For our Expert Q&A Thursday, February 7 we had Nicole Llewellyn and Jack Martin from the Public Record Office Victoria [PROV] to discuss how to get the best from the PROV collection. Thanks again to Nicole and Jack for giving us all the benefit of their time and experience.

Nicole Llewellyn is Coordinator of Access Services and Jack Martin is a Coordinator of Collection Management at the Public Records Office Victoria.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page

When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Nicole and Jack’s top tips for using the PROV collection:

  1. Start with researcher landing page - http://prov.vic.gov.au/research, PROVguides and HOW TO guides - http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/research-guides, Frequently Asked Questions by topic - http://www.wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Category:FAQ.
  2. Think about the agency that may have created the records at the time of creation as this can assist with determining firstly if PROV may hold those records and secondly can allow you to do a broad search by agency to determine the records within our collection under that specific agency.
  3. Also, the more you familiarise yourself with how to use the catalogue, the more of the collection will open itself up to you. Texts describing how to use a series (the long links above) can reveal the best search methods. Note that the texts can be really long, and you don’t need to read the whole thing to get some benefit – just check and see if data is name searchable. For example, the first few lines of the text here, under “Description of this series”. The “advanced search” and “search within a series” then become powerful tools, allowing you to specify what you’re searching for – a government agency which creates records, or a large group of records (“a series”), or even your final destination, records (“items”).
  4. It’s worth noting too, that if you’re searching for information about an individual, you can start by just typing in their name at the advanced search, and looking for “items”. The results you get will most likely not be the whole story of an individual, but it can be a great place to start. Ultimately, our aim is to make as much research as possible as easy as this, but it’s a long process. Since 2002, though, the number of catalogue-searchable items in the collection has grown from 790,000 to over 5.5 million items now.

Summary of links from the Q&A:

PROV Record of Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor

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Transcript of Expert Q&A – How to get the best from the PROV collection

Our Expert Q&A with Nicole Llewellyn and Jack Martin from the Public Record Office Victoria [PROV] starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT on this page. Tonight we’ll be discussing how to get the best from Public Records Office Victoria. Please ask your questions in a comment below and Nicole or Jack will answer in a following comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Nicole and Jack from the Public Records Office Victoria to tonight’s Q&A.
A. IHM: Early questions received will be repeated in a comment on this post, for Nicole and Jack to answer in a following comment.
A. IHM: Don’t forget to keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear.
A. PROV: Hello everyone – Nicole
A. PROV: Hi – Jack
A. Carmel: hi Nicole and Jack
A. Linda: Hi Nicole and Jack – so glad you could do this for us! Thank You.
A. Sharon: Hi Nicole & Jack so glad you guys are here!
A. Merilyn: Jo Nicole and Jack
A. Maureen: Hi Nicole & Jack

Q. From Louise: I have an ancestor who committed bigamy in 1890 and found details of her criminal record in VPRS 502/2 and VPRS 516/10. Which section/forms do I fill out to access these records please? Do you have any idea what information they may contain? Thank you.
A. PROV: @Louise. These original records are closed for conservation – however, if you provide the details, we’ll assess the records to see if we can make a digital copy (and if we can’t, we’ll at least pass on information as to the contents of the records… but it’s quite rare that records are too damaged to be copied). VPRS 502 contains proceedings of the Supreme Court. The registers include the name of the person being tried, the circumstances of the person arriving in the colony, the nature of the crime, the verdict and the sentence. They include also the name of the presiding judge and the place where the proceedings were conducted. VPRS 516 contains a great deal of information! Paste the link below into your browser and read “Description of this series” http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access the Collection/Browse The Collection/Series Details&entityId=VPRS 516 -Jack
A. Louise: Thank you for that info Jack – wonderful!
Q (b): Louise: My gg grandfather William Kenny tried to commit suicide on 6 March 1884 (thank you Trove). He was arrested and “lodged in the city watch-house” and taken before the courts the next day. Would he have a record for this? If so, how would I locate it please? Thank you.
A. Carmel: Poor man, it amazes me what people were arrested for and how it was described in records, these things are treated so differently now. Thank goodness.
Q (c): Louise: Re the records closed for conservation, THANK YOU – I would really appreciate anything you could copy for me please. Details;DIEDRICH, Emilie P. VPRS:516/10 Central Prison register. Also; DIEDRICK, Emily P. VPRS 502/2 17 Feb 1890.
A. PROV: @Louise. Melbourne Courts records, start here: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&breadcrumbPath=Home/Accessthe Collection/Browse The Collection/Agency Details&entityId=VA 518# There is a huge quantity of court records – you’d be looking for some sort of register of appearances or cases heard. However, you might also consider asylum records, as this was also a response to some suicide attempts: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/mental-health -Jack
A. Carmel: The court records go to what date?
A. Louise: Thanks Jack – yes, sadly, he ended up in Yarra Bend, poor man.
A. Nicole: Some series have open records all the way into the second half of the 20th
century – click here to research. The collection from Melbourne Courts is vast – click here to research.

Q. From Sharon: I too would love some hints on prison records. My ggg grandfather died in gipps ward Melbourne gaol in 1888. I’d love to obtain his prison records especially if available digitally or to order copies. His name is Walter Mcgregor Thomson
A. PROV: @ Sharon. We’re getting a lot of questions about prisoner records – they’re a very popular resource! We’ve digitised and indexed all 91 male prisoner registers that are open to the public (including those that were originally closed for conservation reasons), and we’re gradually publishing these via our catalogue (about 75% are published). The instructions here http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/prisoners-and-convicts tell you how to find an individual. If there are any that aren’t online, let us know and we’ll take down the details at the end of this session, and follow up with you individually. Incidentally, we’ve already commenced a similar project on the female prisoner registers. There are only 14 registers, so this is a much smaller project. Meanwhile, if you can’t follow up a prisoner record, another interesting tack is to look for the trial brief. Download data from the link below and follow the instructions. http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Uhl_Index_to_Criminal_Trial_Briefs -Jack
A. Sharon: Thank you so much…….. I’m off to investigate :D
A. Carmel: prisoner records are great even if though many were not preserved as well as all would like but they are gold if you can find them.
A. Carmel: Also the asylum records, I found a photo of one of my ancestors there, the only one I have. Not the most flattering but a photo all the same
A. Sharon: no joy yet :( nothing in the trial brief files, and due to what appears to be a super slow internet connection, am so far unable to view the index to Central Register of Male Prisoners – perhaps everyone else that’s keen on prison records is also trying to access it. Nothing in VPRS515
A. Sharon: I would just like to say that although I haven’t yet found what I was looking for, I would like to thank Inside History Magazine and Public Record Office Victoria (Nicole & Jack) for helping so many people tonight…. what a fantastic thing you have done for all of us Genealogy tragics

Q. From Maureen: One of my ancestors was the first person on the scene after a very gruesome murder in the 1890s. I have found some of the details from the many newspaper reports on Trove but would like to track down the official records. My ancestor’s gold mining ‘mate’ was killed by his wife. There was an inquest in one of the hotels in Morrisons (near Ballarat) followed by a murder trial in Geelong. Would these records be available in Melbourne or would I have to go to Ballarat or Geelong to find them? Also, is there any way of finding out happened to the woman (during/after her time in jail) and the 13 year old daughter?
A. Merilyn: Trove is great Maureen I found some great articles re my gg aunt who died in Quorn
A. PROV:  @Maureen. You might find more in inquest records – witnesses often had to provide depositions. You can start here if you know the name of the deceased, but we don’t (yet!) have an index online (we’re working on it). Inquests 1840 – 1925 have been digitised and will be gradually published. – Jack
A. Carmel: will be good when the inquests are online

Q. From Cameron: hello Nicole and Jack, I was wondering what records do you have regarding the colonial military forces in Victoria: i.e the various regiments, the navy and the fortifications?
A. PROV: @Cameron. That’s quite a broad question,and I’ll provide quite a broad answer. The link below might be a good place to start – the Chief / Colonial Secretaries were among the agencies responsible for armed forces. http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewFunction&breadcrumbPath=Home/Accessthe Collection/Browse The Collection/Function Details&entityId=VF 63# The correspondence systems of these agencies are vast and quite quite complex, and might be a good topic for some offline talk. – Jack
A. Cameron: Hi Jack, thanks for that, I realise it was a nice broad question. but thanks for that, I might get in touch offline to find out more.

Q. From Tracie: Would love a copy of my great grandfathers prison record like the one above. He was convicted in 1931 under the names John David Munro and John David Hobbs. He vanishes and the family never heard of him after that. His sons were put in orphanages and his wife remarried. Have had trouble locating his prison record. Would love to see a picture of his face and find out what happened to him. Can anyone help me get his record?
A. PROV: @ Tracie. We can help you with that record and more. Click this link and download the pdf.
That’s the end of doing the research, to do it yourself from the beginning, start at this page: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/prisoners-and-convicts Follow the instructions on how to search VPRS 515, Central Register of Male Prisoners; just search for “hobbs” – he’s the second record listed. You can view it online, and there is a photograph! Further records are available too. You may wish to investigate the several cases which led to Hobbs’ convictions (start with VPRS 3524, the Criminal Trial Brief Register – available on microfiche in PROV Reading Rooms). An “advanced search” of the catalogue for “john david hobbs”, at this link also turns up the criminal presentments for two cases. -Nicole
A. Tracie: Thank you so so much Nicole for pointing me in the right direction and helping me find my great grandfathers prison record. Finally get to see what he looked like and it will be an interesting read with the rest of the information too!!! Love this website!!!!
A. IHM: Time for a happy dance Tracie!
A. Carmel: love that happy dance, these kind of finds put you on a high for a long time. Who needs drugs just need to find a snippet of information about an ancestor!
A. Tracie: Definitely!!!!! Just wish it wasn’t so late so i could call my mum and tell her!

Q. From Samantha: Hi, just wondering what records you have on the residents of the goldfields areas, i.e. Ballarat?
A. Carmel: I am with Ballarat Genies @Samantha Starr. I may be able to assist as well here
A. Samantha: Thanks @Carmel. I might be in contact with your group sometime soon. I’m in NSW so I am unable to get there in person.
A. IHM: Here’s the link to the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society Inc :: http://ow.ly/huYrU
A. PROV: @Samantha. Loads of information is available about both residential occupation and mining. You might like to look at some maps online? They often show occupiers: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&entityId=16171 There are also rate records for Ballarat: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&entityId=07258 And a host of mining records: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&breadcrumbPath=Home/Accessthe Collection/Browse The Collection/Agency Details&entityId=VA 3800 – Jack
A. Samantha: Thanks for that Jack I’ll check it out!

Q. From Leonie: How accessible are shipping records? are any available online?
A. PROV: @Leonie. The content is very accessible. Please go to this page: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/ships-and-shipping to view our three indexes. – Nicole
Q (b): Leonie: Thanks for the link to shipping indexes. if I wanted a copy of the microfiche entry but cannot come to your offices – I live in NSW can I order a copy to be sent or emailed? Would it be worth it or will all information on the microfiche be included in the index entry?
A. Carmel: There is a group that do Leonie, cannot remember their name, maybe our guests know who they are.
A. IHM: Hi Leonie, Carmel - you can contact Archival Access Victoria :: http://www.archivalaccessvictoria.com
A. Carmel: Thanks Cassie I have heard they do a great job too
A. PROV: You can also request a digital copy of an original record by emailing us with the specific details of the record however there is a cost. Please contact us at enquiries@prov.vic.gov.au for further information.
A. Leonie: Thank you Carmel and Cassie. I could be up all night searching now…
A. Carmel: What is new Leonie? I know that feeling well

Q (b): Maureen: Like Samantha, I would love to be able to track down information about residents of goldfield areas – are miners rights records available or their permission to build houses etc?
A. PROV: @Maureen. A typical series about licenses for mining is here – the record is a register of applications, which of course includes the outcome, extent etc. Therefore you get a good ideas of the miner’s “right” – click here for research. The records regarding building dwellings whilst occupying Crown Land are vast. Are you trying to find out when a dwelling was built, how long it was occupied for, whether the miner ultimately owned it? Each needs a different approach, and each is a very long explanation. Get in contact with us and we’ll talk you through it.

Q. From Linda: I have been having wonderful time in your online records of lapsed hotel licences. Is there any chance the index may one day have locations beside hotel names? It is fine looking for the Bulgoback Hotel (there was only one), but trying to find a Star, Railway or Crown Hotel takes a long time. Even though they sort of seem to be in alpha order by locality. I use the link halfway down this page to access them: http://prov.vic.gov.au/provguide-23
A. PROV: @Linda. Have you ever clicked the “Record-keeping information” tab and looked at the listing like this? It shows the localities without the need to download the image – click here to research. You can also search the entire series by locality. For instance, if I was looking for the Beechworth Star hotel, I could use “search in a series” – Click here to research – for series 8159 and “Beechworth”, I get a listing of all Beechworth hotels. Or I could use “advanced search” – click here to research and search for an “item” with all of the words “Beechworth star”. (Be sure to check the “digital” option next to “physical”, just below the date range option). – Nicole

Q. From Wendy: G’day all, one of my GGG Grans was a teacher, I know for sure she was in Sandhurst/Bendigo area, are there records of where teachers taught or other school connected records online? Thanks.
A. PROV: @Wendy. Do you have a name and we can check for you. – Nicole
A. PROV: @Wendy. Here you go - http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&breadcrumbPath=Home/Accessthe Collection/Browse The Collection/Agency Details&entityId=VA 3800 – Jack
A. Wendy: Elizabeth Armistead , thankyou
A. Carmel: that link is coming up with an error
A. Maureen: that last link isn’t working – says: An Error has occurred please try refreshing your page
A. Carmel: nope but if yoiu look at he address there is part not connected (…Access the Collection
A. Maureen: Thanks Carmel
A. IHM: Here’s Jack’s link again shortened :: http://ow.ly/huZXA - you need to copy the whole long link for it to work, facebook is calling the link correctly.
A. PROV: @Wendy. PROV has a huge collection of maps and plans, showing occupation of land (but not always ownership). Here’s just one (online) resource for starters: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&entityId=16171 Rate records are another common source for ownership information. Land Titles from 1862 – early 1990s will be available within the PROV reading rooms in the coming weeks however you do require the volume and folio number of the land you are seeking a title for. Please contact us to discuss further. -Jack

Q. From Linda: Could you help please when copywright applications what information do they include? My g g grandmother wrote a book and it is copyrighted. Does it include a copy of the book at public records?
A. PROV: @Linda Thatcher PROV generally doesn’t hold published material – we hold original records of the state govt of Victoria. This sometimes – but rarely – includes library collections of agnecies like this one: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access the Collection/Browse The Collection/Series Details&entityId=VPRS 13554 The authoritative source for all matters copyright is: http://copyright.org.au/ For copyright info about records in our collection: http://prov.vic.gov.au/provguide-25 -Jack

Q. From Merilyn: I gather you don’t have records of adoptees before 1927, any other ideas?
A. PROV: @Merilyn Morrison. The best place to start is here: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/adoption-and-wardship Note that we’ve digitised and will be publishing early ward records, and we’ve also commenced indexing – if you can provide us with a name we can start looking at our existing index data. -Nicole
A. Merilyn: John Ward Ryan born 10 June 1909 thank you Nicole
A. PROV: @Merilyn Morrison. Our PROV-generated index to wards hasn’t reacheed 1909 yet. If you can contact us with your details thorugh the enquiry email address: http://prov.vic.gov.au/contact-us we’ll see if we can find him on the original indexes. -Jack

Q. From Lynda: My 2xgreat grandfather William Burns of Williamstown is described as a pensioner at the turn of the last century. This is long before state pensions existed. There are rumours he may have worked for Customs in the 1870-80s. Any ideas where I should be looking for him?
A. PROV: @Lynda. How to proceed with this research really depends on what you’re most interested in finding out. If employee records are the thing, it’s worth noting that the idea of a “personnel file” is a relatively recent phenomenon – in the nineteenth century there was generally just some form of summary register (and the survival of such registers has been patchy at best). The Department of Trade and Customs employee records that we have in custody are here, although the date range doesn’t match your needs. Records of the Chief Secretary’s Office also contain information about the appointment of public servants – but this is time-consuming research (and may not tell you more than you already know). There are many other much easier ways to research an individual. For instance, searching the index to probate here: http://prov.vic.gov.au/index_search?searchid=54 Leads to this result, and online records! http://prov.vic.gov.au/search_details?searchid=54&id=43554 As well as often being a fascinating list of possessions, probate records can tell about people’s addresses, spouses and other relatives. And the below is a good starting point for researching individuals – many categories to choose from. http://prov.vic.gov.au/research -Nicole
A. Carmel: Are there any certificates for William Burns, like marriage, children’s births etc? These will list his occupation.

Q. From Amanda: Hi I want to access a civil case file, how do I do this if I am living interstate?
A. PROV: @Amanda Johnson. http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access the Collection/Browse The Collection/Series Details&entityId=VPRS 5327
http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access the Collection/Browse The Collection/Series Details&entityId=VPRS 5328
http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&breadcrumbPath=Home/Access the Collection/Browse The Collection/Series Details&entityId=VPRS 5330 -Nicole (p.s. copy and past the entire line into your web browser as there are 3 different links)

Q. From Corrinne: My gr-gr-grandmother Mary Jane ANNETT married Charles WIGGINS 09 March 1853 solemnized in the parish of Portland. She again married on17 November 1855 to Johannes Barends GROENEVELD in Portland. The problem is that her first husband did not die until 1901. How would I find out if her first marriage was annulled?
A. PROV: @Corinne Ryan. Here’s the starting point for divorce records: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/divorce This should cover all aspects of your question! But get in contact again if it doesn’t. -Nicole
Q (b): Corrinne: Thank you Nicole… I had thought a person had to be divorced for 7 years before they could remarry?
A. Carmel: or Corrinne was that the seven year rule of not seeing a partner and could marry as it is presumed he/she is dead?
A. Corrinne: Mmm but my ancestor remarried within 3 years… other than annulment or bigomy is there any other possibility I have not considered?
A. Carmel: What was the condition of the person who remarried, divorced? widow/er?
A. PROV: @Corinne. From our catalogue: The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1861 (No.125) conferred upon the Supreme Court of Victoria, jurisdiction in matters matrimonial and authority in certain cases to decree the dissolution of a marriage… If I had the above and the relevant Marriage Act to hand, I could answer! Much old legislation (and commentary on it) is available online, if you’re interested in finding out for sure. -Jack
A. Corrinne: thank you Jack… something to try and struggle through :)
A. Corrinne: Maybe too late for a reply now but the divorce/annulment I was asking about was between 1853 and 1855, the records start in 1861. The second marriage was within 2 1/2 years and the first spouse had not died until 1901.
A. IHM: Hi Corrinne, Nicole and Jack will answer your question tomorrow and we’ll include in the transcript, and post here.
A. Corrinne: thanks Cassie :)

Q. From Kathryn: I’ve checked Vprs 515 for Edward Blake with no joy. He should appear between 1852-1858. Maybe ‘his’ Registers have not been digitised yet???
A. PROV: @Kathryn Graham. We’re getting a lot of questions about prisoner records – they’re a very popular resource! We’ve digitised and indexed all 91 male prisoner registers that are open to the public (including those that were originally closed for conservation reasons), and we’re gradually publishing these via our catalogue (about 75% are published). The instructions here http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/prisoners-and-convicts tell you how to find an individual. If there are any that aren’t online, let us know and we’ll take down the details at the end of this session, and follow up with you individually. Incidentally, we’ve already commenced a similar project on the female prisoner registers. There are only 14 registers, so this is a much smaller project. Meanwhile, if you can’t follow up a prisoner record, another interesting tack is to look for the trial brief. Download data from this link and follow the instructions. http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Uhl_Index_to_Criminal_Trial_Briefs -Nicole
A. Kathryn: Police records – 1850′s?
Q. From Suz: Would other convicts have photographic records? My GGG Grandfather came in through Melbourne from woolwich, would be nice to find out more.
A. PROV: @Suz. Photos commenced c. 1872 for prisoners sentenced longer than 6 months. Prisoners sentenced for shorter terms were not photographed. Photos were routinely taken when the prisoner was first received by the prison and just before release. -Nicole
Q. From Stratford Museum: Question on notice, please. We have the Footprints exhibition, opened one week go, and going wonderfully. We are told the paper version of the book is out of print and unavailable – and a lot of people re saying they want a copy. These are people who will not be accessing a digital version – I understand you have released it that way. Is there any chance you will be re-releasing it in a paper format? Even as a print on demand?
A. PROV: @Stratford Museum. Footprints has been a really popular publication. We are currently reviewing our options which may include on demand printing. Stay tuned for further information. -Nicole
A. Stratford Museum: Thanks re Footprints – might take names and addresses to let people know in case it does happen. Would be really good.
Q. From IHM: Wow, what a session! We’ll have to finish but any questions we missed tonight will be answered in the Q&A transcript. Thanks everyone for joining us! To finish, Nicole and Jack, what would be your top tips for using the PROV collections?
A. PROV: Thank you all. Here are our top tips:
  1. Start with researcher landing page - http://prov.vic.gov.au/research, PROVguides and HOW TO guides - http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/research-guides, Frequently Asked Questions by topic - http://www.wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Category:FAQ.
  2. Think about the agency that may have created the records at the time of creation as this can assist with determining firstly if PROV may hold those records and secondly can allow you to do a broad search by agency to determine the records within our collection under that specific agency.
  3. Also, the more you familiarise yourself with how to use the catalogue, the more of the collection will open itself up to you. Texts describing how to use a series (the long links above) can reveal the best search methods. Note that the texts can be really long, and you don’t need to read the whole thing to get some benefit – just check and see if data is name searchable. For example, the first few lines of the text here, under “Description of this series”. The “advanced search” and “search within a series” then become powerful tools, allowing you to specify what you’re searching for – a government agency which creates records, or a large group of records (“a series”), or even your final destination, records (“items”).
  4. It’s worth noting too, that if you’re searching for information about an individual, you can start by just typing in their name at the advanced search, and looking for “items”. The results you get will most likely not be the whole story of an individual, but it can be a great place to start. Ultimately, our aim is to make as much research as possible as easy as this, but it’s a long process. Since 2002, though, the number of catalogue-searchable items in the collection has grown from 790,000 to over 5.5 million items now.
A. Carmel: Cassie, where do we find the transcripts for these sessions as well?
A. IHM: Hi Carmel, the transcripts are posted on our blog by the Tuesday following the session. Go to: http://ow.ly/hv3hk

Q. From Jane: If we have found a file on interest in the divorce index, are we able to obtain the record if we are not able to attend the reading room?
A. PROV: Yes Jane. To request a digital copy of an original record by emailing us with the specific details of the record however there is a cost. Please contact us at enquiries@prov.vic.gov.au for further information. -Nicole
A. Jane: Thanks Nicole!

Comment: IHM: Thanks again to Nicole & Jack for all their help tonight, and thanks to all our friends here for making family history fun!!
A. Linda: Hey Cassie – is this a record number of posts for a Q&A? (not counting this one, of course)
A. Cassie: It could well be Linda but I think our friends at Trove had over 100 comments as well. Happily they’ll be joining us again later in the year!
A. Geelong and District: That was an impressive Q&A – congrats to Jack and Nicole as well as Cassie and Inside History Magazine – one of my favourite reads on the train each day.
A. IHM: Why thank you Geelong and District: local and family history, we’ll be posting up the Q&A transcript across the weekend & Issue 15 is nearly done!

Q. From Kay: I know am late, but I live in WA. We’re three behind. Just wondering if I could get a question answered. i had a relative that was in the army at Queenscliff in 1908 that committed suicide. How can I get any paperwork on his case?
A. IHM: Hi Kay, Nicole and Jack will answer your question tomorrow and we’ll include in the transcript, and post here. We can’t have Western Australia disadvantaged :)
A. Carmel: Kay there would be an inquest into this, if you look above it will give you details on how to check the website and ask for a copy of the transcript. Also have you checked Trove to see if there is anything printed int he newspapers. Hope this helps.
A. Kay: Thx everyone
A. Kay: Yes Carmel have a few different newspaper clips, found he has a daughter somewhere.
A. Nicole: Here is the best place to start – click here to research. Given that you’re interstate, though, you might be interested to know that, starting soon, we’re gradually publishing inquest records for 1840 – 1925. We do provide a remote copying order service. Please view our guide under “Digitisation” which provides you with further information and feel free to contact us at enquiries[at]prov.vic.gov.au – http://prov.vic.gov.au/provguide-2.

Questions asked before the session:

Q. From Kathryn: Trove mentions my ggg grandfather, Edward Blake numerous times as being ‘a man of colour’ and one of the ‘worst types’ in Melbourne. Many court convictions and gaol stays between his arrival in the colony in 1852 and his death on 27 April 1858. I’d love some hints in finding his prison records and any police report of his untimely death.
A. Carmel: wow early start guys. I found some records on Prov web site for a prisoner. Then Police Gazettes at the time (at Prov) then able to get similar records as above. They were in very poor condition as these were not really preserved at the time.
A. Carmel: http://prov.vic.gov.au/provguide-23 scroll down to prisoner records

Q. From Merilyn: My husband’s grandfather was adopted and born in Victoria. I have never researched adoptees before where do I start?
A. Carmel: When was he born Merilyn?
A. Merilyn: Born 10th June 1909
A. Carmel: official adoption did not come in until about 1927
A. Carmel: try this: http://helendoxfordharris.com.au/archives/120
A. Merilyn: Oh dear any ideas?
A. Merilyn: Grandpa’s name was John Ward Ryan born in Nth Fitzroy Melbourne.
A. Merilyn: Thanks Carmel I checked out that website but couldn’t find anything will try in more detail later
A. Carmel: I found one of mine on there Merilyn but I dont think it is comprehensive.
A. IHM: Hi Merilyn, I’ve got Nicole & Jack from PROV looking at it for you. Thanks for your help Carmel :)

 

Using PROV: FAQ

Q. What do you have in the pipeline that we should be excited about?
A. Currently indexing the Children’s Ward Registers from 1864 – 1897 that have
been digitised and will be available online in the very near future.

Also, La Trobe Digitising, which is a collaborative project between the La Trobe Society and Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) to turn the 1839 – 1851 correspondence received by CJ La Trobe in his role as Superintendent of the Port Phillip District into an online, digitised collection. These records, which we call “Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS) 19”, are amongst the earliest in the collection, and provide a fascinating insight into the early administration of the Colony of Victoria. The project has now been active for 18 months and the forecast is for it to be finished before the end of 2013. Since its commencement, volunteers have created over 16,000 index entries and taken ten thousand images of the records. Publishing of the records online has commenced, however even before then the data has become quite useful. As someone whose job often involves responding to researcher queries, I can attest to the ease with which a number of leads can be
generated quickly to questions such as “I’m researching Williamstown in the 1840s – where do I start?” or “I’m trying to find out how early bailiffs were appointed.” These two queries yield a number of results, just for the
1841 data. The project has had other unexpected results, such as the discovery of reports of marriages conducted in the 1840s which, until last year, were unknown to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Another project is the Indexing Soldier Settlement records.  PROV volunteers have been active over the last 18 months, creating catalogue data for some of PROV’s most heavily used land occupation records (so far over 1100 boxes of records have been worked on, making tens of thousands of names searchable on-line). They’ve recently commenced work on VPRS 5714 Closer and Soldier Settlement Files, with the goal of having these completed by the start of 2014, the centenary of the commencement of WW1. These records document all sorts of transactions to do with settlement and land lease-purchase schemes, largely for discharged soldiers.

PROV always has 20+ similar digitising and indexing projects underway… Your research interest will no doubt determine what you get excited about!
Q. What is your favourite story you’ve found in the PROV collection?
A. My favourite story is a rather sad one! I was doing some research for a seminar about education records. As an example, I used an 1860s-era employee record of a teacher in Taradale. Sadly, he was apparently an alcoholic and had great difficulty fulfilling his responsibilities. But remarkably, dozens of locals signed a petition, begging the Dept of Education not to sack him! It all made very contradictory reading. Tragically, he ended up taking his own life. The resources for doing this kind of research are here: http://prov.vic.gov.au/research/education-and-teachers

A sample record here: