The government records we have identified below are important collections worth exploring. A full list of archived government records about Aboriginal Victorians are referenced in the online research guide walata tyamateetj.
The records contain information about Aboriginal people and the administration of Aboriginal affairs from the earliest years of European contact in Victoria. These documents date from between the 1830s and the 1970s and are now held at both Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia.
The records were mostly created by the Aboriginal Protectorate and the Board for the Protection of Aborigines as part of the government’s attempts to manage and control the Aboriginal population in Victoria. Details about the records can be found on each page.
Aboriginal missions and reserves were also managed by government and there are records about the communities at Coranderrk, Framlingham, Lake Condah, Ebenezer (Lake Hindmarsh), Lake Tyers and Ramahyuck.
A significant aspect of the collection are letters and petitions written by Aboriginal people as they dealt with often repressive administrations.
Try searching across the broader collection because in many cases you can search by name and place.
What do I need to know before I start?
Cultural Sensitivity Warning
These records provide evidence of past attitudes held by government officials and other individuals and contain words, descriptions and information which may be insensitive or inappropriate and can be upsetting.
The Aboriginal affairs records in the collection are not organised in a consistent way and many cases you can only search across the title of the record. Once you view the record online or in a reading room you will be able to research more thoroughly.
Useful information for locating records might include:
- place names
- subject area
- date range or year.
View online or at the Reading Room?
Look for the icons below to identify if records are viewable online (mouse over globe) or need to be ordered online and then viewed at our Reading Rooms (open book):
Look for these icons to:
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