Last updated:

November 17, 2022

Have you ever heard of a ‘nightman’, a ‘scoop boy’, or a phrenologist? How about a ‘fairy tapper’, a telegrapher, a ‘dolly boy’ or a lumper? These were all jobs that were once common, but have disappeared completely. Many jobs have vanished in Victoria over the years, while others have emerged, sometimes in completely new industries. The world of work is always changing.

The Lost Jobs exhibition, now showing at Old Treasury Building, features records from the state archival collection including Town Clerk's Files, Ward Registers, and the Duty Diary of Assistant Inspector of Nuisances, to name a few.   


Old Treasury Building
Spring Street, Melbourne


Image Gallery

open book with handwriting
Handwritten Census of the Port Phillip District, 9 November 1836. This census, ordered by Police Magistrate William Lonsdale, recorded the names and locations of about 45 heads of settler households and their dates of arrival. It also recorded the number (but not the names) of others in each household, whether they were under or over 12 years of age, their civil condition (all were free settlers) and their religion, along with the types of buildings, stock numbers and condition and land acreage under cultivation. Some 224 persons were counted, 186 male and 38 female, in the area around Melbourne. The Kulin were not counted, although an attempt was made to list those still in the vicinity of Melbourne in 1839. Although the ink used to create this remarkable record has faded, the handwriting is still clearly legible all these years later.


black and white photo of a woman making an umbrella
Umbrella making, 1934. Although factories continued to be important employers in regional Victoria, Melbourne became increasingly dominant in the twentieth century. By 1913 two thirds of all factories were located in the city. The largest concentration was in clothing and textiles, followed by food and drink processing. About one third of these shops were small concerns, employing between five and ten workers. The 1920s and thirties saw further expansion, and the development of new industries in distilling, mineral oil production, the manufacture of domestic stoves, hosiery and knitting mills. Increasing numbers of women were recruited to work in these factories.



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