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What do I need to know?

PROV holds a range of records from 1852 – 1922 about merchant ships' crews, some of which have been digitised. The records cover a variety of locations and crew activities, including discharge, desertion, payment and release. This page brings together the records available in our collection.

Some of the records are searchable below by subject area (for example, records about salaries or immigration statistics), but none are searchable by name, so if you're researching an individual, collect as much information as possible before you start, such as:

  • dates of travel
  • ports of departure and arrival
  • ships they served on


How do I search?

In most cases you will need to order the year period you are looking for, and on viewing the record, search by date of voyage or discharge.


About these records

Other Sources of Information
Police Gazettes contain information about ships’ crew who deserted. The gazettes are available at PROV in North Melbourne and do not need to be ordered.

Who created these records?

Department of Trade and Customs 1851-1901 (VA 606)
Chief Secretary's Department 1855-1979 (VA 475)

Next Steps

Once you have found records of interest to you, view digitised records online or order undigitised records for viewing in our Reading room.



What are in these records?

The records cover a variety of activities relating to crew members, including:

  • wages
  • capability
  • conduct
  • period of employment
  • reason for leaving ship

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