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Now&Then 55 - April 2012

In this Issue read the latest online news; the arrival of more divorce case papers; the Spotlight on Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board detail sheets 1904-45; our Blog and Flickr updates and so much more!

Online News

New - Archives in Brief 124: Gaol Staff

NRS 4481, GPO Glass negatives, Darlinghurst Gaol, Sh 895.

This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the major sources we hold that relate to gaol staff employed by the NSW Department of Corrective Services and its predecessors.

New - Archives in Brief 32: Quarter Session records (web version)

This fact sheet refers to the major sources we hold relating to the Courts of General and Quarter Sessions (generally referred to as Quarter Sessions) in New South Wales.

Photo series added to Photo Investigator

Photographs of pharmacists, c.1909-1917, NRS 10913

Example of photographs of pharmacists [2-702.21]

These photographs were collected by the NSW Board of Pharmacists and were associated with the Board's roll in keeping records relating to people registering as Pharmacists in NSW.

The series consists mainly of headshot portraits however there are also two group photographs included in the series and one photograph of a Chemist and Dentist shop owned by E.A. Harwood. While most of the photos have information written on them identifying the sitter in the image, many of the images (including the group photographs) do not identify the people photographed.

Photographs of Waagner-Biro stage machinery [Sydney Opera House], 1965, NRS 12801

This series consists of 29 photographs showing stage equipment constructed by Waagner-Biro Akitiengesellschaft, the company contracted to install stage equipment at the Sydney Opera House.

Of the 29 photographs, two show stage machinery in the Minor Hall (now known as the Opera Theatre) of the Sydney Opera House.

The remaining 27 photographs show examples of stage equipment, constructed by Waagner-Biro AG, that is similar to the stage equipment the company was to build and install at the Sydney Opera House.

Probate - 478,807 packets now listed online

The vast majority of Probate Packets that we hold are now listed online and can be searched by name. Now you can search the 478, 807 probate packets online!

What's been listed?

  • All of Series 1 - 1817 to 1873
  • All of Series 2 - 1873 to 1876
  • All of Series 3 - 1876 to 1890
  • Part of Series 4 - Probate granted June 1928 to September 1965; that is packets Series 4-152152 to Series 4-598443.

Researchers wishing to locate probate packets from the part of Series 4 that is not indexed online will still need to search the microfiche index available in the reading room. These packets can then be ordered as normal in the reading room.

Information Tip! If you are having trouble locating a probate number sometimes the probate number is included in the deceased estate file.

How to search online

There are two search options:

  1. Try our experimental catalogue search tool - simply type in a name
  2. Search Archives Investigator

Pre-order or Purchase?

  1. Request a file from your search results to view in the reading room in Western Sydney. Make sure to put your request in at least 2 working days ahead of your visit. Use the "pre-order for visit" option.
  2. Buy a photocopy of the file online. Use the "purchase a copy" option

Pre-order and Purchase options

ANZAC webpage update

ANZAC in World War I. Read about what is commonly found in probate packets of soldiers who died during WWI - with a focus on railway employees.The First Australian Railway Supply Detachment, 11th A.A.SC., 19 December 1914.  Digital id 17420_a014_a014000498


Divorce - more files have arrived

An additional 47 713 Divorce and matrimonial cause case papers (NRS 13495) have arrived and are now listed in Archives Investigator. The additional case papers cover the date range 1/1/1931 to 31/12/1945. To locate a relevant file conduct a simple search in Archives Investigator with the words 'Divorce' and surname of the petitioner or respondent. You have the option to order a photocopy when you locate a relevant divorce reference in Archives Investigator or alternatively you can preorder the file to view in person at the Western Sydney Records Centre Search Archives Investigator now

Our volunteers have been listing earlier divorce files in Archives Investigator. In total there are over 60 000 Divorce and matrimonial cause case papers listed. You can search in Archives Investigator for papers dating from January 1922 to December 1945 and 1970.

For further information relating to divorce records see Archives in Brief 77 - Divorce records.

Australia on Trial - The Mount Rennie Outrage

A new ABC series beginning on Thursday night 5 April will highlight significant trials in Australain history. Each episode covers a separate trial. The trials featured are The Mount Rennie Rape Trial (1886), The Eureka 13 Trial (1855), and the Myall Creek Massacre Trial (1838). State Records holds court records, gaol records and police records relating to the trials which will feature in the series. Watch the series to see how original records are used to recreate the trials.

Material moving from the Sydney reading room - The Rocks

With the forthcoming closure of the Sydney Reading Room on 30 June the microform material and facsimile copies of selected records have started to be transferred to other locations. Please ring (02) 9673 1788 and check if the material you want is still at The Rocks.

Easter Opening Hours & Digital copy services

We wish everyone a safe Easter break. The reading rooms will be closed to the public on the following dates:

Friday 6 April (Good Friday) - Closed

Saturday 7 April - Closed

Monday 9 April (Easter Monday) - Closed

Important! Digital copy services Easter 2012 - there will be a delay in completing digital copy orders taken between 2 and 16 April.
Any orders taken during this time will be completed after 16 April 2012.

Contacting State Records' Conservation Section

If you need to contact State Records NSW about a preservation or conservation matter please use the following general telephone number and email address:

Telephone: (02) 9673 1788 or email

This will ensure that your enquiries are dealt with promptly even when individual staff members are on leave.

Archives Outside blog update

Moments in Time – Can you date this photo?

More photographic puzzles for you to solve

Are you interested in digital Archives and the temporary nature of technology?

This post is brought to you via State Records newest Board Member Stephen Choularton Ph.D., FIoD who recommended this podcast on the Radio National site! It’s a fascinating introductory look at the world of digital archaeology, touching on several issues that are central to the mission of Archives.

Director, Alan Ventress, discusses the disappearing skill of reading handwriting

In February our Director Alan Ventress made a splash in the media discussing the disappearing skill of reading handwriting. We’ve pulled together a few of the highlights of for you!

From Lidcombe to Darwin: NSW Fire Engines enlist in WWII

State Records is highlighting a connection between New South Wales and Darwin in its ‘War and Australia’ Digital Gallery. In 1941 and 1942 the NSW Board of Fire Commissioners released two Dennis ‘Light 4′ fire engines from service so that they could be quickly sent to Darwin. But what happened to them after 1942?

Help us Commemorate the 80th Birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Sydney Harbour Bridge under construction

This year we are trying something a little different. We have created an I <3 Sydney Harbour Bridge tribute board at The aim is to get together a collage of images both from our own collection and other peoples (where copyright has been made  available).

This is where you come in!

Sydney Harbour Bridge – schoolgirls at the 1932 opening celebrations are identified!

The 80th anniversary Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrations have unearthed a lovely story identifying the two girls in this iconic photograph taken when the Bridge was opened.

Flickr update

The latest additions include:

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge - Panel Point 7 Western Truss
Picnic train
Class K294 No.296 locomotive - picnic train at Condobolin (NSW)
Royal Visit, 1963
Royal visit 1963 - Investiture held by H.M. Queen at Government House, Sydney NSW
Boating, Sydney harbour
Boating on Sydney Harbour, Sydney (NSW)
Fire Queen Adelaide
Fire Queen Adelaide
Tramways tower wagon
Tramways Tower Wagon mounted on horse drawn wagon - New South Head Rd, Double Bay

If you don't have a Flickr account you can still browse these photos on Flickr, many of which are also available on Photo Investigator.

Broken Hill City Council Records on microfilm

Local government records can be a useful source of information when researching a local community or house and property information. Typical records from local government include

  • Council minute books
  • Rates and Valuation books
  • Letters and correspondence books
  • Cash and revenue books and financial statements

The majority of council records still reside with the creating or successor council. Researchers will need to contact the council concerned to seek access to records.

Some council records are however, held as State archives. A list of councils for which we hold records is given in Archives in Brief 106: Local Government Records. We advise that you contact reading room staff to confirm whether the records are held at the Western Sydney Records Centre or at one of the regional repositories.

Two series of records are from Broken Hill City Council:

  • NRS 16393 Broken Hill City Council Minute Books, 1891-1920, Reels 3725-3731

Under the Municipalities Act of 1867 (31 Victoria Act No. 12) (and subsequent legislation), Councils met once a month for a general meeting, the minutes of the proceedings were required to be taken and maintained by the council clerk.

General meetings record inward and outward correspondence received by the Council, motions put to the Council, report of committees and other relevant items of business. The minutes document the variety of activities for which the Council was responsible including financial management, enforcement of regulations, assessment and collection of rates, valuation of properties, building and maintenance of council property, community services and town planning.

Special Meetings were called to record a specific issue. Reports were generally also tabled at these meetings relating to the subject.

  • NRS 16394, Assessment and Valuation Books, 1892-1906, Reels 3732-3735

The Municipalities Act, 1867 (31 Victoria Act No. 12) under which the Broken Hill Council was established required all rateable property to be valued annually. The Valuation books for Broken Hill contained the following information; a section and allotment number, location (street), description of property, name of owner or lessee, name of occupier, number of assessment, capital value, annual value, value assessed by the Council, amount of rate, value on appeal, amended rate, folio on rate book, number of persons in each dwelling, and remarks.

The valuation books are arranged chronologically within separate wards, Sturt, Wills, King and Burke.

In keeping with the principle of storing records of regional significance in their local area, the original records are kept at the Broken Hill Regional Repository, Charles Rasp Library.

The records have been microfilmed and the microfilms are held at the Western Sydney Records Centre and the regional repository.

Spotlight on Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board detail sheets 1904-45

The Detail Sheets are a series of plans created by the MWS&DB to record details of sewer mains and sanitary drainage.

Covering Sydney and suburbs the detail sheets record municipality, title and location of the Board's works, details of pipes and manholes, positions of buildings, roads, tram lines, railways, and geographic features such as creeks. Also included is information about buildings which existed at the time of survey. Details of houses may include street name, house number and name, lot number, the outline of the ground floor and details of construction material. Where lots are vacant the boundaries of title with title references may be shown.

There are some sheets which are based on surveys as early as 1904, some have been redrawn and some have had additional information plotted up to 1945. The majority of sheets date between 1910 and 1940.

Detail sheets are open to public access. More information about the sheets and related records can be found in Archives in Brief 111.

Locating a relevant sheet can be a little tricky. Procedures are listed below:

1 Consult MWS&DB NRS 9942, Key Maps for detail sheets [Maps 390-441] locating the correct map covering the suburb required.
Tip: photocopies of these maps are available at the Western Sydney Reading Room and aperture card copies of the maps available at the Sydney Reading Room.
2 Consult the map, locate the specific area required and note the number given. This is the Detail Sheet number.
3 Consult MWS&DB NRS 9944, List of Detail Sheets [2/1].
  • Locate the Detail Sheet number in the left hand column
  • Read across the page to the column headed 'DS Original No.' and note the number given
Tip: if there is no number in the DS Original No. column the Detail Sheet is not held at State Records.
4 Consult the item list for NRS 9941, Detail Sheets, c.1901-45, [Maps 13431-16247]. Convert the DS Original No. into a State Records map number.
Tip: item lists are available in both reading rooms.
5 Request and view the map in the Western Sydney Reading Room. You will need the State Records map number.
Tip: You will need to have a readers' ticket to view original records.

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In Living Memory logo

The In Living Memory exhibition of photographs from the Aborigines Welfare Board will still be on display at State Records Gallery in The Rocks until the Sydney Records Centre closes on 30 June 2012. The touring version of the exhibition can be seen at Civic Library in Canberra from 3-28 July as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations. The tour will also take part in honouring the 100th anniversary of the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Home in August and be featured in the Fountain Court gallery at Parliament of NSW in September.

In Living Memory exhibition
State Records Gallery
Sydney Records Centre
2 Globe Street (off George Street)
The Rocks

9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri only
Closed weekends & public holidays

Exhibition Talks & Tours are available for small groups of 5-20 people, weekdays between 10am and 4pm ph: (02) 8247 8609

Upcoming Talks and Tours

Online resources for family and local studies researchers

Hosted by Wagga Wagga & District Historical Society & Charles Sturt University Regional Archives. Gail Davis, Senior Archivist, will present a workshop focusing on online resources for family and local studies researchers.
21 April 10:00am-4:00pm
Bannister Room, CSU Regional Archives complex, Hely Avenue, Wagga Wagga
Contact: Geoff Burch
Phone: 0417 277592

Ancestors - All Aboard!

Heritage Week Festival Event. A number of talks will take place during the day. Gail Davis will present on Shipping and Immigration records held at State Records.
27 April 9:45am-4:00pm
Albion Park Library, Russell Street
Phone: 42 972522

A taste of family history

Gail Davis will be presenting an introduction to State archives for family history research as part of a seminar to be held at the State Library.
4 May 10:00am-4:00pm
State Library Macquarie Street Sydney
Phone: (02) 9247 3953

A glimpse behind the scenes - looking at the State archives from the other side

Australian Society of the Lacemakers of Calais meeting. Fabian Lo Schiavo will speak on the types of archives held and the 'workings' of State Records.
19 May 1:00pm-3:00pm
Don Bank cottage Museum at 6 Napier Street North Sydney
Contact: Stephen Black

Family History Fair

Gail Davis will give a talk and host a stall at the Family History Fair hosted by the Taree Family History Group. Locating missing children in the 19th and early 20th Century using State Records resources.
20 May 10:00am-4:00pm 
Taree RSL & Golf Club
Contact: Nancy Matthews

Brick wall, back alleys and research byways

Christine Yeats will speak about strategies for dealing with some of the typical brick walls that can be encountered by researchers. While no 'magic bullets' are promised, Christine will offer practical advice and research tips using the ever increasing resources now available.
2 June 2:00pm-3:00pm
Coach House, rear Hambleton Cottage, cnr 63 Hassall Street and Gregory Place, Parramatta
Contact: Jan Stoker

Using Ancestry's resources and tips and tactics for preparing for your visit to Kingswood

Christine Yeats will speak about the NSW State archives that are now available on Ancestry. Not everything is Christine will also offer some tips and tactics on preparing for your visit to Kingswood where you can access the wealth of archival resources that can only be accessed in their original (uncopied) format.
7 June 9:00am-11:00am
Warringah Library Family History Group
Contact: Kaye Vernon

Shoalhaven Family Local and Cultural History Fair

Christine Yeats will present Shipwrecks of the South Coast: Sources in the NSW State archives exploring the wealth of information in the NSW State archives relating to some of the maritime tragedies on the south coast.
15-16 June 9:30am-4:00pm
Nowra School of Arts, Berry Street Nowra