informing her of her husband’s death in South Africa. We can read later letters sent by the NSW government advising that her pension is pending, given the question of “Pensions for Widows” is still being decided upon by the government. Many letters were sent by the wives of soldiers, who were forced to sell their furniture, other belongings, or even their houses, simply unable to support themselves and their children.

Fig 7 – Application 302, sent by Susan Walton who has learned of the death of her husband while serving in South Africa and is in need of assistance (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 3)

Fig 7 – Application 302, sent by Susan Walton who has learned of the death of her husband while serving in South Africa and is in need of assistance (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 3)

The aftermath of the returned soldier’s lives is also frequently marked with their trouble to find employment and to be supported after sustaining war injuries. A number were permanently injured. As the sole providers of their families, the help from this fund, as well as other government pension assistance, would have been their only means of existence. The struggles of wartime were certainly felt by everyone, undoubtedly the most to those directly affected by what was taking place in South Africa, the civilians and the forces of both sides.  

These applications are, essentially, invaluable family history records; through them people can gain an intimate glimpse into an ancestors experience and feelings during a certain time period. Quite often the applications show instances of people having to overcome considerable personal hardships in their lives. The knowledge of this must bring a new perspective of ones ancestors, one that should recognise the great inner strength needed to endure such hardship. Application 141 contained the greatest number of personal letters. Each letter passes on an amazing personal account of life in South Africa, during the Boer war, from a husband, Arthur Horwood, who had avoided the dangers of serving in the British forces and, by luck, found civil employment as a jailer in Capetown. He writes to his wife of his impression on the country, the village where he is working and his hopes to have her travel to him so they can be together. The experiences of the different generations of our families no doubt contributed to the life we now live. Records and memories bridge a gap across time and allow us to understand and appreciate these experiences, this is essential if we want to know where we have come from and what has shaped the history of our families.

The Empire’s Patriotic Fund Application series bring to light the true and unfortunate nature of the Second Boer War, as experienced by Victorians. In South Africa where the fighting was taking place, back home in Australia where many were struggling and then the often difficult aftermath once the war had ended. They focus on a part of history which some may not be aware of. They are important historical pieces but they are also key family history records, giving families the opportunity to connect with the memories and lives of lost relatives.

Fig 8 – Application 141, enclosed personal letters sent by Arthur Harwood, who had found work in South Africa; they are addressed to his wife, Mary. (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 1)

Fig 8 – Application 141, enclosed personal letters sent by Arthur Horwood, who had found work in South Africa; they are addressed to his wife, Mary. (VPRS 16930/P0, Unit 1)

To read more about the history of Australians in the Boer War, the Australian War Memorial has a great write up, Australia and the Boer War, 1899–1902, on the War history section of their website: http://guides.naa.gov.au/boer-war/

Additionally, the National Archives, Guide 9 The Boer War: Australians and the War in South Africa, 1899–1902, is a comprehensive resource and can be accessed on their website: http://guides.naa.gov.au/boer-war/

Jelena Gvozdic – Access Services Officer

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