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State Records and Archives #ANZAncestryTime

July 3, 2022

The recent topic for #ANZAncestryTime, was State Records and Archives. In case you haven’t caught up with it yet, #ANZAncestryTime is the genealogy/familyhistory discussion session, which is held on Twitter. I’m very happy to be one of the moderators, and look forward to our sessions, on the third Tuesday night each month, at 7pm AEST or 9pm NZST

We usually ask four questions on a topic. Below, are the questions with my thoughts on each.

Most of my family history is in Victoria, which is where I live. Our state records office is the Public Records Office of Victoria, better known as PROV. It is located in Melbourne, about two hours from my home. Because of the travel distance, I don’t get there as often as I’d like.

If I’m going to PROV, I like to make the most of a visit and spend the day there. I keep a PROV list in my Legacy family history software, of records that I’d like to see on my next visit.

PROV have a large amount of their records digitised, which makes accessing them from home possible. Because of this my PROV to-do list is much shorter than it was when I first started researching my family history.

As a young researcher I would take along a notebook and pencil, but these days it’s just the iPad and mobile phone for photos.

I’m quite addicted to Inquest files because of the information that they can contain. Other than details of the death, Inquests usually have witness statements, which can often be from family members.

I’ve also obtained many wills, divorce records and land records. PROV is a great place to find passenger records also. Most of these records are now available online. When I first started visiting PROV, we would have to order photocopies and wait for them to be mailed. Today, we can just take photos with our phone, so there is no waiting time for delivery of records.

My most unforgettable find was contained in an inquest file. The inquest was for the murder of a very distant relative, a ten year old girl. Her murderer was found at the scene, after taking his own life. The item that shocked me was contained in a suicide letter that he had written.

When I first saw the file, it was obvious that it had never been opened. As I opened the tightly folded suicide letter, brown flakes of what I though was dirt, fell from the creases onto the desk. The archivist saw this, came over to take a look and told me that they were flakes of dried blood.

I can still remember how sad I felt and how real this made the crime and the people seem. Suddenly this event became more than names and dates on a page

Images: #ANZAncestryTime

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From → genealogy

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