Archival Access Victoria

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Here you will find reviews of records I've viewed at the Archives and other things I've been up to.


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Did your ancestors go bust?

Posted by Mark on October 23, 2014 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Every so often I deal with a set of records that I've never really accessed before –discovering what’s available, what can be found and how it can be accessed. Over the past few weeks, it has been records relating to insolvency that have piqued my interest. When someone is unable to pay their debts, they can be declared insolvent – and as you can imagine this creates a bit of paperwork!

 

Records relating to insolvency are available at PROV from 1842 to 1928 – after this period the administration of insolvency proceedings became a commonwealth function, with records held at the National Archives.

 

So how do you find out if someone was declared insolvent? My suggestion is to start with TROVE or the Government Gazette Online – insolvency was often reported on in the local newspapers and covered in a more official capacity in the gazette. Finding mention of it here would give you an approximate date. From here you go to the indexes that can be ordered for viewing at PROV – ordering the one that covers the relevant period. If you didn't find mention of the insolvency in the Gazette or TROVE you may not have a time frame narrowed down, meaning, you may need to look at more than one index.

 

The index will provide you with the all-important case number – which will allow you to locate the file in one of the following series:

  • Proceedings in Insolvent Estates (1842 - 1871)
  • Deeds under 1871 Insolvency Act (1871 - 1890)
  • Schedules Under the Insolvency Act (1890 - 1915)
  • Deeds Under 1915 Insolvency Act (1915 - 1928)

The sort of information you can find in the file itself includes (but may not!) a petition for insolvency documentation about the estate, list of debts due particulars of property, a balance sheet, insolvent's statement, statement of assets and receipts, statement of disbursements and unrealised estate schedules.

 

If you’re after details of insolvency cases from Ballarat – unfortunately, I can’t help with those…the records are held at the Ballarat Archives Centre.

More on government employees

Posted by Mark on October 23, 2014 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Lately, I've been looking at a lot of registers and indexes of employees of various government agencies. If you had an ancestor employed in the public service (Victorian) then these records may be of interest to you.

 

On past PROV visits I've looked at registers of ports and harbours employees (see an index I've created here), prison warders and asylum staff. There are also records of folks employed in industries that were covered by government licensing regulations – such as the register of licensed shorthand writers which I looked at a couple of weeks ago.

 

Whenever I come across a register of employee records in the catalogue, I make note of it...slowly building a list of employee records available at PROV - which I will get around to posting on my website in the not too distant future.

 

The most recent employee records I’ve come across are the Staff Records of the Department of State Forests / Forest Commission (1908-1952) – which provides the following details for employees listed:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • file number
  • rank or office
  • salary details
  • where stationed and when
  • commendations, censures and general remarks
  • leave details
  • resignation dates

Even if you know that your ancestor worked for a certain government agency, these records can add a bit more to the story and perhaps fill in a few gaps for you.

 

My grandfathers uncles all spent time in the employ of the Victorian Railways (plenty of records available for the railways!) - and I have spent a bit of time getting my hands on their employee records. Discovering all the stations they worked at was eye opening, they certainly got around!

Cemetery Records

Posted by Mark on October 23, 2014 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I had the pleasure of stopping in at the Benalla & District Historical Society on my way down to PROV a few weeks ago – taking along my digitisation equipment and spending an hour or so digitising some of the local cemetery records.

 

The record I was asked to photograph was not the burial register, but rather a ‘cash book’, used to record the receipts and expenditures of the cemetery trust.

 

I know what you’re probably thinking, a cash book? Surely it can’t be that interesting? But, I was surprised to find the entries were quite detailed – listing the name, age and religious affiliation of the individual buried, date of burial and service and even the depth of the grave dug and its location.

 

It was easy to see from this record that the deeper the hole, the bigger the bill!

 

It’s good to know that a book seemingly created to keep track of the cemetery trusts accounts can be used in place of a burial register (if one doesn't exist).

 

If you’re interested in the Benalla record specifically, get in contact with the Benalla & District Historical Society - their rooms are located in the local museum and definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

Lost in the catalogue...no more!

Posted by Mark on June 23, 2014 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (0)

In my last newsletter I talked about how not ever record was linked up the way it should be in the PROV catalogue, with some records not showing up in searches due to their creating 'agency' not existing (or having incorrect spelling!).

 

 

 

 

I was glad to receive some useful information via email from Susie Zada on how to get around this little problem. The solution - hit the books, or rather book...the PROV's List of Holdings! This book contains a variety of information regarding agencies and the records created by them that now live at PROV.

 

I had heard of this publication before, but believed that the PROV's online catalogue was the '21st Century' version...but I was wrong. Susie pointed out that although the Chillingolah Court wasn't listed as an agency on the PROV Catalogue, it was found easily between Chewton and Chiltern in the courts section of the List of Holdings.

I ordered a copy of the List of Holdings, and was happy to see it arrive on Friday...just in time for some weekend reading.

 

Armed with the knowledge that the online catalogue wasn't the be all and end all of record listings, I went searching for other things that may have gone astray.

 

I had previously scoured the PROV catalogue for local records (North East Victoria) so I was familiar with what was around - so I was delighted to find mention of court records from Wahgunyah, Woolshed and Indigo. My ancestors spent time at Woolshed and Indigo so I am very eager to get back to PROV and search through these records...now that I know they exist!

Open House Melbourne 2014

Posted by Mark on June 23, 2014 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

With the list of buildings being announced last week, the hype is growing for Open House Melbourne 2014, being held on 26th and 27th of July. Last year I volunteered as a tour guide at the Esplanade Hotel down in St Kilda, and although I'd like to volunteer again this year and learn a bit about another one of Melbourne's landmarks...I've decided to make the most of a trip to Melbourne as a regular Joe Public and see as many buildings as I can.

 

Great timing by Open House Melbourne too - being held on a weekend where the PROV is open - so I can hit two birds with one stone.

 

For more info on Open House Melbourne see their website, and read up this years buildings...always good to plan ahead!

Not just a list of records...

Posted by Mark on June 23, 2014 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The PROV catalogue isn't just good for finding out what records are at the archives, but also for finding out a lot about the records themselves. With a few exceptions, every record listed on the PROV catalogue comes with a description of the record, providing information about how the records are arranged, their contents and why they were created. I often jump on the PROV catalogue to look up something only to find an hour has passed and the majority of that time has been spent reading about the organisation of land records created under some obscure section of the Land Act.

 

You can learn a lot about Victoria's history from the catalogue entries, and you may even spark an idea in your mind about how a seemingly unrelated record might shed some light on your own research - I did when I discovered 'G W Brown's Notebooks' among records held by the Education Department. Gilbert Wilson Brown was a school inspector and his notebooks were his own personal record of his inspections of various schools (including denominational) during the 1860's. I hoped that out of the hundreds of schools that this one inspector may have visited, my ancestors schools in the North East of Victoria would get a mention, and that he may have written down their names. And it was definitely worth checking out this record!

 

G W Brown visited the North East and Alpine areas seven times during the 1860's - visiting the local schools where my ancestors attended. And I even confirmed a 'Kelly' story (as I know we all have them!) with Brown's notebooks showing that my G-G-Grandfather, John Boyce, attended the Woolshed school with Joe Byrne in the early 1860's.

 

So if you find yourself with a few moments spare, jump on the PROV catalogue (here is a tip sheet to get you started) and have a browse, who knows what you might discover.

Archives in the Alpine

Posted by Mark on June 10, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

On the 27th of May I made the trip up to Bright, in Victoria's beautiful Alpine country for a presentation with the Alpine Shire Heritage Network (ASHN). This group is made up of the various historical and family history groups in the area - Myrtleford & District Historical Society, Bright & District Historical Society, Harrietville Historical Society, Kiewa Valley Historical Society and the Bright RSL.

The wet weather was something I could have done without but I soon dried out and warmed up in the Council Chambers at Bright, a perfect setting for viewing digitised local records and learning a bit about what can be found down at PROV.

I had a number of records I had digitised in advance for the ASHN, which will be made available through my Records Store for everyone else soon:

  • Buckland Gold Office - Deposit Register
  • Licensing registers from the Bright Courts
  • A number of local fire inquest files

Archives in the Alpine

Posted by Mark on June 10, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

On the 27th of May I made the trip up to Bright, in Victoria's beautiful Alpine country for a presentation with the Alpine Shire Heritage Network (ASHN). This group is made up of the various historical and family history groups in the area - Myrtleford & District Historical Society, Bright & District Historical Society, Harrietville Historical Society, Kiewa Valley Historical Society and the Bright RSL.

 

The wet weather was something I could have done without but I soon dried out and warmed up in the Council Chambers at Bright, a perfect setting for viewing digitised local records and learning a bit about what can be found down at PROV.

 

I had a number of records I had digitised in advance for the ASHN, which will be made available through my Records Store for everyone else soon:

Buckland Gold Office - Deposit Register

Licensing registers from the Bright Courts

A number of local fire inquest files

Wikipedia for Municipal Records

Posted by Mark on June 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

 

There are lots of websites out there that can help with tracking down PROV records – be it the LASSI map used for finding old title application numbers or the Royal Historical Society of Victoria's Index to Inward Correspondence (Superintendent of the Port Phillip District) between 1839 and 1851. Another website I frequent quite often for a little help with municipal records is not only free but is one of the most popular websites in the world – Wikipedia.

 

Wikipedia has a treasure trove of information relating to Victorian municipal areas – and so far it hasn’t let me down when I’ve been trying to find out the name, location and life span of a 19th century municipality. Below is a simple example of how Wikipedia can be used to help with your research.

 

Imagine you were researching the pioneers of Tongala, looking for the names of land owners in1877. Tongala sits in the shire of Campaspe, a local government area formed in1994, so to get started you look up the Shire of Campaspe on Wikipedia. You discover it was formed through the amalgamation of the City of Echuca, Shire of Deakin, Shire of Rochester, Shire of Waranga, Town of Kyabram and part of the Shire of Rodney. If you know your local geography you may know already which of the above shires contained Tongala, but if you didn’t you would check each of the above links to find out. Eventually you’d discover that Tongala was located within the Shire of Deakin from 1893 to 1994 (whose rate books are at PROV from 1893) – but this doesn’t help us find out about the residents in 1877. Reading through the Shire of Deakin page we learn that it was once a part of the Echuca Road District(1864-1871) and the Shire of Echuca (1871-1893). Armed with this information, we look on the PROV catalogue for the records of the Echuca Shire and we’ll find that rate books are available from 1877. It will be in these volumes that we’ll find the names of Tongala’s pioneers.

 

Some pages on Wikipedia are more detailed than others, but most should provide you with enough information to determine which municipality you need to focus your research on. And of course, if you are ever unsure – I’m only an email away.


Lost in the catalogue

Posted by Mark on June 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

There are many different ways of searching on the PROV catalogue – by group (courts, education , railways), by agency (Wodonga Courts, Sale Primary School, Ararat Asylum) by series (license register, pupil register) or by item (File No. 2394, Inquest 1962/254). This is all linked together, searching by group for 'Courts' would return a list of all the courts in the PROV catalogue, clicking on the Wodonga Court link will provide me with a list of all the records for the Wodonga Court, where I would find the license registers.

 

Sometimes these links are broken, or were never there in the first place and every now and again I find a record that isn’t linked to the agency that created. The most recent set of records I’ve found to be ‘lost in the catalogue’ are from the Chillingollah Court House, registers dating from 1916 to 1942. I had never even heard of Chillingollah (on the PROV catalogue as Chillingolah) – and If someone had asked me to find records relating to Chillingollah I would have most likely missed these, as my agency search for Chillingollah would have returned no results, and the series search for the court records would have failed due to the spelling variation.

 

In addition to records not linked to their agency – there are a number of ‘unknown’ records too. The most recent of these that I have looked at is a staff register for an unknown agency. This register is filled with a variety of details relating to staff employed in an as yet unidentified department of the Victorian government. I may just have a go at identifying it – as I believe if the register states that a staff member died while in the employment of the agency, their will and probate file may shed light on their occupation and employer.

 

I’ll let you know how I go with that!


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