Friday, 30 May 2014

Koorie records at the PROV and National Archives

In April 2014 walata tyamateetj was published jointly by the Public Record Office of Victoria and National Archives of Australia to provide a guide to government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria. The publication can be read online or downloaded as a pdf or ebook. Hard copies of the book can be ordered from the PROV.

Originally the PROV held all government records relating to Aborigines in Victoria. In 1975 the Victorian Government transferred responsibility for Aboriginal affairs to the Commonwealth Government and many of the government Aboriginal records created after 1860 were transferred to National Archives. The PROV continues to keep government records created in Victoria up to 1860 and has also kept some collections created after that date until 1975.

walata tyamateetj provides a guide to the Victorian records held by each archive. A summary description is held for each set of records including whether the items have been digitised.

The Koorie Records Unit manages research enquiries relating to records held at the PROV and researchers can contact them with any enquiries. Email is the best way to contact the unit. The Koorie Records Unit Newsletter is published three times a year and can be obtained via email.

The PROV has provided guides for researching Koorie records including records for people undertaking family history. National Archives Australia also has a fact sheet for those undertaking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

Two indexes have been created that can be viewed at the PROV and the National Archives reading room at North Melbourne. The Koorie Index of Names (KIN) contains a growing list of names appearing in records about Aboriginal people. The index does not distinguish between Koorie and non Koorie people. When I checked the index I found the name of one of a family member who owned a property in Victoria in the nineteenth century. The index provides the name of the person as recorded in the record, date, place and VPRS number of the item. The index also records if the name is an incidental reference. The National Archives has the Bringing them Home name index, an index of names appearing in the most relevant records relating to Aborigines held in the National Archives of Australia.

Archive offices in other states in Australia will also hold Aboriginal records for their state.

The State Library of Victoria also has a guide - Aboriginal people and family history - on their website.

At the session that I attended on Koorie records, mention was also made of the online research tool, Find and Connect, to assist people looking for information about children previously in institutional care. No personal details are provided on the website.

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