Introduction to archival research into aboriginal people
Introduction to Archival Research into Aboriginal people: an overview Sebastian Gurciullo – Co-ordinator, Koorie Records Unit, PROV 5 September 2011
Overview• PROV – role and responsibilities• What’s in PROV’s collection?• Reading room, website and catalogue usage• Researching Aboriginal records in Victoria• Future directions
A take on data accessibility from satirical online news outlet www.theonion.com
Victorian Archives Centre• Provides a place for staff and services of 4 organisations – Public Record Office Victoria – National Archives of Australia – National Gallery of Victoria – Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation
Public Record Office Victoria• PROV is the archival authority for the state of Victoria, established under the Public Records Act 1973.• We are responsible for the management of and access to public records
Where do I access the records?• Victorian Archives Centre – 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne – Free, off street parking via Macaulay Road• Opening hours – Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (And the second and last Saturdays of most months) Please note: access to original records is not immediate
Where do I access the records?• Ballarat Archives Centre – Corner Mair & Doveton Streets, Ballarat (State Government Offices)• Opening Hours – Monday & Tuesday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm Please note: access to original records is not immediate
Ballarat or Melbourne?• Ballarat – Coverage: Central Highlands and Western Victorian regions – Mostly holds locally created records, eg local government, courts, etc.• Melbourne – Coverage: whole of State – Records of any agency – includes major central agencies as well as “branch” agencies, eg. Education Department and individual school records, Inquests, Will and Probate Records• You can do most of your searching and ordering from the Ballarat Archives Centre and then view the records at North Melbourne
What are public records?• Public records are those created or received by government officials in the course of their duty.• They may be products of administrative processes or they may document functions of government.• Public records are unique and have evidential value.
PROV’s Archival Control Model – understanding the hierarchy•Victorian •Victorian Record Group (VRG)Function •Victorian Agency (VA)(VF) •Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS) •P0000, P0001 etc
How physical records get to PROV Permanent records PROV processed by agency (or Agency creates (permanent contractors) in records preparation for transfer retention) Records not in Temporary recordsongoing use placed are destroyed once in secondary they reach their storage sentence
VAC Record Delivery times• You can order up to 24 items (files, volumes, boxes etc) at one time• Delivered 8 at a time, twice per day, to VAC reading room• Order by: – 8.00 am to make the 10.30 am collection time – 11.30 am to make the 2.00 pm collection time
This information, accessible via the PROV catalogue, controls access to over 90 shelf kms of records
Access: Closed records• Some records are closed under sections of the Public Records Act 1973• Section 9: records of a private or personal nature – usually closed for 75–99 years from creation.• Section 10: records gazetted as not available for 30 years from transfer.• Section 11: records closed for conservation or preservation reasons
Reading room services• Wireless internet connection for your own laptop in the VAC reading room• Digital camera available for capturing images of records (BYO memory stick or purchase one at PROV)
How is researching in agovernment archive different?• You cannot browse through a shelf to see what you might want.• PROV is a receiving archive rather than a collecting archive.• Our catalogues are not arranged by name or subject.
ScenarioResearcher visits PROV: ‘I am starting my family history, can you give me everything you have on Edward Nunn and his picture as well?’PROV Staff member: ‘Of course, just let me type his name into our catalogue and then it will give us every record we have on him. It will only take a few minutes and then you can take it away with you’
The reality- You need to understand the Archival Control Model- You need to think like the Victorian Government (of the time you are researching)- You need to think like a database to use the online catalogue- Many records will have been lost over time or legally destroyed- Many records will not have been transferred to PROV- A record may never have been created- You need to be prepared to research for days, weeks, months...even years
Family & local history• Births, Deaths, Marriages• Passenger Lists• Will & Probates• Inquests• Prisons• Land & Properties• Education & Teachers• Mental Health
Birth, deaths, and marriagesThese database indexes are available on the public access computers inPROVs reading rooms. They are also available from many publiclibraries, State Library of Victoria and other genealogy organisations. – Births Deaths and Marriages Indexes 1837 – 1920 – Marriage Index continued... 1921 – 1942 – Death Index continued.... 1921 – 1985 – Marine Births Deaths and Marriages Index 1853 – 1920PROV does not hold copies of birth, death or marriage certificates. Youwill need to contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for these.
Passenger listsPassenger lists: arrivals at Victorian ports PROV holds passenger lists for voyages to and from Victoria from 1839 to 1923. Copies of the lists are available on microfiche and microfilm in PROV reading rooms at the Victorian Archives Centre and the Ballarat Archives Centre and do not have to be ordered. The following online database indexes provide references to microform copies of passenger lists held at PROV reading rooms, and were compiled from the existing passenger lists by volunteers. – Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923 – Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871 – Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K. and Foreign Ports, 1852-1896PROVguides – PROVguide 50 Locating and Copying Ships Passenger Lists – PROVguide 52 Immigration Records.
Type in the name of the person you are looking forTake note of theFiche and Page No.That is listed next tothe persons name
Wills & probatesPROV holds wills and probate records created from 1841. They are accessed in different ways depending on the date range1841 – 1925 View records online – These have been digitised and you can search an online index on our webpage, then view a digitised copy of the will..all from the comfort of your own home1926 – 1992 View original records at PROV – You will need to use the Victorian Probate Index on microfiche, available at PROVs reading rooms, or at genealogical collections around Australia, to get the reference number for the records. Once you have obtained the reference number you can then order the record via PROV’s online catalogue. You will then have to come into the North Melbourne reading room to view the record
Wills & probates continued ...1993 – 2001 View original records at PROV – You can use PROVs online catalogue to search for the records by name. You can then order the record and will need to come into the North Melbourne reading room to view the record2002 onwards – Contact the Victorian Probate Office to enquire about accessing wills and probate records created after 2002.PROVguides – PROVguide 29, Wills and Probate Records 1841 – 1925 – PROVguide 68, Wills and Probate Records from 1926 – PROVguide 70, Will and Probate Records
Digitised Will – available online Wills VPRS 7591/P2, Unit 649, File 180/714
Inquests PROV holds records for inquests and other coronial investigations held in Victoria since 1840.Accessing inquest records 1840-1985 – You will need to consult the database Inquest Index, Victoria 1840-1985. This database can be found on computers in PROVs reading rooms, the State Library of Victoria, and some genealogical centres and public libraries around Australia. Once you have found the reference number you can order the record. You will need to come into the North Melbourne reading room to view the record
Inquests continued... Inquest Deposition Files post 1985 are closed to public access. Access to recent files is through the State Coroners Office.PROVguides– PROVguide 8, Ordering Inquest records– PROVguide 71, Inquest Records
InquestDeposition Files: VPRS 24/P0 Unit 966 File 1920/927
Prisons & court recordsPROV holds a range of records created by courts, prisons and otheragencies of the justice system, including the following digitised records,available online: – VPRS 10867/P0 Alphabetical Index to Central Register of Male Prisoners, 1868-1947 – VPRS 10879/P0 Alphabetical Index to Central Register of Female Prisoners, 1857-1948 – VPRS 515/P0 Central Register of Male Prisoners [selected volumes only] – VPRS 5335/P0 Index to Divorce Cause Books, 1861-1924 – Index to VPRS 75/P0 Certificate of Discharge, Court of Insolvency, Melbourne, 1848- 1875 PROVguides – PROVguide 58, Prison Records – PROVguide 57, Convict Records – PROVguide 61, Divorce Records
Alphabetical Index to Central Register of Male Prisoners : 1868 - 1947
VPRS 5335 P0 Index to Divorce Cause Books(VA 2549) Supreme Court of Victoria, 1861 – 1924
Land & properties PROV holds a range of records that document the administration of Crown lands in Victoria, such as: – land selection and occupation – crown reserves – pastoral runs – survey recordsPROV holds a variety of records that provide valuable sources for research into property, such as: – Rate books – Public Works Department Plans – Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works records – Public Building Files
VPRS 16171 Regional Land Office Plans Digitised Reference Set
Education & teachersPROV holds a wealth of records created by the Victorian EducationDepartment and by individual schools.Frequently used records include:– The online index VPRS 13719/P1 Database Index to Teacher Record Books, 1863- 1959, which provides access to a microfilm copy of Victorian teachers working histories. These records are available in PROV reading rooms and do not have to be ordered.– Inward and Outward correspondence– School Building Files– Special Case FilesPROVguides– PROVguide 56, Education Records
Mental health PROV holds extensive records from many of the institutions which have provided some form of care or control over people with a mental illness and people with an intellectual disability. Many of these records have been digitised and are available online. Records include: – Clinical records – Admission of patients – Register of patients – Discharge registers Because of the sensitive and personal information contained in the records, some, including almost all clinical records are closed to public access for many years after their creation. This means that only nineteenth and some early twentieth century records are currently available.PROVguide – Provguide 59, Mental Health records
•Research records about Aboriginal people in Victoria through records created by government
National Archives of Australia• Archive of the Australian federal government• This is a national organisation• Main presence is in Canberra but have facilities in every state and territory (see NAA Fact Sheet 1 for further details)• In Melbourne, co-located with Public Record Office Victoria at the Victorian Archives Centre• Established under the Archives Act 1983• Records mostly date from Federation (1901)
Public Record Office Victoria• Archive of the Victorian state government• This is a state organisation• Main presence is in Melbourne at the Victorian Archives Centre, with a branch at Ballarat, and with affiliated collections in Geelong and Bendigo (see PROVguide 16 for further details)• Established under the Public Records Act 1973• Records date from the start of the colony (from the 1830s onwards)
Koorie Records Unit (KRU)• Assists Aboriginal people with access to Victorian and Commonwealth government records• Builds links and partnerships with community and government organisations• Co-ordinates projects enhancing access to Koorie records• Provides outreach, education and training activities with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people
Records about Aboriginal people in Victoria• Government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria held in two collections – National Archives of Australia – Public Record Office Victoria• Koorie Reference Service: we conduct a search into both collections on behalf of Aboriginal clients to help trace connections – further from Ed Story later• If you are doing research yourself, you will need to understand the way the collections are split across the two organisations and how to go about finding what you want
Victoria’s Aboriginal records – how did it get like this?• Victorian State Government legislation to transfer responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs to the Australian federal government in 1975• Shortly after this, those records not already in the custody of PROV were transferred to the Australian federal government by the Victorian state ministry of Aboriginal Affairs• For the period c. 1860 to 1970s it is necessary to conduct research at both PROV and the National Archives of Australia (NAA), Melbourne Office.• Victoria is the only state in Australia to have this unique split collection
Records about Aboriginal people at PROV • Reflect government administration of Aboriginal affairs in Victoria • Early Protectorate period 1830s – 1850s • Records about the operation of Aboriginal missions and reserves during the 1800s and 1900s • Information includes medical and education reports, correspondence, employment details, meeting minutes, annual reports, police reports, clothing and rations, and records of the movement of Aboriginal people across Victoria. • These records are open for researchers to access for My Heart is Breaking family history purposes • A complete list of record series at both PROV and NAA, is in the research guide My Heart is Breaking • Also see PROVguide 65 and 67
Records about Aboriginal people at PROV some examplesSelected record series in PROV’s collection:• VPRS 10, Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District relating to Aboriginal Affairs, 1839-1851 (Digitised and available online)• VPRS 11, Unregistered Inward Correspondence of the Chief Protector of Aborigines – Reports and Returns, 1847-1851 (Digitised and available online)• VPRS 2897, Registered Inward Correspondence of the Superintendent Port Phillip District relating to Aboriginal Stations, 1847-1851• VPRS 90, Victoria Police: Daybook of the Native Police Corps, 1845 – 1853
Records about Aboriginal people at PROV more examplesSelected record series in the collection cont:• VPRS 1694, Board for the Protection of Aborigines, Correspondence files, 1867 – 1946•• VPRS 926, Aboriginal Board: Letter Book Coranderrk 1838 – 1924• VPRS 10768, Board for the Protection of Aborigines Register of Inward Correspondence, 1909 – 1941• A complete list of record series at both PROV and NAA, is in the research guide My Heart is Breaking• Also see PROVguide 65 and 67
Records about Aboriginal people in the NAA collection in Melbourne• Some examples:• B313 Correspondence files (1869-1957) – Correspodence about the administration of Aboriginal Affairs, such as Aboriginal stations and reserves• B337 Aboriginal case files (1893-1968) – Files created for each Aboriginal person who had dealings with the Board for the Protection of Aborigines and later the Aborigines Welfare Board• B356 Lake Tyers correspondence files (1865-1968)• B332 Annual reports [of Aboriginal stations and reserves] (1861-1957)• See also NAA Fact Sheets and My Heart is Breaking (pages 24 to 33) for further details
Other recordsin the NAA collection in Melbourne•As with PROV, the NAA have a wide range of recordsrelating to the business of local branches of federalgovernment departments and agencies located inMelbourne, including:•Immigration•Defence•Post Offices•Aboriginal Affairs•Government employment•Works and Property
An example of what you can doFootprints: the journey of Lucy and Percy Pepper• A joint publication between PROV and National Archives of Australia about an Aboriginal family in Lake Tyers area, Gippsland• A 20-year journey of the family’s life told mainly through government records• Example of how public records can be utilised to tell family histories• Also an example of how you need to research records in both the NAA and PROV collections• Now a travelling exhibition available for communities to loan free of charge
Acts of Parliament governing the lives ofAboriginal people in Victoria • We have documents because the Victorian Government had laws governing the lives of Aboriginal people from the 1860s onwards • Powers to regulate the lives & identities of Aboriginal people – a system of control and surveillance • 1886 Act (pictured) often referred to as ‘the half-caste Act’, because of provisions aimed to force people of mixed Aboriginal descent away from Aboriginal stations
Victorian Aboriginal missions and reserves System of legislation and control of Aboriginal people on missions and reserves led to the creation of records about Aboriginal people. The impact of these laws on their lives are often documented in detail, including: •health •movements across the state •family relationships •attempts to find work •how they lived •who they sawPhotograph of cottages and residents at Lake Tyerscourtesy State Library of Victoria
Footprints publicationResearching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper PROV, VPRS 1694, P0, Unit 5, Bundle 3, page 249 - Correspondence files of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines Letter from Lucy Pepper to the Victorian government (addressed to Chief Secretary John Murray) on 10 March 1915, asking for assistance to move from Lake Tyers in Gippsland for the sake of her health She had Tuberculosis, and the normal treatment at the time involved getting away from wet humid climates as occurs in coastal areas
Footprints publicationResearching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper PROV, VPRS 1694, P0, Unit 5, Bundle 3, page 244 Another letter from the same file, this time from Lucy’s husband Percy Written two years earlier – 22 September 1913, introducing himself as a ‘half-caste Aboriginal’ and asking for help to support his sick wife and his 6 children He and his family had been living in a tent for the past two years following seasonal work
Footprints publicationResearching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper Resilient and resourceful • Wrote many letters to people in positions of power, including several to Victoria Premiers • Persevered with their requests for assistance • Showed determination to keep their family united PROV, VPRS1694, P0, Unit12, Bundle 4, p 531, Petition 9 September 1913 A petition organised by Percy Pepper on behalf of Lake Tyers residents wanting to allow Reverend Bulmer’s wife and child to stay with them after his death
Koorie Index of NamesThe KIN project aims to improve access to records containinginformation about Aboriginal people held by PROV, which assistsAboriginal people to find information about themselves and theirfamilies.What’s included in the index:•Names of Aboriginal people•Names of non-Aboriginal people related to or associated withAboriginal people•Names of missions and institutions where Aboriginal people wereplaced•Places where Aboriginal people have lived or visited
Koorie Index of Names• Available to researchers at the Victorian Archives Centre reading room in North Melbourne• The KIN database currently contains more than 13,800 names• The index does not contain personal information about the people named.What have we indexed so far?• VPRS 1694 Correspondence Files Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1889 - 1946What’s next?• VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs 1839 – 1851• VPRS 11 Unregistered Inward Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines - Reports and Returns 1847 - 1851
Koorie Index of Names (KIN)• Aims to improve access to records containing information about Aboriginal people held by PROV, which assists Aboriginal people to find information about themselves and their families.• What’s included in the index:• Names of Aboriginal people• Names of non-Aboriginal people related to or associated with Aboriginal people• Names of missions and institutions where Aboriginal people were placed• Places where Aboriginal people have lived or visited
Koorie Index of Names (KIN)• Available to researchers at Victorian Archives Centre reading room in Nth Melb• Currently contains more than 13,800 names• Does not contain personal information about the people named.• What is in the index at the moment?• VPRS 1694 Correspondence Files Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1889 - 1946• What’s next?• VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs 1839 – 1851• VPRS 11 Unregistered Inward Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines - Reports and Returns 1847 – 1851• More series relating to Aboriginal people currently being indexed …
How to search the KIN database• Step 3: Search Results• Search results are arranged into a number of different columns each highlighting different information about the record.
How to search the KIN database• Step 4: Sorting Results• You can sort results by clicking on the relevant column; if you click on the date column for example, you can change the order of the results from the latest to earliest date.
How to search the KIN database• Step 5: Ordering Records• Once you have located the entries for the individuals you are researching, make a note of the following details from the search results: Series (VPRS), Consignment, Unit, Item and Page numbers. These are in the last column of results.
After you have searched the KIN database• Step 6: Log in to PROV’s online catalogue at www.access.prov.vic.gov.au to order the records for viewing at the VAC reading room. See PROVguide 19 Registering and Maintaining a Public User Account for information on creating a public user account if you do not already have one.
Bringing Them Home Name Index • The National Archives of Australia’s version of the Koorie Index of Names • The National Archives Bringing Them Home (BTH) name indexing project arose from recommendations made in the Bringing Them Home, the report of the National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families released in July 1997 • Fact Sheet 175 – Bringing Them Home Name Index • Not accessible to general public – enquiry must be made through Koorie Reference Officer
Online• From the comfort of your own home …• or your local library …
Digitised records• VPRS 10, Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District relating to Aboriginal Affairs, 1839-1851 (Digitised and available online)• VPRS 11, Unregistered Inward Correspondence of the Chief Protector of Aborigines – Reports and Returns, 1847-1851 (Digitised and available online)• More to come shortly relating to Aboriginal people• Digital copies of these can be viewed through the PROV catalogue at access.prov.vic.gov.au
Questions? Copies of this PowerPoint presentation are available online at: http://www.slideshare.net/publicrecordoffice/ Look for the PDF entitled:Introduction to Archival Research into Aboriginal people SG 20110905.pdf Image above shows detail of a photograph from PROV, VPRS 14562/P4, unit 6, item 11