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Now&Then 39 - August 2009

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In this issue read about the latest online updates including the new AIB - Nurses, new inquest copy service and index. Also featured is the newest addition to the Digital Gallery, Flickr update, History week presentations and the Spotlight on the launch of our blog - Archives Outside!

Online news

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

1. *NEW* Archives in Brief (AIB) 118 – Nurses

Coast Hospital Ambulance (horse-drawn) with nurseThis Archives in Brief provides a brief overview of the major sources held by State Records that relate to nurses in New South Wales.

2. *NEW* Copy Service – Inquest files 1940-1963

We have introduced a trial copy service for the Inquest files 1940-63. For the service to work effectively we need you to provide name (in full) and the date or year of death for each entry.

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. Additional information, such as: Date and Place of Inquest (this may be obtained from the Death Certificate).

3. *NEW* Index to Coroners’ Inquests 1796-1824

The series used to compile this index is NRS 5607 Judge Advocate: Reports of Inquests, 1796-Apr 1824. The reports are from coroners on inquests held throughout the colony, including a few held in Van Diemen’s Land.

4. Further additions to Short Guide 14 – Special Bundles

NRS 13100 Government Transcript List of Special Bundles has now been added to Short Guide 14. This list was previously published as Information Leaflet 13. There are 1586 bundles within this listing.

NRS 10923 Police Special Bundles 1846-1963 has also been added to Short Guide 14.
Previously published as Information Leaflet 32 this listing contains 196 bundles.

Note on Access: Police Special bundles that are over 70 years are open to the public and can be viewed at the Western Sydney Records Centre. To view bundles that are less than 70 years you are advised to contact the Police Archivist for permission to access.

5. Trial Bay photographs added to the Photo Description Book Index

The Friends of Trial Bay Gaol Arakoon State Conservation Area recently arranged for the digitisation of the Trial Bay Photograph Description Book 1892-1901 [3/6019]. The Photograph Description Book has now been indexed and added to the online Index to Gaol Photographs. The images of the Trail Bay Gaol Photographs are available to view on CD in both reading rooms.

6. Addition to Photo Investigator

NRS 4481 Government Printing Office Glass Negatives
Photography was a major activity of the Government Printing Office from the late 19th Century until well into the 20th, resulting in an extensive and diverse collection of photographs of life in New South Wales. Many of these were originally captured on glass plate negatives, and selected images from this series will be progressively added to Photo Investigator. The initial selection of 317 images covers a variety of subjects, for example, street scenes (particularly around The Rocks), Gladesville Hospital, Randwick Racecourse, and the training ship N.S.S. Sobraon. The images of The Rocks in particular provide a vivid picture of inner-city Sydney at the turn of the 20th century.

Probate packets recalled by the Supreme Court

Volunteers for the Supreme Court have commenced a project to correctly identify and list all probate packets held by State Records NSW. The Supreme Court will recall 100 boxes at a time for re-listing. While the packets are at the Supreme Court they will be temporarily unavailable for access by members of the public.
Currently Probate Packets numbers 182476-187500 are unavailable. These numbers cover the period 22/5/1932-5/4/1933 (date probate was granted).
We will keep our website up to date with a list of the packets that are at the Supreme Court and not available.

Addition to the Digital Gallery

Matron's Diary - front of volumeA digitised diary from 1857 is the latest addition to the Digital Gallery. Matron Susan Austen was chaperone to 98 single young women on the ship 'Fitzjames' which arrived in Sydney on 1 April 1857. She was required to make daily diary entries of the work completed by the women and of her observations of their behaviour and general conduct. Her diary records the dramas which unfolded during the voyage, the sea-sickness suffered during stormy weather, the tantrums, thefts and insults and the despair felt by the Matron at their behaviour. It is a fascinating read!

A transcript accompanies the handwritten pages of the diary.

Flickr update

A big thank you to all our Flickr friends who have helped date and tag images in our photostream! Your contributions (small and large) are valuable - we have been able to add [circa] dates to several images and your tags help others to find images easily. We also love to receive your comments and notes on our images and are continually fascinated by the extra historical information in some of the comments.

We have begun uploading some non-photographic material from the State archives collection. So far there are samples of the very interesting and popular gaol photograph description books (which do include photographs) and several pages from the Matron's Diary described above. We have also uploaded some maps and plans which contain beautiful detail.

After our first year on flickr we have 772 images in our photostream which has been viewed over 31,000 times.

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

Update your browser bookmarks

A quick reminder that most of our page urls changed when the new website was launched earlier this year and you will need to update your bookmarks/favourites.

If you have added the Indexes Online in the past to your bookmarks/favourites please change the address to

From this webpage you can browse to the specific indexes you regularly search and bookmark/favourite them.

An award for Joan Reese

Joan Reese, who was a long time reader/indexer in our reading room(s), has been posthumously honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours List being awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia "for service to the study of early Australian history and genealogy through research and indexing".

Joan Reese had been voluntarily indexing the State’s historical records since the late 1980s. The painstaking work that Joan undertook particularly with the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence demonstrated her unwavering dedication in making Australian colonial history more accessible.

As well as noting Joan Reese’s significant contribution to the accessibility of these valuable and unique records, State Records acknowledges the magnitude of the tasks she has completed. Joan Reese tirelessly dedicated her time to the preparation and compilation of indexing projects that separately took many months to complete, each letter having to be individually read and indexed.

Several of Joan Reese’s projects focus on the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence, one of the most valuable historical sources of 19th century New South Wales. She started indexing the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence in 1990. Joan Reese’s indexes ensure that these original source documents of the early founding period of NSW are available to the public conducting historical research anywhere in NSW or the other states.

The indexes that Joan Reese has compiled include:

  • Colonial Secretary’s correspondence: Index to convicts and others, 1826-88 ongoing
  • Colonial Secretary’s correspondence: Index to letters sent re convicts, 1826-55
  • Index to convict marriage banns, 1826-41 (with the late Norma Tuck); and
  • Index to the Female Factory, 1826-48.

In 1999 Joan Reese was awarded the Premier’s Seniors Achievement Award in recognition of her indexing of 19th century State archives.

Joan Reese generously and willingly shared her knowledge of the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence with the staff of State Records and researchers visiting State Records’ Reading Rooms. Joan’s Index to convicts and others is being continued by her daughter Linda Bowman.

History Week 2009 5-13 September - Scandals, Crime and Corruption

There are many events, presentations and exhibitions occurring all over the State to mark this year’s History Week. Here are the details of the State Records presentations. For further information including contact details see the Activities Program.

Event at Customs House Library
Scandals, Crime and Corruption in the NSW State Archives
Christine Yeats will present two workshops on crime records.
5 September. 11.45am-4.00pm. Customs House Library.
Contact: Christine Yeats
Phone: 8247 8617

Event at Merrylands Library
Gail Davis will present a talk on “Convicts and Crims”
7 September. Merrylands Central Library.

Event at Erina Branch Library and Woy Woy Library
In conjunction with the Gosford City Library “Murder and Mayhem! Blood curdling tales from State Records and Gosford’s Dark Past”.
9 September Erina Branch Library 10.00am. Woy Woy Library 2pm. 
Contact: Geoff Potter
Phone: 4304 7500

Survey of Australian Genealogists

Family history, since the advent of the Cook Bi-centennial in Australia, has changed from the interest of a select few to become one of the most popular pastimes of Australians. Yet in spite of the dramatic increase in membership and numbers of family history societies little is known about the interests, research practices and make up of Australian genealogists.

A survey of Australian genealogists is about to be launched to examine these questions. The survey is part of a master’s research program at the University of New England. Entitled ‘Who Are the Genealogists of Australia’ the survey will ask genealogists about their motivations for beginning their research and why they continue to conduct their research. They will also be asked about their research interests, how and where they conduct their research and why they make those choices. The survey will also investigate plans for the product of their genealogical research. Finally, genealogists will be asked about their demographic characteristics.

For a comprehensive result to be achieved it is important that as wide a range of participants as possible be obtained.

Your help in completing this survey will be greatly appreciated.

The survey can be found online and will be open for participation from August 1st 2009 until 30th November 2009.

All queries can be directed to

FAQ - Contractors

We are often asked by readers for records concerning contractors (not permanent employees) who undertook work for the NSW Colonial or State Governments. The researcher may know that their ancestor built or worked on the building of a particular government building or structure.

We do not hold a specific series listing all contractors employed by the NSW Colonial or State Governments.
If you know the particular agency or department for which the work was undertaken check the records of that agency in the first instance. If you search Archives Investigator, an example of a series is NRS 12424, Registers of bonds and agreements made by contractors, 1859-1880 [X11].

Other possible sources of information include:

Colonial Secretary's Correspondence
Index to the papers 1788-1825

Index to Convicts and other, 1826-88 complied by Joan Reese (on microfiche in State Records' reading rooms)
Contemporary Indexes and registers, 1826+
Government Architect Guide
If you know of specific government building(s) worked on you can check the guide for any surviving correspondence. Guide available in State Records' reading rooms.
NSW Government Gazettes
Index to NSW Government Gazette 1832-63 (index on computer in our reading rooms).
After 1863 check the indexes in the front of the Gazettes.
Bankruptcy and Insolvency
Check the online indexes 1842-1928 on State Records' website

Commercial directories (which may advertise their services) - Sands Directories available on microfiche in State Records' reading rooms and the State Library of NSW.

Spotlight on Archives Outside

Archives OutsideState Records NSW is pleased to announce the launch of its latest blog: Archives Outside . The blog focuses on generating information and discussion about archival collections held in New South Wales and their content, care and management.
We aim to:
1. promote the content of archival collections in New South Wales, and
2. provide information on topics and resources relating to the care and management of archives.
Some of our current posts include:

Participation from all keepers and users of archives is welcome, be you an archivist, librarian, a community group member or a personal collector.

We would love you to visit the new blog and check out the posts, articles and tips already available. Why not drop by and leave a comment or a question? Posting is quick and easy, all that is required is an email address (which will not be viewable) and a name (which can be anything you like e.g. Mickey Mouse!).

If you would like to keep up to date with what's happening on the blog you can subscribe via email or RSS SubscribeRSS.


In Living Memory logoThe In Living Memory NSW tour continues at Hurstville City Museum & Gallery (formerly St George Regional Museum) until 24 September, and then moves to the University Gallery, Newcastle from 30 September until 7 November 2009. The tour will visit another six New South Wales venues until late 2010, including Moruya, Bega, Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Dubbo and Broken Hill.

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
Lindsay Allen will present a talk on “Using State Records to locate your more notorious ancestors”.
5 August Tuggerah Library 10.30-11.30
Contact: Susan Manahan
Phone: 4353 5271

Richmond Tweed Family History Society
Christine Yeats will speak on a number if topics related to the State archives.
8 August Ballina Players Theatre 9.00am-4.00pm
Contact: Robyn Hilan

Blue Mountains Family History Annual Seminar
Rachel Hollis will present a talk on records available for researching the work and roles of women from the early 19th century and beyond.
8 August Springwood Baptist Church Hall 8.45am-4pm
Contact: Jan Koperberg

Singleton Public Library
Lindsay Allen will be presenting a talk about the records for the Singleton Family History Society
12 August Singleton Public Library.

Family History Fair at Liverpool Regional Museum
John Cann will present a talk on Probate and Deceased Estate records on 21 August. Lindsay Allen will present a talk about School records on 22 August. State Records will have a stall at the Fair on both days.
21-22 August. 10.00am-4.00pm (both days). Liverpool Regional Museum and Family History Centre.
Phone: 9602 0315

HISTORY WEEK 5-13 September
Event at Customs House Library
Christine Yeats will present two workshops on crime records.
5 September. 11.45am-4.00pm. Customs House Library.
Contact: Christine Yeats
Phone: 8247 8617
Event at Merrylands Library
Gail Davis will present a talk on “Convicts and Crims”
7 September. Merrylands Central Library.
Event at Erina Branch Library and Woy Woy Library
In conjunction with the Gosford City Library “Murder and Mayhem! Blood curdling tales from State Records and Gosford’s Dark Past”.
9 September Erina Branch Library 10.00am. Woy Woy Library 2pm. 
Contact: Geoff Potter
Phone: 4304 7500

NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies INC Annual State Conference
Hosted by the Wyong Family History Group. Christine Yeats will be presenting for the State Records.
18-20 September 9.00am-5.00pm
For further information check the online events program or ring Lindsay Allen on (02) 9673 1788.