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Now&Then 36 - February 2009

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In this issue: new website launched; our xmas competition winners; Flickr update; customer satisfaction survey; spotlight on unassisted passenger arrivals and much more.

Online News

The latest additions to online indexes and resources on our website include:

1. Archives in Brief 116 - Researching your house and property

Daceyville Garden Suburb House AIB 116This AIB provides useful information and a overview of relevant records and sources when researching a house and property. It will prove useful to many who are beginning this complex search.

UPDATED Archives in Brief 108 - Primary Application packets

This AIB provides a brief overview about the Primary Application packets ( NRS 17513) and the related records we hold. It has been updated to provide researchers with the most recent up-to-date information. The section on ‘Steps to view Primary Application packets’ is especially useful when conducting this research.

2. Index to the Register of Firms – UPDATE

New entries have been uploaded to this index. The registers record the name of the firm; nature of business; packet number of papers; place of business; statement number; date or registration; and details of persons carrying on the business. Please note that in certain cases only the name of individuals operating the firm and the name of the Firm may be located.

UPDATED Index to convict pardons, 1791-1873

The copies of Royal Warrant Pardons, 4 February 1791 to 21 May 1844 has recently been added to this index. A Royal Warrant (RW) was a warrant from the Monarch authorising the grant of pardon.

3. Forthcoming news – the Bankruptcy Index (NRS 13658) 1889-1928 shortly to be accessible online!

We are currently in the process of adding the Bankruptcy Index to our online index resources. Bankruptcy involves the sequestration of a person's assets when they are unable to meet the demands of creditors. Keep an eye out for this index!

For further information relating to Bankruptcy records have a read of Archives in Brief 58 online.

New website design

You will notice a new look to our website this month. The re-developed website still has all the current options and a few new ones to boot. Apart from a new 'look and feel' there are many new features such as:

  • more links to the pages you want direct from the homepage;
  • a re-vamped breadcrumb trail that is not only useful to use for navigation but will also keep you informed of where you are in the site;
  • left sidebar navigation for the specific area you are in;
  • a live search facility that starts searching as soon as you start typing
  • right sidebar navigation showing all the latest news and events.

Many URLs will have changed with the new website so make sure you update your bookmarks!
Please send us your feedback on the new website design.

2008 Christmas Competition Winners

ChristmasCompetitionThank you to all our competition participants! It was a great success! This time round we attempted to make the questions a little easier than last year and consequently we had a rush of entries early in December. Congratulations to the successful ten.

The lucky winners are Jonathan Auld, Dasha Brandt, Fiona Stratton, Joan O'Donovan, Penny Armstrong, Hazel Labka, Carole Sim, Gloria Carden, Valerie Chubb and Frances Happ.

Congratulations to all the winners, your prize will be arriving in the post shortly!

Flickr Update

Currently at 607 photos, the latest photos in our Flickr photostream include:

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

2008 Satisfaction Survey

We conducted our annual satisfaction survey between 20 October and 17 November 2008. All our reading room visitors were encouraged to complete the survey. The survey was also available on the website.

The aim of the survey was to:

  • find out the level of satisfaction felt by users on their visit to, and on the services offered, in the reading rooms
  • obtain feedback of satisfaction on the use of the website, and
  • invite suggestions for future talks and seminars.

We are most grateful to all those who took the time to complete the survey. Your responses have provided us with very useful feedback on our reading room, online services and website resources. This will be of great assistance in our future planning. 
Everyone completing the survey was invited to go into the draw to win a copy of the Convict Guide. Congratulations to the 2008 winner Mrs Noelene Hoysted.

Exhibitions featuring State archives

There are a number of interesting exhibitions, in Sydney and further afield, which are or will be featuring State archives. They are 'must see' events.

Convict Hulks: Life on the prison ships
The first comprehensive exhibition recalling the harsh but fascinating history of convict hulks in Britain and its colonies, including New South Wales.
Hyde Park Barracks
On until August 2009
Exhibition Website

Great Collections
Offers an unprecedented look at the history of collecting in Australia in an exhibition which 'converges' material from diverse agencies like never before.
Tweed River Art Gallery 6 Feb – 15 Mar 2009
Western Plains Cultural Centre 3 Apr – 10 May 2009
Albury Library Museum 29 May – 5 Jul 2009
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery 24 Jul – 30 Aug 2009
Exhibition Website

An Act of Surrender
2009 is the centenary of the Federal Capital Territory Survey. This exhibition examines milestones in governance from the last 100 years. Canberra Museum and Gallery Feb – May 2009
Exhibition Website

Tails of the city: Sydney’s passion for pets
Discover Sydney’s surprising social history of pets, from the early days of the colony where favoured animals served practical purposes for their masters, through to today’s indulged furry and feathered family members.
Museum of Sydney on until 22 March 2009
Exhibition Website

Femme Fatale, the female criminal
Wicked women, seductive sinners, vicious vixens – the female criminal is portrayed in many guises in popular culture, myth, literature and history but what do these stereotypes tell us about women and crime?
Police and Justice Museum 7 Mar 2009 – 18 Apr 2010
Exhibition Website

Primary Application Packets

We now have a total of 11,053 Primary Application Packets listed in Archives Investigator (see  NRS 17513). You can search for Primary Application Packets that have been transferred to State Records with or without the PA number using Archives Investigator.

  • If you know the PA number conduct an Advanced Search - Record Item. Enter the primary application number (include PA making sure you include a space after PA and before the number: e.g., PA 17106) and the series number 17513.
  • If you do not know the Primary Application Number you can still conduct an Advanced Search - Records Item. Enter the series number 17513 and in the Title Field enter the name of the individual who obtained the PA in the Item title field: e.g., Thomas Hogan. Select All Words.
    Remember, if you do not locate the Primary Application Packet using Archives Investigator, you should visit the Department of Lands at 1 Queens Square, Sydney and consult the Departmental records to locate the Primary Application number.

There is a helpful 'Tips' webpage on Archives Investigator which illustrates how to search for a Primary Application packet. If you would like more information on Primary Application Packets read the updated Archives in Brief 108.

Spotlight on searching for Unassisted Passenger arrivals

The search for unassisted passengers arriving in Sydney can be a daunting and time consuming task. Without the name of the ship or the specific date of arrival, and in the absence of a comprehensive index to the passenger lists, researchers are faced with reels and reels of microfilm copies of lists to scroll through. The task has been made a little easier because of a range of online indexes now available.

The following indexes are available in both State Records' reading rooms:

Index to unassisted Immigrants 1842-56

This index comprises unassisted (or free) passengers who came to Australia at their own expense, including ships' crew. It was compiled by Ms Aileen Trinder and Ms Pat Fearnley (formerly Stemp) of Pastkeys. The Index to unassisted Immigrants, 1842-55 is published on our website with the permission of Ms Trinder and Ms Fearnley, who also retain the copyright to this index.

Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc. (WAGS)

The Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) has published an Index to passenger arrivals in Western Australia, 1839-90, 1898-1925 on the reading room computers. This can be a useful source for tracing arrivals as passengers may have continued on the journey to Sydney after reaching Fremantle.

The National Archives of Australia Index to passenger arrivals, 1921-50

You can search for passengers arriving by ship in Fremantle and other Western Australian ports between January 1921 and 15 January 1950; or arriving at Perth airport between 1944 and 15 January 1950 on the National Archives of Australia website.  You can also access the NAA website on the reading room computers.

Public Record Office of Victoria

Many ships on their way to Sydney called in at Melbourne. The Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) has an online Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1896 (passengers travelling on ships leaving Victoria). To quote from the information on the PROV website 'You can  search by passenger names, ship name or departure date and obtain a reference to the microfilm copy of the lists (catalogued as VPRS 3506) available in PROV Reading Rooms. This index is being prepared by PROV volunteers. Further instalments to 1923 will be published as they are completed.'

If you find an entry in these indexes you can check the following records for the Sydney arrival:

  • Reports of vessels arrived, Jul 1826-Dec 1853, NRS 1291 [Reels 1263-1280 and 2851], and
  • Passengers arriving, 1854-1900, NRS 13278 [Reels 399-560 and 2001-2122, 2751)

These microfilm reels are available in our reading rooms. Microfilm reels covering July 1826-1900 also form part of the Archives Resources Kit and can be accessed at our 40 community access points throughout New South Wales. The other good news is that those with computer access may be able to view digital copies of the some of these passenger lists on the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website. For example, if you find a person in the PROV index, check out the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website to see if the list has been transcribed and scanned. John Wilson is listed in the PROV index as departing for Sydney on the Whompoa in September 1878. The transcription and digital copy of the passenger list for the Whompoa which arrived in Sydney on 27 September 1878 can be viewed on the Mariners' site and John Wilson's name is listed.

Lists of departures from the British Isles, 1890-1960

The website, has an index to outward Passenger Lists for 'long-distance voyages leaving the British Isles' covering the years 1890 to 1960. As it states on the site 'you can search for passenger list records of individuals or groups of people leaving for destinations including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and USA featuring ports such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Passengers include not only immigrants and emigrants, but also businessmen, diplomats and tourists'. While you do have to pay to view the passenger list, you do not have to pay to search the index. A successful search of the index will show the following information: last name; first name year of birth; sex; departure year and port; destination country and destination port. In many cases this will be enough information to identify an ancestor which means that you may be able to narrow down your search of those voluminous unassisted passenger lists. There is a link to this website on the reading room computers.
You may even find a record of your ancestor's arrival using the range of online indexes we have listed.

For further information relating to shipping and arrival records see:

For information on how to find unassisted passengers see:


In Living Memory logoThe In Living Memory NSW tour is currently on display in Ballina at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery. 100 Elders from the Northern Rivers region welcomed the exhibition, which will be in the area until 1 March 2009. The tour will visit another 10 New South Wales venues until 2010, including  Kempsey, Newcastle, Moruya, Bega, Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Dubbo and Broken Hill, and Penrith and Hurstville in Sydney.

Check the exhibition webpage for venue details and updates.

In Living Memory is also still on display at State Records Gallery in The Rocks.

Exhibition Talks & Tours are available for small groups of 5-20 people, weekdays between 10 am and 4 pm.

In Living Memory exhibition
State Records Gallery
Sydney Records Centre
2 Globe Street (off George Street)
The Rocks
9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri
10 am - 4pm, Sat
Closed public holidays
Enquiries & Exhibition Tour bookings (02) 8247 8660

Upcoming talks and tours

Tuggerah Library
Gail Davis will present a talk on “Tips for getting the most out of the Archives Resources Kit”.
18 February 10.30-1:00 at Tuggerah Library
Contact: Susan Manahan at Wyong Shire Library Service (02) 4353 5271.
Free. Bookings are essential.

Shake Your Family Tree
Lindsay Allen will have a stall of State Records publications at the National Archives of Australia Shake Your Family Tree Open Day.
25 February 10.00-4.00 at National Archives of Australia, 120 Miller Road Chester Hill.

Mardi Gras Festival Event
Peter de Waal will be talking about his research into the historic records of “homosexual crimes” as reported in the courts, Police Gazette and from judges note books. Lindsay Allen will talk about how these records and other records are accessible through State Records. Part of the New Mardi Gras Festival.
28 February 10.30-12.30 at SRC.
Free. Bookings are essential.

Seminar celebrating sesquicentenary of women in Parliament “Women in Public Life”
A joint presentation from State Records and the City of Sydney. There will be several speakers including one from the Jessie Street National Women’s Library. An activity for Women’s History Month.
10 March 10.30-12.30 at Level 2 Meeting Room, Customs House Library, 31 Alfred St Circular Quay.
Contact: Customs House Library (02) 9242 8555

Goulburn Heritage Festival
Gail Davis will speak about Mental Health records, including the records of Kenmore Hospital.
12 March at Southern Tablelands Regional Library, Goulburn
Contact: Lynn Bonimini on (02) 4823 4435

Penrith Family History Conference and Fair
Lindsay Allen will present a talk on Theatres and Public Halls on Saturday 14 and Christine Yeats will give talks on Convicts, Shipping and Deceased Estates on Sunday 15.
14-15 March
Contact: Lorraine Stacker

Central Coast Family History Society
Christine Yeats will present a talk on the Early Registers of NSW.
17 March at the Lions Hall, Russell Drysdale St East Gosford
Contact: Marlene Davidson

Cowra Family History Society
Lindsay Allen will be speaking about the history of divorce legislation in NSW, including some examples of the different types of records.
28 March venue TBA
Olwyn Barnes (02) 6342 4124