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Now&Then 38 - June 2009

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In this issue: read about the new upgrade of Archives Investigator; the latest additions to the website - Short Guide 14 and Archives in Brief 117; the Spotlight on two riveting colonial plays and much more.

New Subscription options!

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Online news

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

1. *New* Archives in Brief (AIB) 117 – Maltese migration and settlement in NSW

Sir Gerald Strickland - click for larger imageThis new AIB provides an overview of the record series that may be useful in tracing Maltese settlement in NSW. It includes information on searching for individuals within the records illustrated by case study examples.


2. *New* Copy Service - Deceased Estate files

With almost 30,000 entries to search we have introduced a trial copy service for the index to Deceased Estate files. Simply 'tick' the relevant search result(s) and follow the instructions to place your order. The copy service fee is $30.00 (includes administration, postage/handling and the first entry). Additional entries are $15.00 each. You may order up to 4 additional entries on the same order.

3. YouTube Video

Watch Christine Yeats, Manager Public Access, on YouTube talking to the Cultural Australia Network (CAN) about State Records in the online environment. CAN provides access to nationwide information on Australia's cultural heritage and we are a partner along with other museums and libraries.

4. Article: New South Wales Convict Records – ‘Lost and Saved’ by Christine Shergold now on the website

When conducting your convict research many come to a 'dead end' or discover a 'gap' in the records where what your looking for simply hasn't survived. Ever wondered why? Read the article 'Lost and Saved' to find out about the organised destruction of records by the Colonial authorities in 1863 and 1870.

5. Assisted Immigrants index merge

We have merged our many indexes to assisted immigrants into one large database. This merge simplifies your online searches. You only need to access the one index which includes over 200,000 arrivals to Sydney (and Newcastle), Moreton Bay and Port Phillip from 1839-1896. You can still search individual ports of arrival - simply make your selection from the "Arriving" option on the search form: Moreton Bay, Port Phillip, Sydney and/or Newcastle, Sydney.

Do more with Archives Investigator

A new upgrade allows you to pre-order records prior to your visit and place an online copy order from within Archives Investigator. Effectively, a 'Shopping Cart' system has been introduced.

What does this mean for you?


You can already pre-order items for your visit to Western Sydney by using our web forms. This service has proved to be very popular. Not only does it save you time in the reading room it allows us to be more organised on the day of your visit.

We have extended the pre-order service to Archives Investigator. If you find a record series in Archives Investigator that lists the items individually then you can pre-order the item as you browse! The system remembers your choices as you go and you can pre-order up to four items. We recommend you place your pre-order at least two days prior to your visit.

Does this apply to all records?

If an item list exists then, yes, you can pre-order. If a record series is listed but not the items within that series (ie., the 'contents') then the pre-order option won't be available. Please remember that while a while a wealth of information is available in Archives Investigator, we hold more than 15,000 record series and millions of items, of which only a small proportion have been listed individually.

Purchase online

At this early stage of implementation only copies of Probate Packets and Divorce Case Papers can be purchased through Archives Investigator. These records are in huge demand in the reading room and our volunteers are busy listing them item by item.

Probate Packets

Over 90,000 individual [ NRS 13660] Probate Packets are available in the system! Listed so far are:

  • Series 1: April 1817 to c. May 1873
  • Series 2: 1873 to 1876
  • Series 3: 1876 to c.1890
  • The years 1928-32, 1941-42 from Series 4

You can pre-order and purchase copies of these records.

Divorce Case Papers

Our volunteers are also listing the [ NRS13495] Divorce Case Papers.  To date over 15,000 case papers have been added to Archives Investigator covering c.1926-1930 and 1970. You can pre-order and order copies of these records.
In the future other records which have been listed in a similar fashion will be included in the purchase option.

This is great but how do I search?

If you are not familiar with using Archives Investigator, or just want to know more, you may find our Tips on using Archives Investigator helpful.

Flickr Update

In recent weeks we have started 'geotagging' some of our Flickr photos. What is geotagging? Assigning coordinates (location information) to an image so it can be plotted onto a map. We are concentrating on photos of railway stations at this stage and we hope to create a map of train stations around New South Wales.

To date we have uploaded 719 photographs and our photostream has been viewed over 26,400 times.

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

Group visits to the reading room

In the reading room at KingswoodState Records welcomes group visits to its reading rooms. We ask that groups contact us one month in advance of the visit by filling in the online Group Booking Form. This assists us in planning for your visits. This is particularly important if you are planning to visit on a Saturday, when the reading rooms are staffed at minimum levels. We also ask that the number on group visits to the reading rooms be limited to 25 researchers. This ensures that there is space in the reading rooms for everyone to carry out their research. 

Please note too that we currently limit group visits to one per week (seven days) so this is another reason to plan your visit well in advance. To assist in your planning we suggest that you check our website for a list of the upcoming group bookings. We also suggest that you provide us with two dates for your proposed visit, just in case your first preference is not available. This way too we will be better able to make sure that we can take your booking.

Finally, while we will make every effort to carry out the copy order requests for members of the group at the time of their visit, this may not always be possible. If we are unable to complete the copy orders on the day of your visit we will aim to post them out as soon possible.

Digital Camera use in the reading rooms

Using your digital camera in the reading rooms can save time and money when researching. We encourage readers to use their digital cameras not only to photograph the original records but also when looking at the microfilm. Your digital camera allows you to zoom in on the fine detail (often not possible with a normal photocopy), and reproduce a colour digital copy at home. Talk to the archivist on duty in the reading room if you would like to use your digital camera. And remember when photographing original records we ask that readers do not use the flash.

Short Guide 14 - Special bundle listings

The recent addition to the Short Guides, Short Guide 14 - Special bundle will prove useful to many looking for the more elusive records often found within the Special Bundles of the various Agencies.

What are the Special Bundles?

Special Bundles contain correspondence and papers on particular matters or subjects which, because of their significance or the quantity of correspondence generated were usually extracted from an agency's main correspondence series. They may contain both registered and unregistered papers and, depending on the nature of the bundle, may cover many years or just a short period of time. Creating Special Bundles was a way for an agency to highlight records of temporary or long-term interest so that the papers were readily at hand. Be aware that the general title given to these papers, by the agency, often provides little indication of the diversity of the material they may contain.

What is included in Short Guide 14?

So far we have listed the Special Bundles for the following Agencies: Agriculture, Attorney General, Colonial Secretary, Marine Board, Mines, Premier’s Department, Public Service Board, Public Works and Treasury. Over 7000 items covering a wide range of subject matters make up this listing. It is fascinating to browse the various subjects covered in the Special Bundles – you never know what you may find!

Spotlight on Colonial drama rediscovered

State Records holds in its archival collection a number of colonial plays which were submitted to the Colonial Secretary for approval from 1842 until 1856. Over the years theatre historians conjectured whether more would ever be found. Happily we can report that indeed two further plays have been discovered in recent times.

The Bathurst Rivals or The Laughing Jachass, A Local Extravaganza 

The Bathurst Rivals or The Laughing Jackass - click for larger imageIn May 2003 Christine Shergold (Manager, Special Collections) discovered The Bathurst Rivals or the Laughing Jackass, a Local Extravaganza. (Play enclosure to 56/2578; covering letter, associated papers and play at [4/3317B], photocopy at COD 601) The play, a burlesque in one act, was written and submitted by G.W. Daniels. It was performed as The Princess and the Laughing Jackass at the Prince of Wales Theatre at Mrs Whitton’s Commercial Hotel in Bathurst on 31 March 1856.
The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (Saturday, March 29, 1856) notes two local pieces were to be performed. The first was Bathurst in 1956; or, The Sleep of 100 Years, a dance by Miss Fanny Young, for whom the evening was a benefit. The second was ‘the successful local Burlesque written by G.W. Daniels, and dedicated to Captain Battye, entitled The Princess and the Laughing Jackass’. Sadly no reviews of the performance have been found.

The plot: The Emperor offers his daughter the Princess’s hand in marriage. Her servant notes ‘E’en Captain Baty [Battye] asked to be presented’ to the Princess. The suitors are Celestino (‘I’m young Italy Venice my native place’) and the bushranger Phillibuster. Phillibuster has just returned from the goldfields ‘where nuggets weighing tons were to be found’. He declares ‘I’m young Australia the spot of earth That bore me, bore a hero at my birth.’ The Emperor sets the task of bringing him a tail-feather from the ‘Laughing Jackass’ [a kookaburra] who guards a mount among the Blue Hills [the Blue Mountains]. Both suitors deliver a tail-feather to the Emperor. A fist fight decides the winner as Phillibuster, with Celestino dying a stage death. The play refers to local places, such as Bathurst and Mount Victoria, and local businesses, such as the ‘Prince of Wales’ and the ‘Bathurst Free Press’. Celestino and Phillibuster even ‘wear trousers bought at Pikes’ [the local tailor]!

King Gold, An Australian Extravaganza

King Gold - click for larger imageAgain in February 2009 Janette Pelosi (A/Senior Archivist, Context and Documentation) discovered the play King Gold, an Australian Extravaganza (Play enclosure to 54/10895; covering letter and play at [4/3256B], photocopy at COD 601). This play, in two acts, was submitted by George Fred. Cockett. Approval for its performance was granted on 19 December 1854. The play does not appear to have been performed by that title though it was apparently intended for a theatre in Sydney. The play is of interest for its celebration of Australia (well prior to the federation of its colonies) and its hopes of prosperity arising from the discovery of gold in the 1850s.

The plot: Two new chums arrive in Sydney looking for work. A squatter tells them ‘Old hands are what colonial men require / Such chaps as you are only in the way.’ The lady Hope appears entreating them ‘Then come my comrades- join my happy band. And Strive with might t’advance Australia’s Land.’ Meanwhile at the gold fields a nugget is unearthed to the cry ‘Eureka! Gold is here.’ King Gold appears suddenly surrounded with a flame of blue fire. King Gold’s attendants are imps in the form of gold nuggets! The new chums tell the squatter ‘But we know at the diggings we wages can get / Without wholly depending on you.’ The play makes local references, such as a ‘steamer’s gone to Melbourne’ or ‘Keep me oh, keep me from Tarban Creek’ [later known as Gladesville Hospital]. The play features cast members personifying the immigrants to the colony: ‘John Bull’, ‘Scotland’, ‘Ireland’, ‘German’, ‘American’, ‘Russian’, ‘Turk’, and ‘France’. The back scene of the finale was to be painted ‘Advance Australia’ and King Gold rhymes ‘And now we’ll finish with a song & dance / And let us hope “Australia will advance”’.

Janette Pelosi will be presenting a paper ‘Submitted for the approval of the Colonial Secretary’: popular entertainment in the State Archives, 1828-1856 at the A World of Popular Entertainments International Conference, hosted by the School of Drama, Fine Art and Music at the University of Newcastle, Australia, at 9.00am in the Drama Theatre on the Callaghan Campus of the University of Newcastle on 11 June 2009.

  • For further information on the World of Popular Entertainments International Conference and to download a Registration Form or Conference Program go to the University of Newcastle website.


In Living Memory logoThe In Living Memory NSW tour continues at Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewes Bequest from until 28 June, and then moves to the St George Regional Museum in Hurstville from 9 July until 24 September 2009. The tour will visit another seven New South Wales venues until 2010, including Newcastle, Moruya, Bega, Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Dubbo and Broken Hill.

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

Society of Australian Genealogists
Christine Yeats will present a session on preparing for your visit to Kingswood.
3 June 10:00am-12:00pm
Sydney Records Centre, Seminar Room
Phone: (02) 9247 3953

Society of Australian Genealogists
Christine Yeats will present a talk on sources relating to Irish convicts in the NSW State archives.
6 June 10:00am-4:00pm
Hyde Park Barracks
Phone: (02) 9247 3953

Photographs at State Records
Lindsay Allen will present a talk on some of the photographic resources of State Records.
18 June 10:30am-12:30pm
Sydney Records Centre, Seminar Room
Phone: (02) 8247 8613

Shoalhaven Family History Society Fair at Nowra
State Records will have a stall.
19-20 June. Nowra
Contact: Joy Vost

Public Libraries Symposium in Parkes
Christine Yeats will present a seminar on the afternoon of the 24 June on the Archives Resources Kit.
24-26 June. Parkes
Contact: Shellie Buckle

Rail and tramway records
Lindsay Allen will address the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society on rail and tramway records.
25 July. 9:00am-5:00pm. Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.
Contact: Learna Coupe

Manning Wallamba Family History Society
Lindsay Allen will present a talk on the Archives Resources Kit.
1 August 10:30am-12:30pm. Taree City Library.
Contact: Ian Herford

Parramatta and District Historical Society
Gail Davis will present a talk on, ‘Little used sources for family history at State Records’.
1 August. 1:30pm-3:00pm. Hambledon Cottage 63 Hassall Street Parramatta. 
Phone: 02 9896 3321

For further information check the online events program or ring Lindsay Allen on (02) 9673 1788.