Last updated:

Welcome to the 2008 issue of Provenance! This year’s issue again reflects the extraordinary range of research that is facilitated by archives held at PROV (and other archival collections). Two of the articles in the peer-reviewed section this year present analyses of past government policies. Belinda Robson in ‘From Mental Hygiene to Community Mental Health: Psychiatrists and Victorian Public Administration from the 1940s to 1990s’, looks at government records relating to the formulation of policy on mental health and the related developments in this field of expert knowledge during the later half of the twentieth century. Robyn Ballinger, in a timely examination of rural landscapes and climate, ‘Landscapes of Abundance and Scarcity on the Northern plains of Victoria’, employs a range of records relating to land use in the semi-arid northern plains of Victoria to argue that settlement
visions in the period 1836-1930 were shaped not only by political and economic imperatives but also by the climatic changes of a semi-arid country.

One of the unifying themes amongst the other articles appearing in issue number 7 is the use of archives to document the lives of people who are otherwise forgotten by mainstream history. Many of these present stories of hardship and struggle, sometimes against a bloodless bureaucracy, sometimes with concerned public servants wanting to genuinely assist. Either way, the recollection and telling of their stories have been made possible by the records kept by these government officials.

Anna Davine, ‘Italian Speakers on the Walhalla Goldfield: A study of a small place and ordinary lives’, examines the struggle for self-improvement among Italians on the Walhalla goldfields through the case study of Vittorio Campagnolo, and thereby proposes a challenge to prior analyses and theories of migration patterns in Australia.

In her article ‘The Curious Case of the Wollaston Affair’, Lyn Payne presents a portrait of school teacher Edward George Wollaston and his protracted battle with the Victorian education authorities, particularly his ongoing efforts to secure official redress of a perceived injustice. Another fight with the bureaucracy is explored by Victoria Haskins who revisits a political campaign waged by residents at Lake Tyers Aboriginal Station to allow Caroline Bulmer, the widow of the late missionary and station manager John Bulmer, to remain on the station with them. ‘”Give to us the People we would Love to be amongst us”: The Aboriginal Campaign against Caroline Bulmer’s eviction from Lake Tyers Aboriginal Station, 1913-14’, presents the evidence of this campaign in the form of petitions and letter writing.

In the Forum section of the journal, marking the centenary year of women’s suffrage in Australia, Brienne Callahan in ‘The “Monster” Petition and the Women of Davis Street’ takes us back to a street in North Carlton and the working-class women who stood up to support electoral equality with men by signing the women’s ‘monster’ suffrage petition in 1891. Peter Davies, ‘”A lonely, narrow valley”: Teaching at an Otways outpost’, presents the story of an isolated milling community through records about its public school, one of many such remote schools that opened following the Victorian government’s introduction of free, secular and compulsory education in 1872.

Dawn Peel gives us a glimpse of the community of Colac in 1856-57 as revealed through a range of government records in ‘Colac 1857: snapshot of a colonial settlement’. In ‘Wanted! Honourable Gentlemen: Select applicants for the positions of Deputy Registrar for Collingwood in 1864’, Jenny Carter explores the wealth of detail revealed through the Victorian Chief Secretary’s Correspondence relating to applicants for a routine job vacancy. And Karin Derkley tells the story of parents struggling to keep their children in education during the difficult years of the Great Depression in ‘”The present depression has brought me down to zero”: Northcote High School during the 1930s’.

Finally, Ruth Dwyer, in ‘A Jewellery Manufactory in Melbourne: Rosenthal, Aronson & Company’, has researched records from both Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia to create a detailed account of a Melbourne jewellery firm in the later half of the nineteenth century.

Recently at the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) conference, which took place in Perth in August 2008, last year’s issue of Provenance (issue number 6 – September 2007) received a Mander Jones Award in Category 2A: Best publication that uses, features or interprets Australian archives, written by or on behalf of a corporate body. This is the second year running that the journal has been recognised by the ASA through its Mander Jones awards. It is a rare honour to receive the award two years running and I would like to thank the ASA for acknowledging the hard work of the editorial board and the quality of contributions we have published from the wide range of authors engaged in researching Victoria’s government archives.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Meredith Sherlock (copyediting), Kasia Zygmuntowicz (proofreading), Colin Kemp (digitising) and Daniel Wilksch (indexing) in helping me prepare the 2008 issue of the journal for publication.

Brienne Callahan’s article is a revised version of an article that was published earlier this year in Reflections on Fitzroy, a book written and published by 10 fourth year Honours and Masters students in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne – which explores the social and cultural history of Fitzroy. PROV provided funding and research assistance to students who took part in this project. For copies of Reflections of Fitzroy contact

Sebastian Gurciullo


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