Photo of Tara Oldfield

Author: Tara Oldfield

Senior Communications Advisor

Under Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 files of a personal or private nature can be closed for up to 99 years to prevent the violation of personal privacy. As of the 1st of January 2018, another year of files has been opened to the public to access for the first time. Records include capital sentence and criminal case files, male prison registers, divorce case files and cause books from 1942 as well as children’s court registers from 1917 and birth registers from 1911-1918.

These records can help family researchers, historians and writers fill in gaps in their research or paint a fuller picture of what was happening in Victoria at the time the records were created.


About Section 9

Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 (the Act) allows for the closure of 'personal or private' records. This prevents the violation of personal privacy and covers such material as personnel records, medical records, police and prison records and case records concerning students, welfare recipients, children in government care or compensation claimants. Although closure periods are not specified by Section 9 of the Act, records closed on grounds of personal privacy are generally closed for a period approximating a person’s lifetime. These periods ensure the records remain closed for the prospective lifetime of the primary subjects. A broad guide to commonly proposed 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.

Learn more by reading our Closure of Public Records Under Section 9 Fact Sheet.


Within the 2018 opening

Capital sentence file and criminal trial brief

Known at the time as the “peep hole” murder, among the files made public for the first time on 1 January 2018 is the capital sentence file and criminal trial brief of Frederick Francis Green. Initially sentenced to death for the murder of Catherine Maud Whitley, his case was commuted to 20 years imprisonment.

According to the capital sentence file:

“…at about 4pm on the 25th July 1942, Catherine Maud Whitley, an old age pensioner, about 63 years of age, was found in an unconscious condition in an L shaped lane which runs by the side of the Victorian Horse Market Hotel, 786 Elizabeth Street, Carlton.”

“It was later ascertained that a lad named Allan Alfred Shaw heard voices in the lane at the rear of Gladstone Motors 223 Berkley Street, Carlton where he is employed, and whose premises abut onto the lane in question; that he looked through an opening between the wall and the sliding rear door of the premises and saw deceased lying on her back in the lane, and a man (attacking the woman)…”

Contained in the criminal trial brief is the statement by the witness:

“I heard a woman in the back lane saying ‘don’t do that to me.’... I went to look through this crack in the door… when I looked through that opening I could not see the woman properly. I saw the side of the woman, just to see that it was a woman there. She was lying down against the wall, or close to the wall… I saw somebody else about the same time, I saw a chap there at the side of her… As soon as I saw them there I went up and got Ted White who works with me. He is another mechanic employed at the same place. He was at the front of the shop. I went up and spoke to him. After I spoke to him he came straight down and had a look through the crack of the door where I was looking. He stayed there for a couple of seconds and decided what to do, and then we ran over the road and got Mr Knight… and Mr Knight came over with us and had a look through the crack of the door, and when he saw them he got in a car and went down to a telephone box… I had a look through the opening again while they were away…I saw the chap there in the lane, and I saw what he was doing to her…”

The victim was known to police as Catherine Baker among other aliases for larceny, drunk and disorderly and indecent language charges. Around Melbourne she was known as “Wild Rose”. She died of her injuries and soon a manhunt was underway for the man that Allan and the other witnesses described as being the woman’s attacker.

Photo of Catherine
Catherine's prisoner register, already in our online collection, includes this photo of her taken in 1932.


Frederick Francis Green was brought in by police and admitted:

“I cannot say how many drinks I had during the day, but it was a lot. I left the Hotel to get a Taxi to go home, and outside I met an old woman. She was the first to speak... I cannot say what was exactly said, but she asked me for 5/- to go up the lane. I went up the lane with her, and we were arguing the point or something...

I remember hitting her once with my fist … The lane was wet and muddy, and I got mud all over the knees of my trousers, and also my hands. I wiped my hands with my handkerchief, and my wife found the muddy handkerchief in my trousers pocket the next morning, and asked what I had been doing. My trousers were also muddy and she brushed them. I told my wife that I just fell over.”

Frederick's initial sentence to death was commuted to 20 years imprisonment.  


Birth register

The 1911-1918 birth register from the Midwifery Department of the Royal Women’s Hospital provides details of births listed chronologically including the child’s name, sex, date of birth, father’s name, father’s occupation and age, when and where married, mother’s name, mother’s age and birthplace and the nurse’s information. Classic child names of 1911-1918 can be seen throughout the volume including:

  • Margaret
  • Charlotte
  • John
  • Henry
  • Charles
  • Florence
  • Vera
  • Herbert
  • Lillian
  • Alice
  • Jack
  • Violet

As well as some names that you don’t often hear any more such as:

  • Ignatius
  • Millicent
  • Augustine
  • Kitty
  • Archibald
  • Pearl


photo of the birth book
The birth register opened at the first page.


Bound circulated photographs and criminal offences of convicted persons

There are two bound volumes circulated between police departments, these books contain details of criminals known to travel interstate between November 1941 and March 1942. Each page features a new entry including the criminal’s name, photograph, list of offences and convictions, place and date of birth, education details and docket number reference.

One of the entries you will find in the circulars is that of thief John George Nash.

John George Nash, according to articles on Trove, was shot dead by detectives in a gun battle in Sydney in 1951. His family said:

“When he was 14 he started to steal little things, and his mother took him to a specialist. She was told that he’d either be brilliant or a criminal. We all know what he turned out to be.”  


photo of John Nash
The bound circulars opened at John Nash's page.


Full list of newly opened records

Records can be ordered via the catalogue links below for viewing in our Reading Rooms. For Reading Room locations and open hours scroll to the bottom of the 'contact us' page

Record Title

Date Range

Criminal Trial Briefs
(VPRS 30 P0000 Units 2975 - 3024)
(VPRS 30 P0030 Unit 10)



Children’s Court Register, Ballarat Courts
(VPRS 260 P0000 Unit 4)


Jan 1916 - Feb 1918

Capital Case Files
(VPRS 264 P0001 Unit 14)


1938 - 1941

Inward Registered Correspondence, Attorney General’s Department
(VPRS 266 P0001 Units 52 - 66)


1941 - 1942

Divorce Case Files, Melbourne
(VPRS 283 P0002 Units 340 - 364)


1941 - 1942

Central Register of Male Prisoners
(VPRS 515 P0000 Unit 95)


1941 - 1942

Divorce Case Files, Ballarat
(VPRS 552 P0001 Unit 7)



Capital Sentence Files
(VPRS 1100 P0002 Unit 14)



Wages Records, Country Roads Board
(VPRS 1752 P0000 Units 20 - 43)


1941 - 1942

Children’s Court Register, Oakleigh Courts
(VPRS 2473 P0000 Unit 2)


1914 - 1918

Criminal Trial Brief Register II
(VPRS 3524 P0000 Unit 50)



Criminal Trial Brief Register II
(VPRS 3524 P0001 Unit 50)
This is a microfiche copy of the unit above, no need to order it, just come in and view in our North Melb Reading Room.



Commonwealth Register, Children’s Court, Daylesford Courts
(VPRS 3705 P0000 Unit 1)


1917 - 1918

Master Patient Index Cards, Alfred Hospital
(VPRS 3848 P0000 Units 116 - 121)


1941 - 1942

Ward Registers
(VPRS 4527 P0000 Units 131 - 136)


Nov 1917 - Dec 1918

Children’s Court Register, Dimboola Courts
(VPRS 5264 P0000 Unit 1)


1908 - 1918

Divorce Cause Books
(VPRS 5334 P0001 Unit 10)


Feb 1941 - May 1942

Index to Divorce Cause Books
(VPRS 5335 P0004 Unit 3)


1939 - 1942

Post Mortem Registers, Royal Park Receiving House
(VPRS 7433 P0001 Unit 4)


29 Apr 1940 - 7 Dec 1942

Post Mortem Register, Mont Park Mental Hospital
(VPRS 7434 P0001 Unit 6)


6 Oct 1939 - 16 Jun 1942

Register of Applicants for Permanent Positions, Dept Mental Hygiene
(VPRS 7477 P0001 Unit 3)


1938 - 1942

Admission Papers (Voluntary Boarders), Pleasant View Licensed House
(VPRS 7537 P0001 Unit 1)


1911 - 1942

Admission Warrants, Male and Female Patients, Kew Cottages
(VPRS 7565 P0001 Unit 5)


1914 - 1918

Patient Clinical Notes, Kew Mental Hospital
(VPRS 7693 P0001 Unit 20)

1941 - 1942

Employee Record Book – Northern Engine Houses, Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board
(VPRS 7815 P0001 Unit 1)


c. 1887 - c. 1942

Bound Circulated Photographs and Criminal Offences of Convicted Persons
(VPRS 7856 P0001 Units 45 - 46)


Nov 1941 - March 1942

Historical Records Collection, Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works
(VPRS 8609 P0004 Unit 6)


Nov 1941 - Dec 1942

Nursing Report Books, Female, Sunbury Mental Hospital
(VPRS 8252 P0001 Unit 6)


Nov 1941 - Dec 1942

Children’s Court Registers, Caulfield Courts
(VPRS 8762 P0001 Unit 4)


Apr 1916 - Feb 1918

Case Files, Office of the Public Solicitor
(VPRS 10001 P0000 Unit 2)


1937 - 1942

Presentments, Supreme Court
(VPRS 10008 P0001 Units 55 - 57)


1941 - 1942

Children’s Court Register, St Kilda Courts
(VPRS 10552 P0000 Unit 5)


Jul 1915 - Feb 1918

Children’s Court Register, Northcote Courts
(VPRS 10559 P0000 Unit 5)


Mar 1916 - Oct 1918

Children’s Court Register, Geelong Courts
(VPRS 10563 P0000 Unit 4)


Sept 1915 - June 1918

Apprentice History Cards, Apprenticeship Commission
(VPRS 11538 P0001 Units 1 - 66)


1929 - 1967

Employee Record Cards, Electrical Engineering Branch, Victorian Railways
(VPRS 12594 P0001 Units 1 - 7)


1924 - 1962

Tramway Employees Record Cards
(VPRS 12739 P0001 Units 77 - 82)



Correspondence with Australian Railway Union regarding industrial issues
(VPRS 13279 P0001 Unit 8)


1961 - 1962

Accident Compensation Claim Register, Victorian Railways
(VPRS 13531 P0001 Unit 21)


1961 - 1962

Country Roads Board Minutes
(VPRS 14351 P0001 Unit 66)



Victorian Nursing Council Executive Committee Minutes
(VPRS 16379 P0001 Unit 3)


Feb 1965 - Dec 1967

Physiotherapists Register
(VPRS 16487 P0001 Unit 1)


1923 - 1987

Nursing Staff Training Books, Orthopaedic, Frankston
(VPRS 16856 P0002 Unit 1)


1960 - 1967

Criminal Presentments and Final Orders, Court of General Sessions
(VPRS 17020 P0003 Units 12 - 14)


Dec 1941 - Dec 1942

Birth Registers
(VPRS 17383 P0002 Unit 1)


July 1911 - June 1918

Children’s Court Register, Eltham Courts
(VPRS 17768 P0001 Unit 1)


May 1908 - Aug 1917

Children’s Court Register, Kew Courts
(VPRS 17770 P0001 Unit 2)


May 1914 - Oct 1917

Discharge Register of Patients, Ararat Mental Hospital
(VPRS 17790 P0002 Unit 5)


Mar 1927 - Jun 1942

Admission and Discharge Register of Patients, Beechworth Mental Hospital
(VPRS 17846 P0001 Unit 4)


Jan 1914 - Mar 1942

Observation Ward Report Books: Male Patients, Beechworth Mental Hospital
(VPRS 18101 P0002 Unit 2)

Jan 1941 - Feb 1942





Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples