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Knowing who you are sg 20110822


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An overview of researching records about Aboriginal people on behalf of Aboriginal clients at Public Record Office Victorian and National Archives of Australia.

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Knowing who you are sg 20110822

  1. 1. Knowing who you are: Koorie records in Victoria Sebastian GurciulloCoordinator, Koorie Records Unit
  2. 2. What are we covering today?• How to research government records relating to Victorian Aboriginal people• Two intertwined collections: National Archives of Australia & Public Record Office Victoria• Some examples of records about Aboriginal people from the two collections• Online and other resources for research• Accessing Koorie Reference Service to conduct research for you and who is eligible• How to conduct some basic searches on the Koorie Index of Names (KIN) database• Information about the Bringing Them Home (BTH) database
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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)
  5. 5. 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)
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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 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
  10. 10. Records about Aboriginal people at PROVSome examples of record series:• 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
  11. 11. Records about Aboriginal people in the NAA collection in MelbourneSome 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
  12. 12. Other records in the PROV and NAA collections in MelbournePublic Record Office VictoriaVictorian government departments, agencies and authorities, other public bodies.These produced records relating to functions of government such as:• Immigration• land settlement and use• education, health• criminal trials and prisons• premiers and governors• royal commissions and boards of inquiryNational Archives of AustraliaGenerally, Victorian based federal departments and agencies, records relating to:• Immigration• Defence• Post Offices• Government employment• Works and Property
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. Preparing for your research• Compile as much information as you can from family members, diaries, letters etc• Sketch out as much as you know of your family tree• Gather information about relatives’ names, where they lived, and when• Organise your information• Ask yourself – what was my family’s contact with government?
  17. 17. Indigenous research guidesFinding Your Story: a resource manual to My Heart is Breaking: a joint guide tothe records of the Stolen Generations in records about Aboriginal people inVictoria Public Record Office Victoria and National Archives of Australia (Vic)
  18. 18. Digitised records• VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs (refer to digitised images available online)• VPRS 11 Unregistered Inward Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines - Reports and Returns (refer to digitised images of P0 consignment, available online)• More to come shortly• Digital copies of these can be viewed through the PROV catalogue
  19. 19.
  20. 20. Koorie Reference Service• Assists Aboriginal clients access government records held at both PROV and National Archives of Australia (NAA)• Clients include individual researchers, Stolen Generations members, referred queries from Link Up, Koorie Heritage Trust and other Aboriginal organisations• Carry out name searches of Koorie Index of Names database (PROV records), Bringing Them Home database (NAA records), BDM registers, on behalf of individuals• If the query was received via email/letter, provide results of searches via written response (email/letter)• Individuals then have the option and information they need to order and view original records in the reading room, take digital copies or request copies be made for them
  21. 21. What is covered in the service• Koorie Index of Names database (PROV)• Bringing them Home database (NAA)• Other indexes to records useful for family history in general: – Births, Deaths and Marriages – Inquests – Wills and Probates
  22. 22. What is provided to the client?• Written response detailing what was found for each search• Reference details of records that contain information relevant to the search• Not the information in the records – just information that will help clients access them in the VAC reading room
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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 - 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 – 1851More series relating to Aboriginal people currently being indexed …
  25. 25. How to search the KIN database• Step 1: Accessing KIN• The KIN Database can be accessed from computers in PROV’s Reading Rooms.• Please note that this site cannot be accessed by the public outside of PROV’s Reading Rooms.
  26. 26. How to search the KIN database
  27. 27. How to search the KIN database• Step 2: Searching There are a number of ways to search within the KIN database.• One of the most effective search methods is by entering a name into the Surname box on the search screen.
  28. 28. How to search the KIN database• Step 2: Searching• Besides a surname search, the database also allows you to undertake a number of other searches.• You can search by place: this search is useful if you are looking for information about a place, rather than a person.
  29. 29. How to search the KIN database• Step 2: Searching• By event year: this search will give you the date of a record, or a date mentioned in the record. You can expand the range of years searched by using the drop down function next to each box.
  30. 30. How to search the KIN database• Step 2: Searching• By Birth Year or Death Year: The Birth and Death date fields can be used to search for people if their age or these dates are recorded. Again, you can expand the range of years searched by using the drop down function next to each box.
  31. 31. 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.
  32. 32. 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.
  33. 33. 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.
  34. 34. After you have searched the KIN database• Step 6: Log in to PROV’s online catalogue at 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.
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. Remember to ask yourself: what was your family’s contact with government?
  37. 37. Questions? Copies of this PowerPoint presentation are available online at: 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