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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
The Reading Room will be closed on 2/Oct for the public holiday.

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Forgotten Faces: Chinese and the Law

Photograph of James Ah Oun, captioned '7911, Ah Wan, March 1898', from VPRS 515/P unit 44, folio 258

Stories Behind the Faces

Photograph of Ah Choey, captioned '23398, Ah Choey, May 1893', from VPRS 515/P0 unit 42, folio 82

About the Photographs

Detail from 'Flemington Melbourne' (ca. 1856) S C Brees, depicting Chinese passing through Melbourne on their way to the goldfields. La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria

Chinese in Australia

A diagram of the head showing phrenological regions. Courtesy Old Melbourne Gaol.

Education Activities









Forgotten Faces: Chinese and the Law is an online education resource based on a series of nineteenth century photographs of Chinese prisoners held in Public Record Office Victoria’s collections, enriched by the use of other stories about Chinese prisoners from the nineteenth century prison registers and trial briefs.

Together the photographs and text help us to understand what it must have been like to be Chinese in nineteenth-century Australia and to understand the attitudes and behaviours of European Australians towards them.

Public Record Office Victoria houses the records of the Victorian Government from the 1830s to the present day. Within these archives are many fascinating stories waiting to be told. Forgotten Faces: Chinese and the Law tells part of that hidden story.

Chinese language text on this site

Some of the text has been translated into Traditional Chinese characters. They will only display if Chinese language fonts are installed on the computer you are using. Character sets for Traditional and Simplified Chinese may  be downloaded from your operating system’s support website. If you are using Microsoft Windows for instance you can visit the download centre at and search for a ‘Chinese language pack’ for the version of Windows you are running.


The material on these pages is based on the PROV touring exhibition Forgotten Faces: Chinese and the Law.

Education material written by Diane Gardiner
Editor: Dr John Andrews
Translations: Pisen Hong and See Tuang Tan

Images and additional material courtesy of:

Parliament of Victoria
State Library Victoria
Sovereign Hill, Ballarat
Robert O’Hara Burke Memorial Museum, Beechworth
Dr Kok Hu Jin


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