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Researching aboriginal records v1.0 sg 20110704

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A presentation on how to research documents and records relating to Victorian Aboriginal people in the collection of the National Archives of Australia and Public Record Office Victoria

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Researching aboriginal records v1.0 sg 20110704

  1. 1. Doing research about Aboriginal people at the Victorian Archives Centre Sebastian Gurciullo Coordinator, Koorie Records Unit
  2. 2. What are we covering today? <ul><li>How to research government records relating to Victorian Aboriginal people </li></ul><ul><li>Two intertwined collections: National Archives of Australia & Public Record Office Victoria </li></ul><ul><li>Work of the Koorie Records Unit </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of records about Aboriginal people from the two collections </li></ul><ul><li>Online and other resources to assist with research </li></ul><ul><li>How to access the Koorie Reference Service to conduct research for you and who is eligible </li></ul><ul><li>How to conduct some basic searches on KIN database </li></ul><ul><li>Some case studies: Footprints book and Ed’s story </li></ul>
  3. 4. Victorian Archives Centre <ul><li>Provides a place for staff and services of 4 organisations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Record Office Victoria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Archives of Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Gallery of Victoria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. National Archives of Australia <ul><li>Archive of the Australian federal government </li></ul><ul><li>This is a national organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Main presence is in Canberra but have facilities in every state and territory (see NAA Fact Sheet 1 for further details) </li></ul><ul><li>In Melbourne, co-located with Public Record Office Victoria at the Victorian Archives Centre </li></ul><ul><li>Established under the Archives Act 1983 </li></ul><ul><li>Records mostly date from Federation (1901) </li></ul>
  5. 6. Public Record Office Victoria <ul><li>Archive of the Victorian state government </li></ul><ul><li>This is a state organisation </li></ul><ul><li>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 ?? for further details) </li></ul><ul><li>Established under the Public Records Act 1983 </li></ul><ul><li>Records date from the start of the colony (from the 1830s onwards) </li></ul>
  6. 7. Koorie Records Unit (KRU) <ul><li>Assists Aboriginal people with access to Victorian and Commonwealth government records </li></ul><ul><li>Builds links and partnerships with community and government organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Co-ordinates projects enhancing access to Koorie records </li></ul><ul><li>Provides outreach , education and training activities with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people </li></ul>
  7. 8. Records about Aboriginal people in Victoria <ul><li>Government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria held in two collections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>National Archives of Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Record Office Victoria </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Koorie Reference Service: we conduct a search into both collections on behalf of Aboriginal clients to help trace connections – further from Ed Story later </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>Victorian State Government legislation to transfer responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs to the Australian federal government in 1975 – records were in bad condition in a basement needed preservation treatment and a stable environment </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Victoria is the only state in Australia to have this unique split collection </li></ul>Victoria’s Aboriginal records – how did it get like this?
  9. 10. What does Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) have in its collection? <ul><li>Documents created by Victorian government departments, agencies and authorities, other public bodies. </li></ul><ul><li>Information on every function of government: immigration, land settlement and use, education, health, criminal trials and prisons, premiers and governors, royal commissions and boards of inquiry, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Aboriginal people, missions & reserves </li></ul><ul><li>Date from mid 1830s onwards </li></ul>
  10. 11. Records about Aboriginal people at PROV <ul><li>Reflect government administration of Aboriginal affairs in Victoria </li></ul><ul><li>Records held cover the period 1839 – 1945 </li></ul><ul><li>Early Protectorate period 1830s – 1850s </li></ul><ul><li>Records about the operation of Aboriginal missions and reserves during the 1800s and 1900s </li></ul><ul><li>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.  </li></ul><ul><li>These records are open for researchers to access for family history purposes </li></ul><ul><li>A complete list of record series at both PROV and NAA, is in the research guide My Heart is Breaking </li></ul><ul><li>Also see PROV guide 65 and 67 </li></ul>
  11. 12. Records about Aboriginal people at PROV <ul><li>Selected record series in PROV’s collection: </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 10, Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District relating to Aboriginal Affairs, 1839-1851 (Digitised and available online) </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 11, Unregistered Inward Correspondence of the Chief Protector of Aborigines – Reports and Returns, 1847-1851 (Digitised and available online) </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 2897, Registered Inward Correspondence of the Superintendent Port Phillip District relating to Aboriginal Stations, 1847-1851 </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 90, Victoria Police: Daybook of the Native Police Corps, 1845 – 1853 </li></ul>
  12. 13. Records about Aboriginal people at PROV <ul><li>Selected record series in the collection cont: </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 1694, Board for the Protection of Aborigines, Correspondence files, 1867 – 1946 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 926, Aboriginal Board: Letter Book Coranderrk 1838 – 1924 </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 10768, Board for the Protection of Aborigines Register of Inward Correspondence, 1909 – 1941 </li></ul><ul><li>A complete list of record series at both PROV and NAA, is in the research guide My Heart is Breaking </li></ul><ul><li>Also see PROVguide 65 and 67 </li></ul>
  13. 14. Records about Aboriginal people in the NAA collection in Melbourne <ul><li>Some examples: </li></ul><ul><li>B313 Correspondence files (1869-1957) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Correspodence about the administration of Aboriginal Affairs, such as Aboriginal stations and reserves </li></ul></ul><ul><li>B337 Aboriginal case files (1893-1968) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Files created for each Aboriginal person who had dealings with the Board for the Protection of Aborigines and later the Aborigines Welfare Board </li></ul></ul><ul><li>B356 Lake Tyers correspondence files (1865-1968) </li></ul><ul><li>B332 Annual reports [of Aboriginal stations and reserves] (1861-1957) </li></ul><ul><li>See also NAA Fact Sheets and My Heart is Breaking (pages 24 to 33) for further details </li></ul>
  14. 15. Other records in the NAA collection in Melbourne <ul><li>Immigration </li></ul><ul><li>Defence </li></ul><ul><li>Post Offices </li></ul><ul><li>Aboriginal Affairs </li></ul><ul><li>Government employment </li></ul><ul><li>Works and Property </li></ul>
  15. 16. An example of what you can do <ul><li>Footprints: the journey of Lucy and Percy Pepper </li></ul><ul><li>A joint publication between PROV and National Archives of Australia about an Aboriginal family in Lake Tyers area, Gippsland </li></ul><ul><li>A 20-year journey of the family’s life told mainly through government records </li></ul><ul><li>Example of how public records can be utilised to tell family histories </li></ul><ul><li>Also an example of how you need to research records in both the NAA and PROV collections </li></ul><ul><li>Now a travelling exhibition available for communities to loan free of charge </li></ul>
  16. 17. Acts of Parliament governing the lives of Aboriginal people in Victoria <ul><li>We have documents because the Victorian Government had laws governing the lives of Aboriginal people from the 1860s onwards </li></ul><ul><li>Powers to regulate the lives & identities of Aboriginal people – a system of control and surveillance </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  17. 18. Victorian Aboriginal missions and reserves <ul><li>System of legislation and control of Aboriginal people on missions and reserves led to the creation of records about Aboriginal people. </li></ul><ul><li>The impact of these laws on their lives are often documented in detail, including: </li></ul><ul><li>health </li></ul><ul><li>movements across the state </li></ul><ul><li>family relationships </li></ul><ul><li>attempts to find work </li></ul><ul><li>how they lived </li></ul><ul><li>who they saw </li></ul>Photograph of cottages and residents at Lake Tyers courtesy State Library of Victoria
  18. 19. Footprints publication Researching 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
  19. 20. Footprints publication Researching 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
  20. 21. Footprints publication Researching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper <ul><li>Resilient and resourceful </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote many letters to people in positions of power, including several to Victoria Premiers </li></ul><ul><li>Persevered with their requests for assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Showed determination to keep their family united </li></ul>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
  21. 22. Footprints publication Researching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper PROV, VPRS 10381, P0, Unit 13 Soldier Settlement Advances File, Description:278 Pepper P, Kooweerup, 3748/86.6
  22. 23. Footprints publication Researching the history of Lucy and Percy Pepper PROV, VPRS 5714, P0, Unit 2508, Allot 26, Page 75 Closer [and Soldier] Settlement file
  23. 24. Indigenous family history research <ul><li>Preparing for your search </li></ul><ul><li>Koorie Index of Names </li></ul><ul><li>Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Online resources </li></ul>
  24. 25. Preparing for your research <ul><li>Compile as much information as you can from family members, diaries, letters etc </li></ul><ul><li>Sketch out as much as you know of your family tree </li></ul><ul><li>Gather information about relatives’ names, where they lived, and when </li></ul><ul><li>Organise your information </li></ul><ul><li>Ask yourself – what was my family’s contact with government? </li></ul>
  25. 26. Koorie Index of Names <ul><li>The KIN project 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. </li></ul><ul><li>What’s included in the index: </li></ul><ul><li>Names of Aboriginal people </li></ul><ul><li>Names of non-Aboriginal people related to or associated with Aboriginal people </li></ul><ul><li>Names of missions and institutions where Aboriginal people were placed </li></ul><ul><li>Places where Aboriginal people have lived or visited </li></ul>
  26. 27. Koorie Index of Names <ul><li>Available to researchers at the Victorian Archives Centre reading room in North Melbourne </li></ul><ul><li>The KIN database currently contains more than 13,800 names </li></ul><ul><li>The index does not contain personal information about the people named. </li></ul><ul><li>What have we indexed so far? </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 1694 Correspondence Files Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1889 - 1946 </li></ul><ul><li>What’s next? </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs 1839 – 1851 </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 11 Unregistered Inward Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines - Reports and Returns 1847 - 1851 </li></ul>
  27. 28. Indigenous research guides Finding Your Story: a resource manual to the records of the Stolen Generations in Victoria My Heart is Breaking: a joint guide to records about Aboriginal people in Public Record Office Victoria and National Archives of Australia (Vic)
  28. 29. Online research resources
  29. 30. prov.vic.gov.au
  30. 31. prov.vic.gov.au/community-programs/koorie-records-unit
  31. 32. Free online newsletter - subscribe at prov.vic.gov.au /join-our-mailing-list
  32. 33. access.prov.vic.gov.au
  33. 34. Digitised records <ul><li>VPRS 10 Inward Registered Correspondence to the Superintendent of Port Phillip District, relating to Aboriginal Affairs (refer to digitised images available online) </li></ul><ul><li>VPRS 11 Unregistered Inward Correspondence to the Chief Protector of Aborigines - Reports and Returns (refer to digitised images of P0 consignment, available online) </li></ul><ul><li>Digital copies of these can be viewed through the PROV catalogue </li></ul>
  34. 35. Questions? Contact us at: koorie.records@prov.vic.gov.au Image above shows detail of a photograph from PROV, VPRS 14562/P4, unit 6, item 11 Copies of this Powerpoint presentation are available online at: http://www.slideshare.net/publicrecordoffice/

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